Monday, January 19, 2009

Arizona Cardinals Are Heading to the Super Bowl

I was not expecting this outcome to happen. I had the Eagles running away with this game because I thought the performances turned in by the Cardinals defense was a mirage. I also thought the Eagles defense would be able to get to Warner more often than the Cardinals previous opponents. I wasn't entirely wrong, but wrong nonetheless.

The Cardinals has their way with the Eagles defense. Kurt Warner was given an enormous amount of time in the pocket, especially in the first half. He also had an answer for the blitz by attacking the spot that the blitz came from. The slant and underneath crossing routes were the Cardinals bread and butter. They also did a trick play that resulted in a Larry Fitzgerald touchdown. The Cardinals were given good field position after a David Akers's missed field goal. On the first play of that drive, the Cardinals pitched the ball to J.J. Arrington, who throws the ball back to Warner and he throws the ball as far as he could to Larry Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald tried to sell the fake as long as possible and slow down his explosiveness off the line of scrimmage so that Kurt Warner lead him to a spot. The ball was still under thrown but Fitzgerald was able to adjust and score the touchdown. Quinton Demps fell on the play which didn't help the Eagles much. Both of the Eagles' safeties bit on the fake too. Warner's statline was 21/28 for 279 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions. That statline summed the Eagles day on defense.

Why don't defenses play man-to-man bump-n-run defenses? Teams should at least run this defense sometimes during the game. Teams could also play Cover 2 defense with corners pressing the receivers at the line of scrimmage. The Eagles didn't do any of these enough during the course of the game. Larry Fitzgerald and others were able to get open with little resistance. Jim Johnson would send the blitz, but Kurt Warner would've been able to find the open man fairly easily. This veteran defense even gave a touchdown on a trick play. The safeties jumped on the running of JJ Arrington without diagnosing the play until it was too late. Not only did Kurt Warner and Larry Fitzgerald have their way the defense, so too did the Cardinals running game when they chose to run the ball. Edgerrin James was able to finds holes early and often. Tim Hightower finished them off by getting some first downs so the clock could run out. The Eagles defense showed up in the third quarter and that was it.

The Cardinals defense played well for a half, which would be the first half. The Eagles were driving the ball but had to settle for field goals instead of touchdowns. David Akers also missed a field goal as the laces on the football were facing towards him instead away from him. In the second half, the Cardinals gave up 19 straight unanswered points. Donovan McNabb was able to find his rhythm which was non-existent in the first half. His receivers were finally able to get open and get a good release off the line of scrimmage. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie definitely had DeSean Jackson on locked up in the first half, but he did give up a huge touchdown in the second half. Jackson ran a double move on Cromartie that gave him enough separation for McNabb to throw a perfect pass to him for the touchdown. That touchdown give the Eagles the lead for the first time during the game. However, that lead was short lived, as the Cardinals scored a touchdown on their next possession. McNabb ended up having a statline of 28/47 for 375 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. He also lost a fumble in the game which was forced by the ever-underrated Adrian Wilson.

Eagles fans will find ways to blame Donovan McNabb for this game. They'll point to his first half statistics and say that is where the Eagles loss the game. McNabb's passing was erratic throughout the first half and a little in the second half. However, he didn't give up 32 points. McNabb did give the Eagles the lead, yet the defense couldn't hold that lead. I guess that is life as an Eagles QB.

As for the Cardinals, congrats on getting to the Super Bowl. Kurt Warner has cemented himself as one of the greatest QBs ever. He is obviously a future Hall of Famer. They'll be pitted against the Pittsburgh Steelers who defeated my beloved Baltimore Ravens. Not everybody was happy for the Cardinals.

Really Anquan Kenmile Boldin? The Cardinals franchise finally gets to the Super Bowl and you're whining about touches or not getting enough playing time. Boldin did have an exchange with his offensive coordinator during the game. I have no clue about what they were discussing, but my guess would be that Boldin wanted to get on the field more often which was not the case in the second half. Quit pouting Boldin. Your attitude is going to cost you millions. Wide receivers are prima donnas.

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