Week number two, win number two for the Arizona Cardinals preseason. Against a solid team in New Orleans, Arizona pulled out a 20-15 victory. The Birds made some huge strides in areas that were missing in week one and a few rookies, in particular, made a splash. Let’s take a look at all the game’s action in this week’s main takeaways.
Last week’s poor showing in the passing game led some fans to a bit of panic. Behind the shaky offensive line, no one really had time to shine in week one. This week was a different story. Sam Bradford completed all six of his passes for 61 yards. Chad Kanoff has made Mike Glennon an afterthought, he didn’t even enter the game. Even if they don’t keep three quarterbacks on the roster, Kanoff has made a case for the practice squad. Not bad for an undrafted rookie.
The real reason for optimism is tenth overall pick Josh Rosen. Last week he couldn’t get enough time to set his feet but still made some great throws under pressure. This week he had more time, finishing 10-for-16 for 107 yards and a touchdown. That isn’t the whole story, however. He also threw a beautiful downfield pass that forced the defender to grab, causing a 40-yard pass interference call. His first touchdown pass to fellow rookie Christian Kirk was a thing of beauty. As Cardinals radio caller Ron Wolfley would say, “that throw was like eating spicy beef jerky on the porch of your beach house.” Please never fire Ron Wolfley, he is an icon.
This group was the most improved bunch of the week. In conjunction with the offensive line, they were sharper, more accurate, and faster. A great sign for the Arizona faithful.
Continued Defensive Dominance
No, the team didn’t get another three-sack game from a practice squad journeyman like last week but the team’s defense looked as great as ever. Bene Benwikere followed up his strong first game with another, notching an interception. His partner in the backfield, Budda Baker, looks ready to go. He was all over the field, garnering five tackles and one in the backfield. The safeties are ready.
Undrafted rookie Deatrick Nichols out of South Florida left an impression as well. Finishing with four tackles, a sack and two tackles for loss is an interesting stat line for a skinny cornerback. The defensive unit as a whole was great at pressuring the Saints’ passers with Nichols, Olsen Pierre and Alec James all notching a sack each.
Through two games this defense has impressed. Even when backups are in, they play fast and aggressive, gathering sacks and turnovers. Once the season starts they may get burned more playing that way than in the preseason but it’s fun to see. The risk/reward is worth it.
The most exciting thing in football is a kicking battle. Okay, maybe one of the top 200 most exciting things in football. Phil Dawson has been around since Tamagotchis but he’s still around, as average a kicker as ever (which is more than good enough for a job). Matthew McCrane turned some coaches’ heads with his only attempt of the night, drilling a 53 yarder. The Cards have the opposite issue with kicking as the Chargers do.
The entire team felt different tonight. Sure, they only came out ahead by five points, however, they felt much faster in all aspects. That could be attributed to having a game under their belt and more practices… and that may be all it is. But watching Christian Kirk zoom all over the place has to have other teams a little antsy at passing over him.
The hype train is completely out of the station for David Johnson now. I mean, it probably was a long time ago, but his nine-yard touchdown was amazing. Looked like he would be stopped at the eight, but he kept his feet moving and somehow pushed it in. This man is an Offensive Player of the Year candidate.
Next week the Cardinals play the Cowboys Sunday night. Week three is usually a dress rehearsal for the starters, so it should be the most telling of all the preseason games. We’ll let you know what to watch for in that game later this week.