Cardinals getting stingy on defense

Posted by Darren Urban on October 26, 2016 – 10:06 am

The Cardinals’ defense has become very stingy. Hasn’t allowed a touchdown in nine quarters and two games. The franchise hasn’t had a stretch where it didn’t allow a touchdown in two straight games since 1970. That’s a long time ago (and when the NFL game was a completely different animal.) The Cardinals are now fifth in the NFL in scoring defense at 15.7 points a game and second (behind Minnesota) in total defense.

The current stretch, however, has come against clearly lesser offenses. The Panthers, who the Cards visit this weekend, are fifth in the NFL in scoring at nearly 27 points a game. Carolina is not playing well enough to win, but it is scoring well enough to win (which tells you something about the Panthers’ leaky defense.)

Many teams have quarterbacks that can move a little bit. The Cards benefited from the fact Russell Wilson, with a knee and an ankle banged up, clearly can’t run around as well as he normally can. Now comes Cam Newton, who can definitely run around and has the giant frame to boot. Newton has taken a lot of punishment this season as he’s run around, so maybe that impacts the Carolina game plan, but it would be foolish to think Newton carrying the ball — either by design or scrambling — won’t be a concern.

Still, the Panthers are facing a different defense than the one they saw in the NFC Championship. The effective four-man pass rush, and the way Chandler Jones is playing, changes the dynamic. Tyrann Mathieu isn’t quite himself — Bruce Arians said on Sirius XM radio Tuesday Mathieu was about 85 percent, in his estimation, and will be better once the knee brace can come off — but at least he is on the field, unlike January. The odds aren’t with the Cards to keep the Panthers out of the end zone — although when the Panthers met the Vikings earlier this season in Carolina, the Panthers only scored 10 points.


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27 Responses to “Cardinals getting stingy on defense”

  1. By Kevin S Mesa on Oct 26, 2016 | Reply

    Wait, I thought (according to some posters) that Bettcher was too inexperienced and was overmatched in his role as our DC.

    And yet we are #2 defense in the NFL in yards per game, and #5 in points per game.

  2. By Kevin S Mesa on Oct 26, 2016 | Reply

    Meanwhile, our scoring woes are summed up by this one comparison: We are 8th in the NFL in yards per game, but 17th in points per game.

    We’re averaging 22.7 PPG. The four teams immediately BEHIND us in yards per game are all AHEAD of us in PPG, averaging 27.7, 24.3, 26.4 and 29.4 PPG, which comes out to an average of 27 PPG. 4.3 points higher than the Cards.

    Considering we have a tie, and two losses by 4 points or less, those extra 4 points per game would come in handy.

  3. By 'ZonaFan89 on Oct 26, 2016 | Reply

    We owe these Carolina clowns a beatdown! How much more motivation could you need than playing the team that’s ended your past 2 seasons? Here’s to hoping we come out hitting those guys in the mouth!!

  4. By Scott H on Oct 26, 2016 | Reply

    As poorly as Newton – and the Panthers as a whole – have played so far this year, let’s not let THIS be the week they find themselves. I think it will be interesting to see how the Cardinals come back from that loss on Sunday night ( look, as far as I’m concerned, it felt like a loss ) to play in a trip to the east coast – AND to a place that has not been friendly to them recently. Hey, at least the defense should be well rested.

    It will also be interesting to see how the Seahawks fare this week after we wore them out and they are also heading to the east this week – to play the Saints, no less. I will NOT mind seeing the Saints lay it on them this week.

  5. By kevintobeygop on Oct 26, 2016 | Reply

    The ones calling for BA to retire and resign are not true Cardinal fans. I been a fan since the Jim Hart/ Neil Lomax days and been a fan through all the years we where 5 11. WHen we went 8-8 I threw myself a one man party. For the posers calling for a replacement for Betcher get a life. Only thing we need is a QB inline as a replacement for when Palmer retires hope not anytime soon. Drew was never a good choice just look at stats before he came here and look at them again. We need a QB inline we all know if Carson goes down we are doomed.

