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2012 Regular Season
Cardinals @ Lions Preview

  • When: Thurs.10/3  8:30 pm EST

  • Televised: NFL Network

  • SIRIUS/XM Radio: TBD

Setup:
Lions won a hotly contested game vs. Vikes 34 - 24. Cardinals lost a last-minute squeaker to the Rams.

 Last Game
The game was dominated by mistakes and penalties. Lions trailed 14 - 13 at halftime, moved ahead 27 - 24 by the end of the 3rd quarter and put it way with a long drive ib the final quarter to put it away. Most telling stats were 11 penalties on the Lions, 3 fumbles and a 77-yard catch and run TD by Reggie Bush. Not to be overlooked were 2 TD catches by Burleson.

First Quarter

Lions received. TB on the KO. TB on the KO. A 29-yard completion to J Bell helped move the ball to the the Vikings 13 where the drive finally sputtered. FG attempted was aborted. Vikes took over on their own 22. On the first play from scrimmage, Adrian Peterson exploded up the middle for a 78 yard TD,. Vikes 7 – Lions 0.

TB on the KO. Minny went 3 & out. Lions moved to the Vike 23 to end the quarter. 1st Quarter score: Vikes 7 – Lions 3.

2nd Quarter

Detroit reached the Minn 11 where Akers’ 42-yard FG was good. Vikes 7 – Lions 6.

TB on the KO. On the second play from scrimmage, Ponder’s pass for Simpson was picked off by Levy and returned 33 yards, but the TD was nullified by penalty. On the first play of the Detroit possession (at the Viking 39 yard line), Stafford’s short pass for Calvin Johnson was picked off by Henderson. Vikes ball on their own 35. Completions of 21 and 44 yards set up a 4-yard TD run up the middle by Peterson. Vikes 14 – Lions 6.

TB on the KO. The two teams exchanged 3 & outs. Lions moved from their own  7 to their own 23 where they punted and held the Vikes to 3 & out and then fumbled away the ball four plays later. 2:50 til halftime. Ponder was picked off by Tulloch 3 plays later. Detroit ball on their own 30 with 2:14 to go. Lions drove to the Viking 2-yd line where a fuble-call on J Bell was reversed and Bell credited with a 2-yard TD with 0:10 left on the clock. 2nd Quarter Score: Minnesota 14 – Detroit 13.

3rd Quarter

Vikes received. TB on the KO.  Minn. Went 3 & out. Detroit took over at    
midfield. Stafford took them down for a score in 7 plays. Key gainers were 21 and 15 yard yard completions to Burleson. Detroit 20 – Minn 14.

TB on the KO. A 20 yard pass to Jennings helped move the Vikes in 7 plays to the Lion 34, where Walsh was good from 52. Detroit 20 – Minn. 17.

TB on the KO. On the 3rd play o the possession, Reggie Bush turned a short completion into a 77-yard TD. Detroit 27 – Minn 17.

Vikes returned KO to their own 22. 8 plays later, Ponder hit Peterson for a 4-yd touchdown. Key plays: Ansah’s sack of Ponder for a 7-yd loss (a negative play), a 47-yard completion to Simpson and a 10-yard completion to Patterson. Detroit 27 – Minn 24.

TB on the KO. Lions moved to their own 35 to end the quarter.

4th Quarter

Lions reached their 49 and punted. Vikes took over on their own 22. On the 3rd play of the series, Ponder fumbled away an aborted snap. Lions took over at the Viking 39. Stafford and his offense (aided by a roughing call on 3rd and 18) pecked away and reached the Viking one-yard play where on the 8th play of the drive, Stafford hit Fauria for a one-yd TD. 2-point try was good. Lions 34 – Vikes 24.

6:47 left. KO was returned to the Minn. 16. Vikes held to 3 & out. Detroit took over on their own 41 and picked up a first down before punting ffrom the Minn. 36.  Vikes took over on their own one-yard line with 4:17 left. On the 11th okay of their possession (at their own 33), Ponder’s pass for Rudolph was picked off by Quin. Two knees and the game was over, Final Score: Detroit 34 – Lions 24.

Meet the Lions

Quarterback

09 Stafford, Matthew  6-3 232 Georgia
14 Hill, Shaun 6-3 220  Maryland
17 Moore, Kellen  6-0 197 Boise State

Stafford had very similar 1st game stats to Bradford. Like Bradford, he's a young guy who can manage a game and "sling it."He completed 28 of 42 passes for 347 vs. the Vikes - with 2 TD's and an interception.

