Oct 27, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals free safety Tyrann Mathieu (32) celebrates with cornerback Patrick Peterson (21) after catching an interception in the second half against the Atlanta Falcons at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the Falcons 27-13. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona Cardinals First-Half Report Card

The Arizona Cardinals have completed their first half of the 2013 season at 4-4.  It could have been better but it could have been worse.  Most people will tell you they though they’d be anywhere from 2-6 to 5-3 at this point, more probably closer to 2-6.  At 4-4 then, it sounds like they are doing alright.  In fact, that’s what I’d say.  They are doing alright.

The offense:

The offense has been anything but consistent.  They’ve received inconsistent play from pretty much every position.  The quarterback position has been shaky to say the least.  Carson Palmer has heard the boo-birds and heard them as recently as today in the 27-13 victory over the Atlanta Falcons.  He has 10 touchdown passes and 14 interceptions.  You can argue some of those interceptions have not been his fault.  Today’s was but he righted the ship quickly.  He was 13-18 on Sunday.  He’s not the long-term answer right now.  However right now he’s the best option.

The offensive line has been inconsistent.  They have not been as bad as last season but they still have a long way to go.  They did much better today than they did in last weeks loss to the Seattle Seahawks when they allowed seven sacks.

The receivers have been inconsistent.  We haven’t heard much from Andre Roberts since the first couple of weeks.  Larry Fitzgerald has been slowed by an injury but did get his fifth touchdown on Sunday, one more than all of last season.  Palmer needs to get the ball to him more.  Michael Floyd has played well most of the time.

The running backs have been inconsistent but I put some of that blame on the coaching staff.  They’ve been using Rashard Mendenhall a lot when he has not produced a lot.  Many have called for Andre Ellington to be the starter.  He finally got his chance on Sunday and carried 15 times for 154 yards. Stepfan Taylor has had some good moments as well, including a fantastic 18-yard run on Sunday.  He broke tackles, something we never saw from Beanie Wells last season.  A steady use of Ellington and Taylor seems to be on the horizon.  They do need to make a decision with Ryan Williams with the trade deadline coming up.

The defense:

The defense has been pretty good for the most part.  One thing is noticeable though.  When they don’t get pressure on the quarterback, they suffer and play on their back heels.  That happened against San Francisco and Seattle.  When they do get pressure, good things happen.  See the Tampa, Carolina, and Atlanta games.

Getting linebacker Daryl Washington back after missing the first four games due to suspension has been a God send.  Cornerback Patrick Peterson has been fun to watch.  So has safety Tyrann Mathieu.  He is a baller.  John  Abraham has been inconsistent but played well on Sunday.  Calais Campbell and Karlos Dansby have been great.  Unfortunately injuries have depleted the depth at linebacker.

The special teams:

Peterson has been unable to get free for any type of great return but teams have learned how to game plan for him, so it isn’t all his fault.  The punting game has been pretty good.  Punter Dave Zastudil put a punt on the one yard line on Sunday.  Kicker Jay Feely has been fantastic.  He is 14-15 so far this season on field goals and perfect on extra points.

Overall grade: B-

I give the Cards a B- because of their record.  They had chances to beat St. Louis in week one and San Francisco in week six.  However one could argue they could have lost in week three against Tampa.  It works both ways.  They’ve been in every game, even the the 31-7 loss to the New Orleans Saints.  That game was still only 17-7 entering the fourth quarter.  It got away from them.  Some of the coaching decisions have been out there but overall I think Cards head coach Bruce Arians has done a good job of keeping this team in the hunt.  It’s really all anyone can ask of at this point given the overall team personnel.


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