first_imgWe’re halfway through the 2011 season and the ArizonaCardinals find themselves with a 2-6 record. Some thingshave gone right for the team but, honestly, more has gonewrong. What does it add up to? Let’s hand out a reportcard. Comments   Share   D-backs president Derrick Hall: Franchise ‘still focused on Arizona’ QBKevin Kolb is stillfeeling out his new surroundings and hasn’t been awful,but hasn’t been what the Cardinals envisioned either.He’s 23rd in the league in passer rating and is 1-6 as astarting quarterback, and struggled to get the ball to theteam’s best weapon. DKevin Kolb has not beenas good as most people hoped or expected, but he hasn’tbeen awful. Can his struggles be attributed to learning anew system, new teammates and a bad offensive line?Probably, but the Cardinals expect more — they need more.D Top Stories RBBeanie Wells has beenvery good this season, when he’s been in the lineup. He’sbeen very steady, and has minimized his fumbling problem.Alfonso Smith has been decent when called into duty whileChester Taylor has done nothing to dispel rumors that he’sfinished, but then again, he’s only had 15 touches so farthis season. Unfortunately, injuries have had a part inlimiting LaRod Stephens-Howling to just 15 touches onoffense, a number that needs to increase greatly in the2nd half of the season. B-The Cardinals neededBeanie Wells to step up this season and, when on thefield, he has done just that. 526 yards and 7 TDs putsWells on pace for an excellent season, provided his kneedoesn’t hold him back much. Chester Taylor and AlfonsoSmith have provided nothing as backups, and LaRodStephens-Howling’s role should be increased. B- OLThe Cards have allowed27 quarterback sacks (4th most in the league) and thatdoesn’t factor in the number of times Kolb has beenflushed out of the pocket, which hasn’t resulted in greatthings. And the running game is ranked 26th in football,although that number is deceiving since only five teamshave run more infrequently than the Cardinals. D-The line has proven tobe effective in the running game but a disaster when theteam passes. Levi Brown and Brandon Keith have been awful,Rex Hadnot and Daryn Colledge have been solid and LyleSendlein has been steady. QBs have been getting killed andthe run game isn’t dominant. F+OCMike Miller is new on the job and there have beengrowing pains to say the least. C-This has left something to be desired, though itappears Mike Miller is learning. Didn’t see any botchedscreen pass attempts last week and we even saw PatrickPeterson almost get some action on offense. D+ DLCalais Campbell hasquietly had an outstanding season, and leads the team with5 sacks. Darnell Dockett has showed flashes here andthere, but hasn’t contributed consistently. Dan Williamsand rookie David Carter have been adequate on the nose.CThis group has a ton oftalent yet seems to underachieve. I’m not going to blamethem. Calais Campbell has been a beast, Darnell Dockett isplaying out of position, Dan Williams has been solid andDavid Carter, Vonnie Holliday and Nick Eason have beengood depth. The defense stinks but it’s not on them.B DBThe Greg Toler injurywas a crushing blow to this team. Patrick Peterson hasshown improvement, but has also shown a propensity to drawflags. A.J. Jefferson, pressed into starting duty, hasbeen a target of opposing quarterbacks all season long.Richard Marshall as the nickel? Meh. At safety, AdrianWilson is starting to play more like the Adrian Wilson ofold, but he struggled in the first 5 or 6 games. KerryRhodes is hurt and that’s given Rashad Johnson to showthat he’s a backup in the league at best. DCam Newton, RexGrossman, Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger all torchedthe Cardinals, and the group as a whole has failed to makeplays. Patrick Peterson is improving, though A.J.Jefferson is regressing. Adrian Wilson, Richard Marshalland Kerry Rhodes have had their struggles, though A-Dub isshowing signs of life. D+DCNew coordinator Ray Horton had people scratching theirheads back in preseason when he didn’t give rookie cornerPatrick Peterson a lot of reps against first stringers.Then, Peterson started on opening day and (along with theentire secondary) got torched by Cam Newton and SteveSmith. The defense looks more organized than it didearlier in the season, but they still rank 27th in yardageagainst and 23rd in points allowed. DThe defense is not without talent, but it doesn’t havean abundance. So, a smart coach would make use of what hehas and get the most out of them. Horton has failed to doso. His system is not made for the players on the roster,and while the