AZ 12 TEN 7 Analysis

Mitch

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Inside the Numbers:

* Key Stat: The Cardinals under HC Bruce Arians are now 28-2 when they win the battle of turnovers.
* This was only the 2nd game this year that the Cardinals have won the turnover battle, the other was in their win versus the Jaguars two weeks ago.
* For the season the Cardinals are losing the turnover battle 17-20.
* The Cardinals have lost the turnover battle in 4 games this season: @ DET (1-4), @ LAR (1-2), home vs. SEA (0-1) and home vs. LAR (1-2).

* Total Yards: AZ 261 TEN 204
* Time Poss: AZ 33.49 TEN 26:11
* Ist Downs: AZ 16 TEN 14
* Turnovers: AZ 0 TEN 2

* The Cardinals committed 0 turnovers in only one other game this year---can you guess which game it was? Hint: it was a home game that the Cardinals lost.

Offense:

* Key Stat: Cardinals won the rushing battle 136 (4.7 ypc) to 65 (3.0 ypc).

This game featured BA's offense versus his long-time colleague Dick LeBeau's defense---and because of that it figured to be a low scoring affair due to the five years in Pittsburgh where BA's offense practiced against DLB's defense. Anyone who has played football knows how hard it is to run your offense in practice when your own defense is so familiar with your offense.

Coming into this game, the Titans would have appeared to be the much stronger and more powerful rushing team, with RBs Derrick Henry and DeMarco Murray rushing behind one of the better o-lines in the NFL.

And yet, the diminutive Kerwynn Williams, who was once again playing with cracked ribs, outrushed Henry and Murray combined as he rushed for 73 gritty yards on 20 carries (3.7 ydp.). Little used backup RB Elijaah Penny contributed 2 rushes for 11 yards (5.5 ypc) and 1 reception for 18 big yards on the go ahead drive...which was preceded by a nifty 33 yard jet sweep to rookie WR Chad Williams.

On the go-ahead drive, BA's play calling was superb. Chad Williams' 33 jet sweep got the Cardinals near mid-field and Eli Penny's 18 yard swing pass got the Cardinals into FG range.

The one play call BA likely regrets the most is the 3rd and 1 inside the Titans' 5 yard line that was stuffed for a one yard loss. Not sure why BA didn't bring in his short yardage package with FB Evan Boehm for that play.

But---BA was able to resist going for it on 4th down in favor of kicking the FG and narrowing the deficit to 1. That turned out to be a key decision on BA's part.

* Key Stat: Titans registered 8 sacks on QB Blaine Gabbert, but Gabbert did not surrender a fumble or an interception.

Gabbert struggled with his accuracy, especially in the first half. Balls were sailing over his targets because his passes were rushed. ironically, the only receiver Gabbert had chemistry with in the 1st half was J.J. Nelson (who previously with Gabbert had only 3 catches on 14 targets), while Gabbert twice missed a wide open TE Ricky Seals-Jones, who to this point, has been Gabbert's go-to guy.

In the second half, Gabbert took a straight-on hit on a sack that could have knocked him out. But, to Gabbert's credit he tried to maintain his poise and started to improve his accuracy. When he wasn't harried in the pocket he threw for 14/23 for 134 yards.

Gabbert's big miss was late in the game on the fade route to Larry Fitzgerald who had two steps and good separation on his man.

While questions remain as to whether Gabbert should be in the QB mix going forward, there are positives to be said about the way he handled himself and how he fought back from his early struggles.

BA can feel happy that he outfoxed his old colleague DLB.

Larry Fitzgerald can feel great about passing his mentor Randy Moss to becoming the 3rd time leading WR in career yards---it was especially sweet to achieve that milestone during a hard fought, gutsy win.

Defense:

* Key Stat: DeMarco Murray 11/34/3.1; Derrick Henry 8/20/2.5

Credit James Bettcher and the Cardinals' defensive line for putting the hammer down on Murray and Henry. BA said after the game that other than the Rams a couple of years ago he can't recall many teams being able to run the ball against the Cardinals at home.

The stalwarts up front were DE Chandler Jones (who recorded his 14th sack---fastest Cardinal to 14 sacks in a season ever), DT Olsen Pierre, DE Kareem Martin and NT Xavier Williams (despite an off-sides penalty). Haason Reddick had a big sack late in the game when Mariota eluded Chandler Jones and flushed to his left while Reddick circled around the line from the back side and closed in on Mariota in a flash.

