What a difference two weeks makes for the Arizona Cardinals. Two weeks ago the team was 1-6, their starting "francise" quarterback had just suffered an injury, and fans were pulling their hair out while calling for Ken Whisenhunt's head. Fast foreword two weeks and the Cardinals sit at 3-6, not great, but it could be a lot worse.
Although the Cardinals are 5 games back of the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC West, there is a reason for optimism around Arizona. John Skelton has filled in for Kevin Kolb nicely and Larry Fitzgerald had his best game of the season last week. However, the biggest reason for the turnaround has been the Cardinal defense.
"It's nice to see our guys finally starting to get it and play with some confidence, and make some plays," Ken Whisenhunt said when asked about the play of his defense. The Cardinal defense has allowed one touchdown in the last two games. "Kiddos to the defense and the effort that they are putting in," said Whisenhunt.
The effort that Whisenhunt is talking about showed through last week against the Eagles. The Cardinals had perhaps their best game defensively of the season, holding the Eagles to 289 yards offensively and holding the NFL's second leading rusher LeSean McCoy to 81 yards rushing. They also hit Michael Vick repeatedly, breaking his ribs on the second play of the game.
A few weeks ago, Cardinals Defensive Coordinator Ray Horton said the team was only implementing about 30% of his complex defensive scheme. Over the past few weeks, the Cardinals are starting to better understand the Pittsburgh style of defense. "They're starting to get a good feel for the defense," said Ken Whisenhunt.
The Cardinals are going to have to continue their progress this Sunday as they travel to San Francisco to take on the division leading 49ers. Although the defense is improving, Whisenhunt still believes the defene has room to grow. "There's a lot of flexibility with this defense that we haven't gotten there yet."