Winning in fourth, but clean-up needed

Posted by Darren Urban on November 6, 2014 – 10:30 am

It’s inevitable, really, that most games are going to be close in the NFL. This isn’t college, where little schools can be led to the slaughter by big schools; there is a reason why point spreads are rarely double-digits in the pros even when a strong team takes on a losing team. But the way the Cardinals are winning this year both inspires confidence and can leave outsiders wondering exactly how good the Cardinals are. In the end, if Bruce Arians is hoping his players stay focused week to week and look for that extra motivation, that can only help the cause.

But there is an element of the Cardiac Cards this season. To this, it’s hard to argue.

— The Cardinals score 12 fourth-quarter points in the opener to knock off the Chargers, 18-17.

— The Cardinals score 15 points in the fourth quarter to come back and beat the Giants, 25-14.

— The Cards outscore the Niners, 17-0, in the second half and need a Chandler Catanzaro field goal with 29 seconds left to seal a win, 23-14.

— The Cards outscore the Redskins, 13-7, in the fourth to put away a 30-20 win.

— Smokey Brown’s 75-yard touchdown catch with 1:21 left beats the Eagles, 24-20.

— Two fourth-quarter touchdowns in Dallas puts a 28-17 win out of reach.

What’s funny is that Arians has brought up, consistently, the mantra that the first half has been about “seeing where the game goes” and that the Cardinals will make the halftime adjustments to go out and finish. It’s certainly played out that way. But as quarterback Carson Palmer said, the Cardinals wouldn’t mind playing a little more consistently early so, you know, maybe the second halves don’t have to be quite so hard on the heart.

“We’ve been a second-half team since I’ve been here, as long as I can remember being a Cardinal,” said Palmer (although it’s really not that far back to remember, right?)

“We were a second-half team last year. We were really a second half of a season team last year, obviously, but we’ve been really good in the second half, and it’s good and bad. It’s good because that’s when games are won, but it’s bad because you leave teams hanging in the first half when you don’t go out and execute the way you expect to. From that standpoint, there are a lot of things we can clean up. We started hot and started fast as the season started, but we haven’t started games fast and that’s something we all are looking to improve.”


Posted in Blog | 20 Comments »

20 Responses to “Winning in fourth, but clean-up needed”

  1. By D on Nov 6, 2014 | Reply

    Hopefully they can improve in the first half of games, may need to for the Lions game since they can put up some points and especially for the remaining road games.
    This week’s game will spotlight the good and bad for the Oline. Including a healthy SF team and the Lions, the Rams have as good a DLine to play against for the Offense as they will see, hopefully both G’s can hold up for Palmer and Ellington.

  2. By Dynosoar on Nov 6, 2014 | Reply

    In “The Art of War,” Sun Tzu states that the general who knows himself AND knows his opponent will always win. This is one of his foundational rules.

    BA and his staff and the team know themselves and I believe each game are learning about themselves more and more. So they play the first half to get to know the opponent and then we win.

    Perhaps it’s good that know one can figure us out, other teams can’t beat us if they don’t understand us and we understand them.

  3. By Dynosoar on Nov 6, 2014 | Reply

    One last thought from “The Art of War,” when the “enemy/opponent” sees all their plans be countered, they fall apart, morale suffers and sometimes a rout ensues. We watched a rout between New England and Denver last week and with Denver in the Super Bowl. Denver doesn’t have what it takes to avoid a rout when frustrated.

    This is why teams are falling apart in the fourth quarter against us, while there hasn’t been a rout, they can’t move the ball or stop us and get frustrated. Recall the San Francisco game and all the frustrations and penalties late.

    Ba and his staff understand “The Art of War.” And it’s too late in the season for other teams to learn this in time to counter us.

  4. By Patrick Hoog aka Don't Take Losses on Nov 6, 2014 | Reply

    See Kyle’s injury report today for Rams? 3 CBs 2Ss banged… hmmmn…

  5. By clssylssy on Nov 6, 2014 | Reply

    Those fourth quarter clean-ups are great but after too many years of “cardiac moments”, I really like to see us getting off to a fast start and maintaining control to the bitter end. Last week we were slow out of the gate, leveled off and then seemed to lose power at the finish, allowing Dez his TD. We can’t afford to do this with some of the teams remaining on our schedule and, it’s never good to put off till the last minute! The Rams are a deceptively tough team and if we give them breathing space to start, I don’t think we’ll beat the odds. When we played the 9ers we had to play fast to keep up and it improved our game. We are going to have to play this game with the same intensity that we did the 9ers, Eagles and Cowboys. Not having Dave Zastudil really hurt our field position and I can’t remember if he was suppose to be back or was out for the season? Can you refresh his status Darren?

