If the Arizona Cardinals capitalize on a few drives or makes that extra play, then we could be looking at a team with two or three wins. This Cardinals squad can be dangerous because they have the talent and they are a team who could upset a favorite on any given Sunday. But there are things that need to be cleaned up and addressed concerning the passing game.
The Cardinals inability to execute on passing downs cost them dearly in their 34-20 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. Joshua Dobbs ended up posting his worst QBR of the season as he only passed for 166 yards.
Despite throwing only two touchdown passes, he also threw two interceptions (his first being intercepted as a member of the Cardinals) with the first one being a pick-six by Cam Taylor-Britt to give the Bengals the lead. The three turnovers committed by the Cardinals ultimately determined the outcome of the game and the Cardinals must do a better job of protecting the football. Minus the turnovers, the Cardinals played decent football and the opportunity existed for them to pull out a win.
Despite having a 1-4 record, the Cardinals have been competitive all season despite the low expectations. If Jonathan Gannon can focus on getting the small things fixed, this team could begin piling up some wins.
Even though the three turnovers plagued them, the Cardinals are not a team that are prone to turning over the ball. The Cardinals turnover differential on the season is plus-1 so they have done an excellent job protecting the football up until last game.
One thing Gannon and the coaching staff should consider is allowing Dobbs more freedom to push the ball downfield. Dobbs only averages 6.3 yards per attempt and getting the ball downfield has never been one of his strengths. He is seventh worst in the NFL in that category and offensive coordinator Drew Petzing has to figure out how to get Dobbs to extend plays.
He isn't quite as athletic as Kyler Murray, but he does have enough ability to escape and improvise when he has to. The receivers also have to do a better job at getting open and creating separation from their defenders. Marquise Brown is the team's only deep threat, and since this is considered a rebuilding year by the organization, it's highly unlikely the Cardinals will try and acquire another receiver.
One positive that did come out of this loss is that the Arizona Cardinals continue to run the ball very effectively.
They compiled 142 yards on the ground. The Cardinals rushing attack ranks among the best in the NFL as they currently are ranked fifth in overall yardage, second in yards per carry, and are sixth in rushing yards per game. Since he has one of the top rushing units in the NFL, Petzing should experiment with getting the run game to complement the passing game in order to keep opposing defenders off balance.
Petzing could implement more run fakes and more play-action passes in order to try and bring some diversity to the passing game. The short to intermediate passes have been successful to an extent, but they must make sure they gain positive yardage on those plays. Petzing should also consider taking more shots down the field to Brown, especially in man coverage with a single high safety.
Brown has the ability to change the momentum of the game with just one play if he gets the space he needs to operate. Dobbs did target Brown 10 times but the game could've been a lot closer if they would've connected on key passes.
Rondale Moore also showed that he should get more touches and he can be a dangerous asset for the Cardinals in the short passing game. The best thing about a Swiss Army knife prototype like Moore is that he can be used as a decoy in the backfield or at receiver. He is too dynamic of a player to not put the ball in his hands.
Up next for the Cardinals are their divisional foe Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium. As Dobbs and company prepare to face another stout secondary, Petzing will be tested to see how well he can adjust from game to game and if he can balance this offense and get them on the right track.
The Rams have allowed the fifth-least amount of completions, have held opposing quarterbacks to the third lowest completion percentage, and teams rarely score on them through the air as they have only allowed four passing touchdowns in five games.
(Statistics provided by ESPN.com and Pro-Football-Reference)