Arizona Cardinals: First half grades
The Arizona Cardinals finish the first half of the season 6-2 and now head into their bye week
The Arizona Cardinals were able to finish off the first half of their season in Cleveland on Sunday with a 34-20 victory. They are in first place in the NFC West, currently leading the second-place St. Louis Rams by a game and a half.
The first half saw three games against the AFC. They only had two divisional games over the course of the first two months. They went 1-1 in those contests.
No question the offense has lead the way the first half of the season. Quarterback Carson Palmer threw 20 touchdowns over the first eight games against just six interceptions. The 20 touchdowns are tied for first in the NFL with New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.
At the receiver position there have been contributions by many. Larry Fitzgerald has seven touchdowns with his 55 receptions. He has amassed 706 yards already. John Brown has caught 37 passes himself for 562 yards and three touchdowns and he missed Sunday’s game at the Browns. Michael Floyd has turned it on the past couple of weeks and now has three touchdowns as well.
At running back the Cardinals have already eclipsed what they did all of 2014 with Chris Johnson. Johnson has 676 yards rushing, going over the 100-yard plateau four times already this season. He has three touchdowns. Johnson is second only to Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman’s 709 yards.
The backs have had a little trouble holding the ball lately. Johnson had two fumbles against the Browns. Rookie David Johnson started hot but has tailed off recently. He put the ball on the ground again on Sunday but luckily it bounced out of bounds.
The offensive line has been a work in progress but has really played well for the most part. They’ve only allowed 11 sacks of Palmer so far over the first eight games. You have to like what you see there.
The defense has shown strengths at times but also weaknesses at times. Over they are fourth in the NFL in yards given up per game at 312.8. The last three games though they’ve allowed the Pittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore Ravens, and Cleveland Browns run up and down the field at times.
They gave up 25 to Pittsburgh, 18 to Baltimore, and 20 to Cleveland over the last three weeks. In the grand scheme of things not bad at all. They gave up three touchdowns to the Browns on Sunday, all in the first half.
The thing some measure a good defense by is the amount of turnovers they create. They generated two on Sunday, one a timely interception in the end zone by safety Rashad Johnson, who has four interceptions on the season.
Last week the defense came up big when safety Tony Jefferson intercepted Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco in the end zone to secure a victory. Jefferson also has an interception return for touchdown, as do cornerback Justin Bethel and safety Tyrann Mathieu.
The one statistic the Cardinals need to improve on defensively is sacks. They have just 13 through the first eight games, which is 22nd in the NFL. They are getting hurries, so there is that. As a team though they are tied for first in the NFL with the New York Giants with 13 interceptions.
It only appears at times that the defense will break. They’ve had lapses, such as the blown coverage touchdown against the Chicago Bears. That was blamed on cornerback Patrick Peterson. The run defense also allowed St. Louis Rams running back Todd Gurley to have his first-ever 100-yard game.
Next: A special team