Arizona Cardinals look ‘Good’ in first preseason win

I don’t think anyone needs to read too much into the first preseason game of any NFL team, especially this year.  With the NFL lockout, many players on team rosters have only been together for about a week.  That doesn’t give the players much time to learn plays, offensive and defensive schemes, or give them an opportunity to work together as a single unit on both sides of the ball.  There are timing issues, and it just takes time to get players used to the speed of games versus practice.  A large purpose of these preseason games are more about evaluating players, and not about winning or coming up with the proper game plan against your opponent.  With that said, here is my impression of what I saw with the Arizona Cardinals first game of the season.

Arizona Cardinals Quarterback Kevin KolbI thought that Kevin Kolb did enough to keep his starting job, but was not overly impressive.  He ended 4 of 7 for 66 yards.  He learned early on that he has an exceptional receiver in Larry Fitzgerald, when he threw up a ball that looked like it could be intercepted.  Fitz just jumped up and stole the ball from the Raiders defender.  What I didn’t know about Kolb was that he looks like he has some mobility and quickness.  This may bode well for him considering the offensive line he has protecting him, although they did not allow a sack in this game.  John Skelton looked good in his backup role, completing 6 of 10 for 94 yards and a touchdown.

Although the running game for the Cardinals averaged 4.4 yards per carry in the game, I Arizona Cardinals Running Back Beanie Wellswas not overly impressed.  Beanie Wells started the game and had an early carry around the left end for 15 yards.  Other than that, he was pretty non-productive.  He had 5 other carries that totaled 7 yards.  At 6’2” and 229 pounds, Wells is supposed to be the third down back that can keep the chains moving.  Instead, he had three opportunities to score a touchdown from the Raiders 3 yard line, but couldn’t punch it in.  Rookie Ryan Williams looked good in his debut, and had a 23 yard pass reception out of the backfield.  LaRod Stephens-Howling did okay, and Alfonso Smith did well.  To me, the starting job should be up for grabs at this point.

Arizona Cardinals Wide Receiver Larry FitzgeraldWe all know Larry Fitzgerald is a Pro Bowl receiver, but who will step up this year to become the number two and three receivers on this team?  The two rookies Isaiah Williams and DeMarco Sampson both had plenty of opportunities to impress, and they did.  Isaiah Williams had 3 receptions for 50 yards and a touchdown.  Sampson had 2 receptions, one for 41 yards.  Stephen Williams, a member of the Cardinals last year, also had 2 receptions, one for a 21 yard touchdown.  Other members of the Cardinals receiving core last year, Early Doucet and Andre Roberts, also showed promise.  Veteran Chansi Stuckey also was given an opportunity to play.  I would say that the number two and three receiver positions are wide open, but Isaiah Williams had the best showing thus far, and it looks like the Cardinals have some depth at this position.

Arizona Cardinals Tight End Todd HeapIt was good to see Arizona local Todd Heap receiving passes from the Tight End position.  This is something that has been missing from the Cardinals arsenal for several years.  If he can stay healthy, he can be a huge addition to the Cardinals offensive attack.  If not, rookie Tight End Rob Housler is also known for his pass catching abilities, and I feel can be productive in that role in his first NFL season.

Defensively they made some mistakes, and there were way too many open Oakland receivers.  The Raiders were 23 of 36 Arizona cardinals Safety Adrian Wilson(63.9%) for 234 yards passing.  With Adrian Wilson out due to injury, Rashad Johnson is not quite the same physical presence on the field.  He had a big pass interference penalty on the Cardinals first defensive play of the game.  A.J. Jefferson started at one corner over Cardinals number one draft pick Patrick Peterson, and had 2 tackles and 3 pass deflections.  Peterson did play, and ended up with 4 tackles in the game.  Peterson looks large and intimidating as a corner.  He outweighs Jefferson by 30 pounds, and may end up playing safety in the future.

The defensive line and linebackers performed better against the run, allowing only 97 total yards on 27 attempts (3.6 yards per carry).  These starting positions are pretty much set; however, Stewart Bradley coming over from Philadelphia, and rookie Brandon Sharpe both recorded sacks in the game.  The pass rush is a critical need the Cardinals have to fill, and this was a good sign hopefully of things to come.  The defense also had a bend, but don’t break mentality, as they allowed 4 field goals but only 1 touchdown in the game.

Overall, don’t read too much into this first preseason game, but the Cardinals do look like they have made some changes that could improve the overall performance of the team this season.  With their first win under their belt, beating the Oakland Raiders 24-18, things are looking up for the Arizona Cardinals in 2011.

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~ by Troy Erickson Realtor on August 12, 2011.

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