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Week 4 Recap: Chargers Destroy Cards, 41-10

Kerry Rhodes scoops up a Darren Sproles fumble forced by Greg Toler and returns it for a touchdown, briefly making the game competitive at 7-7 in the first quarter.

The only thing Arizona fans can hope is that the Chargers provided some electro-shock therapy to the lifeless Cardinals.  In a game that was even more difficult to watch than the Atlanta debacle, the Cards once again didn’t provide too many reasons to cheer.  We’re going on Week 5 and the Cardinals still haven’t played a good game, despite their 2-2 record and one-third share of the wide open NFC West.

The Cardinals started their usual antics early when a Tim Hightower 22-yard touchdown was called back due to a holding penalty on FB Regan Maui’a on the Cards’ opening drive.  On the very next play, Derek Anderson (7/14, 64 yards, 2 INTs, 23.2 rating) threw the first of his two interceptions.  Anderson threw it way over Larry Fitzgerald‘s head, which was grabbed by safety Steve Gregory.  The Chargers effortlessly moved down the field, capping off an 89-yard drive with a Phillip Rivers’ (15/20, 241 yards, 2 TDs) pass to a wide open Antonio Gates (7 receptions, 144 yards, 2 TDs), who absolutely smoked Adrian Wilson.

A play that may change the course of the Cardinals’ season occurred on Arizona’s next possession.  Rookie wide receiver Stephen Williams streaked down the left seam, splitting two defenders and emerging wide open for an easy touchdown.  If only Derek Anderson could take advantage of one wide open big play opportunity, but he can’t.  Anderson badly overthrew Williams and didn’t even give the receiver a chance to make a play.  That miss, probably more than any other mistake (and there were many) probably lead to Anderson’s benching.  There’s no point to starting a quarterback if he can’t take advantage of the wide open points.  The Cardinals missed at least three wide open touchdowns this season (two against Oakland last week) because of Anderson’s lack of accuracy, touch, and vision.

The nail in Anderson’s coffin was driven by linebacker Shaun Phillips (6 tackles, 5 assists, 4 sacks, 1 INT, 1 TD) who picked off Anderson and returned it 31 yards for a score.  Anderson never even saw Phillips and Whisenhunt had seen enough to know he’d seen too much.  The Cards sent out rookie Max Hall to relieve Anderson late in the second quarter.

The lone bright spot for the Cardinals came when Greg Toler put his helmet right on the ball when tackling Darren Sproles, forcing the ball loose.  Kerry Rhodes scooped the ball up along the sideline, fell down, got up and ran it back for a touchdown.  The game was briefly tied 7-7, but the Chargers merely shrugged and went right about their business of destroying the Cardinals.

Summarizing Thoughts:

In short, the Chargers were really good and the Cardinals were really bad, but, here’s a few specific thoughts to close out this ridiculous display of ineptitude.

  • Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie‘s knee must not be right.  He looks like a different player from last year.  He’s not getting in and out of his breaks and he consistently has trouble staying with receivers.  He still doesn’t have an interception in four games.
  • Adrian Wilson has looked absolutely horrendous in pass coverage this year.  For the second straight game he was beat badly by tight ends.  Granted they were Zach Miller and Antonio Gates, two of the best pass catching tight ends in football, but still.  He wasn’t even close.
  • Levi  Brown is no longer a viable option at tackle.  The Cardinals must replace him with someone else, perhaps Jeremy Bridges.  Brown is good for at least one sack, a couple of QB hits, and countless pressures every game.  Just mark it down.  He’s got lead feet and he struggles to even put his hands on outside speed rushers.  He’s not an NFL tackle.
  • The offensive line in general was horrendous.  Everyone missed some blocks, including the often rock solid Lyle Sendlein.  The Chargers totaled a whopping nine sacks, which is embarrassing for Russ Grimm.  They came in a variety of ways too.  A few were simply caused by one on one beatings at the hands of the Chargers’ pass rushers and some were the result of lineman just not knowing who to block, which in my opinion is even worse.  Alan Faneca and Brandon Keith both gave up a sack simply because they were confused on who to block as they chipped on DTs, allowing free runners at the quarterback.
  • The Cardinals’ defense gave up 419 total yards while the offense gained 124 total yards.  There’s just no way to describe how poorly the Cardinals played on both sides of the ball.  That statistic pretty much does it for me.
  • After this week, the Cardinals have allowed 154.3 yards/game rushing and 233.3 yards/game passing, ranking them 23rd and 30th respectively in the NFL on defense.
  • Max Hall‘s foray into the starting role was up and down.  He finished 8/14 for 82 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions for a 74.1 rating.  He was mostly picking himself up off the ground as the line provided him with almost no protection.  Still, he didn’t throw a pick and completed 57.1% of his passes to Derek Anderson’s 50%.  Whisenhunt hasn’t yet decided who will start against the Saints on Sunday.

As previously mentioned, the Cardinals are somehow tied with the Seahawks and Rams for first place in the NFC West.  Seattle lost to a St. Louis team that has suddenly won two straight and is starting to turn some heads.  San Francisco dropped another game and is starting to fall off the NFC West map, which is a truly amazing feat considering how weak the division is.

Division Standings Through Week 4:

  • Cardinals: 2-2, tied for 1st place
  • Seahawks: 2-2, tied for 1st place
  • Rams: 2-2, tied for 1st place
  • 49ers: 0-4, 4th place

Injury Update:

  • Strong safety Matt Ware (ankle) was the only new injury.  The extent of the injury is not yet known.

Post-Game Press Conference:

In case you’re a masochist, here’s the post-game press conference by Ken Whisenhunt, courtesy of the Cardinals’ Official Website.

Next Week:

The Cardinals (2-2) take on the defending Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints (3-1) at home.

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