Running Back

21 Bush, Reggie  6-0  203  USC
35 Bell, Joique 5-11 220 Wayne State (Mich.)
25 Leshoure, Mikel 6-0  227  Illinois
41 Riddick, Theo 5-10  201   Notre Dame

Bush is a three-way RB - he can turn short screens into TD's, run between the tackles and pass block. Bell is capable backup who sees plenty of action.

Wide Receiver

81 Johnson, Calvin 6-5 236 Georgia Tech
84 Broyles, Ryan 5-10 188 Oklahoma
18 Durham, Kris 6-6 216 Georgia
13 Burleson, Nate 6-0 198 Nevada-Reno
83 Edwards, Patrick 5-9 175 Houston

Calvin Johnson is considered by many to be the best WR in pro football right now. The attention paid to Johnson often draws coverage away from Burleson, making him equally as deadly a threat.

Tight End

85 Scheffler, Tony  6-5 255 Western Michigan
80 Fauria, Joseph 6-7 255 UCLA
87 Pettigrew, Brandon 6-5 265 Oklahoma State

Not much said about Scheffler from the Viking game. Fauria caught that one TD pass and Coach Arians is high on Pettigrew.

Offensive Line

71 Reiff, Riley LT 6-6 313 owa
66  Waddle, LaAdrian T 6-6 321  Texas Tech
67 Sims, Rob LG 6-3 312 Ohio State
64 Harris, Leroy G-C 6-3 303 North Carolina State
51 Raiola, Dominic  C 6-1 295 Nebraska
75 Warford, Larry RG 6-3 333 Kentucky

65 Gandy, Dylan G 6-3 295 Texas Tech
70  Fox, Jason RT 6-7 303 Miami (Fla.)
78 Hilliard, Corey T  6-6 300 Oklahoma State

Fox was injured and will not play. Warford had a strong game vs. Vikes, but he's still a rookie. (Is the right side point of vulnerability)? They've got Reiff playing over on the left side. Sims and Raiola are solid inside.

Defensive Line

94 Ansah, Ezekiel DE 6-6 270 Brigham Young
77 Idonije, Israel DE 6-6  275 Manitoba (Canada)
98 Fairley, Nick DT  6-3 291 Auburn
99 Mosley, C.J.  DT 6-2  310 Missouri
90 Suh, Ndamukong DT 6-4 307 Nebraska
97 Bannan, Justin DT 6-3   312 Colorado
91 Jones, Jason DE 6-5 276 Eastern Michigan
79 Young, Willie DE 6-5 251 North Carolina State
92 Taylor, Devin DE 6-8 267 South Carolina

Their strength (both against the run and rushing the passer) is inside with Fairley and Suh. (Incidently, Suh has not been suspended for his hit on Sullivan, but "just" $100,000 poorer in the pocketbook). Their rookie, Ansah can bring it from the outside.


Linebacker

58 Palmer, Ashlee OLB 6-1 236 Mississippi
59  Whitehead, Tahir LB 6-2  233 Temple
55 Tulloch, Stephen MLB  5-11 240 North Carolina State
50 Lewis, Travis MLB 6-2 227 Oklahoma
54 Levy, DeAndre OLB 6-1 238 Wisconsin
52 McIntosh, Rocky OLB 6-2 242 Miami (Fla.)

A blue collar bunch of 4-3 guys who play smart, tough and also make big plays. Tulloch had a pick and a sack. I think Levy (who also had an interception) is very underrated. Don't know much about Palmer.


Defensive Back

30 Slay, Darius CB 6-1 190 Mississippi State
31 Mathis, Rashean DB  6-1 195 Bethune-Cookman
36 Green, Jonte CB 6-0   184 New Mexico State
23 Houston, Chris CB 5-11 78 Arkansas
28 Bentley, Bill CB 5-10 182 Louisiana-Lafayette
27 Quin, Glover  S 6-0 207 New Mexico
29 Wendling, John   S  6-1 222 Wyoming
24 Gomes, DeJon   SS  6-0  201 Nebraska
26 Delmas, Louis    FS   5-11 202 Western Michigan
32 Carey, Don S 5-11 192 Norfolk State

Detroit's corners don't grab a lot of attention, but are protected somewhat by the ferocious Lion pass rush. Quin had an interception last week. Delmas is considered Pro Bowl material.