team is trying to institute a big change itis doing so at the expense of stopping teams. Horton puttoo much in too quickly, and it set this team back. D- LBDaryl Washington has been great, and Paris Lenon isalways around the football, but the outside backers haveleft a lot to be desired. Counted on to provide a passrush, Clark Haggans and Joey Porter have combined for 2.5sacks. Since seeing his playing time increased, rookieSam Acho has three by himself. I’ll live with rookiemistakes if it comes with play-making ability, and Achoand O’Brien Schofield provide that. This grade would havebeen much lower three weeks ago. C-A 3-4 defense puts an emphasis on the linebackers tomake plays, and outside of Daryl Washington this groupjust fails to do so. Joey Porter is washed up, ClarkHaggans is on his last legs and Paris Lenon, while solid,is nothing special. Stewart Bradley has been a free agentbust, but the team needs to get him going along withyoungsters O’Brien Schofield and Sam Acho. Those threegive this group a tiny glimmer of hope. D-center_img Cardinals expect improving Murphy to contribute right away What an MLB source said about the D-backs’ trade haul for Greinke Vince MarottaAdam Green WRFitzgerald has been great, when they’ve actuallythrown to him. His targets are down 17 (2.1 per game)from a year ago. Early Doucet has been serviceable, andAndre Roberts has been a disappointment. CTough group to judge because of struggles everywhereelse. Fitz has been great, Doucet solid and Robers non-existent. The group has made some plays when given thechance, though, so it’s tough to really fault them. C+ Nevada officials reach out to D-backs on potential relocation TEThere’s been much more emphasis put on the tight endsthis season, and the group of Todd Heap, Jeff King, RobHousler and Jim Dray has been a big improvement overCardinal tight ends years past. This year’s tight endshave accounted for 36 catches already…last year’s grouphad just 25. Now if they could just stay healthy. C+One of the more intriguing groups on the team, ToddHeap, Rob Housler, Jeff King and Jim Dray have all done agood job. Heap, though, can’t get back on the field, andHousler has had a couple of big play chances ruined bypoor throws. The pass-catching TEs have caught passes, theblockers have blocked. B+ TeamThe Cardinals are 2-6.Yes, they should have a better record than that, asthey’ve only been beaten soundly by two of their firsteight opponents. But when you consider the issues atquarterback, receiver, running back depth, pass rush,linebacker and secondary, a ‘D’ is the best grade you cangive this team. D-Early in the season itwas about the games the Cardinals “should have” won, asleads slipped away in Washington and vs. the Giants. Butthe team has not played well since then, having been blownout by a poor Vikings team and getting crushed in thesecond half at Baltimore. Is the win over the Rams a signof a turnaround? We’ll see, but I wouldn’t bet on it.F+ STWhile the kicking gamehas been average, the return teams have been outstanding.LaRod Stephens-Howling is 12th in the league in kickoffreturns and that Peterson kid has proven to be o.k. atpunt returning. The rookie out of LSU has 3 touchdownsand averages 6.7 yards more per return than the 2nd placereturner (Javier Arenas of Kansas City). Peterson, as apunt returner, is more responsible for the Cardinals’ twowins than any single player on the team. BJay Feely got off to abad start but has been money since. Dave Zastudil hasn’tcost the team. Patrick Peterson has won two games. Ifthere is any group that deserves props on this team, it’sspecial teams. Sooner or later teams will stop kicking toPeterson, but that’s fine. B+HCIt’s easy to like a coach when your team is winningand he says the same exact thing in every pressconference and interview. It’s just as easy to getfrustrated by that same coach when he constantly spews thesame comments loss after loss. Say this about KenWhisenhunt, he’s consistent. But the heat is increasingin Whisenhunt’s seat as the Cardinals are now 7-17 sincethe beginning of the 2010 season. It’s hard to argue withthose results. (and I’m saying it’s one point better thana ‘D’) C-If a coach’s job is to put his players in position tosucceed, it appears Coach Whiz has failed. Kevin Kolb wasasked to do too much too soon, the team didn’t run earlyin the season when they should have, and it took injuriesto finally get some young playmakers into the lineup ondefense. The Cardinals are 2-6 on the season and maystruggle to reach the five they won last season. Dlast_img

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