ReFo: Cardinals @ Buccaneers, Week 4
The big news proceeding this game was that Bucs QB Josh Freeman had been benched in favor of third-round rookie Mike Glennon. Freeman’s ignominy was only enhanced when he was deactivated for the game entirely, as Greg Schiano puts all the blame on the quarterback.
The trouble is that none of that fixed anything. Tampa Bay were completely unable to run the ball, despite Doug Martin’s best efforts and some run blocking up front that wasn’t bad at all. Arizona simply didn’t respect their threat to pass, and rightly so as it turned out late in the game when things got close.
Arizona rode their luck at times, falling behind 10-0 before clawing their way back into the game by virtue of their defense and the Tampa Bay miscues. In the end, the plays they got back into it with were huge, but it would be a mistake to get too carried away with their comeback.
Arizona – Three Performances of Note
Patrick Peterson is often the focus of much debate surrounding his ability to be a shutdown corner, or rather, his status as regards being one. PFF has always been of the opinion that while he has that talent, he isn’t quite there yet — but this is the kind of performance that would convince you. Going up against (an admittedly banged up) Vincent Jackson, Peterson earned a +4.5 grade, allowing just a single reception from eight targets and picking off a pair of passes to really help out his team. He was particularly impressive on deep passes, squeezing routes toward the sidelines and giving Glennon nowhere to go with the football. He may not be Darelle Revis, but he had the better game overall in this encounter.
Impressive Defensive Displays
The Cardinals’ D really stood up to be counted with a lot of green on the team sheet grades. Matt Shaughnessy (+4.3) was particularly impressive against the run, and also chipped in with some pressure in the pass game, but really the whole secondary graded well. The Cardinals were particularly good against the run, and Jasper Brinkley in particular showed the kind of downhill thumping skills that he never quite broke out in Minnesota. He was aided by SS Yeremiah Bell, a longtime force against the run as that pair alone combined for eight stops. In total, the Cardinals’ defense amassed 35 defensive stops with only three of 17 defenders that saw snaps failing to register one. The question becomes, can they repeat this performance against a team with a more formidable passing threat?
The LG Swap
Sometimes the difference in performance between a player and his backup isn’t very large at all — and sometimes it can be massive. LG Dary Colledge had been performing very well in his 43 snaps before he was forced from the game hurt. He had surrendered just a single hit from 27 pass blocking snaps and had done well in the run game too. He was replaced in the lineup by Nate Potter, a tackle by trade forced into the utility lineman role. Potter played only 22 snaps but was completely unable to deal with the Bucs DT Gerald McCoy. Potter ended up with a -2.3 grade compared to Colledge’s +2.4 despite playing for around half the snaps. Luckily for the Cardinals it didn’t affect the outcome, as Carson Palmer was able to get rid of the ball despite the pressure on a couple of occasions late.
Tampa Bay – Three Performances of Note
Gerald McCoy is fast becoming one of the most overlooked players in football. He may well end up being the third-best DT from his draft class (a class that includes Ndamukong Suh and Geno Atkins), but he is probably also a Top 5 DT in the entire NFL, and performances like this can stack up to anything that Atkins and Suh have shown. McCoy was a constant threat to the Cardinals and recorded a sack, as well as a knockdown, three hurries, and a batted pass during the game. His quickness and ability to penetrate causes havoc in the opposing backfield and if he had even a little bit more help around him the Bucs might have had far more success preventing the Cardinals from passing late on.
Fine CB Showings
The Bucs’ top three corners in this game all graded positively, with Revis and Banks in particular being targeted regularly (seven for Revis, eight for Banks). Despite those targets neither player was beaten for a catch longer than 19 yards and Revis came up with a key interception on a pass intended for Larry Fitzgerald. Revis’ grade would have been much higher but for being badly beaten for a touchdown by a slick fake from Fitzgerald late on. Fitzgerald hit Revis with a triple move to send him the wrong direction to the outside before the receiver broke back to the inside for a comfortable score. Things might not be going well in Tampa Bay, but Revis and Banks look to have the potential to be one of the league’s premier shutdown corner duos.
We had to get there eventually. The raw statistics don’t look great. Glennon completed just 55.8% of his passes, throwing for 193 yards and a score while throwing two interceptions. The grades look even worse, with the rookie earning a -6.4 grade for his first action in the NFL. Though he was 18 of 22 on passes thrown under 10 yards in the air, on passes that traveled 10 or more he completed just 6 of 17 attempts for 83 yards and two picks. To make matters worse, the picks came with the game on the line late on and essentially proved to be the difference between the two sides. The Bucs didn’t ask Glennon to do too much until it was crunch time, and when they finally did he wasn’t up to the task.
– The Tampa Bay trio of corners combined to allow just 101 yards on 16 targets
– Throwing at Patrick Peterson in this game yielded a QB rating of 0.0, and that’s only because the rating doesn’t go into the negative!
– Under pressure, Carson Palmer’s passer rating dropped to 16.5 in this game from 80.8 when not pressured.
PFF Game Ball
Gerald McCoy gave a valiant display in a losing effort, but for a pair of interceptions to help seal the comeback Patrick Peterson deserves the game ball.
Follow Sam on Twitter: @PFF_Sam