Behind Enemy Lines: Seahawks/Cardinals, Pt. 2

The Arizona Cardinals host the Seattle Seahawks in their final meeting this year. Arizona has a lot going right, but there are glaring weaknesses as well. Seattle will look to exploit these. AZRedReport.com's Amberly Dressler fields 10 questions about the Cardinals. Why won't Anquan Boldin get a new deal? Why has Arizona struggled to go long? These answers and more in this exclusive.

Brian McIntyre: Arizona was 5-3 and in the NFC West's driver seat midway through 2008 before losing four of their next five and needing to win last year's season finale against Seattle to have a winning record heading into the post-season. What must the currently 5-3 2009 Arizona Cardinals do to avoid a similar letdown in the second half of the season?

Amberly Dressler: First and foremost, the Cardinals need to build consistency. They have been all over the place this season, which is frustrating to everyone involved. The Cardinals have either wowed the crowd or been a train-wreck, there hasn't been an in between. They need to find a happy medium that can stand the test of the second half of the season and the playoffs.

BM: Why have the Cardinals struggled at University of Phoenix Stadium this season?

AD: In all three of the Cardinals losses at home (San Francisco 49ers, Indianapolis Colts and Carolina Panthers), the Cardinals have found themselves trailing at the half. With San Francisco, Arizona was down 16-7 by halftime. With Indianapolis, Arizona was down 21-3. And with Carolina, Arizona was down 28-7. Coming back into the second half, the Cardinals needed to throw the ball a lot. Thus, the ground game was thrown out the window. The Cardinals are a much better team when they can find a good balance between the running game and the passing game. In all three of the losses, Kurt Warner threw more picks than the other guys.

BM: Anquan Boldin has been unhappy with his contract for quite some time now, and this week, voiced his displeasure about being inactive for the Chicago game. Is there a boiling point the Cardinals' brass should be aware of with him, and for that matter, with Darnell Dockett and Karlos Dansby, who are also seeking long-term contracts?

Anquan Boldin
(Getty)

AD: Boldin and the Cardinals have likely reached their boiling point. The Cardinals can't tip-toe around him. If they want to rest him, then they are going to rest him. He's been injured a lot in his career. He hasn't started every game since 2006. The combination of his comments to the media and his injury plagued past few seasons won't get him a new deal in Arizona.

Dockett wanted a new contract after one breakout season. After this year, he definitely deserves one. Dockett has been both consistent and a playmaker. The Cardinals should make him happy with a lucrative long-term deal, otherwise he'll take his skills to the open market.

Dansby should also be given a long-term lucrative deal. Keeping these two players in the Cardinals front-seven is imperative to building an even stronger foundation.

BM: Why has the Cardinals' passing game continued to struggle to make plays downfield, and are those struggles mitigated by them having the NFL's 2nd-ranked red zone offense?

AD: Larry Fitzgerald has struggled to go yard this season but in the Cardinals win over the Bears, he didn't have to. Each play was productive, and Arizona marched downfield. The Cardinals were unstoppable with their red zone possessions. But in the prior weeks, Warner didn't use Fitzgerald as his primary target. The coverage on Fitzgerald has been unbelievable in many games, which has led to the Cardinals not making the big plays they are synonymous with.

BM: Despite the 31st ranking, the Cardinals have run the ball well the last two weeks. What have they done to get the ground game headed in the right direction?

AD: The Cardinals offensive line has opened up better lanes for Beanie Wells and TIm Hightower. Wells has also seen more carries. As a rookie running back, more carries equals more time to shine. Ken Whisenhunt executed some nice play calling against the Bears last week and it really benefited the running game, which will be vital for the remainder of the season. That said, Arizona's ground game is definitely heading in the right direction. The Cardinals may have only moved from dead-last in the league to 31st, but it's baby steps for a perpetually troublesome unit.

BM: Is the Cardinals defense's success on third downs a function of personnel or is it a schematic change with Bill Davis replacing Clancy Pendergast in the off-season?

AD: A little bit of both. When motivated and focused, the Cardinals defense can reap havoc on any down. The playmakers and talent are there. Davis has done an excellent job in making sure it all comes together to get the opposition's offense off the field on third downs.

BM: Seattle needed to keep John Carlson in to pass protect during the first meeting with Arizona, but with Greg Olsen the latest tight end to have a productive day against the Cardinals' defense, is this an area Seattle could exploit and why have the Cardinals struggled to cover tight ends this season?

S Antrel Rolle
(Getty)

AD: The obvious joke would be that the Cardinals didn't know that the tight end position existed. The Cardinals tight end group has been one of the most plagued units on the roster. But the Cardinals defense is finally getting an improving tight end group to practice against.

The Cardinals defense will be very aware of Carlson heading into Sunday's game. Don't expect Carlson to fool them twice.

The Cardinals will win if...AD:

...the offensive line provides adequate protection for Warner. The Cardinals also need to effectively move the ball and get Wells and Hightower the ball more than 20 times (combined). Arizona needs to take Seattle seriously and not get overly confident.

The Cardinals will lose if...AD:

...they aren't focused and up for the task on Sunday. Once again, they are at home after a big road win. The Cardinals need to put their heads down and go to work. Seattle has a great chance of winning if the Cardinals defense is soft. Seattle doesn't have a chance if the Cardinals defense brings its A-game.

What's your prediction and why?

AD: Cardinals 31, Seahawks 14. After falling to 1-3 at home, the Cardinals want to give fans their money's worth.


To read Part I, click here.
Brian McIntyre is the publisher of NorthwestFootball.net. Amberly Dressler is the publisher of AZRedReport.com.


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