Broncos expose weakness in Cards defense - East Valley Tribune: Sports

Broncos expose weakness in Cards defense

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Posted: Monday, December 18, 2006 11:36 pm | Updated: 2:40 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Cardinals safety Adrian Wilson finds out today if his Pro Bowl-type season will earn him a Pro Bowl selection. Assuming Wilson makes it, the honor will only underscore the dichotomy of the Cards’ defensive backfield this season, given the continuing troubles of Arizona’s cornerbacks.

Denver rookie quarterback Jay Cutler sliced up the Cards in Sunday’s 37-20 win, working over the cornerback trio of Antrel Rolle, Eric Green and David Macklin.

“It is tough to mentally stay into it and keep your confidence,” Green said.

The problems were more noticeable compared to the Broncos’ defense, whose own Pro Bowl cornerback, Champ Bailey, gave Arizona star receivers Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald problems through much of the game.

Bailey also made two interceptions — or one more than Rolle, Green and Macklin have had combined all season.

“(Our corners) are struggling, absolutely,” coach Dennis Green said. “The reason, I don’t know.”

The methodical success of the Broncos’ offense hurt, especially when the Cards — leery of Denver’s talented rushing game — loaded the line of scrimmage and left Arizona’s corners in some one-on-one coverage.

That has been a trouble spot for Rolle all season. He continues to give receivers large cushions in part to avoid getting beat deep. That allows opponents room to make catches in front of him.

Rolle was unavailable for comment after Monday’s walk-through.

“He was the eighth pick in the draft, he had a tremendous career at (the University of) Miami, and I think it’d be fair for anyone to expect (Rolle) to have a tremendous career with the Arizona Cardinals,” Dennis Green said. “Is he having the kind of year he thought he would have? No. All he has to do is work at it, learn from it and try to play better.”

When he has had trouble staying with a receiver he has been nabbed for penalties. He was called for three more penalties Sunday (one was declined) and has been flagged 12 times in 14 games this season.

Six times Rolle has been called for pass interference.

Nevertheless, Dennis Green said he hasn’t thought about possibly moving Rolle to safety because “you probably should play the position you are drafted at.”

Macklin’s troubles likely won’t be an issue going forward because he is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season and probably will not return.

Eric Green, drafted in the third round last season as someone who could start on the opposite side of Rolle, continues his roller-coaster season. He has played sparingly since getting burned for two deep touchdowns against Dallas Nov. 12, but found himself getting sucked in by Broncos veteran Rod Smith on a curl-and-go Sunday that Smith caught for a 10-yard touchdown.

“You say every week you don’t want it to happen, and it happens,” Eric Green said. “I just have to be better. I have to refocus. It’s tough for me, being out there for a couple plays and then coming out. But you have to because it is your job.”

From a receiver’s perspective, Boldin said schemes play a large role in the success of a team’s cornerbacks. But veterans like Bailey — who had deciphered some of the Cards’ passing tendencies by watching video — make an impact on those schemes.

There are times in practice when Boldin tries to give the Cards’ cornerbacks some insight to help with their coverage.

“If I see something I don’t think they have picked up, I ask them what are they looking at and try to tell them from a receiver’s standpoint what we are seeing,” Boldin said.

Such advice hasn’t seemed to make a difference thus far. And the Cards may have to look at upgrading the position in the offseason.

“You don’t make plays,” Eric Green said, “you’re not going to stick around.”

EXTRA POINTS: Tight end Adam Bergen is done for the final two games of the season after at least spraining the medial collateral ligament in his left knee and possibly tearing it. Coach Dennis Green said it was unknown as of now if Bergen will need surgery. ...

If and when Bergen is placed on injured reserve, Green said tight end/fullback John Bronson will be signed from the practice squad. ...

Green said one of the reasons the Cards had trouble getting the ball to Boldin and Fitzgerald was because the Cards couldn’t run well and couldn’t use play-action.

Green noted the Cards ran three times on third down with two or three yards to go so the Broncos couldn’t just tee off on quarterback Matt Leinart.

Two of the plays worked (fullback Obafemi Ayanbadejo ran for 11 yards and Boldin, in the backfield, ran for five) but a key play — J.J. Arrington’s key try on third-and-2 — was held to a loss of two. The Cards missed the field goal attempt. ...

Besides Wilson, Boldin is the only other Cardinal expected to have a shot at making the Pro Bowl when it is announced this afternoon.

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