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Cardinals Want To Make A Point - Actually, Many - Against Ravens

Petzing sees a unit close to breaking through

Quarterback Joshua Dobbs walks off the field after the Cardinals' final possession in Seattle last weekend.
Quarterback Joshua Dobbs walks off the field after the Cardinals' final possession in Seattle last weekend.

Having spent time in the AFC North playing against them, quarterback Joshua Dobbs began Wednesday's press conference praising the Ravens and Lamar Jackson for their performance last week against the Lions.

Recognizing their opponent's strengths, the importance of holding on to the ball as an offense is key for the Cardinals.

"We know the type of playmaker that is coming in here to Arizona this week and so, the onus is on us on offense to keep them off the field as much as possible," Dobbs said. "Possess the football, execute on crucial third downs. Staying on the field, not only to score points for us, but also keep their playmakers on offense off the field."

It's a part of the complimentary football that linebacker Kyzir White discussed earlier in the week. But putting up the points that Dobbs alluded to has been a challenge for an offense that has hit a dry spell, scoring a combined 19 points the past two games.

The head-scratching part has been the self-inflicted red zone struggles. The Cardinals haven't had an issue driving down the field. They just can't seem to punch it in for a touchdown.

"It's hard and it's also encouraging at the same time, which is kind of a weird dynamic because you're not a million miles away," offensive coordinator Drew Petzing said. "You're not looking at it saying, 'We need to change everything, we need to fix everything, we need be exponentially better.'

"But at the same time, you can taste it and you know how close you are and you're not getting it done. So, I think there's some frustration in that and certainly some things to be encouraged by and to build off of."

It's a fair way to view the situation. Dobbs and Petzing had a scheme in place that some of the NFL's best defenses struggled to limit. Against the Cowboys, linebacker Micah Parsons was a non-factor, and, in the Bay Area, Nick Bosa was quiet all afternoon long.

While it wasn't always enough to get the win, the offense has been able to generate a running game that had opposing defense on their heels.

With running back James Conner sidelined for at least the next two games, Dobbs, wide receiver Rondale Moore, and the running backs will need to continue carrying the rushing game on their backs. Against the Seahawks, Dobbs was able to barrel his way in for a 25-yard score, but that was the only touchdown.

"It's a double-edged sword," Dobbs said. "You're not banging your head against the wall because you know you can do it. But then it's 'okay, why aren't we finishing?'"

"Manage those details and stay in sustained focus. It's easy to focus on plays one, two, the first third down of the drive, the second third down of the drive. But when we're getting in the red zone, the field gets smaller, and your mistakes get more extenuated. You have to lock in on those."

On the season, the Cardinals have only scored 30 second-half points, and only seven in the fourth quarter.

Like most quarterbacks, Dobbs shouldered the blame for the Seahawks' loss, pinpointing details such as the slow start, his footwork, or inaccurate passes. Coach Jonathan Gannon believes everybody should be equally accountable.

"I think we all have to start fast, but that's a narrative," Gannon said. "I'm more concerned about are we operating at a high enough level to put ourselves in position to win the game and that starts when the ball gets kicked off."

Dobbs' time as the Cardinals starting quarterback is potentially coming to an end. Kyler Murray was a full participant at practice for the first time on Wednesday. When he returns, he'll also be able to use his speed, mobility, and skillset to get the Cardinals on the scoreboard.

The coaching staff hasn't ruled out the possibility of Murray playing on Sunday. It's still likely going to be Dobbs, but regardless of who jogs out with the offense, Petzing is hoping to put together a scheme that'll score points and be complimentary for the Cardinals defense.

"It's winning my one-on-one, it's doing my job, it's calling the right play at the right time," Petzing said. "It's all the little details individually that we can get better at and if all of us strive just a little bit more or do a little bit more. Hopefully we can get over that hump."


With two spots available, the Cardinals re-signed defensive lineman Jacob Slade and wide receiver Davion Davis to the practice squad.