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Rams aftermath

Posted by Darren Urban on November 23, 2009 – 12:28 am

An odd game in St. Louis. More late-game heart stoppage when you didn’t think there would be any. Heck, before Kurt Warner left the game – probably right about the time Beanie Wells powered over in a manly one-yard touchdown run – I wondered how much yardage Warner was going to pile up throwing to Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin before coach Ken Whisenhunt put Matt Leinart in.

Instead, Leinart had to come in.

There will be plenty of people breaking down Leinart’s time in the game. It didn’t make you forget the starter was out with a possible concussion,  but it wasn’t the disaster some will inevitably make it out to be. Under different circumstances, for instance, Whisenhunt might have let Neil Rackers try a 51-yard field goal – in a dome, remember – on the first drive of the second half. Leinart took the Cards from their own 15 to the cusp of field-goal range before Whisenhunt stayed conservative and punted.

It makes sense. The Rams had done nothing offensively and there was little reason, with an 18-point lead, to give them life with good field position (and indeed, punter Ben Graham pinned the Rams at their own 2). But maybe points there changes how Leinart’s day went, especially since the next possession was the one where the Cards couldn’t convert on third-and-1.

Anyway, on to other thoughts in the wake of the win:

– The running game has been tremendous. The Cards have 487 rushing yards the past three games, an average of 162.3 per game. The first seven games of the season, the Cards totaled 454 rushing yards, an average of 64.8. Their overall ranking will still be low, but it’s clear the Cards are a better running team than that ranking.

– Rookie linebacker Will Davis – who got his second sack Sunday — might be a find as a sixth-round pick. With Chike Okeafor out, the Cards have needed Davis, and seems to have surpassed veteran Bertrand Berry for playing time in some key spots.

– The Cardinals used running back Jason Wright as a fullback on one play Sunday. You have to give Whisenhunt props in his ability to shuffle his personnel and use them in different ways. RB Tim Hightower spent some time split wide too.

– Quietly, Anquan Boldin had another big game. It got lost in the running exploits of Hightower and Beanie Wells and the injury to Kurt Warner, but he’s back to playing at a Pro Bowl level. If he can just stay healthy, it’s going to be a bi.. err, very difficult to defend the Cards.

– Wide receiver Steve Breaston was shut out of making a catch for the first time since playing in Washington the third game of last season. Breaston doesn’t really care about such things, but it does hurt him in his quest to get to the 75-reception mark. Then again, if anyone noticed, not only is Fitz on pace for Pro Bowl numbers but Boldin’s pace (85 receptions, 1,020 yards) is getting back there too.

– Leinart acknowledged he had a little problem with high throws. Whisenhunt said it’s partially because Leinart just hasn’t gotten enough playing time. It is an issue Leinart has worked with a lot with quarterbacks coach Chris Miller. “It’s been my little problem this season and I have been working hard to fix stuff on my release,” Leinart said. “I know when I throw a high pass, I know exactly why so I have to correct those things and that’s what I try to (fix) during the week.”

– With Bryant McFadden out with a knee injury, the Rams did their best to pick on 5-foot-8 backup Michael Adams. But there was one play where anyone could see why the Cards like Adams. The Rams ran a pitch wide left for 235-pound Steven Jackson. The only man in his way was Adams, all 181 pounds of him. Adams came up and stuck Jackson with a textbook tackle at the knees. One yard gain. It’s all about angles.

– Safety Adrian Wilson didn’t get his 20th sack, but he did get his 21st interception (Didn’t seem like Wilson was given many shots to rush the QB in St. Louis). That’ll have to be good enough for this week. Wonder if he can chase down the elusive Vince Young.


