For this week's five good questions, I spoke with Jess Root of SB Nation Cardinals blog, Revenge of the Birds (I just got the reference) to learn a bit more about the team the Raiders are about to face on Sunday.
1. This might be a broad questions but how is it the Cardinals have had three different starters at quarterback and yet they just keep winning?
Well, they only have had two starters. Logan Thomas only came in at the end of the Denver game. How have they kept winning? Drew Stanton is more than capable. The key? Zero interceptions through five games. The defense is playing well enough when it counts and the offense is scoring just enough points...and they aren't turning the ball over. They have a turnover ratio of +8.
2. Also, How is it through five games this season, your quarterbacks haven't thrown a single interception? I mean, we're talking about Drew Stanton who has more career interceptions (9) than he has touchdowns (7), Carson Palmer who is always good for 16 or 17 interceptions a season, and a rookie (Logan Thomas). What gives?
Smart throws and luck. Palmer knows the offense. That's the difference. Once he turned the corner, the turnovers all but disappeared. Of his 22 picks last season, only nine were in the final nine games and four came in one -- in Seattle. He knows where to go with the ball, his receivers are going there and he is making smart throws. He also has been fortunate. He has had one or two throws dropped by defenders.
3. When opposing teams this season have been able to move the ball on the Cardinals defense, what were they able to exploit?
Well, Peyton Manning was able to beat them deep, but that was Manning. Where Arizona is vulnerable is in the middle of the field. If a team can dink and dunk enough, they can score, but they have to be effective. Tight ends have still been a problem, so you can go that route. But if you have a guy who can break away from players underneath like DeSean Jackson did or beat them over the top because of a lack of pass rush, that's the way to go. So far, Peyton is the only one to do so.
4. Derek Carr has shown no signs of shying away from big time corners. He went after Darrelle Revis and Brandon Flowers already this season. Patrick Peterson has had a marginal season so far according to PFF grades. Now he has an injury. If Carr were to go at him, are you confident Peterson would make him pay for that decision?
It all depends on the focus of Peterson. He is as talented as the best in the game, but he can break technique and can get caught napping. Carr won't likely beat him deep, but he can get beat underneath and lose a guy for a big play.
5. How have all those former Raiders been working out in Arizona? You guys have five of them now - Carson Palmer, Jared Veldheer, Matt Shaughnessy, Tommy Kelly, and Kaelin Burnett (PS)?
Aside, from Burnett, who likely was signed only to give the Cardinals inside information about the Oakland defense, everyone has been great. Palmer fixed the quarterback situation. Veldheer hasn't been elite, but he has completely stabilized a line that has been historically awful. Shaughnessy was one of the most important pieces to the league's best rush defense a season ago and Kelly has been huge because of the loss of Darnell Dockett and now Calais Campbell. He has been productive and a needed leader. Thanks, Raiders.
To see my answers to his questions, click here.