Karlos Dansby led the team with 8 tackles and had one of his best games...while Deone Bucannon struggled through a miserable 1st half. While Bucannon finally made a couple of tackles in the 2nd half, Josh Bynes came in to make one of the key defensive plays of the game with his interception. Safeties Budda Baker and Antoine Bethea combined for 10 tackles and most of the Cardinals more aggressive, sure tackles.

Josh Bynes is outplaying Bucannon, by a wide margin. Buccaneer is top heavy, slow to react and late to the ball to the point where he can't even arm tackle. But, James Bettcher seems to always go back to starting injured veterans over players who are currently playing well---like starting Rashad Johnson at FS in the NFC Championship game over D.J. Swearinger---and we know how that decision turned out.

Budda Baker continues to emerge as the catalyst of the defense as he is all over the field making plays. While he gave up a catch to TE Delaney Walker, later in the game Baker showed his closing speed on another target which led to an incomplete pass.


* Key Stat: Marcus Mariota: 16/31 159 5.1 0 TD 2 INT 3-20 sacks.

Again, credit James Bettcher for keeping the pedal on the metal in pass coverage. Aided by a good pass rush, the Cardinals' DBs turned up the heat in the 2nd half.

The star of the day was RCB Tramon Williams who played every aspect of the CB position with polish. Williams was looking back for the ball when Mariota thought Corey Davis was going to run the post. This interception was a huge momentum swing in the Cardinals' favor. And Williams' ball jarring stick on TE Delaney Walker, the Titan's key receiver at crunch time was the game winning exclamation point---not to be taken for granted because the Cardinals have given up late scores in tight games repeatedly this year.

Tyrann Mathieu made a nice third down stop late in the game after struggling to cover Eric Decker a couple of times earlier in the game. Patrick Peterson was switched over to Decker and Decker promptly registered a 29 yard reception off Peterson who quit on the play to complain to the refs that Decker pushed him off. Mathieu and Peterson continue to have their ups and downs in various ways and are recently being outshined by Budda Baker and Tramon Williams respectively. Peterson's tackling reluctance and total abandonment of tackling fundamentals were on full display once again in this game. Mathieu is a little more willing to tackle, but most of his efforts look tentative and not Honey Badger-like.

Special Teams:

Yes, Phil Dawson missed yet another FG. He did, however connect on 4 out of 5. The curious news was that he told former Cardinals' kicker and now NBC sideline reporter Jay Feeley that he's been missing FGs because of the edge blocking schemes which, according to him, prevent him from following through on his kicks. If this is true---it is yet another indictment on STC Amos Jones. One has to wonder what the players are saying and thinking about Jones and his rocky tenure behind the scenes. On the flip side, Dawson should be putting his head down and following through regardless because that's his job. if the blocking doesn't hold up, like last week versus the Rams, then that's on the linemen and on the STC.

But, the ST's play of the game has to be Josh Bynes' well assisted stuff of Mike Mularkey's fake punt. It was so infuriating to watch the official right there on the scene take the football and spot it a yard ahead of where the ball was stopped. That official should be reprimanded and disciplined by the NFL, because he was standing right there when the whistle blew. Great for BA to challenge and win that call.

Playing for Contracts:

Making strong cases for 2018: CB Tramon Williams, LB Josh Bynes, DE Kareem Martin (as run stuffer), S Tyvon Branch, WR Jaron Brown (STs, esp.), RB K. Williams, TE Troy Niklas, T John Wetzel

On the Bubble: QB Blaine Gabbert, G Alex Boone, C Earl Watford (this was his best game of the season), Deone Bucannon ($8.7M?)

2018 Question Marks (players under contract): QB Carson Palmer, RB Adrian Peterson ($3.5M?), C A.Q. Shipley, T Jared Veldheer (pay cut or retire?), G Mike Iupati (same as Veldheer), DT Josh Mauro, S Tyrann Mathieu, K Phil Dawson.

BA versus AFC South:

7-1

BA at U of P:

Never has lost two home games in a row in 5 years.

2017 BA versus NFC:

3-6 (two wins versus 49ers and one versus Bucs). Sweeping the last three (@WAS, vs. NYG and @ SEA) would get the Cardinals to 6-6 versus the NFC and would be a nice way to move the arrow in the right direction.

