AZ-TB grades: Fitzgerald, Johnson stars of Cardinals offense

The biggest takeaways and highest-graded players from the Cardinals’ blowout victory over the Buccaneers.

| 9 months ago
(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

AZ-TB grades: Fitzgerald, Johnson stars of Cardinals offense

Arizona Cardinals 40, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 7

Here are the biggest takeaways and highest-graded players from the Cardinals’ blowout victory over the Buccaneers:

Arizona Cardinals

Quarterback grade: Carson Palmer, 76.6

Despite accuracy issues, Palmer leads to victory

Palmer added another solid performance to his 2016 season, notching the fifth-highest offensive grade on the team. He led the team effectively up and down the field against an outmatched Buccaneers defense. He was errant at times in this game, and he had the worst accuracy percentage (taking out drops and throw aways) of all QBs in Week 2 at the finish of the afternoon games at 58.6 percent. Other than one throw he stayed out of danger and put the ball in the end zone, which helped his grade immensely.

Top offensive grades:

WR Larry Fitzgerald, 85.5
G Mike Iupati, 77.4
QB Carson Palmer, 76.6
T Jared Veldheer, 76.5
G Evan Mathis, 74.5

Is Larry Fitzgerald ageless?

Larry Fitzgerald and David Johnson were the stars of the Cardinal offense for the second week in a row. Carson Palmer found most of his early success going to Fitzgerald. Palmer had a 110.8 QB rating when throwing to Fitzgerald, while Johnson contributed several big plays.

Top defensive grades:

 S Tony Jefferson, 83.1
LB Deone Bucannon, 78.2
ED Chandler Jones, 77.6
DI Calais Campbell, 76.3
DI Josh Mauro, 76.2 

Tony Jefferson is adding a whole new dynamic to this defense 

It was pointed out on the broadcast that the Cardinals want to use Tyrann Mathieu more as a deep free safety, and they have — Mathieu has lined up as a free safety on 74 percent of his defensive snaps this year after lining up in that spot just eight percent of the time last season. One of the key pieces on their defense that allows them to do so has been their other safety, Tony Jefferson, whose play so far this season in run defense. Jefferson tallied three stops in run defense against the Buccaneers in Week 2 after accumulating four of them in Week 1; his 14.9 stop percentage in run defense leads all safeties through the first two weeks (barring the results of the Sunday night and Monday night games). Jefferson has graded positively in run defense in each of his previous three seasons, and his grade has increased in each year. Through two weeks this season he’s establishing himself as arguably the best run-stopping safety in the NFL.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Quarterback grade: Jameis Winston, 41.1

It was a day to forget for Jameis Winston

It’s tough to find a positive in Jameis’ performance in Week 2, as he put up the second-worst overall game grade of his career, trailing only Week 1 of last season — his first-ever NFL start. Winston just could not get into a rhythm in Phoenix and he especially struggled when he was under pressure, which was often. Winston faced pressure on 20 of his 56 dropbacks; he attempted a throw on 15 dropbacks while under pressure and completed just five of them for 42 yards and a 42.4 QB rating.

Top offensive grades:

C Joe Hawley, 80.0
T Demar Dotson, 74.3
WR Adam Humphries, 73.3
G Ali Marpet, 70.7
G Kevin Pamphile, 68.6 

It was a day to forget for the entire Bucs offense

In a game where the Bucs skill players just couldn’t get it going, the members of the offensive line who at least held there own lead the way in the grades. The five starting members of Tampa Bay’s offensive line allowed a total of 13 pressures on the afternoon. The four linemen listed above combined to allow six of those pressures, while LT Donovan Smith single-handedly allowed seven. Smith could not block Chandler Jones to save his life, especially as the game wore on, getting beat at times almost immediately off the snap. Smith had a respectable Week 1 performance in Atlanta after struggling for most of his rookie season. Bucs fans will hope he can regain his Week 1 form heading into next week’s matchup against a tough Rams defensive line.

Top defensive grades:

CB Alterraun Verner, 89.5
S Bradley McDougald, 76.7
CB Vernon Hargreves III, 76.2
LB Daryl Smith, 72.1
S Keith Tandy, 71.7 

Alterraun Verner the lone bright spot in a disappointing performance

There were not many highlights on Sunday for the Buccaneers defense. The stars of the defense did show up and have good games, however. Verner was thrown at six times only allowing one reception and had two pass defenses.

PFF Game-Ball Winner: Larry Fitzgerald, 85.5

Get access to grades for every player, complete with positional rankings, in our Player Grades tool.

  • crosseyedlemon

    Gotta love Larry Fitzgerald who is now 9th on the all-time receptions list. By season’s end he will also be in the top 10 in career receiving yards.

  • crosseyedlemon

    Realizing that they both played the Cardinals this weekend, the Seminoles and Buccaneers thought it would be a great idea to share the same playbook.

  • Bill Doerr

    AZ was absolutely dominating both offensively & defensively , it was nice to see. The Cardinals Defense was outright dominant all night long. AZ is going to beat up on the Bills next week, Can not wait to see that game!!!! The Bills front-7 is badly struggling to get pressure on a consistent basis causing their CBs to get roasted , QB Ryan Fitzpatrick was picking the Bills CBs apart especially S. Gilmore!!!! Palmer is going to surgically pick apart the Bills secondary, they should not have a problem putting up atleast 30 points.

    • crosseyedlemon

      The early line has Cardinals favored by 4 which seems rather low. The Bills have won 5 of the last 6 meetings so perhaps that is having some influence.

      • Bill Doerr

        Those meetings go way far back into the 80s-90s when AZ didn’t have a good team , those past matchups have no impact on this weeks upcoming game.
        AZ is the visiting team so to be favored by 4 points shows odds makers believe AZ is a far, far , far, far better team than Buffalo is and AZ is , they wont have any problem beating the Bills, AZ is loaded on both sides of the ball from top to bottom.

        • crosseyedlemon

          They have met 3x since 2004 and Buffalo had some rather mediocre teams themselves.