  6. By John The Draft Guy on Oct 26, 2016 | Reply

    Kevin S Mesa;

    Got to be fair right now.

    The cards faced the Brady-less Patriots,.
    The 23rd ranked Jets, whose QB is throwing picks at alarming rates.
    The 22nd ranked seahawks with a hobbled QB
    The 25th ranked Bills
    The 30th ranked rams
    The 32nd ranked niners
    and a young Tampa team (ranked 12th) who threw 4 ints on the road.

    Got to take it with a grain of salt when looking at the big picture.
    Having Garapalo, in his first start, at home, and betchler played a soft zone, allowing Garapalo to go 24/33, 264 yds and a TD.
    Case Keenum, again in Phx, threw for 266 and 2 TDs. Case frecking Keenum. !!!
    The Bills who fired their OC days before the game, ran for over 200 yds.

    Not to mention the seahawks taking a forth quarter drive of 70 yards to kick a tying FG and 55 yards to a tying FG in OT. Not exactly stepping up when we need them.

    Now, to be fair, I think they are finding their way. Badger is back in the slot. Swearingr has found a home in center field and Cooper is playing well at CB (all things that were not happening in the first few games). Also, although he still falls into a zone, he is playing much more man.

    So, the defense is playing well. Much better than the start of the year. But stats can be deceiving. So, I will part with the immortal words of Denny Green,

    “If you want to crown them, then crown their A@##@. ”

    To the Bears credit, they were crowned NFC Champs that year. Maybe the cards will go on to be the #1 defense.

  7. By D on Oct 26, 2016 | Reply

    Nationally, the Cards are not getting much love for their D, always, wants wrong with Seattle or they faced a bad QB in earlier games.., etc and the D is getting overshadowed by the overall record and the drop off in Offense compared to last year.

    Palmer needs to stop holding onto the ball too long, granted some is due to opposing D and WR’s routes, but he can’t keep continue to hold onto the ball and take sacks.

    Keep feeding DJ the ball, he is their Offense right now. Incorporate more passes to the TE and keep looking for Larry, he’ll be able to destroy this Carolina secondary.

  8. By clssylssy on Oct 26, 2016 | Reply

    Cam is getting healthy and is mobile…let’s not let this game be their “come back” statement game. Looking at our injured list, Smokey is practicing while Floyd is out with a hammy and Veldeer has “an eight foot cast” on his finger. I have no doubt that our Cards are running on fumes and will be facing a well rested Panthers team who are hungry for a win but we need to muster every ounce we have in our reserve tank and devour the Panthers with the same intensity we gave the Seahawks to shake off the stink of our previous encounters.
    The Seahawks face a Saints team with Brees and the WhoDat Nation their only assets so a loss in NOLA would only make us look bad!
    Really expecting the Honey Badger to earn what we’re paying him for and get a few of those interceptions and “Savage” plays he use to produce on a regular basis. Rest up guys and Let’s Do This Together…hopefully Keim will have reinforcements after the bye.

  9. By Joseph Robinett (Redwing) on Oct 26, 2016 | Reply

    I love my Cardinals, but the Panther’s are hungry and rested and, surely, eager to give their faithful something to feel cheery about, or, and I am visualizing this, Cam bailing early on another presser…


  10. By clssylssy on Oct 26, 2016 | Reply

    To Palmer’s credit he did hang on to the ball when going down on a very brutal sack and even Chris Collinsworth commented that was an amazing feat and the mark of an experienced QB who was thinking. Often such a play would have resulted in the QB losing the ball to be recovered by the Seahawks. He may not look like he did last season but he does play smart for the most part, except for what appears to be a few errant throws, but even Brady and Rogers do that too. Now, if we could get our receivers and TEs all on their game, we’d be in good shape and wouldn’t have to depend on Special Teams to win the game.

