Friday, August 10, 2012
Three things revisited: Cardinals-Chiefs
By Mike Sando
Looking back upon three things discussed here before the Arizona Cardinals' exhibition game Friday at Kansas City, a game the Cardinals lost 27-17:
1. QB competition. John Skelton started and generally looked better than Kevin Kolb, in my view, except for an across-the-body pass into coverage for an interception on third-and-14. Neither quarterback made a clear positive statement. Skelton completed 3 of 6 passes. Kolb completed 1-of-5. Skelton appeared unfazed by the rush, at one point coolly sidestepping a charging defender to find Andre Roberts. The running game struggled early, however, and the Cardinals found themselves in third-and-long situations too frequently. Kolb appeared sharp and accurate on his first couple throws, both back-shoulder types. He held onto the ball too long a couple times, including once when the Chiefs sacked him. "Five hitches, you gotta get rid of the ball," former NFL quarterback Trent Green said during the Chiefs' broadcast of the game. Ryan Lindley, the likely third quarterback, completed all four attempts working behind the first-team line late in the first half. He drove the Cardinals to a field goal after the team fell behind 17-0.
2. Stewart Bradley's progress. The Chiefs blocked Bradley (and quite a few of his teammates) effectively while driving to touchdowns on their first two possessions. Bradley did stop Peyton Hillis for a 1-yard gain early, but he appeared unaware as Hillis rumbled through the line for a sizable gain to the Arizona 13-yard line. Hillis gained 41 yards on his first four carries and also had a 11-yard touchdown reception. One of the Chiefs' tight ends blocked Bradley to spring Shaun Draughn for a 4-yard touchdown. The entire defense had problems stopping Kansas City early. Bradley was in the spotlight here because he played well in the exhibition opener while trying to bounce back from a rough first season with Arizona.
3. Pass protection. There were issues in protection, but these were not just protection issues. They were situational issues. The Cardinals, playing without their top running backs, struggled to run the ball early. The run blocking itself wasn't very good. Arizona found itself in third-and-long situations too many times. Offensive linemen have a hard enough time holding up in protection without trying to keep their quarterbacks upright on third-and-long. And when a quarterback holds onto the ball an extra second or two, the job becomes even tougher. An improved ground game would have helped the protection.