Saturday, August 29, 2009
Observations from Cardinals' exhibition game
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Thoughts and observations after watching the Cardinals' first-team units fall behind the Packers by three touchdowns in their exhibition game Friday night:
The 49ers-Cowboys and Seahawks-Chiefs games are Saturday night. Looking forward to them.
- Defense lacked discipline. The Packers caught cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie peeking into the backfield on a play-action fake. 'DRC' wound up seeing the back of Jordy Nelson's jersey during a 76-yard touchdown strike. That was merely one example of undisciplined play. Overall, the Packers' zone blocking scheme exploited the Cardinals' sloppy play. There were also 15 penalties against Arizona.
- Focus was lacking. Linebacker Karlos Dansby appeared out of position. Cornerback Ralph Brown whiffed on tackles. Strong safety Adrian Wilson pulled up at the end of a play instead of punishing the receiver. Jerheme Urban lost a fumble and dropped a potential big gainer in the first half. One low point came when tight end Stephen Spach dropped a pass, only to have an illegal-formation penalty negate the play. The Cardinals did show up for the second half, at least.
- Game plans matter. With Kurt Warner at quarterback, the Cardinals are like a finely tuned automobile on offense. They aren't suited for sloppy conditions, and preseason games tend to get sloppy when the other team decides to unleash blitzes, as the Packers did. The Cardinals' problems in protection looked like something the team could solve through regular-season preparation. The Packers got pressure with corner blitzes, winning with numbers. I am curious to see how the Cardinals' running backs fare in protection, though. Edgerrin James was very good that way.
- Beanie Wells will get better. His two-touchdown night should buy Wells public goodwill after an injury-plagued start to his NFL career. He ran well even though he said his right ankle remained an issue. Wells might have favored the ankle on his first carry, running toward the right sideline without cutting upfield sharply.
- Leinart stepped up. Throwing for 360 yards in the second half was impressive, even against the Packers' backups. And it sure beats throwing three picks with a 2.8 rating, as Leinart did in the third exhibition game last summer. There's no doubt Leinart will keep his role as Warner's primary backup.
- It's only preseason. Enough said.