Arizona Cardinals finally play home game in 2011

The Arizona Cardinals finally got to show their home fans a glimmer of what the team will look like in 2011.  In front of a packed ‘bird’ house, the Cardinals played their third preseason game against the San Diego Chargers Saturday night.  The offense looks like it’s starting to come together, although the defense continues to have issues.  Even though this was a preseason game, the regular season opener is now only two weeks away, and it’s time for the Cardinals to step up their game.

Arizona Cardinals Wide Receiver Larry FitzgeraldOffensively, the Cardinals moved the ball in the air and on the ground.  In the first quarter, Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb connected with Larry Fitzgerald for an 80-yard touchdown.  Seven other receivers and three tight ends had catches in the game.  The Cardinals seem to have plenty of talent at the receiver position, as well as tight end.

The offensive line still needs work on their discipline.  Although they allowed just two sacks in the game, they need to hold the defenders off a little longer.  There were too many plays where the Cardinals quarterbacks were pressured and rushed into throwing the ball too soon, or on the run.  Run blocking has been surprisingly successful, with two plays going for 20 plus yards and another for 17 yards.  If this continues, it will relieve a lot of pressure on Kolb and the passing game.

Arizona Cardinals Quarterback Kevin KolbKevin Kolb played well, and finished the game 11 of 20 for 205 yards with the one touchdown.  There were times where Kolb looked ready to step up and be the Cardinals leader.  There were other times where his timing was still off, and he could have made some better reads and decisions on the fly.  Overall, Kolb seems to be improving every week, and that is a very good sign for the Cardinals.  Rich Bartel played well, and has made it a real battle for the number two quarterback since John Skelton injured his ankle.

Arizona Cardinals running back Beanie WellsOn the ground, Beanie Wells had a good game, rushing for 63 yards on 10 carries.  He could work on running harder north to south, and needs to get better at breaking away from the first tackler.  The team as a whole rushed for 167 yards, and the offensive line did a good job run blocking.

The Cardinals defense still needs to step up.  They gave up a total of 432 yards, 24 first downs, and 34 points.  Granted not all of the Chargers offense was against the first team defense, but enough of it was.

The defensive line continues to improve against the run, although the Chargers still averaged 5.3 yards per carry.  The Cardinals were also not able to put much pressure on the Chargers quarterbacks.  They did not register one sack in the game, and this was a real priority for the Cardinals going into this season.  Defensive tackle Calais Campbell had five tackles and forced a fumble, and seems to be ready for the regular season.  Rookie nose tackle David Carter had three tackles, and is showing that he wants to play.  Linebacker Daryl Washington recorded a team high seven tackles, and is picking up right where he left off last year.  He could be a pro-bowler this year.

Arizona Cardinals defensive back Patrick PetersonThe Cardinals gave up 321 passing yards and two passing touchdowns in the game.  The Cardinals were playing a lot of zone defense, and Rivers was given way too much time to find the open receivers.  The Cardinals fans were able to see a glimpse of what to expect from rookie first round cornerback Patrick Peterson.  He intercepted a pass and ran it back for a touchdown early in the game.  He shows great potential, but needs more playing time to develop.  All the Cardinal defensive backs need to improve their pass coverage.  The Cardinals are ranked 31st in passing yards allowed per game (284.0) and total points allowed (26.7) through the first three preseason games.  Stopping the other team’s passing game was a huge problem for the Cardinals last year, and it looks like there are still issues this year.

Although the Cardinals ended up losing the game in the final seconds 34-31, they are showing signs of being ready for their first regular season game against the Carolina Panthers on September 11.  The offense is moving the ball on the ground and in the air, and just needs more time together.  The defense needs to step up and make more stops.  They need to come up big when needed, and need to put more pressure on the opponents quarterback.  There are glimpses of this, but it needs to be more consistent.  The Cardinals have one more preseason game against the Broncos on Thursday, September 1 to get things right.  Then in two weeks, we will all see if the Cardinals are ready for the regular season.

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~ by Troy Erickson on August 28, 2011.

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