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The Cardinals’ missing first quarter

Posted by Darren Urban on November 9, 2016 – 12:13 pm

Last season, it was a breeze.

The very first game of 2015, the Cardinals marched 80 yards for a touchdown on their initial possession of the season, against the Saints. The next week, they didn’t even bother with a drive — David Johnson simply took the opening kickoff and raced 108 yards for a TD. In the third game, the offense didn’t score right away, but that was OK — Justin Bethel picked off a Colin Kaepernick pass on the 49ers’ first possession and ran it in for a touchdown. The Cards scored 86 points in the first quarter in 2015, 25 more than their opponent.

This year, after eight games, they have scored only seven points.

It’s a crazy stat, one that speaks to the Cards’ issues perhaps more than anything else. Last year, they played from ahead. Those seven points, by the way, came on a Johnson 58-yard touchdown run — meaning that in the first quarter, the Cardinals have yet to put together a drive that encompasses entering the red zone and then scoring. If you would’ve told me that this would be a thing halfway through the season, I’d never have believed it.

Worse, the Cards have given up 41 first-quarter points, meaning they are the ones playing from behind. The defense could use more first-quarter stops itself.

A game against the 49ers might help, although it’s fair to remember (albeit with Drew Stanton at QB) that the Cardinals would have been scoreless for the entire first half against the same struggling defense in San Francisco if it hadn’t been for a timely Chandler Jones tip/Calais Campbell interception right before halftime.

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24 Responses to “The Cardinals’ missing first quarter”

  1. By Scott H on Nov 9, 2016 | Reply

    Here’s what I don’t want to hear – that a game against the 49ers might help. Why? Because the 49ers are one of the most inept and talent-lacking teams in the NFL this year? Well, if that’s true, then a game against the 49ers might help the Browns, too. And the Browns haven’t won a damn game yet this season.

    NO, a game against the 49ers doesn’t “help” anything. Winning this game against the 49ers, regardless of how they do it, doesn’t mean a thing. It will be another win against a bad ( no, make that dreadful ) team. And those are the only wins we have all year. We ain’t getting to the playoffs on wins against bad teams. We don’t even have enough of those games left on the schedule, anyway.

    What WILL help this team will be wins against the Falcons, Vikings, and Seahawks. Because sooner or later ( no, make that RIGHT NOW ), the Cardinals have to beat some good teams.

    We can get to .500 this week, that is all. And considering that it will be Week 9 when we do, I’d say we are way behind schedule. I don’t even know what THAT accomplishes, to be honest. But I do know what beating up on the 49ers again will accomplish – NOTHING.

    The fact that we have been outscored 7-41 in the first quarter so far this season is just one of the many measures you could point to to explain our record. WHO we’ve played has hardly mattered. HOW we’ve played has mattered plenty. If we could fix HOW we’re playing, WHO we’re playing would matter a whole lot less. Every week, we all keep hoping we are going to see that 2015 team come back and take control. And after half the season, we’re still waiting.

    But even after this game, I’ll still be waiting for it because I need to see it against someone other than the 49ers or the Jets.

  2. By D on Nov 9, 2016 | Reply

    7 points in 8 first quarters? That is Brown like…then we have Palmer being quoted as “I know people don’t want to hear it, but I like where we are.” Hopefully he was discussing the AZ weather or his backyard in Paradise Valley.

    Hey Carson, Seattle’s remaining schedule: @ NE guessing Loss
    home Philly guessing Win
    @TB guessing Win
    home Panthers.. guessing Loss
    @GB guessing Win
    home Rams Win
    home Cards TBD
    @ SF guessing Win

    Seattle, granted, not as good as last year, should have at least 10 wins this year with Philly and GB not as good as their current record indicates.

    Cards would have to win 7 out of 8 remaining games to get to 10 wins…still have to play @MN, @Atl, @MIA, and @ Seattle…..meaning they need to win against the Vikings, Miami (long road trips are not AZ friends) all 3 home games and at Seattle for the division title…..

    We as Cards fans better hope AZ get’s on a roll and either or both of Philly and GB can beat Seattle.

