Originally Published: December 18, 2017 6 a.m.
LANDOVER, Md. — Although Blaine Gabbert’s roller-coaster run as the Arizona Cardinals’ quarterback took another dip, it’ll keep on going.
Coach Bruce Arians plans to stick with Gabbert as his starter when the Cardinals (6-8) return home to face the New York Giants (2-12) next Sunday.
Gabbert was 16 of 41 for 189 yards, lost a fumble and threw an interception in Arizona’s 20-15 loss to the Washington Redskins on Sunday.
“I’m going to come back swinging,” Gabbert said. “I don’t know how to play any other way. Get hit, step right back up and swing again. That’s the way I was raised and that’s the way I play the game.”
The Cardinals are 3-4 since losing Carson Palmer to a broken arm and first turning to Drew Stanton and then with Gabbert under center. The 10th overall pick in 2011 took responsibility for Arizona going 0 for 6 in the red zone and 4 for 19 on third down against Washington.
Arizona hasn’t scored a touchdown in its past two games.
“When we get down in the red zone, we have to enhance our focus, and it starts with me at the quarterback position,” Gabbert said. “When we get down there, we’ve got to score. The difference between a touchdown and a field goal, not only numerically but momentum-wise, is huge.”
Four field goals by 42-year-old kicker Phil Dawson helped the Cardinals beat the Tennessee Titans on Dec. 10 and five more gave them a chance against the Redskins. But Gabbert was in Arians’ words “very average” as he faced an onslaught of pressure from Washington’s defense.
“Looking at his stat line, I would say average to poor, but he took us down the field and made some throws at the end of the game that should’ve won the game,” Arians said.
Some things we learned in the Redskins’ 20-15 victory over the Cardinals:
Kapri Bibbs became the seventh running back to play for the Redskins this season after season-ending injuries to Rob Kelley, Chris Thompson and Byron Marshall. Bibbs made an immediate impact by scoring a touchdown on a 36-yard screen pass.
“I’m just happy to be here and be a part of the organization, an organization like this where I got coaches that believe in me and I got great teammates and everything,” Bibbs said. “It made it a lot easier for me.”
The 24-year-old’s only previous NFL action came last season with the Denver Broncos (5-9), who visit the Redskins on Christmas Eve.
A-PLUS RUN DEFENSE
Arizona can’t seem to cash in on defense, but its run defense keeps getting better. The Cardinals held their opponent under 100 yards rushing for the fourth game in a row, allowing Washington to gain just 31 on the ground.
“Our run defense has been really, really good for over a month,” Arians said. “It puts the quarterback in third and long all day, and it puts us in very favorable (spots). I wish we would’ve got our hands on a couple more balls.”
HOP ON, HOPKINS
Let there be no doubt who the Redskins’ kicker is after they cut rookie Nick Rose, who made 10 of 11 attempts since replacing Dustin Hopkins. In his return from a hip injury, Hopkins made 24- and 32-yard field goals and could again face no competition in training camp next summer.
Hopkins isn’t the problem, but the Redskins’ special teams continue to be an issue after botching a kickoff return that Arizona recovered deep in Washington territory.
“They blooped it and Niles (Paul) thought it was going to bounce to him and it bounced backward instead of to him,” coach Jay Gruden said. “It was a bad bounce. Niles should’ve ran and got it.”
As much of an uphill climb as it would have been, the Cardinals’ loss eliminated them from playoff contention. Arians doesn’t plan on changing his team’s approach.
“We work tomorrow,” he said. “We’re not playing for the playoffs, we’re playing for each other. And to win next week at home.”