    As far as the heat BA has been taking about his objection to Bobby Wagner’s leapfrog play, I applaud him. Thank you sir for thinking about our player’s safety. This is football and not gymnastics or a track meet and a 200+ lb man in full gear hurdling a defenseless player is just an injury waiting to happen with a kick to the head or face with cleats. I don’t look forward to seeing high school players mimicking this and creating more of an uproar for mothers not wanting their kids to play this great sport. If the NFL needs these kinds of cheap thrills to make the game more entertaining then they need to reevaluate the game.

    Bottom line, there needs to be more clarity in the rules so that there is consistency by the officials and the league needs to be less hypocritical about their ideas of player safety.

  11. By Jeff A on Oct 26, 2016 | Reply


    I thought the game tying FG was off the blocked punt which placed them in FG range upon possession.

  12. By shannon robinson on Oct 27, 2016 | Reply

    I don’t care that the Cards have lost 3 and have a tie. I’d rather have our team and our loss record than be the Seasocks in first place without an offensive line. I care most about controlling the line of scrimmage on offense and defense, Mr. Keim’s top priority two years ago. We’re holding teams to less than a 100 yards a game. That’s really hard to do consistently. Having Corey Peters in the middle of our front 3 makes a phenomenal difference. Mostly I’m proud of the right side of our O-line, yeah, the guys everybody’s complaining about, including AQ. They’re growing into their jobs and we’re still running the ball for over a buck twenty every game. What matters first is whether your team can play tough, solid football, not your W/L record. Looking at teams without their record and it is surprising and that includes the Panthers. Next time it’s fourth and one or second and one at the one, I bet we get it, and maybe it will be for the division title.

  13. By Kevin S Mesa on Oct 27, 2016 | Reply

    clssylssy —

    I agree that the leap over the center should be banned.

    But there’s a difference between saying that the play should be banned (which is legit), and saying that when Wagner’s foot grazed the back of the snapper on the blocked FG, that should’ve been a penalty. I don’t know how anyone could say that this falls within the definition of “landing on players.”

    Change the rule — sure. But don’t chastise the refs for enforcing the existing rule.

  14. By Scott H on Oct 27, 2016 | Reply

    Kevin / clssy

    RE: The leap over the center

    Here is what came out of that whole thing for me….never mind the rules that apply to that ( I did not understand them at the time, I do now ) – how ’bout the huge, wide open gap in the middle of our line that Bennett was able to leap through without being touched by a Cardinals player, en route to a seemingly easy block of a FG attempt??? AND, how ’bout how that huge, wide open gap was there, yet again, on the kick that was missed in OT?? Good lord, didn’t we learn anything from the first block???

    Now, I don’t hear about Bennett doing this every week, so….doesn’t it seem that he must have felt there was an opportunity to do this against the Cardinals? And if that is the case…..again, what is wrong with our special teams that we allow this?? Because I also DO NOT typically see that huge, wide open gap right over the center when I’m watching other teams. I have had a hard time getting past this.

    And, BTW, I give Bennett major kudos for his aggressiveness. He obviously saw an opportunity to make a play, he went for it, we did NOTHING to stop him, and it succeeded. I’m not mad at him.

  15. By Darren Urban on Oct 27, 2016 | Reply

    Scott H —

    RE: Huge hole

    1) It was Wagner, not Bennett.

    2) That “huge, wide open gap” is there on every play for every team. Because part of the rules are that you cannot have a defender within a yard of the long snapper unless you are outside of his shoulders on either side. Safety thing, just like the leaping portion. So not only can you not land on a player, to do what he did you have to time it perfectly. Can’t just do a standing broad jump over the guy.

  16. By georgiebird on Oct 27, 2016 | Reply

    Agree the Cards defense has come to play the last two weeks. But how does anyone account for the “soft” play after Cat’s successful FG in OT.
    If there was a time to come up big time that was it.
    It seems that the Cards defense has a lot of nice players but no finisher.
    Remember, in OT, the Cards’ defense had the game in their hands just like Cat did- and both failed miserably.

  17. By Dr. G. on Oct 27, 2016 | Reply

    Arians ~ ~ put a spy on Newton…period.

