The Arizona Cardinals go 3-1 in the first quarter of the 2015 NFL season
The Arizona Cardinals finished the first quarter of the NFL season on Sunday with their first loss of the season. However even in a loss to the St. Louis Rams at home there were some positives. With three of the four games at home it helped the Cardinals propel to a division lead.
Things don’t get easier from here. However the Cardinals may have needed a little adversity going into the second quarter of the season. Here are grades as I see them so far.
From most views, the offense certainly performed above average. They settled for field goals for the most part against the Rams but in the first three games, they managed 17 touchdowns, tops in the NFL. They are averaging 37 points per game over the first four games. That is beyond expectations for many I imagine.
Quarterback Carson Palmer has been really good. Even though he blamed himself for the loss to the Rams, there was so much more to that loss. He was way down the list of reasons why they lost. Palmer threw the ball 46 times on Sunday, completing 29 of them for one touchdown and one interception. Overall though he has 10 touchdowns and three interceptions so far this season. I’ll take it.
The interceptions haven’t been all that bad or at least turned out not to be. The one he threw on Sunday was a jump ball in the end zone that was just slightly underthrown. I’m alright with those picks. The Cardinals warned there would be chances taken down the field a lot this season and so far they have been proven right. With Palmer blaming himself for the Rams loss shows what type of leader he is.
Running back could have turned out to be a mess when Andre Ellington went down in week one against the New Orleans Saints. He hasn’t played since. Insert Chris Johnson and David Johnson. Chris Johnson has rushed for 72, 110, and 83 yards in the three games Ellington has missed. He’s averaging 4.4 yards-per-game, just as he did in 2014 with the New York Jets.
David Johnson has been hot and cold. He scored the game-clinching touchdown against the Saints. He opened the Bears game with a 108-yard kickoff return for touchdown and had a receiving touchdown as well. Against the Rams though he fumbled the opening kickoff and dropped a sure touchdown. As coach Bruce Arians put it, “he played a rookie today”. However he has been exciting to watch overall backing up Chris Johnson.
At receiver we’ve seen the re-birth of Larry Fitzgerald. Fans were calling for his trade last season when many were just sure the Cardinals wouldn’t re-sign him in the offseason. Turns out the Cardinals made the right move. He already had 30 receptions for 432 yards and five touchdowns, including a career-high three against the Chicago Bears in week two.
John Brown has 19 receptions and one touchdown and Michael Floyd finally got going with five receptions against the Rams this past Sunday. Jaron Brown has also contributed a couple of huge receptions as well.
The biggest question remains on the offensive line. Which one will show up from week to week is still unknown. Certainly the absences of Bobby Massie and Mike Iupati and their subsequent returns shook things up a bit. Iupati did not play well in his first action of the season against the Rams.
They allowed four sacks on Sunday to the Rams after allowing just one in the first three games. Tackle Jared Veldheer has been nailed for a few killer holding calls. He probably got away with a few too against the Rams. The most consistent players on the line have been center Lyle Sendlein and guard Earl Watson.