Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Arizona Cardinals [Print without images]

Monday, August 11, 2014
Cards not reading into offensive outburst

By Josh Weinfuss

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Larry Fitzgerald wasn't repeating it so he could hear himself talk.

Arizona's 32-0 win over the Houston Texans on Saturday night was the preseason. Nothing more. Nothing less. Both teams played base schemes. Play calling was as vanilla as it gets. Regardless of how impressive their offense looked, scoring 20 points before halftime, the Cardinals aren't reading too much into it.

"It's the preseason," Fitzgerald said. "Just go out there and line it up and not really game planning, doing anything special. Just going out there and playing hard and trying to execute."

After getting a chance to watch the film, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians didn't have much to say negatively about his offense. The only smudge was the Cards' 2.2 yards per run average, which was lowered by three kneel downs for a total of minus-3 yards.

As a unit, Arizona had 37 carries by eight players for 81 yards -- but only 15 were tallied by halftime.

"You're killing the ball at the end of the half, you're killing the ball at the end of the game, you won the game," Arians said. "So, I'm not concerned. We ran the ball effectively and even with a bunch of mental errors by some young guys. Second half, we had quite a few mental errors. First half was pretty efficient football."

That first-half efficiency, sparked by Carson Palmer's 5-for-5 outing, was partly the result of the Texans' general ineptitude and partly the result of Arizona's advanced knowledge of its offense. Saturday was the first opportunity to face an opponent after an offseason of building on last year's offensive success. And it showed. The Cardinals had 244 yards of offense by halftime.

Granted, they were playing against a basic man defense but they still had to execute. That was easier when the playbook was stripped down.

Arians said about one-third of the plays from Arizona's playbook were used Saturday night.

"You can study it for one night in a preseason game," Arians said. "So you should be able to play it fast. All of them played extremely fast."

Both Fitzgerald and Stanton agreed that Saturday night was a good barometer to gauge where the offense is, regardless of the schemes Houston played. But a better measuring stick will be the Minnesota Vikings on Saturday with their barrage of blitzes that'll undoubtedly be tested by new coach Mike Zimmer.

There will be more game planning before Minnesota than there was before Houston -- there was none, to be exact. Arians has been facing Zimmer for about 10 years, he said, so Arians knows what to expect.

"Overall, (Houston) was a simple game to get involved in as a quarterback," Arians said. "This one's going to be a lot more difficult -- silent counts, their blitzes -- it'll be a better challenge for us."