  6. By sbrown on Nov 6, 2014 | Reply

    This week it sure would be good to my heart for the Cardinals to score early and often. Will not hurt my game day to have a 2+ score lead at halftime, and put 30+ points on the scoreboard. Offense will need to score to do their part in the next few games. See you at UoP on Sunday, Go Cards !

  7. By georgiebird on Nov 6, 2014 | Reply

    A win is a win, BUT the lack of a blowout game here and there is concerning.
    Some thoughts on where we are:
    1) has PP begun to turn the corner or was he the benefactor of bad QB play? In years gone by, when Larry was shut down, we would point to our poor QBs
    2) are a large number of our young defensive players beginning to get to that next level as in Dan, Okafer, Stinson and Acho ?
    3) Can the offense bring in a couple more players to the mix such as Grice, Cooper, Housler and Ja. Brown to round out and strengthen an already decent group.

  8. By krehbieo14 on Nov 6, 2014 | Reply

    Although we are 7-1, the Cards have left points off the board due to a lack of offensive efficiency. The penalties and drops must be reduced if progress is to be accomplished. A more disciplined offense will help the defense immensely. We will need more effective play down the stretch. Like Fitz has reiterated, I am waiting for this break out to happen!

  9. By ChristianR on Nov 6, 2014 | Reply

    With all of the hype surrounding the Cardinals now that people see how good they are, I’m glad to see humble posts like this where the QB is talking about things that need to be cleaned up still. Everyone has always noted that Larry Fitzgerald is a classy and humble player, but it really seems like that’s just the atmosphere for the Cardinals. They don’t shout to the world that they’re the best and continue to work on their flaws. Classy.

  10. By georgiebird on Nov 6, 2014 | Reply

    Sports is now laden with teams who do well during the season as a whole but begin to fade at seasons end. Teams not peaking at the right are susceptible to the many layers of playoff games no matter the sport.
    Yes, the Cardinals have a great record but can they continue to get better ?
    It seems the Cards have the roster makeup to keep getting better. There are enough young, talented players to enable the team to keep improving- these players can be found all over the roster on both offense and defense. It’s time for them to seize the opportunity.
    Are you listening J. Cooper??.

  11. By jme on Nov 6, 2014 | Reply

    finish each half better then your opponent. this is the key BA has put into place and with all logic it is the best formula for wins. any clean up would be focused on ending the second half a little better, score as many points as time of possesion and learn from mistakes and advantages on the fly, this philosophy is the corner stone to an elite performance. It may not be pretty also but in any battle, victory is above any the mission with a mind set of 100% success in the outcome as a whole not just fragments.

  12. By Scott H on Nov 6, 2014 | Reply

    Funny to hear Palmer say “for as long as I can remember being a Cardinal.” Made me chuckle. Dude…you’ve ain’t been here THAT long!

    The important thing is that WE remember what it was like between the departure of Kurt Warner and your arrival. I like to refer to those years as the Dark Ages, a period of time I would prefer to NOT dwell on. Fortunately for us, happy days are here again!

  13. By Scott H on Nov 6, 2014 | Reply

    clssylssy –

    I hear ya bout the cardiac moments. The last minute or so of that game against the Eagles damn near killed me. THREE plays to the end zone at the end….the last one with ( I think ) ONE second left on the clock??? ONE second left and we could lose the game on this play??? I swear, it was KILLIN me!

  14. By CreditCard on Nov 6, 2014 | Reply

    Rams make me nervous. Fisher teams play all out for 60-minutes. Hopefully the Cards can roll out of the gate faster than previous games. Don’t give the Rams hope near the end of the game

  15. By JohnnyBluenose on Nov 7, 2014 | Reply

    Agree with you, CreditCard. The Rams will come to play and play hard. But we should be fine. We should be alert for their trick plays (punt returns and their punter throwing from their own 20) and our defense will not allow them much. Unless we uncharacteristically turn the ball over or allow kick returns I see us winning this game handily, especially at home. On another topic, I am very happy for Brian Hoyer and I hope he and the Browns continue to do well. At least until they meet us in the SuperBowl. The Browns are one of the very few teams to have never gone to the SuperBowl and they were where we were only a few years ago..Nowhere. It’s nice to see them in the mix.

