Coming off a miserable loss to the Atlanta Falcons last week -- and barely winning in St. Louis in week one -- the Arizona Cardinals have even the most loyal fans asking "what the hell happened."
The answer could go several ways but the most popular explanation for the team's fall from the last two seasons' grace is quarterback Derek Anderson -- and the lack of Kurt Warner.
In the Cards' first two contests, Anderson was awful.
Last week, Anderson went 17 for 31 in the air, for a total of 161 yards. He also gave up two interceptions and had no touchdowns.
"They beat us up," Anderson said after the game. "We didn't execute on offense. There are a
lot of things we didn't do right. I didn't play as well as I needed to. As a leader, when we're in a lull like that, I need to find a way to rally the guys and find a spark."
On a positive note, Anderson did find a little chemistry with Larry Fitzgerald, which is absolutely necessary if he wants to be a starter on this team.
Another ray of hope for the Cards' offense is that running back Beanie Wells is expected to play this week.
Wells has been out since suffering what was initially described as a "bruise" on his knee. We found out today that the "bruise" was actually a torn meniscus and Wells had secret surgery to repair the tear -- all while being listed as "questionable" on the team's injury report.
Tim Hightower was decent in last week's loss but the two fumbles he lost in week one were cause for concern.
On defense, the Cards need to realize that Oakland is suffering in the quarterback department, too.
Raiders' quarterback Jason Campbell was benched at halftime as the team eked out a win -- ironically -- against the St. Louis Rams.
Campbell was replaced by Bruce Gradkowski, who engineered a come-from-behind win thanks -- in part -- to an impressive game from running back Darren McFadden, who now has 240 rushing yards in his first two games.
In other words, the Cards need to expect the run.
Most importantly, the Cards need to watch the penalties -- and that's to put it politely.
Like in the first game, penalties were a huge issue for the Cards last week. They managed to rack up 10, including a holding call on defensive end Kenny Iwebema, which brought back a 98-yard kickoff return by LaRod Stephens-Howling in the first half.
In total, penalties cost the Cards 109 yards in the loss.
If the Cardinals can behave, Derek Anderson can hit his receivers, and Tim Hightower -- or Beanie Wells -- can hang on to the ball, it seems that despite an atrocious first two games, the Cards could be lookin' at 2-1.
Kickoff is at 1:15 p.m. The game will be televised on CBS. For more info, click here.
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