About that field-goal “defense”

Posted by Darren Urban on December 8, 2011 – 10:25 am

In this day and age when kickers make 80 to 85 percent of their field-goal attempts, the chances of kickers missing a lot simply doesn’t happen — especially good kickers on fire, like David Akers and Dan Bailey.

Unless, apparently, they face the Cardinals.

The Cardinals’ ability to block field goals is well documented; their 11 blocks in the last four seasons (2008 through now) leads the NFL and they led the league both 2009 and 2010, as well as leading this year. But Cards’ opponents have missed five other field goals this season that were not blocked. That’s nine misses total — most in the league, although their percentage of 73.5 made against them is fourth in the league (many more attempts against the Cards; league-leading Philadelphia has seen only 12 of 18 field-goal attempts made against them for a 66.7 percent conversion rate).

Why all the misses? There isn’t a person in the Cards’ locker room that doesn’t believe it’s anything besides the knowledge the Cards are so good at blocking kicks. “It’s in the back of their minds,” 6-foot-8 kick blocker Calais Campbell said of opposing kickers. “There’s no question they are aware of it,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “When you know that’s coming, it’s got to affect you.”

The recent games against the 49ers and the Cowboys give the ultimate tangible evidence. Both San Francisco’s David Akers and Dallas’ Dan Bailey were virtually automatic heading into their games against Arizona. Akers had made 23-of-25 attempts on the season; then he got two blocked and missed a third against the Cards. Bailey had made 26 straight before missing two of four against the Cards.

More importantly, there is a sense when a key kick is coming now that it isn’t automatic — even Billy Cundiff’s game-winning boot in Baltimore had a sense of “maybe not” before the snap — which just infuses even more energy in that kick-blocking unit.

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Posted in Blog | 16 Comments »

16 Responses to “About that field-goal “defense””

  1. By Shaun Church on Dec 8, 2011 | Reply


    Perhaps divine intervention has taken over the club’s chances. Did you notice Bailey’s ball sort of die, as if a gale-force wind had affected it? This Cardinals team may be a team of destiny; just squeak into the playoffs and let’s see what happens!

    Long-shot? Yes. But as long as there is any shot I remain positive. Go Cards.

  2. By Lesley on Dec 8, 2011 | Reply

    thanks for doing something with my little research! 🙂

  3. By Gilbert on Dec 8, 2011 | Reply

    Heck yeah divine intervention God loves the Cards I’m Christian by the way

  4. By Chuck 1 on Dec 8, 2011 | Reply

    Sure, the Cards have excellent players on the field goal block unit, but I AGAIN point out that Kevin Spencer molded that unit into a feared effective unit.


  5. By Tim Hall on Dec 8, 2011 | Reply

    The Cardinals kick blocking prowess reminds me of those Vikings teams of the 1970.

  6. By D on Dec 8, 2011 | Reply


    Any update on this Sunday’s game as far as sellout?


  7. By Darren Urban on Dec 8, 2011 | Reply

    D —

    RE: Sellout

    Not yet.

  8. By Canadian Red Bird on Dec 8, 2011 | Reply

    This is just one more reason that we get Calais’ name on a contract in short order vs having to place the franchise tag on him. He has the potential of becoming a pro bowler. Get the big man signed, Graves.

  9. By Corey on Dec 8, 2011 | Reply

    If we win the rest of our games we might get wildcard playoffs. Lets go Cards!

  10. By Walter L on Dec 8, 2011 | Reply

    Well I think the homefield advantage helps tremendously (UoP is VERY loud), but instead of a kicker just making sure the ball is up before the edge rush gets there, they have to make sure that it’s out fast, and up high enough where Campbell can’t get his paws on it. With the D-linemen that have developed here under Ron Aiken, the Cards can get a tremendous push up front too. There has always been talent here under Coach Whiz on defense, just never had the man to direct it (Coach Horton), but it has always shown up on Special Teams. That has been the one phase in which the Cards have been consistently good since Whiz arrived, and the credit all goes to Kevin Spencer. He gets it done on Special teams, year in and year out, and I’ve thought for the last couple of seasons that he might pop up as a dark horse candidate for a Head Coaching gig, a la Jon Harbaugh.

    Darren, what is your opinion on Coach Spencer being a candidate for a Head Coaching position somewhere soon, and might we see a story on the ST’s Coach, one of the top coaches in the Cardinals organization, any time soon?

  11. By Darren Urban on Dec 8, 2011 | Reply

    Walter L —

    RE: Spencer

    I don’t know if there would be a Spencer-specific story. I have done a special teams story.

    As for head coaching, I don’t know if that is in the cards for Spence.

  12. By Mike in Mesa on Dec 8, 2011 | Reply


    So God watches football and hates the Cowboys. That’s nice to know.

  13. By John the Draft Guy on Dec 8, 2011 | Reply

    It’s funny;
    When a special teams coach has good players to coach, they get FG blocks and punt and KO returns for TDs. Everyone raves about them. Spencer is a great coach.

    When they don’t have the players, they are the worst people and need to be fired.

    Spencer was, most likely, the happiest coach on staff when they chose PP.
    Make him happy again and resign Campbell.

  14. By BIG RED on Dec 8, 2011 | Reply


  15. By Chuck 1 on Dec 8, 2011 | Reply

    To: John the Draft Guy,

    So, what does that say about the QB coach, OC, Oline coach and Head Coach and their players?

  16. By John the Draft Guy on Dec 9, 2011 | Reply

    Chuck 1

    Exactly. Billechek was a flop in Cleveland. 3 Superbowls later, he’s amazing.
    Shanahan was an idiot with the Raiders and a genious with the Broncos, now he is an idiot again.

    The problem is when a coach decides to get involved with personel. The coach side of him might be great and the GM part might be bad.

    99% of the coaches that make it to the NFL were good coaches. Either they were promoted into a role they aren’t suited for (DC to Head Coach), or don’t have the players to run the sceme they want to.

    Look at John Fox. Leads Carolina to a superbowl. His QB goes down the tube in Delhomme, and he is fired. He goes to Denver and takes a QB no one believed in and made some adjustments. Now he is leading the AFC west. As for Whiz, Look at pre and post Warner, Boldin and Breaston.
    It’s not always the coach.But it can be. Look at SF to blow away everything I just said.:)

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