ReFo: Rams @ Cardinals, Week 12
Now that’s not something I ever thought I’d write.
However, when his backup is so bad he gets benched for a rookie that is so bad he should be benched, you understand that Kolb could only ever be the lesser of many evils in a quarterback depth chart that is officially “scary bad”.
Still, let’s not take away from the Rams who picked up a big road win. For a team that is rebuilding, that’s key, though they didn’t have the same kind of success up front as they when they massacred the Cardinals’ offensive line on that Thursday Night Football.
Let’s take a look at some of the key performances.
St Louis – Three Performances of Note
Another Long Day for Chris
Over the past few years Chris Long (-4.1) has emerged as one of the most consistent (and persistent) pass rushers out there. Now with the change of jersey numbers we’re not seeing him generating the kind of pressure we’re used to seeing. Sure there are elements of his old self like his generally poor work in the run game, but turning 49 pass rushes (largely against Bobby Massie) into just a hit and two hurries isn’t good enough. It was the third time in five games that he picked up a negative grade for his pass rushing, which makes you wonder just how healthy he is. His first six games of the year were all positive.
What to Make of Bradford
I wrote last week how disappointed I was in the performance of Sam Bradford against the Jets. It was bad enough that I didn’t think it possible for him to play any worse. Well the good news is I was right. He wasn’t anywhere near as bad, and had a decent enough game. In review, that in itself is a problem. Bradford is a former first overall pick and we’re treating decent performances as encouraging when we should be demanding more. Much more. There are too many off-target throws and his work under pressure (where he went 0-for-5) leaves a lot to be desired.
Now that may be overly harsh. There were moments that would excite even the most ardent of critics like his slot wheel route completion to Danny Amendola that showed perfect touch down the field, and his go route touchdown with 10:06 to go in the third quarter. However, plays like the interception with 4:46 to go in the second quarter show we’re still waiting on Bradford delivering on what made him a first overall pick.
Big Play Threat
At this rate it won’t be long before more of the league is taking notice of rookies Chris Givens (+2.1) and Janoris Jenkins (+3.6). Givens now finds himself in 11th place of all wide receivers with 2.35 Yards Per Route Run average after a week where he turned just 19 routes run into 115 yards. Not to be out done by that Jenkins put some tough weeks behind him to pick off two balls and return them for touchdowns, as he caught as many balls as the Cardinals’ receivers did in passes thrown into his coverage.
Arizona – Three Performances of Note
How Much Would Kurt Warner Want?
Unfortunately, there isn’t enough money in the world (you imagine) that the Cardinals could throw at the aged Warner to get him to come out of retirement. Simply the fact I’m even joking about it should let you know how dire the situation is for Arizona. We’ve seen a lot of rookie quarterbacks take the field and impress. Ryan Lindley (-6.9) isn’t one of them. In time he may be a good quarterback but right now he’s clearly not ready to play in the NFL. In which case there’s absolutely no point in having John Skelton on your roster if you deem him a lesser player.
Lindley had some success on intermediate balls over the middle (6-of-6 for 96 yards) but was terrible on anything over 10 yards outside the numbers where he went 0-for-9 with a pick-six thrown in for good measure. There were so many bad throws you’ll struggle to pick out ones that do justice to how bad a game this was. However, his third quarter interceptions really were horrid and inexcusable at any level of the game. Like I say, this isn’t to be down on the prospects of Lindley, but rather an admonishment of the Cardinals to find themselves in this situation.
It’s perhaps a shame Dan Williams (+3.4) wasn’t born in a different era. The modern game has made space-eating nose tackles more of a situational player than a slot cornerback. It’s meant Williams is easily schemed against (you go to three wideouts and you get him off the field) and doesn’t get the amount of work that allows him to show off his talents. Well, he got 32 snaps in this one and really made the most of them, picking up four defensive stops in the run game as he bullied the likes of Scott Wells and Robert Turner, including two tackles for losses. Impressive.
He’s dealt with some poor play before, but it seems like 2012 is the year that is finally starting to break Larry Fitzgerald (-2.3). The plan to just throw at him whatever the coverage isn’t working, and Fitzgerald himself got in on the act with two dropped passes. When all was said and done Fitz had caught three of the 12 balls thrown to him for just 31 yards. That’s four times this year he has collected less than 35 receiving yards and it’s a crime that we’re seeing such a talented player being wasted.
– Rodger Saffold didn’t allow a single quarterback disruption.
– Rookie tackle Nate Potter walked away giving up three hurries and a hit. When the Rams met the Cardinals earlier this year, the man he replaced (D’Anthony Batiste) gave up three sacks and five hits.
– Daryl Washington picked up his ninth sack of the year. It was the fifth time he’s either been unblocked, in pursuit of a scrambling quarterback, or had a QB flushed to him. Only three times has he beaten a running back for one.
PFF Game Ball
In a game where turnovers proved to be pivotal, it was the two of Janoris Jenkins that were ultimately the difference.
Follow Khaled on Twitter: @PFF_Khaled