Going from third to first

Posted by Darren Urban on September 12, 2013 – 10:59 am

It’s basic football. Convert third downs, you stay on the field.

That was Bruce Arians’ lament about the end of the Rams game. “The fourth quarter for us came down to two third downs,” Arians said.

The obvious one was the third-and-2 at the two-minute warning, the wheel route out of the backfield by running back Andre Ellington in which he was wide open and the right pass from Carson Palmer would have found a streaking Ellington for what very well could have been a touchdown. The play was designed so well, with Michael Floyd sitting down just past the first down marker and drawing not only the cornerback but also the safety, allowing Ellington lots of room past (too-slow-to-cover-him) linebacker James Laurinaitis.

The other was a third-and-8 the possession before, when Palmer tried to get the ball on an out pattern to Andre Roberts and couldn’t connect. (The play before, Fitz was open deep down the middle of the field but Laurinaitis made a nice play to tip it away.)

But the reality is that the Cardinals did a pretty good job on third downs. For the game, the Cards were 7-for-14 on third downs (and held the Rams to 4-for-11 … even if the defense didn’t force St. Louis into enough third down situations.) Fitz’s 24-yard TD catch was a third down play. Yes, the fourth quarter was an issue, with the Cards only 1-for-4, but 50 percent was still a massive improvement over last season.

Last year, the Cards converted just 25.2 percent of their third downs. They had at least seven third-down conversions just once in a game — seven exactly — and that was, coincidentally in St. Louis and out of 19 attempts. (We won’t talk about the ugly 0-for-15 day in New York against the Jets.) They never in a game converted more than 40 percent of third downs.

Arians is right, the Cards have to convert at crucial times late. It probably would have changed the outcome. But it’s an important sea change going forward.


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Posted in Blog | 10 Comments »

10 Responses to “Going from third to first”

  1. By Tucson Card on Sep 12, 2013 | Reply

    Can’t wait for the Detroit game. Despite last week’s loss, I like what I see so far from the team.

  2. By Patrick Hoog aka Don't Take Losses on Sep 12, 2013 | Reply

    Solid post.

  3. By wampag on Sep 12, 2013 | Reply

    okay I know this isn’t your area D but the store has not gotten back to me and I am getting a little frustrated…why is the CARDS away jersey no longer available??? and why can I not find an away Abraham anywhere??? is this a Nike thing because I have to admit their jerseys are seriously CRAPPPY did you notice how many of the numbers were being ripped off during last Sundays games…at one point you couldn’t tell who half the Panthers D was

  4. By Darren Urban on Sep 12, 2013 | Reply

    Wampag —

    RE: Store

    E-mail me and we’ll see if we can get something accomplished.

  5. By Kauaicardsfan on Sep 12, 2013 | Reply

    Aloha Darren,
    As usual I am always waiting to see what new news you have for us, I feel like #5 in short circuit movie ” More Input !!! “. Mahalo for all you do for us! Trust me it does not go unappreciated!

  6. By Gary on Sep 12, 2013 | Reply

    We should have won against the Rams and we should win against Detroit. Whether Bruce Arians likes it or not, if he doesn’t help Levi Brown with a TE or RB on passing downs we will lose. Palmer did a good job and this team can win with him, but not if he is on his back. I know there was a lot of talk about Levi, but lets give props to the other tackle Eric Winston. I thought he did a great job against Chris Long.

  7. By fredrich herdt jr on Sep 12, 2013 | Reply

    i like what I saw last week we have a good q.b. and two as back up the ball did not bounce our way as we hoped but that is the game of football we lost one we should have won down the road we will win one we should have lost it will all even out and we are a playoff bound team for sure.. LOOK OUT DETRIOT THE BIRDS ARE COMMING

  8. By creditcard on Sep 12, 2013 | Reply

    This game makes me nervous, boils down to OL and DL play. Cards need to dominate the line of scrimmage. Like to see a 100-yd rusher for he Cards this week.

  9. By Dieselbomb on Sep 12, 2013 | Reply

    I think it would be worth it to put Nate Potter in as a Tackle Eligible (Tackl Elig, below) every play, if that fits into the rules. By doing so, we’d be down one Tight End; but I’d rather have the protection and have just three or four receivers than to allow Defensive Linemen leaks on Palmer’s blind side. Potter coordinating with Brown would make the plays equivalent to one good Left Tackle.

    They’d line up left to right :

    WR, Tckl Elig (Potter), LBrown, Colledge, Sendlein, Fanaika, Winston, Slot, WR

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