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19 Responses to “Rams aftermath”

  1. By CARDSFAN1178124 on Nov 23, 2009 | Reply

    You know everyone kills Leinart when he makes these appearances. I’m not an expert but during the two or three days of in week practice I would imagine that Matt doesn’t get too much time throwing with the 1st team offense. Every QB in the NFL makes a really big deal about timing so I would think that the lack of it would work to Leinart’s disadvantage come game time. Also, I didn’t think he did that bad. No turnovers, picked up that monster first down, stepping up in the pocket with a hand draped on him, and was driving prior to the Becht turnover. What I am saying is lay off the guy, he’s got a National Championship and a Heisman he can play.

  2. By shannon robinson on Nov 23, 2009 | Reply

    Leinart did fine. His job was to finish the game which he accomplished. The throw to Doucet was great. I say our O-line is better at run blocking than pass blocking – huge holes for Hightower which was exciting ( they have to hold their blocks a fraction longer for Tim? ). Q is a money receiver who gets third down yards on command – Big Time!. Nobody wanted Will Davis when we drafted him because they said he was an underachiever and John Lott has been doing his work on Davis. I say Adams gets a game ball.

  3. By ryan on Nov 23, 2009 | Reply

    Man this game had me sitting on the edge of my seat! I need to be reminded again, why did we get rid of Rod Hood? Adams got schooled out there, i would of liked to see what Greg Toler could of done.

    I’ll give Leinhart a break, he doesn’t get enough reps in practice with the starters. But Matty, you gotta get rid of the ball. Our receivers don’t get open like others WR’s in the league. Just like warners 5 yrd pass to Boldin for a TD, Q was not open but our WR’s make consistent spectacular catches and them being one step ahead of the defender is open to them.

    Hightower played great but i was surprised he doesn’t have the speed that i thought he did. Beanie would of taken that long run to the house, but we scored anyways so no biggie. Now it is clear though, when we are at the goaline on offensive Beanie MUST get the ball. Timmy got stuffed on 2nd and goal and Beanie powered through on 3rd and goal. Enough said.

  4. By Cameron on Nov 23, 2009 | Reply

    Matt Lienart had 2 bad throws thats all i saw 10-14 is not a bad game in my eyes as for Wilson i think it was his job to contain steven jackson so he didnt have many chances to rush he will get it next week

  5. By kauaicardsfan on Nov 23, 2009 | Reply

    Darenn,
    I noticed a couple of play calls they made lienart roll to the right, wouldn’t it have been better to make plays that rolls to his left so he can make better throws? Just wondering? Glad everyone stepped up when the starters got hurt! Coach Whiz did it right the first time by building the team that way!

  6. By Todd Brown on Nov 23, 2009 | Reply

    GREAT job Cards!!!

    So glad to see the team take care of business in their late game even though they knew San Francisco lost earlier in the day. They didn’t let a loss by a division opponent negatively impact their game today.

  7. By darrenurban on Nov 23, 2009 | Reply

    Kauai —

    I don’t know about those plays in particular, but that’s one of the dangers when your backup is opposite-handed as your starter and the game plan has been put in with the starter in mind. I would guess those are the things that would be tweaked if you knew Matt was starting all week.

  8. By kauaicardsfan on Nov 23, 2009 | Reply

    Yeah, it may be nice to have some of those plays in week to week, just to be on the safe side?

  9. By Joe-B on Nov 23, 2009 | Reply

    I’m getting tired of everyone bashing Leinart. He did fine considering that the playcalling got conservative, and if Becht didn’t fumble I think we would have gotten some points during that drive.

    But if you look on azcentral.com, all of the commenter are just ******** about Leinart being horrible. Darren, have you ever heard of HardHat? He thinks that you are a shill for the Bidwills and he says that Leinart is worse than Ryan Leaf. He only posts when Leinart plays…

  10. By darrenurban on Nov 23, 2009 | Reply

    Joe-B —

    Unfortunately, I have heard of HardHat, and I had the misfortune of reading his lone “article” about me. Fortunately, it seems that most who see his “work” understand his agenda.