    A brilliant play the next time someone leaps over the long snapper – – Just as the guy leaps over, our holder stands up pulling the ball stepping aside and passes to a TE for a TD. Now, simultaneously, Catman continues to follow through kicking the rusher squarely in the berries…! Timing is important here…Catman may fracture his patella.

    What is life without humor and imagination?

    D ~ ~ Yeah, agree Palmer holds the ball too long looking to make it happen. He is an optimist sometimes to a fault. Our D can win this game, but we need to get our ship together on offense. Seriously not a Cam Fan…needs a life coach.

  18. By Dr. G. on Oct 27, 2016 | Reply

    Kevin… “grazed?” I dont think those plays were reviewed, so if there is an interpretation, it was not analyzed. Not reviewable?

    You know if a runner falls down, he can still get up and run, but if you graze him with your little finger, he is DOWN. The rule should be concrete without interpretation. be well…

  19. By John The Draft Guy on Oct 27, 2016 | Reply

    Jeff A,

    Good Catch.

    The two drives the seahawks had both came in overtime. They made one FG and missed the other.

    Here is the play by play if anyone is interested.

    Point is still the same, the seahawks drove the field to tie and then had a short kick to win. Defense can’t allow that to happen.

  20. By Scott H on Oct 27, 2016 | Reply

    Darren –

    RE: Wagner, not Bennett

    To continue, I hear what you are saying and perhaps you are ( mostly ) right. And maybe my point was somewhat exagerrated. Yes. It happens.

    But I’m sorry, I do not believe that large of a wide open gap over the center is there all the time, every game. NOT to the extent it was in that game on Sunday night. If it were, how are more FG’s not being blocked? Because would it be so hard??

    I noticed it RIGHT AWAY in the game against the Seahawks. Been watching football most of my life and I don’t see that all the time.

    I’ve seen plenty of blocked FG’s and it is almost always either a guy coming around the outside and laying out or really tall guys ( ala Campbell ) getting a hand on it at the line. It is much more rare that guys are vaulting right over the center and blocking the kick right off the kicker’s foot.

    My point is, seeing guys do what WAGNER did is not common. So, he obviously saw SOMETHING he believed he could take advantage of. And he did. And I really think if that opportunity were there on every play, for every team, we would be seeing many more blocked FG’s.

    Wagner isn’t doing this regularly. The Seahawks aren’t blocking FG’s every week.

  21. By Kevin S Mesa on Oct 27, 2016 | Reply

    Dr. G —

    I agree, a rule not subject to interpretation is best.

    But the rule, as currently written, is “landing on players.” If it was “cannot touch a player,” then Wagner violated the rule and there would have been a penalty. (If I recall correctly, there WAS a flag thrown initially, but it was picked up, so someone probably saw Wagner’s foot graze the back, and then after discussing, was convinced that he didn’t “land” on him.

    Again, I’m not arguing with anyone who thinks the rule should be changed. Just read an interview where Arians said the play should be banned, period. No argument from me.

  22. By Kevin S Mesa on Oct 27, 2016 | Reply

    Georgiebird and JDTG —

    Re: defense

    Come on guys, that’s a pretty high standard you’re setting.

    The defense did not allow Seattle past the 50 yard line for a full 60 minutes. Seattle’s ONLY possession on our side of the field in regulation, they were there not courtesy of our defense, but of a blocked punt, and the defense held the Hawks without a first down to force a FG.

    Would it have been great if our D had held after Cat’s FG? Sure. It also would’ve been great if Michael Floyd had caught a pass on the 15 a few plays earlier so that we could’ve kept driving for a TD so that Seattle’s O never saw the field.

    But, really, are you going to criticize the D for allowing 3 points the entire game? (The other 3 weren’t on them.)

    Especially when, the one drive where the D did allow points was the first drive in OT. And since we’d already scored, Seattle HAD to score at least a FG or it was game over. Which means they had 4 downs to work with every time. It’s hard enough to prevent an NFL team from gaining 10 yards in 3 downs; it’s a lot harder to do it in 4 downs.

