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The Setup
Burning question entering 2018 was "Who are these Cardinals?" (New coaching staff, new players, new playcalling, new schemes). What we fans were led to expect was a team that would be physically tougher and executionally "tighter" led by an accurate (but injury-prone QB). A central "core" of standout players included QB Sam Bradford, WR Larry Fitzgerald, RB David Johnson, DE Chandler Jones and CB PatrickPeterson New Head Coach Steve Wilks waxed enthusiastically about a vastly improved offensive line. There were high hopes that underachievers, Robert Nkemdiche and Deone Buccannon wou show marked improvement.

Before the first quarter was over, these questionswere answered, and it wasn't pretty.

Lede
"WTF? Skins Wax Cards 24 - 6."


The Bottom Line:
My wife Bryna (a psychoanalyst, the love of my life and no football enthusiast) joined me in front of the Tee Vee. As the game wound down (with the Cards mercifully avoiding a shut out), she asked: "Are they really that bad?"

Short answer: "I'm afraid they are

At first, we thought the inability of Cardinals to finish tackles after initial contact was merely a case of "early game jitters." By the end of the the first quarter, it became a Cardinal hallmark. The earlier pattern of being flagged for helmet-to-helmet infractions continued. (why do we keep getting flagged when other teams seem to have adjusted)? True, Sam Bradford was able to consistently hit open receivers except that (1) they were seldom open, (2) when they were open, they seldom hung onto the ball and (3) he too often lacked zip on this throws, which in turn hung his receivers out to dry.

Our initial fears that newly-signed Redskin RB AdrianPeterson would come back to haunt us turned out to be true. When the Skins weren't gashing us for double-digit gains on running plays, Smith was hittling Peterson and Thompson with short dinks and dunks; letting them pick up chunks of yardage as they ran through tackles after first contact. Cards ran the ball fairly well early, but McCoy only dialed up 16 - 18 running plays.

To sum things up, I'm kind of surprised the score was only 24 - 6.

Game Log
Source: NFL.com Website

1st Quarter
  • Washington at 15:00

    KO returned to Wash 23. Wash moves to Arizona 46 where Sundberg's punti s fair caught at the Cardinal 8.

    Cards at 10:13

    Johnson is handed the rock 4 times (picks up gains of +2, +10, +11 and +1) before Lee punts into the end zone from his 40.

    Washington at 5:47

    Started at their own 20. A Smith engineers an 11-play TD drive that goes into the next quarter. 7 of the 11 plays were running play by Peterson and Thompson for +1, +13, +14, +13, +8. +1 and +8 yds).

    First Quarter Score: Washington 0 - Cards 0.

    2nd Quarter
  • Washington Continued

    On the first play of the quarter, Smith hits Thompson for a 13-yd TD. XP good. Washington 7 - Cards 0.

  • Cards at 14:54

    TB on KO. Three & out. Punt fair caught at the Card 18. 3 & out. Cards punted from their own 22.

    Washingon at 13:16

    Punt (returned to Wash 27. This time, A Smith puts together a 15-play TD drive capped by a one-yard TD run up the middle by Adrian Peterson (Welcome home AP). Washington 14 - Cards 0..

    Cards at 4:10

    TB on KO/3 & out (3rd time so far).

    Washingon at 03:19

    TB on KO. Three & out (again). Punt (net flag) fair caught at Wash 8. On the 10th play of this drive, A Smith hit Reed for a 4-yd TD. Washington 21 - Cards 0..

    Cards at 0:08

    Knee.

    Halfitme Score: Washington 21 - Cards 0.

3rd Quarter

Cardinals at 15:00

TB on KO. After Bradford hit Fitz for +27-yds, Cards went back into their 3 & out rut. Lee's punt gives Wash the ball on their own 8..

Washington at 12:52

3 & out.

Cards at 12:07

3 & out (4th time so far). Punt (net roughness flag) downed at Wash 8.

Washington at 11:07

Redskins hold onto the ball for 14 plays (6:46 worth of clock). Punt fair caught at Card 15.

