GLENDALE, Ariz. — Like the duct tape you use to fix an old appliance or that lone cup of coffee that you call breakfast, the Arizona Cardinals’ 22-6 win over the Carolina Panthers is a short-term solution. A temporary fix.
It’ll do, for now.
For the second straight week the Cardinals can lay claim to a less-than-inspirational win over a shaky looking NFC South team.
You’ll find comfort in the “what,” a 3-2 record, and yet get very little relief in the “how.” Three more Carson Palmer interceptions can leave you feeling like that.
We all want to believe that Palmer is better than what they had last year and yet this game featured moments of a 2012-esque lack of faith. An entire city seemed to hold its collective breath with every throw, wondering exactly in whose hands it would end up. Nine picks in five games have that effect.
Nobody expected calls for Drew Stanton by the fifth game of the season and yet — based on my Twitter account, anyway — there they were.
Through three quarters the Cardinals had eight possessions and they went like this: Interception, punt, punt, field goal, punt, interception, touchdown, interception.
It’s nowhere close to good enough, and if improvement doesn’t reveal itself soon, this 3-2 start will prove as flimsy as last year’s 4-0 beginning. Like the duct tape on the old appliance, if you think this is good enough to make it last you are sorely mistaken.
Larry Fitzgerald, when asked if he’s surprised how hard points have been to come by, replied, “How do I want to answer that? We’ve got to do better. That’s as simple as that.”
That said, there were plenty of things to like. Daryl Washington did his very best to pretend that he had never left, with two sacks and a pick. His return seemed to zap some life into Karlos Dansby, who matched Washington sack for sack and pick for pick. Throw in Calais Campbell’s two sack performance with one safety and a forced fumble that led to a touchdown, and Cam Newton officially had his worst day ever at University of Phoenix Stadium. The defense was extraordinary.
Special teams geeks unite: the Dave Zastudil/Justin Bethel combination is a silent yet devastating field position weapon. Speaking of silent, I hardly noticed new left tackle Bradley Sowell, and that’s the best compliment you could pay the man.
And kudos to Bruce Arians for calling more run plays in the second half compared to the first (22-6) to take pressure off his struggling quarterback.
Unfortunately, 17 of those rushing attempts went to Rashard Mendenhall (for 43 yards, a 2.5 yards per carry) and only seven went to Andre Ellington. The rookie out of Clemson touched the ball 11 times and gained 83 yards.
More of that please.
The hope here is that correction, and others, are on the way as the Cards have run out of wiggle room. Next week it’s San Francisco. Then Seattle on the short week. Then Atlanta.
Mostly, this needed improvement resides in Palmer. If it doesn’t come soon we’ll all fondly remember the days when the Cardinals were 3-2.