Forming a Successful Quarterback in Derek Andreson

Derek Anderson looks to continue his positive trend in the Cardinals' most important game of the season this Sunday

Forming a successful quarterback situation in Arizona may be a matter of, well, formation.  Coming off his best performance of the season in Minnesota, there’s some reason to believe that Anderson may continue the trend at home this week.

He’s absolutely heading in the right direction.  The often maligned quarterback finished 15 for 26 for 179 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions.  Although LB Chad Greenway did drop a ball thrown right at him, Anderson protected the ball at all other times during the game, even when the protection fell apart during the last minutes of the game.  “I feel like I made pretty good decisions for the most part… things were decent, but we have to be better to win,” Anderson remarked.

Being better would involve finally utilizing all that Larry Fitzgerald has to offer.  If that happens, Fitz could once again return to his bawdy numbers of old and the Cardinals’ points per game would surely increase.  For that to happen, however, Arizona needs Anderson to continue his positive trend as of late, which may depend on what formation the Cardinals call.

Success as a Matter of Formatting:

According to Whisenhunt, part of Anderson’s recent success is attributed to game planning and play calling that makes Anderson as comfortable as possible running the offense.  It seems that a great degree of Anderson’s success relates to the formation of the offense in passing downs.

For a view of the formations in which Anderson is apparently most comfortable (successful), check out this chart of his splits from Weeks 1 through 9, provided by Mike Sando of ESPN.  His NFC West Blog is top drawer.

  • Note: Personnel names reflect running back and tight end counts.  For example, “12” personnel features one running back and two tight ends. “4WR” personnel includes plays featuring a running back or tight end as part of a group with four wide receivers.  Stats are sorted by passer rating.
Down Personnel Comp. Att. Pct. Yards YPA TD INT Rating
1 “11” 8 12 66.7 115 9.6 1 0 125.3
1 “12” 8 9 88.9 113 12.6 0 0 118.8
3 “11” 8 12 66.7 84 7.0 1 0 114.6
3 “21” 2 2 100.0 17 8.5 0 0 102.1
2 “20” 6 7 85.7 58 8.3 0 0 101.2
2 4WR 7 16 43.8 72 4.5 1 0 78.1
3 4WR 17 31 54.8 196 6.3 1 1 71.4
1 “21” 5 9 55.6 39 4.3 0 0 66.4
1 4WR 10 21 47.6 136 6.5 1 1 64.8
4 4WR 1 3 33.3 24 8.0 0 0 63.2
1 “20” 5 9 55.6 114 12.7 0 1 60.9
2 “02” 1 2 50.0 0 0.0 0 0 56.3
2 “11” 15 21 71.4 144 6.9 0 2 50.6
3 “20” 2 6 33.3 13 2.2 0 0 42.4
1 “22” 0 1 0.0 0 0.0 0 0 39.6
4 “11” 0 1 0.0 0 0.0 0 0 39.6
3 “22” 0 2 0.0 0 0.0 0 0 39.6
2 “12” 1 5 20.0 6 1.2 0 0 39.6
3 “02” 1 3 33.3 11 3.7 0 1 5.6
2 “21” 1 8 12.5 17 2.1 0 1 0.0
Totals 98 180 54.4 1,159 6.4 5 7 67.3

As you can see, Anderson is most successful in the 11, 12, and 20 personnel groups.  The passer ratings for all three are above 100 on first, second, and third down.  Clearly those three personnel groups are his bread and butter, but the Cards have been starving for touchdowns.

Arizona May have Been Setting up for Failure thus Far:

The Cardinals, to date, have not been passing out of Anderson’s most successful formations.  In fact, they’ve been relying on his least successful formation, the 4WR set.

It’s not surprising that Anderson has been awful in the 4WR set, as his rating plummets to below 70 on all downs in that formation.  It is surprising, though, that Anderson has 71 pass attempts in the 4WR set through nine weeks, which far surpasses any other formation.  Anderson has 46 attempts in the 11 personnel group, which is the next highest.

Anderson’s failure in the four receiver personnel group is easily explained.  First, a 4WR set strains the Cardinals’ already poor pass protection.  Second, Anderson, unlike Warner, is not accurate enough and does not have the decision-making ability to counteract the lack of time.  As a result, Anderson has been more successful with at least one back and one tight end where he can get better protection.  Clearly, Whisenhunt should try to keep Anderson out of the 4WR set if he wants to keep his quarterback comfortable and productive.

Under Warner, the Cardinals’ offense ran a lot of 4WR and got most of their down field passing production out of that formation.  I’m sure there’s still a large selection of plays left over from the Warner era with 4 wide, but it appears it’s time to move on offensively.

Fitzgerald Continues to Create Opportunities:

As for Larry Fitzgerald, he’s coming off his first 100-yard receiving game this season.  He finished up with 7 receptions for 107 yards, but no touchdowns.  It’s no question what kind of effort the Cardinals will get out of Fitzgerald and he’s sure to create some opportunities, as he’s been doing all season.  Unfortunately, Anderson and Hall have been unable to capitalize on more than a few open shots down field, including last week against Minnesota, which Anderson recalled.  “There were a couple I wish I had back.  I missed Larry (Fitzgerald) on the sail route, which was ridiculous.”  Perhaps the tide is turning, though, for Anderson and he’ll be able to hit Fitzgerald where he had previously been missing.


Enjoyed this post?
Subscribe to Cardinals Gab via RSS Feed or E-mail and receive daily news updates from us!

Submit to Digg  Stumble This Story  Share on Twitter  Post on Facebook  Post on MySpace  Add to del.icio.us  Bark It Up  Submit to Reddit  Fave on Technorati

Leave a Reply

Write For Us