The Cardinals rank in the lower third of the NFL in many special-teams categories, but they have improved in some areas in the second half of the season. They are covering punts better, and kicker Phil Dawson has bounced back from a horrid start and made 15 of his past 17 field goal attempts. Through the first eight games, punter Andy Lee had a gross average of 46.5 yards (ranked 10th in the NFL) and a net average of 38 (20th). In the past six games, his gross average is 47.2 yards (4th) and net is 41.4 (6th). There are two main reasons for the improvement, coach Bruce Arians said: Lee is kicking a bit better, and the team’s gunners are doing a better job in coverage. Rookie Budda Baker was chosen to the Pro Bowl as a special-teams player, and Justin Bethel has played more on special teams after losing his starting cornerback job after six games. Bethel made the Pro Bowl as a special-teams player from 2013 through 2015. “Andy’s kicked the heck out of the ball, and that’s helped our coverage so much. His location and his hang time, and we’re covering better,” Arians said. Early in the season, Baker lost containment on a few occasions, but he has improved over the past two months.
Cardinals' kicking woes subside in second half of season
Arizona Central | Dec 23