Sunday, December 11, 2011

Cards vs. Niners 12/11/11

Cards 21 Niners 19

Wow!  I mean wow!  Where has this team been all year?  It is so much more fun on Sundays when your team plays well.  Hats off to Whiz for keeping this team together after such a bad start.  Its true that his offense has major problems, but when your defense is playing this well, you’ll be in most games. 

Speaking of the offense, that’s two weeks in a row where they have stunk it up in the first half, only to come out guns blazing in the second.  A glass half empty guy might accuse Whiz of poor game planning in the first, but a glass half full guy would say he made great adjustments in the second half.  I’d go with the latter position.  It’s very difficult to win games against great teams, and S.F. (and this pains me to admit) is a great team.  They play exceptional defense and run an effective offense.  So I’m gonna give credit to the Cards for adjusting.

Normally at this time I’d be screaming that they didn’t run enough.  I was thinking before kickoff that I they should actually throw more today because S.F. run defense is so stellar.  I’m glad they committed to the run enough to gain some TOF, but didn’t rely on it too much.

Kolb never had a chance.  My biggest concern when they traded for him is the concussion history.  (Well, that and his 73.2 QB rating)   Behind this line I was very concerned that he couldn’t take the inevitable beating as the starting QB.  This will be an ongoing issue. 

Skelton played poorly in the first half.  Against this D it was to be expected.  However, he lit it up in the second.  What continues to impress me is his coolness in the pocket.  He had guys draped all over him and he plays like they aren’t even there.  Many times he inexplicably broke tackles to make a play. (Unfortunately one of which was a terrible decision to throw across his body for an INT.)   He also makes big gains on the ground, without taking a big hit.  Yes, he did fumble on one, but that was just a great defensive play.  Today I got a major confidence boost that he can be a good QB.  As I’ve screamed since day one, he needs a great run game and defense to help him, but this Cards team has the making of both. 

The O line played well again, but were utterly dominated at the run game.  S.F. is the number one run defense in the league so I’m not going to berate them too much.  They did only gave up 2 sacks, but Skelton should be credited with avoiding 3 others.  They gave John enough time to win the game so they deserve some credit.  Keith got hurt again.  He’s playing through some tuff stuff, but I don’t see him finishing the season.  I can see the Cards taking a LT in the first round of the draft next year and moving Brown back over to the RT.  Keith just can’t stay healthy and Bridges isn’t the answer either.  Hadnot had a killer block today to spring the ball carrier for a big gain. 

Fitz was amazing.  Again.  His TD catch was ho-hum for his career, which means that it was a highlight for everyone else.  He just gets it.  His block to free Doucet for the TD proves once again how valuable he is without the ball.  Doucet played well enough, but dropped a couple of balls.  Roberts disappeared for most of the game but made the game winning TD catch in the 4th.  The TE’s continue to disappear, which is frustrating after the great start they had this year.  I can’t believe they aren’t used more.

Do they have a defensive coach of the year?  Because if they do Horton should be up for the award.  Although, I’m not surprised that this D is so good.  I’ve had to endure the absolute ineptitude from Clancy Pendergast and Bill Davis for years, all the while believing that Dockett, Campbell, Wilson and co. would be great if given the right coordinator.  Well, they found him.

The D line was once again amazing.  They continue to put pressure on the QB and bat down passes.  Campbell is going to earn big dollars this off season for all that he does to make this team better.  Dockett is almost as good as he was in 2008, and he’s playing in a less glorifying position.  Carter continues to make plays, even though Eason is starting.  I love this line.

The LB’s are playing so much better.  Only once did I see them make a huge mistake (I’m almost positive Paris Lenon overran his gap which allowed Gore to run for the TD).  All three of the young ones played well.

The DB is where I’m truly shocked.  They are playing so well, everyone is forgetting how bad they were to start the year.  Wilson is the real gem.  I know he’s a HOF safety, but he’s playing well in all positions again.  I thought he was done after the start of this season, but he is playing like a HOF run stopper and a very good pass defender.  PP21 shut down Crabtree, which is saying something considering the results the last time they played.  Johnson is continuing to play well at free safety.  He’s still not as good as Rhodes, but he’s playing like a solid backup.

Special teams didn’t do anything amazing.   They were adequate enough.  I think it was Rashad Johnson who stopped Ginn from getting in the end zone on the punt return.  S.F. only got a FG out of it and lost 4 points.  That’s big considering the Cards won by two. 

I’m optimistic that Whiz has turned this around.  I’m not sure what he’s going to do with Kolb and Skelton.  He really has a tough decision to make.  On July 28th, after the trade I said, “My guess is that Kolb will have repeated injuries and Skelton will play well when he's out.  Thus creating a QB controversy that Coach Whiz will deem "a good situation to be in".”  I take that back.  This isn’t a good situation to be in.  If I were him, I’d probably start Kolb.  Only because they paid him the money as the future of this team.  But you can’t deny that Skelton is a winner.  And Kurt Warner is the only other Cardinal QB that had that tag attached to him.

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