Arizona Cardinals Progress Report: Where Do Things Stand Heading into Week 14?

Tyson Langland@TysonNFLNFC West Lead WriterDecember 4, 2012

Dec. 2, 2012; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Arizona Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt on the sidelines against the New York Jets during the second half at MetLife Stadium. Jets won 7-6. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports
Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

Another week, another number in the loss column for the Arizona Cardinals. This week they hit a couple of new all-time lows on offense and were beaten by a quarterback who was fresh off the bench, Greg McElroy.

It's no surprise that McElroy came off the bench and led the Jets on its only scoring drive of the game. It truly has been that kind of season for Arizona, who are now losers of eight in a row. After starting the season 4-0, not much has gone right for them.

Luckily enough, Week 14 is a new week, yet it presents a whole new challenge. The 7-5 Seattle Seahawks will be hosting Arizona and will be out for vengeance after Week 1.

The fact that the Cardinals haven't won at CenturyLink since 2009 spells bad news, and a decision hasn't yet been made on who the starting quarterback will be.


The Good

Coming out of Week 13, there hasn't been a whole lot of good for the Arizona Cardinals. As observers of the game, we've realized the only thing that can be expected of this team at this point are strong performances from members of Ray Horton's defense.

Against the Jets, that same theme continued to reign supreme, as two members of Arizona's secondary each had their best games of the season. One could argue that Kerry Rhodes actually had one of the best games of his career against his former team.

By game's end, Rhodes finished with two interceptions in coverage and one pass defended. Not to mention he only gave up five yards receiving in coverage and Mark Sanchez's quarterback rating when throwing his way was a minuscule 8.3.

Sanchez completed only two of five passes in Rhodes' coverage area for a long of three yards. His fine performance marked the fifth time this season when a quarterback has had a quarterback rating lower than 40 when targeting him.

According to Pro Football Focus, he is currently on pace to have the best all-around season of his eight-year playing career. There are only two safeties in the NFL who are better in coverage as well as against the run.

After a couple of disappointing seasons in the desert, Rhodes is finally turning into the player they thought he would be.

The other player who deserves some recognition in coverage is free-agent addition William Gay. Up until Week 13, Gay had yet to have a knockout game for the Cards. He had a couple of strong games against the Rams and Falcons, but nothing like his game against the Jets.

He wasn't able to notch interceptions like Rhodes and Patrick Peterson, but he was able to defend three of six passes for 17 yards with the addition of one pass deflection. His 56.3 quarterback rating against was the third-lowest number he has posted as a starter this season.

An improving secondary is always a plus late in the season, but more than anything, the Cardinals need its offense to improve.


The Bad

The last sentence under the good obviously hints where I'm going with the bad. If you guessed the offense, more specifically Ryan Lindley, you guessed right. Mike Miller's offense has been an absolute train wreck since they put the rookie sixth-round pick from San Diego State under center.

Against New York, he led the Cardinals offense to exactly five first downs all game long. If you are wondering if that is some type of franchise low, you aren't far off. The five-first-down experience tied a franchise low that was originally set in 1961.

Hard to believe that there was a stat that was worse that five team first downs, but there was. On the day, Arizona was an atrocious 0-for-15 on third-down conversions. An even worse statistic is that the Cardinals are 6-of-40 on third downs since Lindley took over for John Skelton.

There's no question this team needs Kevin Kolb in the worst way right now. I'm all for playing the young quarterback when your season is in shambles, but I'm not okay with the idea of playing a young guy if there is a more capable player on the bench.

The NFL is still about winning, and it's clear he doesn't give this team the best opportunity to win ball games. Writing a player off after only three appearances isn't fair, but when you turn on the tape and see that his decision-making is maddening at best, it's hard to lobby for a guy who looks completely lost at times.

Poor Coach Whisenhunt. His fate will ultimately be tied to his inability to find a quarterback after Kurt Warner left. Just think of how many players have taken snaps at quarterback since he took over in Arizona—there couldn't be a better example of the NFL being a quarterback-driven league.

If this is indeed his last year in Arizona, Whisenhunt will finish with two winning seasons to his name.


Stock Watch (Week-by-Week Evaluation)

Rising: Bobby Massie

For the fourth week in a row, right tackle Bobby Massie hasn't surrendered a quarterback sack. During that same time frame, he has only allowed four quarterback pressures. In his four games prior, he had allowed five sacks and 24 other hits and hurries.

Falling: Beanie Wells

A truly rough game for the Ohio State running back—on film I saw six or seven plays where he missed wide open running lanes. Moreover, I didn't see him break one tackle all game long. While the run blocking has been less than impressive, Beanie Wells isn't doing much to help his own cause.

Rising: Patrick Peterson

Peterson's 2012 season has progressed quite nicely from his rookie season. Week 13 was another testament to that, as he added another interception to his stat line for his fifth of the season. On the season, opposing quarterbacks have a completion percentage of 51.6 when throwing in his direction. 

Falling: Paris Lenon

I've said this before, but I will say it again: It's time to move on from Paris Lenon. The Jets swallowed him up in the run game, and he missed two tackles when he had the opportunity to make a stop. Lenon now has 10 missed tackles through 12 games and is one the worst inside linebackers against the run.


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