    I don’t have any stats on this, but I would submit that a typical NFL team in “do-or-die” mode — where they HAVE to score on a given drive or the game is over — scores points a lot more often than on a typical drive in the middle of the game. I figured that with 4 downs to work with, it was going to be very hard for us to prevent Seattle from at least a FG on that opening drive of OT.

  23. By Scott H on Oct 27, 2016 | Reply

    Kevin –

    Like yourself, I find it hard to fault the defense for the outcome on Sunday night. That defense played superb football for 60 minutes of regulation – certainly superb enough that the offense AND the ST’s had enough opportunities to put this game out of reach.

    I do hear what JTDG guy is saying – that on those last two drives, the Seahawks were suddenly able to move the ball in chunks. OK. But there is no way we should have gotten to that point.

    Not only did we keep the Seahawks’ offense on their side of the 50 all night, we also kept them on the sidelines for 45 minutes. I mean…..c’mon, how could you ask more of your defense than that???

    Meanwhile, our offense WAS on the field for 45 minutes, and they could only get us 3 points?? No. One more FG in regulation – 6 POINTS – would probably have won that game. WHEN 6 POINTS probably would have won you a game, you can only conclude that your defense must have been other-worldly and you can only ask where the hell was the offense and special teams??

  24. By John The Draft Guy on Oct 28, 2016 | Reply

    Kevin, Scott, anyone else;


    Missing the point. The point I was making is don’t believe the stats. Look at the offenses and QBs we played. Not exactly juggernauts.

    We have the top running back per yards from scrimmage, the #2 defense, Our QB is averaging 284 yards per game and 60% comp %. . We are the 8th ranked offense in the league. We are number 4 in the NFL in sacks.

    Yet we are 3-3-1 and have a very hard road to the playoffs. See, sometimes stats can be misleading.

    (I get it, if we could kick FGs, we are 5-2- special teams have been a nightmare)

    But, As for the Seattle game, Do you think the 2000 ravens or the 85 bears give up those drives? Those were great defenses. They came up big when they needed to.

    For the cards to go from a good defense to a top defense in the league they have to do three things (1) do it against good competition, (2) they have to do it on the road, and (3) when they need to make a stand, they need to come through.

    Until then, they are a good defense and the stats are a little misleading.

  25. By Kevin S Mesa on Oct 28, 2016 | Reply

    JTDG —

    I’m not trying to compare them to the 2000 Ravens or 85 Bears. Not saying it’s a historic defense. And yes, stats can be misleading, no argument there. Your point about the offenses they’ve faced is fair. I don’t think we have the top defense in the NFL, or anything like that. But I do think they are very good.

    But in this game, the Cards played like a historic defense for 60 minutes. 5 first downs in regulation. 5! Even the ’85 Bears, in their two back-to-back shutouts against Dallas and Atlanta, allowed 12 and 10 first downs, respectively, in those games. Not to mention that the NFL is a lot different in 2016 than it was in 1985, or even 2000, so a game where you hold the opponent to 5 first downs is probably harder now than back then.

    This whole thing about the defense not coming up big “when it needed to” is kind of silly. They had already “needed to” come up big over and over again throughout the entirety of regulation because our offense only put 3 points on the board. I’d say forcing punt after punt after punt, never allowing the Hawks past midfield, and holding them without a first down and forcing a FG after the blocked punt was already coming up big.

    If the D had otherwise played the same, but allowed an early 2nd quarter touchdown, and the blocked punt had never happened, and we lost 7-3, nobody would be saying, “Wow, the Cardinal defense didn’t come up big when it needed to, by stopping that touchdown.” We’d be blaming the offense for not scoring points. How anyone can hold it against our defense that they finally caved and let up ONE field goal in overtime — on a drive where the Seahawks had 4 downs to work with on each set of downs — is beyond me.

    Ultimately, yes, stats can be misleading. I already pointed out that we’re the 8th ranked offense in YPG but only 17th in PPG — that’s the beginning of our problems, not converting our yards into points. Missing FG’s against both Seattle and New England, having to settle for 2 FG’s inside the 10 against the Rams. As you say, we should be 5-2 if we could kick FG’s, and I’d go one better and say we should be 6-1 given how we dominated the Rams.