  3. By georgiebird on Nov 9, 2016 | Reply

    The Cards have a lot of problems and some are caused by injury. Rather than get into all the problems, lets boil it all down to two points.
    1) The Cards have a lot of good players but only three players who can dominate a game late- David, Larry and PP.
    2) Carson Palmer is the second coming of Jim Hart. Fast defenses have a way of disrupting Palmer as it did Hart. Yes, all immobile QBs are at a disadvantage against a good pass rush but some fall off the cliff faster than others.

  4. By shannon robinson on Nov 9, 2016 | Reply

    This is a great game to get a good run game going and iron out the kinks. A nice game to tighten up protections. A good game to work on techniques being taught by Pass Rush Specialist Coach Tom Pratt. These games are important to get everything on track and work on returns and coverage. What an exciting team we have with a thrilling challenge ahead. I love where this team is right now.

  5. By Kevin S Mesa on Nov 9, 2016 | Reply

    D — when you put it that way (Cards need to win 7 of 8), it seems daunting.

    Here’s the other glass-is-half-full way to look at it:

    Assuming the Seahawks lose to the Pats on Sunday, we’re a game behind (after being SF) with a head-to-head game left. Since we tied the first time, if we can win that game, we own the tiebreaker.

    Which means that, as long as they lose to NE, we control our own destiny. It’s hard to ask for more than that considering our slow start. After the Hawks lose to NE, all we have to do is beat them head-to-head, and match their record in the other 6 remaining games, and we are division champs.

  6. By clssylssy on Nov 9, 2016 | Reply

    Scott…
    I guess I don’t want to hear fans talk like winning any game is nothing. Didn’t the 9ers shut out the Rams in the season opener like 28-0? Then the Rams came in a had their way with us! So, I guess, at this point, I’m happy to get a win whenever, against anybody, because we need something to get us going and kick start our heart.
    As Vince Lombardi said, “Winning isn’t everything, but wanting to is”, and, IMO that doesn’t exclude anybody on our schedule; we’ve had our chill time and now it’s time to get serious. The clock is ticking and I think everybody needs something to feel good about even now more than ever.
    Attitude is everything, or so I keep telling myself!

  7. By Jim Mora on Nov 10, 2016 | Reply

    “Playoffs? Don’t talk about—playoffs?! You kidding me? Playoffs?! I just hope we can win a game! Another game!”

  8. By mitchaz on Nov 10, 2016 | Reply

    I’ve always thought that passing early and often to get Carson Palmer into a rhythm was the best way to start the games. Teams are trying to load the box to stop David Johnson and once the Cardinals get them to back off, they have a better chance of mixing the run with play action passes.

    I would also love to see BA go most of a quarter with chip pass protection—for one it frustrates the other team’s pass rushers and for two it gives Carson Palmer enough time to let the routes develop. With two young tackles in Wetzel and Humphries, chipping the DE to their side also gives them a chance to settle in early.

    Thirdly, I would like to see BA create clearer passing lanes to David Johnson when he is the safety valve. Johnson seems to find himself three yards down field in spots where Palmer has to lob the ball over the linemen to pass it to him. Have Johnson go sideways into a clear passing lane or if he does slip upfield, have him slide into a clear passing lane so Palmer can flip him the ball without having to lob it or struggle to find him.

  9. By Scott H on Nov 10, 2016 | Reply

    Honestly, is anyone else as SERIOUSLY annoyed as I am by hearing Palmer say that he likes where we are right now??? OMG, you must be kidding me. As a leader, that is NOT what he should be saying. He SHOULD be saying that where we are is disappointing ( to say the least ) and that there is a lot of work to do to turn it around over the 2nd half. What is so wrong with that??? Oh, and by the way, he should also be taking some responsibility for being where we are right now.

    His saying that he likes where we are is coming across as an attempt at the Jedi mind trick, and that is insulting to me right now.

    No, Carson, there is NOTHING to like about where we are right now. And your play ( poor at times ) is a big part of the reason we are where we are at, so…..perhaps you should have thought a little more carefully about that before you said it.

    That was the wrong thing for ANY player on this team to be saying right now. Just a lousy choice of words from Palmer on that one. And I have to think that there is not a whole lot of agreement with him in the locker room. I doubt a lot of our players are feeling good about being 3-4-1 after 8 games. As a leader on this team, don’t you kinda have to know that????

  10. By Darren Urban on Nov 10, 2016 | Reply

    Scott H —

    RE: Palmer

    First, it was in context of being an underdog more than being 3-4-1.

