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Overcoming Offensive Issues

Posted Oct 31, 2011

Kolb's injured toe just one factor for unit that could have change

Despite suffering an injured toe, quarterback Kevin Kolb played the whole game Sunday against the Ravens in Baltimore.

Quarterback Kevin Kolb came into the locker room Monday, his right foot in a walking boot protecting the turf toe suffered early in Sunday’s loss to Baltimore.

Kolb just “tried to gut it out” against the Ravens, but he’s now a self-described day-to-day, unsure if he can play in the upcoming home game against the Rams. In reality, there is little to be sure about the Cardinals’ offense as a whole.

Having faced the NFL’s No. 1-ranked defense for a second straight week, the Cardinals were held to only 207 yards by the Ravens, and only 56 in the disastrous second half. Kolb was sacked six times. With starting running back Beanie Wells playing through a knee injury, the Cards could only ride him so long.

While offensive players insist progress is being made, the tangible measurements of such – most importantly, within the win column – have yet to follow.

“It’s kind of in one area one week, in the next (area) the next (week),” Kolb said. “Now it’s a matter of putting it all together. I think you saw that as a whole unit in the first half (Sunday) we were able to do that. It’s just, you know … it does get old, trying to finish those things.”

Coach Ken Whisenhunt said the Cardinals had to address the sacks Kolb suffered Sunday, a combination of Kolb’s inability to get the ball away quickly and the pass protection. Whisenhunt pulled starting right tackle Brandon Keith from the game after Keith allowed the pressure that led to Kolb being hit while throwing, an interception that set up the Ravens’ go-ahead touchdown early in the fourth quarter.

Jeremy Bridges replaced Keith, although the Ravens did get pressure through Bridges as well. Whisenhunt said the week of practice will determine whether Keith or Bridges will start against the Rams.

“I understand, whatever the coaches decide, and that’s what the coach is supposed to do,” Keith said. “As a player, I am a team guy, so as frustrated as I was I had to accept it. As frustrated as I was it was still important for me to stay into the game and stay into the game plan and still talk to Jeremy and Levi (Brown). You can’t go into a corner just because you are yanked from a game.”

On the other side of the line, Whisenhunt pointed out left tackle Brown – who has also struggled in pass protection – is backed up by D’Anthony Batiste and Batiste is an option to play there.

With the Cardinals sporting a 1-6 record, “you have to look at everything,” Whisenhunt said, but it seems unlikely the Cardinals will put Brown on the bench, especially after Whisenhunt noted the Ravens’ pass rushers often beat tackles no matter who they play.

“It’s hard to make a wholesale change on the line,” Whisenhunt said. “There were some aspects of (Sunday’s) game that the line did very well. That gets overlooked because you look at the stats and you look at the number of sacks, which is tough. You’ve got to walk that line.”

The Cardinals haven’t slipped off the edge of the cliff offensively. They must produce more but they are not near the bottom of the NFL in rankings, spotted 20th in yards per game, 19th in first downs and 21st in points. None are good but none necessarily suggest a 1-6 record, either.

“Those are the best defenses in the league (the past two weeks) and I still feel we performed well, and had a chance to win,” Brown said. “We have a lull and let these teams get back and you can’t do that.”

Having other players healthy and available would help. Wells played well despite his knee problem, although that will continue to be an injury to monitor and “we’re obviously not going to put him at risk,” Whisenhunt said.

If Kolb can’t go, John Skelton is in line to play after starting four games a season ago. Kolb said the injury didn’t bother him when he was forced to run, but as his push-off foot, it did affect him while throwing.

The Cardinals are still trying to get the ball more often to wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald – he had just three catches and only five targets Sunday -- and they aren’t getting enough help from his fellow wideouts. Early Doucet did catch a touchdown but dropped a couple of other needed catches, while Andre Roberts has just 13 catches this season and just four in the past four games.

“These last two teams we played, we hear about the hoopla about them and then you go toe to toe with them and you see what you can do,” Keith said. “Things didn’t go into our favor and there are always things to get better at, even if it is just staying level headed.

“But you fight, fight, fight and you see it slip away and you just shake your head, ‘Why?’ ”

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