2017 BA in 1 PM (EDT) starts:

1-4 (can the team reverse that trend versus Washington?)


 
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iLLmatiC

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Patrick Peterson was switched over to Decker and Decker promptly registered a 29 yard reception off Peterson who quit on the play to complain to the refs that Decker pushed him off.


This play really pissed me off. I have no idea why Patrick Peterson was yelling at the official while Decker was running with the ball. That was embarrassing to watch.
 

iLLmatiC

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Yes, Phil Dawson missed yet another FG. He did, however connect on 4 out of 5. The curious news was that he told former Cardinals' kicker and now NBC sideline reporter Jay Feeley that he's been missing FGs because of the edge blocking schemes which, according to him, prevent him from following through on his kicks. If this is true---it is yet another indictment on STC Amos Jones.

I hope he's fired immediately following the end of the season, there's no reason to keep him around. Our ST has cost us multiple games spanning all the way back to last season. When you have a kicker like Phil Dawson come in and complain about the poor blocking schemes in FG formation, I don't know what else to say. Blaming the players is getting old.
 

overseascardfan

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Amazes me we can win any games without DJ, Palmer & Golden. Imagine the season we might be having with these three in the line-up! Bynes is a keeper, too!
To me the Palmer injury is a blessing in disguise. It is forcing Arians to go more conservative on offense and run more rather than going for the big shot every other play. We’d probably have a couple more wins with Johnson but offense without Palmer’s immobility, turnovers and shaky decision making gives hope for the future. We just need a QB with escapability who is accurate and makes limited mistakes, is that so much to ask for?
 
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Mitch

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Mitch

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Per MJ, Cardinals have reached out to Blaine Gabbert and his agent to try to come to an agreement on a contract extension.
 

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I hope he's fired immediately following the end of the season, there's no reason to keep him around. Our ST has cost us multiple games spanning all the way back to last season. When you have a kicker like Phil Dawson come in and complain about the poor blocking schemes in FG formation, I don't know what else to say. Blaming the players is getting old.

Right. Dawson missing 8 FGs is all on Amos. Sounds like a guy making excuses. "Look in the mirror, Phil."
 
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Mitch

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I hope he's fired immediately following the end of the season, there's no reason to keep him around. Our ST has cost us multiple games spanning all the way back to last season. When you have a kicker like Phil Dawson come in and complain about the poor blocking schemes in FG formation, I don't know what else to say. Blaming the players is getting old.

The Jaguars are using Calais Campbell as the edge blocker on their FG unit. With his wingspan and hand strength he can take out two rushers at the same time. Let's not forget what CC meant to our special teams, on FGs and on FG blocks.
 

Garthshort

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TJ asks in what universe is Williams better that Peterson? I guess it's in the tackling universe.

Mitch, do you think that Buccanon is being hindered by not playing in the PS? At least I don't think he played.
 

Russ Smith

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This play really pissed me off. I have no idea why Patrick Peterson was yelling at the official while Decker was running with the ball. That was embarrassing to watch.


Yeah it was a bad move by PP but, he was 100% right, that was a blatant OPI. But you can't stop mid play and argue that.
 

Russ Smith

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The play where Gabbert missed the TD pass to Fitz, that's the play that really is the key to Gabbert in his career. He's got the size, he's got the arm, he's a good athlete, he competes, but good NFL QB's hit that play consistently and he didn't hit it.

I still say he's playing significantly better than I expected given the OL sucks, AP is out hurt, and the Wr's are so limited beyond Fitz. But those are the types of plays that separate a guy from being a good NFL starter, and being a guy who drives coaches nuts.
 
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Mitch

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TJ asks in what universe is Williams better that Peterson? I guess it's in the tackling universe.

Mitch, do you think that Buccanon is being hindered by not playing in the PS? At least I don't think he played.

Garth, Deone Bucannon has struggled now for two years. He's slow to diagnose the plays and he runs top heavy like a Tasmanian devil. He's become a lunger and not a finisher. Does not run through his tackles. Doesn't scrape quickly enough...poor lateral footwork and because of that he doesn't square up. Not a downhill, fundamental tackler which weakens the middle of the defense.

