National Analysts Break Down The Cardinals


Keepin' it real!
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Nov 2, 2003
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Orange County, CA
Not sure whether someone linked this article yet, but it was chock full of interesting observations and analytics. Here are a few that stood out to me:

Q: What kind of expectations did you have for the Cardinals when the season began, and have they been adjusted after the 5-2 start?
Orlovsky: "They are closer to being a playoff team than I thought, and I think that's because of the growth of Kliff (Kingsbury)."

Q: What do you think could hold the Cardinals back the rest of the way?
Schatz: "Looking at our latest playoff odds report, Arizona makes the playoffs 66 percent of the time, and they win the division 26 percent of the time."

Sando: "Arizona ranks 31st, ahead of only the Jets, in percentage of passes gaining more than 15 yards. Does that matter ultimately when the QB can create gains with his legs, and so many passes are short ones that are subbing for running plays?"

Q: What is the team's biggest strength?
Orlovsky: "I'd say both red zone offense and red zone defense. Red zone offense because Kyler can be used as a runner. A lot of teams in the NFL are more often than not pretty good 20 (yard-line) to 20. Can you be really, really good when the points on the scoreboard are directly affected? They are really good at red zone offense, and they've become a stingy red zone defense, and that's because they are really good communicating. You saw it on the Budda Baker pick. That's all because of communication."

Schatz: "It's the running game, definitely, but also I did a piece for ESPN a couple weeks ago – their offensive line is surprisingly strong. They lead the league in average yards before contact, they are currently first in pass-block win rate and second in run-block win rate, and in Sports Info Solutions' numbers, they have four of the five Cardinals offensive linemen among the top-40 linemen in the league in their total points earned metric. That's a not very well-known group of players who are playing really well."

Q: How would you handicap the NFC West?
Schatz: "We've got Seattle 38%, the Rams 27, Arizona 26 and the 49ers 9 (to win the NFC West). The deal is, the 49ers and the Rams, their schedules get much harder going forward. Arizona's schedule gets a little harder, and Seattle's schedule gets even less a little bit harder. There's not much change to Seattle's. We have the entire division having a winning record 38% of the time, but the entire division making the playoffs only 5% of the time because New Orleans and Tampa Bay are so good."

Q: Does anything else stand out to you about the Cardinals?
Orlovsky: "I think Kliff has grown as a coach. I think he's grown in understanding the NFL isn't college, so to speak. Understanding how sometimes going too fast isn't great. You've seen him pull back his tempo a bit. You've seen him in situational football commit to the run, which I think a lot of people didn't necessarily anticipate would be the case. They thought it would be, 'Let's throw it 65 times a game' type thing. I think his growth in understanding how connected football is has been really impressive."

Schatz: We have a stat called defeats. Defeats count up three things: tackle for loss, turnovers and plays that prevent a third- or fourth-down conversion. In other words, big defensive plays. Budda Baker is tied for the league lead with 16, the highest among defensive backs. He's tied with Devin White, Lavonte David and T.J. Watt."

Ruiz: "I think the defensive scheme has been better than a lot of people expected going into the season. There were a lot of question marks about Vance Joseph, and I think he's answered those. Especially on Sunday night. He was dealing with personnel deficiencies, and he was still matching wits with the Seahawks and giving Russell Wilson problems late."



ASFN Lifer
Sep 21, 2002
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Downtown Phoenix
Great info. I did not know those O Line stats. It's refreshing to learn something positive about the O Line. Hopefully they continue to play well.