WAS-AZ grades: Palmer mistake-free in Cardinals win
Arizona Cardinals 31, Washington Redskins 23
Here are the highest-graded players and top takeaways from the Cardinals’ victory over the Washington Redskins.
Quarterback grade: Carson Palmer 81.0
Palmer mistake-free and efficient in win
It was a gutsy playcall by Bruce Arians and great execution by Carson Palmer and company to keep the Cardinals in the playoff hunt. On second and 10 from the Redskins 42, most coaches would be content to stay on the ground and chew some clock. The Cardinals offense instead took a play action shot in the end zone to J.J. Nelson, an accurately placed pass and clutch catch by Nelson put the Cardinals up by eight after the extra point and gave them their fifth win of the season. Palmer was efficient throughout the day but really shined while not under pressure as he completed 22 of those 31 passes averaging 7.3 yards per attempt while also tossing three touchdowns. On passes 10 yards or further downfield, Palmer was five of 11 for 102 yards with the one late touchdown. The majority of his throws were underneath as he completed 25 passes that traveled under 10 yards in the air.
Top offensive grades
TE Jermaine Gresham 79.1
C A.Q. Shipley 76.2
G Mike Iupati 75.8
WR Larry Fitzgerald 72.3
T D.J. Humphries 71.2
Protection holds up for Cardinals
The patchwork offensive line held up for the Cardinals offense relatively well after a shaky start early. Carson Palmer was sacked only twice but hit four times and hurried 11, those will be numbers the offense would like to cut in half but when called upon to give Palmer time late in the game the offensive line came through. David Johnson earned the highest receiving grade for the Cardinals at an 82, he made some big runs late but also put the ball on the ground in the first quarter which contributed to a rushing grade of 47.7. Between Larry Fitzgerald and David Johnson, Palmer targeted them a combined 25 times, completing 20 of those for 169 yards. TE Jermain Gresham made some important blocks in the run game sealing off linebackers at the second level which earned him the highest run block grade for the Cardinals at 88.8.
Top defensive grades
DE Calais Campbell 85.4
CB Patrick Peterson 80.9
CB Tyvon Branch 77.0
OLB Chandler Jones 75.7
OLB Markus Golden 70.8
Calais Campbell shines again
Another week, another chance for Calais Campbell to show why he might be the most underrated player in all of football. He didn’t just make the biggest play of the game when he strip-sacked Kirk Cousins, he set the tone by constantly shrinking the pocket with his ability to push linemen about, or just work around them to make life uncomfortable for Cousins. He ended the day with a sack, four hurries and a batted pass in a strong effort that set the tone for the defense.
Quarterback Grade: Kirk Cousins, 65.6
There was a lot of good with Cousins, certainly enough that would have plenty of General Managers salivating at the prospect of him hitting free agency this offseason. His deep ball is a smile inducer, hitting receivers in stride in a way that defenses can never respect enough. But if he wants to be regarded (and paid) as an upper echelon receiver he needs to handle the blitz a little better. When blitzed his yards per attempt dropped by 6.1 yards and his QB rating dropped from a 96.1 to a 56.7.
Top offensive grades
WR Pierre Garcon, 83.0
C John Sullivan, 77.2
TE Vernon Davis, 76.6
RB Rob Kelley, 76.3
RB Chris Thompson, 75.1
Kelley, Jones stand out
This was a game largely for the skill position players. Kelley is looking more decisive the more he plays, and he has a knack for finding space even when his lineman might not be blocking for it. As the team had more success with the pass in the second half they went away from him, but both he and Chris Thompson provided the kind of moves that make you understand why Matt Jones can’t get a look in. On the perimeter Garcon looked like he had the number of Marcus Cooper all day long, which makes it a little odd it wasn’t exploited more.
Top defensive grades
DI Ricky Jean-Francois 82.6
CB Kendall Fuller 78.9
ED Trent Murphy 78.5
DI Chris Baker 76.4
CB Bashaud Breeland 74.6
Redskins apply pressure, unable to come up with late stops
Defensive lineman Ricky Jean-Francois played his best game of the season as he made two stops on the day to go with his quarterback hurry and batted pass. Defensive end Ryan Kerrigan and interior lineman Chris Baker continued their impressive seasons, between the both of them they recorded seven quarterback hurries and two QB hits. When called upon to make a stop though, the defense came up short as Quinton Dunbar was beaten by J.J. Nelson on a 42 yard touchdown which put the Redskins in a hole late.
PFF Game ball Winner: Calais Campbell
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