Sure, missing the PS hurts, but his fundamentals should have been well ingrained by now and that's something where pre-season reps can help, but a veteran ILB should be able to count on them all the time.
 

Chopper0080

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Bucannon has been Keim's best 1st rounder to date...he will not be let go.

I agree that a good roster next year has Josh Bynes, Kareem Martin, John Wetzel, and Kerwynn Williams on it. The same argument could be made for Gabbert, but I think he will want more than the two years which the Cardinals should want him for.

Real question: Would you rather have Iupati at LG for 2 more years at 9mil OR Boone at LG for 5 years at 6mil? That is looking to be the decision in the offseason.
 
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Mitch

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The play where Gabbert missed the TD pass to Fitz, that's the play that really is the key to Gabbert in his career. He's got the size, he's got the arm, he's a good athlete, he competes, but good NFL QB's hit that play consistently and he didn't hit it.

I still say he's playing significantly better than I expected given the OL sucks, AP is out hurt, and the Wr's are so limited beyond Fitz. But those are the types of plays that separate a guy from being a good NFL starter, and being a guy who drives coaches nuts.

Right. That's a timing throw that with Fitz can be thrown on a line and even toward the back shoulder if necessary. The Titans did a very good job of getting Gabbert to hasten his throwing motion. Perhaps Gabbert can correct this versus the Redskins. Practice reps should help.
 

TJ

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Oh, and Gabbert was terrible yesterday. He created half of those sacks himself. His accuracy was bad. His movement was not good as he was not looking down the field. You can argue that Gabbert has gotten worse each game he has played.

He really has. Gabbert's mechanics are getting sloppier and his accuracy has dissipated, even when his feet are set. A guy who people laud for being athletic and mobile should be able to avoid many of those sacks, and he didn't.
 
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BurqueCardFan

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Garth, Deone Bucannon has struggled now for two years. He's slow to diagnose the plays and he runs top heavy like a Tasmanian devil. He's become a lunger and not a finisher. Does not run through his tackles. Doesn't scrape quickly enough...poor lateral footwork and because of that he doesn't square up. Not a downhill, fundamental tackler which weakens the middle of the defense.

Sure, missing the PS hurts, but his fundamentals should have been well ingrained by now and that's something where pre-season reps can help, but a veteran ILB should be able to count on them all the time.

I was wondering the other day if there was any possibility/benefit of trying to move Deone back to his college spot in the secondary (in a Kam Chancellor sort of role). It seems he just isn't really standing out at LB like he did early on. Maybe he could trim up and play safety again at high level. It seems like this coaching staff never shakes things up unless an injury forces their hand.
 

Russ Smith

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He really has. Gabbert's mechanics are getting sloppier and his accuracy has dissipated, even when his feet are set. A guy who people laud for being athletic and mobile should be able to avoid many of those sacks, and he didn't.


I saw at least 3 where it seemed like the ball was supposed to come out quickly, someone wasn't open, and gabbert was too slow to get rid of it and took a sack that should not have happened.

He avoided some sacks too.
 
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Mitch

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I saw at least 3 where it seemed like the ball was supposed to come out quickly, someone wasn't open, and gabbert was too slow to get rid of it and took a sack that should not have happened.

He avoided some sacks too.

Yes. But, better than forcing a throw into tight coverage like he did his 1st two games.
 

cardpa

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This play really pissed me off. I have no idea why Patrick Peterson was yelling at the official while Decker was running with the ball. That was embarrassing to watch.
Peterson claims to be a leader of the defense, yet he pulls crap like this. Does he really think his teammates look to him as a leader when he quits on a play to argue over a non call while the play is still live? This is why Mitch has problems with Peterson. The real question is will the coaches call him out on it? If they don't, then it tells you a lot about this staff.
 

Big D

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Yes. But, better than forcing a throw into tight coverage like he did his 1st two games.

One thing I have noticed is that Gabbert tends to go down rather easily. I mean yes when a guy has a free run at you and jacks you dead in the chest there is no avoiding that but on several of those sacks there was just maybe a hand or glancing blow that got in there and down he goes.

For a guy that big and supposedly strong he does not stand tall in the pocket under pressure and he does not shed anything. It's like his first instinct is to run, and if that is not an option he just curls up.

I know not everybody can be Big Ben throwing perfect strikes with three guys hanging on him but still...
 
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