Special Teams

02 Akers, David K 5-10 200  Louisville
06 Martin, Sam P 6-1 205 Appalachian State
48 Muhlbach, Don LS 6-4 265 Texas A&M
15 Spurlock, Micheal KR/PR5-11 210 Mississippi

Akers is as steady as you get. Don't know much about Martin. Ex-Card Spurlock is capable if not consistently spectacular. Gotta wonder if Coach Schwartz is tempted to let Reggie play deep on special teams.


Coaches
Head Coach: Jim Schwartz
Offensive Coordinator: Scott Linehan
Defensive Coordinator: Gunther Cunningham
Special Teams Coordinator: John Bonamigo

Schwartz has been quietly but steadily building a solid football team piece by piece at each position. Both Cunningham and Linehan are highly regarded veteran assistant coaches (Not sure about Linehan, but I think both were NFL head coaches at some point in their careers).

Cardinal Roster


Overall

The Cards have turned over more than half their roster and have a completely revamed coaching staff. They ought to have a better passing attack with a new QB , more aggressive play-calling and somewhat upgraded OL, and their defense should resemble Ray Horton's system more often than not. But we won't know to what degree all this will pay off until we see how we play.

By Position

QB - 03 Palmer, 05 Stanton, 14 Lindley 
Palmer demonstrated that he is still more than simply a competent field general. He looks poised, competent and can (& usually does) make all of his throws. He does, however, make an occasional bad decision that can cost us points or even a game. He will also occasionally get a bit streaky (both in good or bad way). He's looking more comfortable synching with Fitz, Floyd and Roberts in the red zone but they still have more work to do.

RB - 28 Mendenhall, 29 Smith, 30 Taylor, 38 Ellington, 34 R Williams
Last game, Mendnhall delivered what we
expected of him. Our only concern is whether he can survive the pounding from week to week. It looks like Smith is the #1 backup, but I get the feeling BA will put any of the four backup RB's on the field depending on certain situations. It's a good crew with varied skills.

WR1 - 15 Floyd, 12 Roberts
WR2 -11 Fitzgerald, 13 Brown

Fitz remain
s a top 3 WR and figures to break the 100-catch barrier if Palmer can stay healthy. Floyd is coming into his own as a physical go-to guy. Both Roberts and Fitz had 8 catches vs. the Rames. Brown will probably be worked in gradually.

TE - 81 Dray, 83 Sperry, 86 Jefferson, 84 Housler
Housler continues to be sidelined, but could be back at any time. Dray is more of an H-Back type. Sperry is the best blocker (but shows surprisingly good hands). Jefferson is a young rook with more potential than production at this point.

LT- 7
5 Brown, 79 Sowell
LG-
71 Colledge, 76 Potter 
OC-
63 Sendlein, 69 Gibson,
RG - 74 Fanaika, 78 Watford
RT 
- 73 Winston, 70 Massie,

Levi, Levi, Levi! (that's one Levi! for each of the sacks he gave up vs. StL). Although 2 of these sacks may have resulted from RB's not staying in to help him out, if Levi can't get the job done, "it is what it is" - our inability to protect the QB. The rest of our starters did OK.

DE - 93 Campbell, Talley
NT - 92 D Williams, Ta'amu
DT - 90 Dockett, Rucker

Our entire defense was physically outplayed by Ram blockers and we're not quite sre why. Williams had that most unlikely pick 6 at the StL and Calais has been capable if not spectacular. But Darnell's apparent lack of intensity has many Cardinal fans scratching their heads. Talley and Rucker are capable backups. I didn't see much of Ta'amu and have to hope he can give Williams a blow every once in a while.

WLB - 97vAlexander, 91 Shaughnessy, 55 Abraham
ILB  52 Brinkley, Minter
ILB- Dansby, 51 Minter, 58 D Washington (susp)

SLB -  94 Acho, 57 Okafor

Our inside guys (supposedly the strength of our LB corps) got pushed around pretty badly by Ram blockers. One-on-one tackling in the flat left much to be desred as well. Shaughnessy's tipped pass created a Cardinal defensive TD. Pressure on Bradford was MIA for most of the StL game.

RCB - 25 Powers, 20 Cason, 31 Bethel
LCB- 21 Peterson, 35 Arenas, 29 Fleming
  
SS- 37 Bell , 22 T Jefferson, 40 Tillman
FS- 26 Rash Johnson, 32 Mathieu
None of our corners looked all that impressive vs. StL (& that incudes Peterson - who, while explosive, still isn't 100% lock-down and has a lot of work to do.

