A week after looking fairly sluggish against the Baltimore Ravens, the Arizona Cardinals offense redeemed itself with a 491-yard outburst. The Cardinals moved the ball at will against a Cleveland Browns defense that was overmatched.
QB Carson Palmer had another tremendous game throwing for 374 yards and four touchdowns. Sure, it took Palmer a while to get going but the second half was truly a masterful performance by Palmer and the Arizona passing game.
Speaking of Palmer, his QB Rating seems to make this list each and every week. Sunday in Cleveland was no different as Palmer compiled a QB Rating of 117.7. Palmer completed 23-of-38 passes while averaging 9.8 yards per attempt.
Palmer has demonstrated the ability to excel in the vertical passing game and it appears that it doesn’t matter who’s on the receiving end. Speedy wideout John Brown was active but didn’t see the field and J.J. Nelson picked up his slack with three receptions for 70 yards. Meanwhile, Larry Fitzgerald did his usual damage and the re-emergence of Michal Floyd is happening before our eyes.
Speaking of Floyd, he truly looked dominate at times and was no match for the Browns secondary. On just four catches, Floyd totaled 109 yards receiving including a 60-yard bomb from Palmer. With Floyd, Brown and Fitzgerald all looking good, this offense has a tremendous upside. Throw in Nelson and Jaron Brown as backups and this is as deep of a receiving corps that the NFL has.
Back to Floyd, who was arguably Arizona’s most disappointing player a year ago. It was projected that Floyd would move into the Cardinals No. 1 wideout role but that didn’t happen. Perhaps he just isn’t cut out to be a true No. 1 and that’s fine. With Fitzgerald back playing at a high level and Brown evolving into a dynamic receiving threat, Floyd just needs to be himself and play to his strengths.
It wasn’t pretty, but RB Chris Johnson managed to top the century mark with a 109-yard rushing day. Johnson overcame two lost fumbles and a measly 3.6 yards per carry average to bring some sort of balance to the Cardinals offense.
Ideally, Johnson would have broken a long run or two (his long run was only 13 yards) but coach Bruce Arians needs only a good, not great running game. Most importantly, Johnson needs to hang onto the ball as a few more fumbles could cause Arizona to move back to Andre Ellington at running back.
While the offense stole most of the headlines Sunday in Cleveland the defense did its job, particularly in the second half and against the run. The Browns were unable to get any sort of momentum in the running game and accumulated only 39 yards on the ground. QB Josh McCown led Cleveland with 18 yards rushing on five carries.
If the Cardinals defense can keep things going as a stingy run defense along with forcing its customary turnovers, this unit could continue to grow into one of the best in the NFC. Arians and company have clearly set out to stop opposing running backs and we expect that to continue for the duration of the 2015 campaign.
Cardinals at Browns: 5 Key Numbers