bill-swift - September 19, 2012
Last season the Arizona Cardinals were one of the lowest scoring teams in the league (19.5 points/game; 24th). During the preseason leading up to the '12 season they looked awful, but somehow managed to score a little more (19.6 points/ game). Two games into the '12 regular season the offense us not doing any better, and is ranked 31st in the league with just under 250 yards a game so far.
With as bad as this team appears to be how is that they are actually undefeated? Could it be that they are not that bad after all?
The answer to that is resounding, heartfelt, honest to goodness--maybe.
Offensively, the team is one of the worst in the league. After two games they are the No. 30 offense in the league with a whopping 249 yards per game so far. To put that in perspective, the No. 1 offense in the league is the Philadelphia Eagles with 471 yards a game.
With such a wide disparity in offensive production how is that the Eagles and Cardinals are both 2-0?
A good guess would be because of their respective defenses, but both units are actually doing pretty good (Eagles, 5th; Cardinals, 12th). Arizona was actually ranked 4th after last week's game, but with a 300+ yard game from Tom Brady they dropped down to No. 12.
So if it isn't the defense that's doing it for the Cardinals what is it?
It's because they are doing more with what they have. Now I'm sure that Arizona would love to have close to 500 yards of offense a game, but they'd rather do without the nine turnovers (six interceptions and three lost fumbles) the Eagles have had or the five field goal attempts that the Patriots were restricted to against them on Sunday.
When it comes down to it the Arizona Cardinals are winning simply because they are being very efficient. They scored (field goal) after intercepting Brady in the first quarter. A blocked punt led to a touchdown. A fumble recovery led to a field goal in the Seattle game as well. When they've had a short field they've made use of it.
The defense has also played well. It made Russell Wilson look nothing like the guy we saw in the preseason, and it managed to bend while only breaking once against the high-powered Patriot offense.
When it comes down to it the Arizona Cardinals are 2-0 at this point because they are doing something that most teams only dream about--they are playing well enough to win in every aspect of the game. They are causing turnovers, taking advantage of most of them, holding teams out of the end zone, making something happen on special teams and scoring when they put some offense together.
In short, they are playing a pretty complete football game.
So does that mean the Cardinals are actually a good team? It's a little early to say that, but opposing teams might want to start paying a little attention to Arizona just in case.