    To me, the stats leave room for optimism. We’re outplaying most of our opponents. The NE game was a toss-up stat-wise, and came down to the wire; could’ve gone either way. Seattle and LA, we should’ve won both of those. If (and that’s a big if) we can keep playing the way we have been, we should come out ahead in most games. Question is, did we leave ourselves too little margin for error.

    We finished 7-2 in Arians’/Palmer’s first year after a 3-4 start. We didn’t finish strong in the 2014, the Lindley year, for obvious reasons. And last year after starting out 4-2 we won nine straight before losing to Seattle in the meaningless finale. So this team has it in them to finish strong.

    So many people seem down on the team as if we’re playing horribly, when we’re actually playing well and have just been the unluckiest team in football with the possible exception of San Diego. We’re a .500 team with a net point differential that’s 6th in the NFL. I’m hoping for a 7-2 finish, and 10-5-1 getting us in the playoffs. I am optimistic that this team can do it.

  26. By Scott H on Oct 28, 2016 | Reply

    Kevin –

    RE: We’re the un-luckiest team in football

    Well, you had me up to that point. Gotta say, I don’t agree with that. Not at all. I’m a big believer in the Bill Parcells adage that you are what your record says you are. I look at how we have played and, well…..for me, we ARE exactly what our record is. We have just plain failed to execute at too many points in too many of our games to this point in the season. I don’t really see where our luck was against us.

    Pats game? Failed to execute. Should have won but didn’t.

    Bills Game? Please. We just got flat out smoked. Luck has nothing to do with that one.

    Rams game? We played far below our capability and the Rams were the better team that day. I’ll say we should have won that game because we are a better team. But I won’t say we lost that game because of bad luck. Rams always seem to give us fits at least once a year.

    Seahawks game? Well, in terms of not executing…..good lord, where should we start??? Poor execution on ST’s all night? Palmer making a horrible throw with Nelson open along the sidelines? Floyd dropping that pass that hit him right in the hands? Again, poor execution at too many points. And some play calling I did not agree with. Missed FG’s in OT are a non-factor here because BOTH teams missed one that should have been a gimme. But I see no bad luck factor here, either.

    The other 3 games, we did what good teams should do against bad teams. Took care of business, won convincingly.

    But we’ve not been nearly consistent enough. That is squarely on us.

  27. By John The Draft Guy on Oct 28, 2016 | Reply

    Kevin S Meas;

    I too am hoping for a run of wins and we go 7-2 in the last 9 games. I am hoping that seattle stumbles also (although, they are into the weak park of their schedule).

    I think fans are upset for two reasons.
    1) the cards played teams they shouldn’t have lost to
    2) This all or nothing push had fans believing in a superbowl. Then to see them not be prepared at CB, the mess known as special teams, and the oline that was getting Palmer battered was unacceptable. This is not consistent with the all or nothing superbowl push frustrating many.

    I think Arians is a solid coach. I think he made changes at CB, found a running game to take pressure off Palmer, but the special teams still haunts us. What a different season if we made two kicks and were 5-2.

    I think fans are upset, not because they think the team is bad, but because they haven’t lived up to expectations.

    As for the defense, I was very critical of the decision to play Williams and yes, it turned out to be right. I hated the zones he played (and will still do every now and then). But when he got back to manning up and having LBs shoot gaps, we have the cards playing much better. Betchler is much more “safe” than Bowles. Sometimes fans (like my self) get a little upset with that.

    The defense is good. They played great against seattle, no argument. Our difference is , I do believe a great defense is one you can count on to shut the door. They need to be closers.

    Let me say this, If a pitcher throws a no hitter through 8 innings, is up 3-0, then gives up two/three walks and then gives up a HR to tie or lose the game, isnt everyone upset at the pitcher or coach?
    What if he gives up an HR in the first inning and then loses 1-0. Was it his fault or the offense not scoring?

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