When: Sunday, 1:15 p.m., CenturyLink Field
Record: 1-1 after Sunday’s 22-21 loss to the Redskins in Washington
Where they rank: No. 16 on offense (19th rushing, 12th passing); No. 29 on defense (23rd rushing, 29th passing)
Series: Cardinals lead 13-11, but the Seahawks swept the home-and-home series last season – winning 36-18 in Arizona and 22-10 in Seattle
Star power: Larry Fitzgerald. While QB Kevin Kolb was the Cardinals’ big offseason get, the trade with the Eagles to acquire him was a move to obtain a better option to get Fitzgerald the ball. That happened seven times for 133 yards in Sunday’s loss to the Redskins, prompting Kolb to offer, “He’s a special guy. His eye-hand coordination is ridiculous.” Kolb is learning something the Seahawks already knew. Fitzgerald had a seven-catch, 91-yard outing last season, to go with his previous productive games against the Seahawks: a career-high 13 catches for 100 yards (2009); 10 catches for 151 and five for 130 (2008); and eight for 102 (2005). And it’s not just the Seahawks who seem to bring out the best in the Fitzgerald. He’s had 90-plus receptions and 1,000-plus yards five times in his first seven seasons.
Unsung hero: Beanie Wells. He is averaging 5.7 yards per carry and already has scored two rushing touchdowns. His 183 rushing yards rank eighth in the league. Despite the arrival of Kolb and the continued excellence of Fitzgerald, Wells gives the Cardinals a legitimate threat in the running game.
On the spot: The defense, in general, and the pass defense, specifically. The Cardinals have allowed 932 yards in their first two games while adapting to the complicated system being installed by first-year coordinator Ray Horton. The culprits? The usual suspects: blown coverages, missed assignments, miscommunication. After Sunday’s loss, free safety Kerry Rhodes said, “It’s a tough system to learn. Coming into a new season with it, it’s been a little frustrating.”
Burning question: Will Fitzgerald become the Cardinals’ all-time leader in TD catches in Sunday’s game. He caught his 66th against the Redskins – a 73-yarder – to tie Roy Green’s franchise record. He will own the record outright at some point this season, likely sooner rather than later. Fitzgerald also needs 160 receiving yards to tie Green’s club mark (8,497) in that category.
Numbers to know: 54 and 48. Those are the offensive plays for the Cardinals in their first two games. The Seahawks, with all their problems, have had 64 and 47. The Patriots, by comparison, have the league’s top-ranked offense and they’ve run 135 plays in their first two games.
Familiar faces: Horton, who’s in his 18th season as an assistant coach in the league but first with the Cardinals, played at the University of Washington and Tacoma’s Mount Tahoma High School. Backup free safety Hamza Abdullah played at Washington State. Scout Chris Culmer previously worked for the Seahawks (2000-08).
The last word: “When we’re on the same page, when guys are understanding what we’re doing, we’re a pretty good defense. But when we make our bad plays, they’re really bad. Drops in coverage, not hitting the right gaps, we’re not stepping the right way when we’re blitzing. We are not where we want to be.” – Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt on his defense