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Offensively Frustrated

Posted Sep 26, 2011

Cards lament mistakes that prevent points in Seattle

Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb changes a play at the line of scrimmage during Sunday's game in Seattle, where the Cards scored just 10 points.

As center, Lyle Sendlein is in the middle of the offense. As a veteran, he has been around offenses that clicked, having snapped to Kurt Warner for a pair of NFC West champions. As an offensive captain, his voice carries weight.

Monday, Sendlein certainly didn’t get loud about the Cards’ offensive issues from the previous day’s 13-10 loss in Seattle, but he was blunt all the same, as frustration over what the Cards couldn’t do with the ball carried over.

“People should expect success,” Sendlein said. “It doesn’t matter if we run the same three plays. We should be able to do it and do it successfully. We are just making mistakes. Mental mistakes.

“I can’t say it comes with time. We’ve had six weeks together. We have to get our asses in gear and get it done.”

For all the talk about the new defensive scheme and communication problems on that side of the ball in the first two games, a surprising theme erupted from the trip to Seattle – mistakes on offense that the Cardinals insisted to a man were self-induced.

Quarterback Kevin Kolb, who was not available Monday, took multiple shots at himself after the game for playing poorly Sunday. He finished 25-of-39 for 252 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions, his most uneven game in his brief Cards’ career as his irritation for the unit’s ineffectiveness was apparent.

“You have to sock it away and learn from it, but it’s hard to swallow,” Kolb said. “Trust me, it’s real hard to swallow.”

The Cardinals actually held the ball for more than 10 minutes of the fourth quarter, making the goose egg posted in fourth all the more difficult to stomach. The 82 yards gained on their last two drives (not including the last-gasp final possession)  ended with a missed field goal and an interception, extra painful when they trailed by just three points.

It was the previous six possessions that went nowhere, though, with no drives of more than five plays after Kolb had hit Larry Fitzgerald for the Cards’ lone touchdown.

“When you are not performing to your capabilities like you feel this offense can, it’s disappointing,” Fitzgerald said, noting defensive improvement and adding “we have to repay those guys better than that.”

The Seahawks do have a good defense – they are among the best in the league in third-down conversions against – but the Cards were 3-for-14 and that was an undoing. The no-huddle clicked at one point, leading the Fitz touchdown, but it wasn’t used for an entire drive again. Saying there were some “bad things” that happened on plays that the Cardinals still manage to make positive, Whisenhunt said issues in the no-huddle made the coaches hesitant to go back to the package.

“We had some plays where we got lucky, quite honestly,” Whisenhunt said.

Whisenhunt talked about the crucial quick screen to wide receiver Andre Roberts late in the fourth quarter, a play that gained just two yards on third-and-13 and forced kicker Jay Feely to try a 49-yard field goal that ended up short.

The alignment was not correct, leaving a player – Whisenhunt did not say who – who missed Kolb’s check into the play. “It’s kind of a snowball effect,” Whisenhunt said, and certainly, had Roberts been able to just gain another four or five yards, Feely might have tied the game.  

That’s how you end up frustrated.

“The Seahawks did a good job in their system but their system was pretty simple and it was one we should have reacted well to,” guard Daryn Colledge said. “We disappointed ourselves. We are the ones stopping ourselves, we have to get guys on the same page. Time is ticking by.”

Tight end Jeff King said it will get better – “You go through spurts, it’s the NFL,” he said – noting that even powerful New England ran off the rails a bit Sunday as Tom Brady had four interceptions.

Certainly, no one is considering the Cardinals’ offense in the same class as the Patriots. But it needs to be better than it was in Seattle, given defenses that loom on the upcoming schedule: the Giants, the Steelers, the Ravens.

“I have no doubt we’ll continue to improve offensively, especially at the quarterback position, as we progress,” Whisenhunt said.


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