  11. By kauaicardsfan on Nov 23, 2009 | Reply

    Hey Darren,
    Any inside scoops on what happened on that pooch or mortar kick? It seems like it was done without the coaches calling it?

  12. By darrenurban on Nov 23, 2009 | Reply

    Kauai —

    I am sure the coaches called it. Rackers just made a bad kick.

  13. By Ernie Lawson on Nov 23, 2009 | Reply

    Matt Leinart played well enough to win this week. He’ll have to play better if he starts a game down the road at any time. He knows this and so do the other players and coaches. I personally believe he will when given the chance, He has the opportunity now to learn form one of the best, kurt Warner is a “GREAT” quarterback. My hat goes off Coach Ken Whisenhunt for the team he has built, great players don’t always make great teams. He has put together a nice blend of good to great players that play together as a TEAM. I’ve been a football Cardinal since 1967, remember the 71-72-73 teams very well. Keep up the good work.

  14. By kauaicardsfan on Nov 23, 2009 | Reply

    Mahalo for all the insights Darenn! Much Appreciated!!!

  15. By spitfire772 on Nov 23, 2009 | Reply

    I’m not going to bash on Leinart, but he needs to play better. He had the perfect situation to come in and show wha the could do. The game plan was too conservative and the fumble wasn’t his fault, I agree, but he can’t keep making fundamental mistakes of throwing high and holding the ball too long. I agree we should have kicked the 50-51 yard FG; that would at least give Leinart confidence that he led a drive that got us points. Bottom line is Warner will play next week, we’re 7-3, and should beat the Titans (even though they’re playing better). You slow down Chris Johnson, you beat the Titans.

  16. By Ottis Anderson Fan on Nov 23, 2009 | Reply

    After Sunday’s game, Larry’s 9 TD catches lead the NFL for receivers. Actually, only five players in the NFL (regardless of position) have more TDs – all RBs in the AFC (10, 10, 10, 11, 13). No doubt the surging running game is opening things up for Larry and the other wideouts. Also, great to see Q healthy with back-to-back 100 yard games.

    Let’s take advantage of the opportunity to really put a choke-hold on the NFC west with a big win in Tennessee next week! That game should be a real test of the maturity of the team. Will they continue to be as hungry as they were the past few weeks, or will they start to ease up and lay another egg like they did against Carolina?

  17. By Joe on Nov 23, 2009 | Reply

    Leinart did fine, girls. Wasnt it the Houston game where Kurt came out in the second half and couldnt move the ball at all — nothing but three and outs? It happens even to the best.
    If Becht doesnt fumble or if Timmy ripped another 50 yard run while Matt was in there, it would all look different. Of course Matty needs reps to get to sharper, but anyione who knows anything can see that the game is not moving too fast for him. He has poise.
    How did Kurt look in pre-season camp before he got all his reps?
    Matty did fine.

  18. By Mike Teske on Nov 23, 2009 | Reply

    I agree with those backing up Matt. He has some pretty big shoes to fill when he steps onto the field. I feel like people had a bit of a biased opinion of him coming in being that last time he was on the field in chicago he threw a pick and was taken back out. Like coach said they didnt LET him do a whole lot. Another question to think about is how many backups out there would be a better option? I think #7 is still bettr than a few starters out there in the league too. If something was to happen I feel that he still gives a good shot at winning.

  19. By Darog on Nov 25, 2009 | Reply

    Leinart’s quote from the article (3rd paragraph from the bottom) – “I know when I throw a high pass, I know exactly why so I have to correct those things and that’s what I try to (fix) during the week.” What the hell Leinart – your supposedly a professional quarterback and have been throwing passes all your life – you shouldn’t be throwing all those high passes in a game and have to work on not throwing high passes in practices during the week – it should just come natural, if you are really a quarterback. Come on, if you just can’t throw the ball to a receiver without thinking about how your “technically” throwing the ball, you shouldn’t be a quarterback!!!

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