 

K-04 Feely
P-  09 Zastudil
H - 09 Zastudil
LS-
82 Leach
KR -
Arenas
PR -
21 Peterson

Feely didn't deliver on a crucial attempt in in StL. Zatudil is a magician at dropping punts inside the 10 or 15. Arenas had a really bad game in Stl - returning kicks deep in the end zone but deldom making it to the twenty. We're waiting for Peterson (and Mathieu to break a long one.

  Lions vs. Cardinals Matchups

Lion  Passing Attack vs. Cardinal Run Defense
Stafford has C Johnson and Burleson to play catch with. And, if those guys are covered, he has Reggie Bush to dump off to. (Someone - Mathieu? - will need to be a spy to cover Reggie). At TE both Fauria and Pettigrew are quality pass-catchers. Sheffler listed on the Lion dept chart, but we're not sure if he played. In pass pro, the right side of the Lion OL (Reiff, Sims, Raeola) looks pretty solid, but they are playing a rookie (Warford) at RG and Jason Fox is out at RT - which might make the right-side a target of opportunity for Shaughnessy, Calais and (if we move him over to the left) Abraham. Our DB's and LB's will have their hands full with the two Lion receivers, their TE and Reggie. All day, it figures to be a horse race between (1) how fast we can get to Stafford and (2) how quickly their guys can get open.

 Lion  Running Attack vs. Cardinal Run Defense
It's basically Bush (who gained 90 yards on 21 carries) and Joique Bell vs. a Cardinal run defense who got outhit, pushed around and who missed a lot of one-on-one tackles a week ago against the Rams. On paper, the Rams look more smashmouth than the LIons. Our defensive guys are going to have to play a lot tougher if we're to prevail this week. Normally, I'd expect Detroit to attack our (somewhat slow) perimeter, but they might decide to test us with a lot of inside cutback zone stuff to see if we're still vulnerable there.

 Cardinal Passing Attack vs. Lion  Pass Defense
This figures to be a horse-race similar to the one between their passing attack and our pass defense. Only, this time the challenge will be for our receivers to get open quickly enough for Palmer to get rid of the ball Scot free. This may be one of those weeks where Carson may need to use whatever pocket-mobility he has left in order to avoid pressure up the middle by Fairly and Suh to collapse the pocket. Actually, this may be a blessing in disguise because the pressure to protect Carson figures to shift from Levi and Winston to our interior linemen (Colledge, Sendlein and Fanaika). I don't know a whole lot about Detroit's CB's and, therefore, have to feel good about Fitz, Floyd and Andre ws. Houston, Slay & Co. So it becomes a struggle between their pass rush and our receivers getting open. One thing that continues not to be helpful is Housler's absence - his presence could help draw coverage from our receivers (& perhaps a safety from helping to defend against our run game).

Cardinal Running Attack vs. Lion  Run Defense
Fairley and Suh form a pretty sturdy brick wall against the inside run game. Their LB's (especially Tulloch & Levi) figure to be extra tough against our outside run game, screens etc. But we can't take the run game completely off the table, since our pass offense is centered around play-action and at least the threat of the run. Somehow, we've got to scare them. Rather than play "smashmouth vs. Suh, Fairley, Levy, McIntosh etc. by running Mendenhall, Smitty and Taylor right at them, this might be a good week for giving Lion defenders a big dose of Ryan Williams and Ellington (because they're a threat to take it downtown every time they touch the ball).

Special Teams
I like Zastudil vs. Martin. Normally, I'd like Feely over Akers, but not right now (due to Jay's inconsistency. I definitely like Peterson or Tyrann over Spurlock, but I hope BA let's someone besides Arena return kicks.

Coaching
Schwartz is beginning to see what seems to be a viable long-range plan get nearer to fruition. Coach Arians is early into his rookie season and has a 0 & 1 gorilla on his back (Think he wants to be 2 & 0 next week facing two straight contests on the road)? This game figures to be a test of how good Coach Arians is at bouncing back.

 Final Word 
Cards need this game more than the Lions, but there's a reason for that (i.e. they won last week; we didn't). I view this game as similar to last week - a tough contest between 2 fairly equal teams that will be decided by a lucky bounce or a missed FG. Aside from that, I'd really like to see a greater sense of urgency on the Cardinal defensive side of the ball.

 
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