    But I will take umbrage with the idea that as a leader, he should be saying they’ve been disappointing. I think as a fan you want to hear that because that’s how you feel. But I think if you are a player in the locker room, that’s the last thing you want to hear.

  11. By Steve W on Nov 10, 2016 | Reply

    Didn’t Seattle lose to the 3-5 Rams this year? ANY team can win in any given week, records aside. Personally D, I’m not convinced the ‘hawks get a win in Green Bay or even in Tampa Bay (though admittedly that might be because I despise them so thoroughly…) That said, I fully agree that the Cards need to pull it together right here and now and make a hard run for the playoffs and (dare I say it?) a Super Bowl berth this year if they’re serious about putting together a winning season. But I also think that a win against the 49ers, records be damned, is a step in the right direction.

    GO CARDS!!!!

    Steve W.
    Diehard Cardinals fan forever in VA

  12. By Scott H on Nov 10, 2016 | Reply

    Darren –

    OK. Well, if he likes being the under-dog, then….congrats to him.

    I hear what you are saying about how that comes across to me ( a fan ) but if you are a player in the locker room, the last thing you would want to hear is an admission of being disappointed with how they’ve played. I gotta say, I disagree. Because I don’t think a teammate is any different than anyone else in that people tend to appreciate honesty, people being straight with you.

    No, I am not a pro football player, so I can’t assume anything about how they think, nor do I know about being in the locker room. All I can do is relate to it in terms of what I want to hear from my boss when I KNOW full well that he / she is most certainly NOT happy with how our dept has been functioning. At that point, to hear anything that doesn’t ring as genuine to the situation just doesn’t come across well.

    I commented recently that I think some of what I’ve heard from some of our players recently is a little too passive for my liking. At 3-4-1, there needs to be a little more fire and a little more telling it like it is. This team HAS been disappointing thus far. They HAVE played far below expectations. They HAVE put themselves in a position at the midway point where making the playoffs is more of a long-shot than a probability. And there really is no denying any of that.

    So, it just comes across as wrong that the QB comes out and says that he likes where we are.

    If, as you say, he is saying that in the context of being an under-dog, then….OK. But if you are going to say that ( at all ), then you better be ready to put the team on your back and lead the way out. As the QB, you have just put that on yourself. Haven’t you?

  13. By Darren Urban on Nov 10, 2016 | Reply

    Scott H —

    RE: Team on back

    Isn’t that what he should do?

  14. By s brown on Nov 10, 2016 | Reply

    with too many teams still in the running for the two wild card spots, the better chance for the Cards is to win the division.

    this is still something that is in their grasp, but to do that this game is important that the Cads need to work out their bye week changes and get set for a big push to the playoffs and beyond.

    most important moving forward IMO is that the offense has to get a fast start, get first quarter points and let the defense play with a lead. Seattle is not the team of the past few years, look at Monday night, Buff had 400+ yards of offense and held the ball for 40+ minutes, but just could not punch a TD in, at the end of the game for the win. ( looked almost like the Az v Sea game ).
    The Sea schedule is no cake walk, so we need NE to beat them this week, Cards take care of business vs SF and get a game closer to them.

    #riseupredsea

  15. By Scott H on Nov 10, 2016 | Reply

    Darren –

    Is that what he should do? Yes. Is that what he has done? No. He has two wins to his credit this year. And at present, he is not even in the top half of the league in terms of QB rating. So, after making such comments, I certainly hope he has something up his sleeve for the next 8 games.

  16. By Darren Urban on Nov 10, 2016 | Reply

    Scott H —

    RE: Palmer

    Man, it’s hard out there for a quarterback.

    If I made a list of the top five things I think have hurt the Cardinals the most this season, QB wouldn’t not be one of them.

  17. By Scott H on Nov 10, 2016 | Reply

    Darren –

    Yeah, it IS tough to be an NFL QB! No arguement there. And perhaps un-fairly so. But you know as well as I do, there is no tougher position in all of pro sports. We love them when they play well but no player in pro sports gets the blame quicker when the team is playing below expectations.

    Dak Prescott is the darling of the NFL so far this year. Yet, with Romo now practicing in full? Let the Cowboys lose the next 2 games and watch how quick Cowboy fans start crying for Romo to start.

