Well, the concerns created in Philadelphia appear to have stayed there.
Offensively, we pretty much crushed Arizona! Like I said in my preview of this game, I think the Cardinals have a defense that isn’t as good as its ranking, but it’s top eight. Yet we put 38 on them. Sure, they sacked Matt Ryan three times, but after a disastrous first possession of the second half in which two of those sacks occurred, adjustments were made. Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan came to realize that because Arizona had given up 17 points in the first half (24 if not for a horrible Julio Jones bobble of the ball that lead to an interception), they were blitzing. So we started to do sticks, slants, drive variations, and other plays designed to quickly get the ball to other players. Sure enough, we again moved the ball at will.
Devonta Freeman came to play. He ran for two touchdowns. He didn’t get very much yardage, but this is largely because of a big trick run by Taylor Gabriel. Don’t count him out, despite the rise of Tevin Coleman.
Speaking of Gabriel, he’s playing really well for being down the depth chart. Two weeks after getting a 76-yard touchdown (only bright spot in an otherwise disastrous game), he catches 2 touchdowns. And two games before Philly were good performances in retrospect as well. Keep an eye on this kid.
One critical difference from another double-digit win over Arizona in 2014 was the matchup between Julio Jones and Patrick Peterson. Julio was held to 35 receiving yards, a complete turnaround from last time, when he pretty much made Peterson his bitch! That’s fine. we have other targets. What’s not fine is bobbling the ball for an interception. Maybe it’s a new flaw in his game that has come up, because this is the second time that has happened.
One thing that scared me was the news that Desmond Trufant’s injury is worse than we feared and is out for the rest of the season, though Dan Quinn’s holding out hope for him in the playoffs. As if our defense didn’t need enough help. But it did not look like a bottom seven defense today. But Jalen Collins and rookie Brian Poole rendered Larry Fitzpatrick a non-factor.
Even more impressive is that just one game after Ryan Matthews burned us, David Johnson was mostly neutralized on the ground. Through the air was another matter but who cares? We forced Carson Palmer to throw the ball, then proceeded to hit him, limiting the Cards to 19 points.
This was a big win that we needed, especially since the Saints have blown out LA. But if the defense keeps playing like this, we can keep winning and be a playoff threat. RISE UP!!!