Re-Focused – Cardinals @ Seahawks, Week 3

| September 28, 2011

The wet rainy conditions in the first quarter set the tone for what turned out to be a culmination of a defensive struggle and sloppy offensive line play. The Seattle Seahawks received a big boost from Sidney Rice return, as he immediately gives their team a shot at becoming a front-runner in the NFC West.
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On the other hand, the Arizona Cardinals were coming off of a disappointing fourth quarter loss to the Washington Redskins, and their defense really kept them in the game all afternoon, but a costly Kevin Kolb turnover at the end of the fourth quarter sealed their fate in all too familiar a fashion.
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Arizona – Three Performances of Note
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1)   Interior dominance
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Calais Campbell and Darnell Docket both had monster games in a losing effort, and I credit both players for keeping Arizona in the game until the very end. Between the two of them, they combined for four sacks and nine defensive stops. Campbell did a nice job of terrorizing the interior of Seattle’s offensive line, more specifically Paul McQuistan, who was making his first start of the year. Against McQuistan alone, Campbell finished with a +3.5 grade. Dockett did his fair share of damage as well; he dominated rookie right guard John Moffitt, who gave up a sack and finished with a -5.0 PFF rating when facing Dockett one on one.
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2)   Stuck in the sand
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It’s hard to tell which performance was worse; the Cardinals pass blocking (-5.9) or their run blocking (-4.6). Arizona’s protection surrendered 20 quarterback pressures to the Seahawks, but equally as bad was the 90 yards on 28 carries that they allowed on the ground. When the Cardinals didn’t run the ball between either the left and right guards, they averaged 1.96 yards per carry. Upon further analysis, the left side of the offensive line seemed to be the biggest culprit, surrendering 10 pressures alone. In fairness, Seattle has done a nice job at stopping the run this year and Beanie Wells was inactive, but the this performance showed that once again, NFC West is out there for the taking.
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3)  Rebound
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After a disappointing 2010 campaign, Adrian Wilson put together a fine performance on Sunday. Wilson kept the penalties to a minimum (after getting flagged twice last week in Washington) and for the second time in three weeks he really made his presence felt in the run game (+1.3). 15 of his 69 snaps were at the line of scrimmage. Even with a missed tackle towards the end of the game Wilson showed consistent disruption all game long in the backfield.
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Seattle – Three Performances of Note
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1)  Just in time
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Sidney Rice’s return couldn’t have come at a better time for a Seahawks team that was desperate for a win. In the first two weeks, Seattle’s offense looked stagnant and lacked creativity in a big way, but Rice’s presence added a dimension to the passing game that had been missing all along. The offense remained the same play calling and formation wise, but it was Rice’s overall ability to beat coverage and gain separation that made him a difference maker.  A.J. Jefferson was the corner who drew primary coverage against Rice, and let’s just says there is a reason why it was his worst performance to date (-1.4).
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2)  Non-stop
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Putting Chris Clemons up against Levi Brown seems unfair when you think about it, but to see it happen in real-time was laughable. Brown looked overmatched the entire game, and had no answer for Clemons’ relentless pass rush and arsenal of moves. While Brown didn’t give up a sack or a hit, the pressure proved to hinder Kolb’s ability to make key passes. Clemons finished the game with four pressures when matched up against Brown. Seven of his thirteen total pressures came in Sunday’s game alone with him now on pace to eclipse his 62 quarterback pressures from a year ago.
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3)  No protection
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Even though the Seahawks’ pass blocking had been improving, this week was a step back in the wrong direction. Tarvaris Jackson was sacked five times, hit seven times and pressured on six other occasions. Those numbers are totally unacceptable considering that Jackson has now been sacked 13 times through the first three games, not to mention being hit 18 other times. Russell Okung goes through spurts of good pass protection, but he has given up the most sacks on the team with three, so it makes me wonder if its more mental than anything because he has also been flagged six times over the past three weeks. As a team, the Seahawks are -12.7 in pass blocking, which puts them near the bottom of our rankings.
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Game Notes
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● The Seahawks were penalized 10 times with two of them being declined.

● A.J. Jefferson was thrown at 12 times allowing 10 receptions.

● When the Seahawks ran between the left and right guard they averaged over nine yards a carry.
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PFF Game Ball: 

Sidney Rice, WR, Seattle Seahawks

His return made Tarvaris Jackson more comfortable, and got the chains moving on plays where they otherwise wouldn’t have.
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