    Would Palmer be in my top 5 of things of things that have hurt the Cardinals the most this year? Honestly, I don’t know, I’d have to take some time to think that through. But whether he makes the top 5 or not, the drop off in his play from last year IS a factor. And I don’t think you can have the discussion without Palmer being in it.

  18. By texascard on Nov 10, 2016 | Reply

    Darren. Would poor coaching decisions be on the top five things that have hurt the cards this year? Im not saying fire the coach. Im not saying get rid of any coaching staff ( including special teams). Just seems coaching has been very rocky this first half of season.

  19. By Darren Urban on Nov 11, 2016 | Reply

    texascard —

    RE: Coaching decisions

    I don’t know if it’d be top five for me, but obviously, there have been some errors. Guess it depends on what you consider errors too. For instance, some want to put it on coaching when Brandon Williams was out there the first couple of games and making errors. Given the circumstances, I would not, but I get where you’d be coming from if you did.

  20. By John The Draft Guy on Nov 10, 2016 | Reply

    Scott H,

    Got to agree with Darren on this one;
    Here is my list

    1. Michael Floyd – not only has he dropped passes and disappeared, but he also has run the wrong reads and made Palmer look bad.

    2. Brandon Williams – because he was the starter, this team went to a zone. He personally gave up 2 big plays to lose games for us. Cooper has helped.

    3. The Browns – injuries have hampered these two. They just haven’t been able to get going (Jaron is out). Taking away these two have really limited who Palmer can throw to.

    4. Center , RG, RT – Losing Mathis hurt this line. But Center and Rt have not been good and Palmer has been beaten up.

    5. Tyrann Matheu – He just has not been good this year. Not really a playmaker, trouble covering in the slot and is hurt before he healed from the last injury.

    Disagree??

  21. By Scott H on Nov 11, 2016 | Reply

    Jim Mora –

    Man, that rant NEVER gets old! It has to be the most referenced coaches press conf ever. Even Denny Green’s infamous rant after the Bears game comes in 2nd to that one.

  22. By TucsonTim on Nov 11, 2016 | Reply

    Brutal honesty, if you script your first 20+ plays and you have 7 points off a single 58 yard run from scrimmage in the first quarter of 8 games, you have poor play calling and game planning skills. For heavens sake, the Browns have 43 first quarter points in their first 8 games

  23. By Scott H on Nov 11, 2016 | Reply

    JTDG –

    Hey, man. Thanks for the thoughts. Now, I gotta say that I disagree ( at some point ).. ALL of your points are valid. And they are ALL in the discussion. But I can’t let Palmer off the hook here. He has to be in the Top 5. Or, MY Top %, anyway

    How can you NOT have the QB – the guy who has the ball in his hands on every offensive play – among the primary factors? Look at the numbers. Knowing you, you already know them! 🙂 But look again – only 10 TD’s….6 INT’s…..QB rating of only 87.9….has taken 24 sacks. Compare this against where he was last year at the same point. The disparity is hard to ignore. TOO hard to ignore.

    Look, I can’t put Mathieu on this list ahead of Carson Palmer. Mathieu is a safety. Palmer occupies the the most important position on the team. On a team that is below .500 after 8 games, you can’t excuse the QB.

    Look at the Bengals. Very comparable. They were viewed as a top dog in their conference coming into the season, too. After 8 games, they have the same 3-4-1 record as we do. How can you not look immediately at Dalton’s numbers and disregard them as one of THE reasons why the team is not where it should be?

    This seems like one of those debates that could go on and on. And lord knows, I’m usually up for that. But right now, I just can’t give Palmer a pass ( no pun intended ) here. Right now, he is my top 5 of things that have hurt the team the most so far this year.

  24. By clssylssy on Nov 12, 2016 | Reply

    Whatever the context, Palmer’s comments come across as complacent, which is exactly what we’ve seen in the first half of the season and is disturbing. After being led to believe by everyone in the organization that this was the best team the Cardinals ever assembled, and this would be our year, fans are understandably disappointed with complacency. Complacency, mediocrity, C grade…NOT acceptable! If he’s happy where we are, is satisfied with mediocrity, then maybe he needs to do something else where the demands aren’t so high and he can be an average Joe. Palmer’s a nice guy but in order to be a Champion in the NFL, it requires more of a thirst for victory and desire to push for excellence,not merely settling…even if it means playing through pain.
    I want to see a different team after the bye but, at this point, that seems like hoping for a miracle.

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