GLENDALE, AZ - NOVEMBER 06: The Arizona Cardinal's cheerleaders performs during the NFL game against the St. Louis Rams at the University of Phoenix Stadium on November 6, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the Rams 19-13 in overtime. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
This week I traded questions with our Cardinals blogger Jess Root of Revenge of the Birds. You should be able to see my answers to their questions over there later today.
JB - Obviously the #1 question has to be about Kevin Kolb. Just give us your thoughts so far?
Our old pal Stewart Bradley has been called a "free agent bust" by reporters in AZ and just doesn't seem to play all that much. Why do you think he's struggled the way he has?
JR - He has been the great polarizer for Cardinals fans. He hasn't been great. He hasn't been awful. He has been disappointing, but more and more I believe it is due to expectations coming in. A lot of people felt that by simply plugging in a new QB would be enough to be division favorites. However, there are other things. Kolb's main issues that bother people is how he looks in the pocket -- unsteady. Whether it is due to learning a very different system on the fly or because he doesn't trust his offensive line (who would trust this line?), he looks skittish. However, there are enough plays and throws that make think that this could work. Right now, there is a brewing "QB controversy" among fans because John Skelton won last week.
The price tag to get him and the fact he is 1-6 as a starter has many very unhappy. Personally, I think things will get better and then next year will be the year to find out what he really is made of.
It has been two things. One is that it has taken him a while to learn the 3-4 way of doing things. Also, he is playing behind the defensive captain, Paris Lenon. Lenon has been playing well enough to keep Bradley out. Another thing that some have said is that he not yet fully recovered from the knee injury.
He has played very well on special teams, so he has not been a complete waste. He is paid too much for that role, but the move was every bit about the future as about the present.
A healthy Beanie Wells would give the Philly defense fits. He has been punishing defenders and looking every bit the guy the team thought he could be -- when he is healthy. He has a knee injury that will nag him probably the rest of the season. He looked okay against Baltimore, but hampered against the Rams. WR Early Doucet is the other guy that has been quite productive. He has been the favorite target on third down.
On defense, Arizona has been solid against the run, but has really struggled against the pass. Is that all due to losing Greg Toler and DRC from the secondary before the season?
It's a couple of things. Mostly it is the lack of a pass rush. There has been really nothing for most of the season from the edge. Rookie Sam Acho has taken Joey Porter's spot and has three sacks in three games, but Clark Haggans has one for the season and Porter has none. The other factor is the defensive secondary. DRC's departure could have something to do with it, but seeing his play last year and this doesn't lead me to think that he would be better. Toler, though, hurt. His injury forced the starters to be Patrick Peterson and A.J. Jefferson, who had zero starts coming into the season. Plus, the safety play behind them was spotty to start the season. Likewise, the defense on the whole was struggling with the new scheme that Ray Horton brought. The result, big plays.
Things are much better, but the defense is still inconsistent.
What does the path back to winning look like for Arizona? What's the one spot on the team that has to get fixed before they can be a contender again?
Just one spot? I think if I could only pick one, it would be the pass rush. A consistent pass rush would improve the defense astronomically and it has been the defense to choke away leads late in the game. Offensively, they have been good enough, but better offensive tackles would be number two.