Cards at 4:21

Cards move to the Wash 47 where Bradford's pass for Seals-Jones was picked off by Dunbar and returned to the Wash 24.

Washington at 1:55

Three straight running plays (for+17, +16 and +6 yds) move ball to Cards 37 to end the quarter.

  • Third Quarter Score: Washington 21- Cards 0
4th Quarter
  • Washington (continued)
  • 7 more plays move Washington into field goal position at the Card 13. 31-yd attempt is good. Washington 24 - Cards 0.

Cards at 12:13

  • TB on KO. Cards finally put together a 13-play TD drive capped by a 2-yd Johnson TD run 2-Pt conversion attempt fails (pass to Kirk incomplete). . Wash 24 - Cards 6

Washington at 5:47

KO downed at Wash 6. They punt from their own 11. Kirk returns punt 44-yds.

Cardinals at 4:30

Cards take over at Wash 26. After Bradford hits Johnson for +16 yds, Cards turn ball over on downs at the Wash 7.

Washington at 3:20

On the third play of the possession, A Peterson fumbles after a 52-yd run. Recovered by Tres Boston.

Cardinals at 1:45

Card ball on their own 40. They move into Wash territory but Bradford gets sacked on the sixth play of the possession. Fumble is recovered by Ionnidis.

Washington at 3:20

Knee

Final Score: Washington 24 - Cards 6.

Notable Game Stats.

  • D Johnson gained 37 running yards on 9 carries (A Peterson gained 96 yds on 26 carries & 1 TD. Thompson gained 65 yds on 5 carries).

    Bradford went 20 for 34, 0 TD's and 1 pick. A Smith was 21 for 30 (255 yards, 2 TD and 0 picks).

  • Fitz had 7 catches for 76 yds. (Thompson was Wash's leading receiver with 6 catches (63 yds)

  • No receiver had more than 2 catches. Shirfield looked best of lackluster crew who continued to drop too many balls.

  • Each team lost one fumble.

    Top Tacklers: Baker (11), Bynes (11), Bethea (10)

Skins had two sacks. Cards had 3 (Nkemdiche, C Jones, P Peterson)

Cards had no interceptions/Wash had one (Dunbar)

Average yards per rushing play: 4.3 (vs 4.5 for Skins)

Average yards per passing play (7.5) (vs.4.0 for Skins)

Net Punting Average: Washington 46.2. Cards: 35.5

Each team was penalized 9 times (though our flags seemed to come at far worse times)

Bright Spots

  • D Johnson and Edmonds were able to gain positive yardage

    (That's about it)

The Dark Side

  • Cardinal tacklers consistently failed to finish (Wash runners gained considerable yardage after initial contact. (My impression was that Bucannon was a safety playing a LB position calling for a bigger, more physical tackler.

    Bradford's passes lacked zip - often hanging receivers out to dry.

  • Pretty much every play dialed up by Washington (especially in the 1H) worked. Most of our offensive plays didn't deliver hoped-for results.

    Our WR's continue to drop too many passes.

    We got penalized way too much - If you know the League plans to come down on helmut-to-helmut and roughing infractions, our coaches might just want to drop the hint that our players should "cool it" a little.

    The Cardinal offensive line is a legend in its own mind.

    McCoy's offensive play calling was, at it's most creative - unimaginative.

    If the Wilks formula is to assemble a solid offensive and defensive roster and then run a conservative offensive play book inside that infrastructure, (1) it ain't gonna work and (2) it will be diffcult to come back from behind and (3 it will make for some rather dismal, boring football. What BA understood was that more explosive "risk-it" football gives you a better chance to overcome a deficit and, more important, just the fear of being torched by the long ball or trick play "keeps the defense honest" and looser.

     

Last Word:
When it comes to "Overreaction Monday", I tend to be a major skeptic (i.e. things aren't as good as we think when we win/nor as bad as we think we are when we lose).

Sorry guys - If we continue to play as poorly in the future as we did against the Skins yesterday, it will be "0 & 16 City." (Only way out of this is to play better, and I just don't know if we're able to do that). - JGG

 
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Copyright 1996 Gollin & Associates. Last modified: 11/26/2012