  16. By Dynosoar on Nov 7, 2014 | Reply

    Form the article (and it’s been stated in at least one other article.)

    “What’s funny is that Arians has brought up, consistently, the mantra that the first half has been about “seeing where the game goes” and that the Cardinals will make the halftime adjustments to go out and finish.”

    Have those who give me thumbs down whenever I mention Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” ever read it? If so, how do you feel my application of his principles for a general to be successful do not apply to BA and his staff?

    It’s only about 45 pages (depending on translation). Successful generals follow Sun Tzu’s principles and so does BA and company. I wish I understood why my agreeing with BA gets thumbs down, I really am trying to understand.

    I also stand by my statements that BA and his staff understand “The Art of War” and apply it to the Cardinals games and this is why we are winning. We have the best coaching staff and the players to execute the coaches strategy.

    If anyone wants to better understand this team, our coaching staff and why our opponents fall apart (and why we fell apart against Denver) and can’t execute at the end of a game like they did at the beginning, read this short book. (Obviously some of this book, like when to use fire for a scorched earth policy do not apply directly, but most of it does.)

  17. By Dr. G. on Nov 7, 2014 | Reply

    Cardiac? Does anyone remember how the 1st game of this season ended with the cardiac plays at the end of the game? AT HOME! BA had to change his skivvies…relying on Bowles to begin the season. ONE POINT…!

    Everyone in the stands was prepared for a loss. I would rather see Arians roll the dice occasionally than to roll over with caution…! ((a la the Eagles w/Brown))

    This team has the weapons to post 40…just waiting… just waiting… If this offense was stomping on opponents, Bowles would be here for a few years.

  18. By Kevin S Mesa on Nov 7, 2014 | Reply

    Georgiebird —

    I think you hit it on the head; the Cardinals can keep improving. That’s what’s so exciting about being 7-1. If you’re 3-5 but feel like you could improve… OK, what does that get you? Maybe 6-2 the second half and a wild card spot at 9-7 if your conference is way down that year. But if we can improve and we’re already 7-1? The sky’s the limit. And there’s simply no doubt that our offense is capable of putting up more points, and that the D — as good as it’s been — is also capable of improving. I mean, everyone’s fawning over Big Ben’s 6 TD’s in two consecutive games, but that’s historic — he isn’t keeping that up. And when he’s not doing that, Pitt can lose to Tampa Bay and get blown out by Cleveland. Meanwhile, we plod along and win every game except one road game against one of the best teams in football where we were hanging in with our #2 (and #3) QB for 3 quarters.

    The one negative (I think) is that we’ve been extremely fortunate on the turnover side of things (notwithstanding the pick 6 in the Dallas game), and that’s likely to catch up to us somewhat. Sure, good teams force turnovers and don’t make a lot of their own, but there’s also a luck factor involved, and we’re probably going to regress to the mean somewhat in that department. It’s easy to lose a game to a lesser team if you turn the ball at inopportune times.

  19. By clssylssy on Nov 8, 2014 | Reply

    LOL, and you don’t think we would be “fawning” over Palmer if he had 6 TDs? LOL! Yes, that is historic but it also is skill and remember who his mentor was…BA!
    Let’s hope we see the same from Palmer so we can “fawn” over him too!
    Of course, there is always room for improvement with any team or individual player, coach, GM etc. and the minute complacency settles in…that is a fatal flaw!

  20. By clssylssy on Nov 8, 2014 | Reply

    And, don’t forget who the Rams DC is…Greg “dirty deeds”Williams (for newbies he was the architect for Bountygate and was suppose to be suspended by the league indefinately but was “permitted” to be on the Rams sidelines w his son before even Sean Payton was allowed to watch his team from a box!) While I am hoping to see us hit them hard and play a very physical game, I, nonetheless, am concerned about injuries to our players as we enter this very critical stretch of our season.

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