The Arizona Cardinals once again struggled on third down on Sunday against the Carolina Panthers in their 22-6 victory. It is a point of contention because win or lose, it is still an issue. In fact, it’s been worse in the wins, although this week was slightly better at 4-12 conversions.
As much as fans want to blame Cards quarterback Carson Palmer, the blame can be spread throughout the team. You can blame head coach Bruce Arians, particularly in the play calling. For instance, in the first half, he called a draw on third and seven in the first quarter, they called a draw for running back Andre Ellington. He got two yards. The Panthers had sniffed it out. Just several plays earlier, Ellington had burned the Panthers on the same draw play for 11 yards. The problem was, the Panthers had just seen the play. The Cards lined up in the same formation as the previous successful play. It was the wrong call at the right time. Had they not already just run that same play, it might have worked on that third down play.
In the third quarter the Cards got a conversion on an eight yard pass to Ellington. They needed seven. In the fourth they completed a nine yard pass to receiver Michael Floyd on third and six. Those are the types of calls they need to run and execute on third down. They also need to be careful of the third and longs. Unfortunately many of the failed conversions are because negative plays put the Cards in third and longer than 10. You can’t make a living like that offensively and expect to convert.