Cardinals preseason begins with win over Packers
The results of NFL preseason games are pretty meaningless, but you will always take a victory over a defeat, no matter what time of the year it comes.
The Cardinals’ preseason started off with a bang, as they were able to get a 17-0 win over the Green Bay Packers on Friday night at Lambeau Field. The win is a good first step for the Bruce Arians era in the desert.
Arizona was able to get on the scoreboard early as Carson Palmer was able to hook up with Andre Roberts on a 38-yard touchdown reception. The Cards would tack on another a touchdown in the second quarter on a touchdown pass from backup Drew Stanton. Arizona would finish scoring on a field goal late in the fourth quarter.
Here are my thoughts from this one with both some positives and, of course, some negatives.
- It sure is nice to have not one, but two quarterbacks able to throw the football down the field, isn’t it? Palmer had the long pass to Roberts and Stanton had a number of completions that went 10 yards or more. You didn’t see that with Arizona’s slew of guys under center over the last three years. We can all be thankful for that change.
- Tyrann Mathieu has been the talk of camp and he showed why with his performance on Friday. The rookie had two tackles, a sack, a QB hit, a tackle for a loss, a pass deflection, two special teams tackles, and a 24-yard punt return. Not too shabby for a rookie debut. One of the many things to love about Mathieu is that he always seems to be around the football on almost every play. This guy has star written all over him folks.
- Mathieu will get all of the recognition on defense, but I like what I saw from Jasper Brinkley and rookie Kevin Minter as well. Both have competed against one another throughout training camp for one of the Cardinals’ two inside linebacker spots. Against Green Bay, Brinkley and Minter were stout against the run and combined to have seven tackles between them in limited action. Good Cardinals preseason debuts for both linebackers.
- On Thursday, I wrote about how a couple of the undrafted receivers have to step up and play well. Charles Hawkins and Jaron Brown did more than that against the Packers. Hawkins had four catches and 92 yards, which included a 36-yard reception. Brown had five grabs for 46 yards and a touchdown. Hawkins may be short in stature, but his speed allows the offense to spread the field, something that is crucial in Arians’ system. Brown is more of a chain mover, with a couple of his receptions coming when the Cardinals needed a first down. Hawkins and Brown helped themselves tremendously as both continue to try to lock up a roster spot.
- Stepfan Taylor’s numbers (20 carries for 64 yards) won’t put him on many people’s early season radars, but I really like what I saw from the Stanford rookie. The offensive line didn’t do a great job of providing him holes, so he had to pick up a lot of those yards on his own. Taylor doesn’t blow you away with his speed or his physical size, but he does a great job of grinding out runs and not going down on the first hit from a defender. Unfortunately, his touches should decrease as the preseason goes on as Rashard Mendenhall, Ryan Williams and Andre Ellington all return from injuries. He will have to make the most out of the carries he does get, no matter what that number ends up being.
- It was a pretty good night for the offensive line in terms of pass protection. They allowed only one sack and more often than not, the four Cardinals quarterbacks had all night to throw the football. Granted, it was mostly against second-, third-, and fourth-teamers, but considering the concerns about this line coming in, it is something to build on going forward.
- Throughout this game, the Red Birds looked confused on both sides of the football pre-snap. I get that it is the first game setting for these players and they are learning a new system on both offense and defense, but there are no excuses for it because most of these guys have been in the league for several years now. Wasting timeouts due to mental errors is one of my biggest pet peeves. They need to clean that up before games start to actually count. You can’t have that crap happen during the regular season.
- The Cardinals kicking game is a concern at the moment as they were 1-for-4 in field goal attempts in this one. Jay Feely, who hasn’t exactly had a great camp to begin with, was wide right on his first attempt. He was able to hit a chip shot late in the fourth quarter. Will Batson’s two misses were just downright embarrassing and left me wondering how this guy is on a NFL roster. Now, it is way too early to panic, but it is something that needs to be improved on over these next three preseason games.
- A lot of people have talked about D.C. Jefferson’s size and athleticism throughout camp, but he didn’t have a good night on Friday. He had a couple of drops and missed on a touchdown pass from Stanton in the first half. Jefferson was wide open more often than not, but if he can’t catch the football, it really doesn’t matter. He needs to bounce back if he wants to make this roster. A spot is certainly up for grabs.
- It is really isn’t a negative, but I was kind of disappointed that we didn’t get to see Patrick Peterson on the offensive side of the football. He didn’t get a single snap. Heading in, I thought that Arians would have at least put him out there as a decoy for a few plays, but it never happened. We may very well have to wait until the regular season to see what he can do at receiver. He certainly looked good at cornerback with an easy interception of Graham Harrell.
The Cardinals’ preseason continues with the home opener next Saturday against the Dallas Cowboys. Kickoff will be at 1:30 p.m. from the University of Phoenix Stadium.