Week 12: St. Louis Rams At Arizona Cardinals
- QuarterbackSam Bradford probably deserves better than to be the quarterback of a 3-6-1 team. Bradford is a hardworking and tough-minded quarterback who has hung in there even though the Rams don’t have a plethora of receiving talent. Bradford is a very active short- and medium-range thrower who puts the ball in a good position for his receivers.Ken Whisenhunt had seen enough from John Skelton and Kevin Kolb, so he inserted Ryan Lindley at the quarterback position. Lindley is a bit more mobile than Skelton or Kolb and the Arizona offensive line can’t protect the quarterback. So the change made sense from that perspective, but Lindley passed for 64 yards against the Falcons and the Cardinals could not win the game.
- OffenseSteven Jackson still runs with power and effort. He is the Rams’ best offensive weapon and he has rushed for 585 yards and he has not fumbled. Danny Amendola is quick and elusive and will catch anything he touches, but he is not a big-play specialist. Wide receiver Chris Givens can make big plays, but he is not consistent at this point in his career.The Cardinals are going to have a difficult time coming up with a respectable offensive effort because the offensive line is substandard. When Larry Fitzgerald only catches one pass – as was the case in the Week 11 loss to the Falcons – you know this offense is trouble. LaRod Stephens-Howling had a career-high 127 rushing yards in that game, but that was flukish and will be difficult to repeat.
- DefenseThe Rams have played respectable defense throughout the majority of the season. That’s not surprising since Fisher came aboard and brought aggressive assistant head coach Dave McGinnis with him. The Rams will blitz and take chances. Defensive ends Robert Quinn and Chris Long have combined for 15.5 sacks. James Laurinaitis is an excellent tackler at the linebacker spot.The Cardinals can get after you with their pass rush. Their best player is inside linebacker Daryl Washington. He leads the team with 86 tackles and he also has a team-high 8.0 sacks. The Cardinals have the 5th-best pass defense thanks in large part to cornerback Patrick Peterson, who has a team-high 12 passes defensed.
- Special TeamsThe Rams have not been able to establish any traction with their special teams. However the rookie combination of punter Johnny Hekker and placekicker Greg Zuerlein is notable. Hekker is averaging 48.0 yards per punt and Zuerlein has made 5-of-8 FG attempts of 50 yards or longer.The Cardinals have one of the best return men in the league in Patrick Peterson, but he has not brought a punt or a kickoff back for a score after doing it four times a year ago. Placekicker Jay Feely has one of the strongest legs in the league. He has made 17-of-20 field goal attempts with a long of 60 yards. Dave Zastudil has dropped 26 of his punts inside the opponents’ 20 yard line.
The Cardinals are attempting to do the impossible this year by winning without a credible offense. The quarterback play is not going to cut it, but the offensive line play has been even worse. The Cardinals have dropped six in a row after starting the season with four wins. If they lose this game, they probably won’t have too many more chances to win this season.