Tonight, the Arizona Cardinals will begin their first of four preseason games against the Raiders in Oakland. The match is scheduled for kickoff at 7 P.M. local time (10 EST for you non-Arizonans) and will air on ABC 15 for those of you able to watch it on TV. For those of you stuck with having to listen to it on the radio, tune in to 92.3 FM.
While fans should be excited that football is finally back after about a six month layoff, some things about this game should be put into perspective. Take note that this is a preseason game and please, try to treat it as such.
Looking back at past preseason records for the Arizona Cardinals, you may notice that their record in the preseason has absolutely no correlation to their regular season record. In fact, you could almost argue that it has a reverse effect of sorts.
In 2009, the Cardinals ended up advancing out of the wild card round of the playoffs, eventually losing to the New Orleans Saints in the divisional matchup. Their preseason record that year? 0-4.
After Kurt Warner retired, Matt Leinart was set to be the heir apparent in 2010. With Leinart as the starting signal caller and a one time Pro Bowl quarterback in Derek Anderson as the backup, fans were optimistic. As we know, Leinart was eventually cut and Anderson was handed the keys to the Cardinals engine.
With Anderson, Max Hall, John Skelton and Richard Bartel all taking snaps from under center that year, the Cardinals wound up with a 5-11 record and the fifth overall pick in the 2011 NFL draft. Their preseason record for 2010 was 3-1.
With Kevin Kolb now slated to start at the quarterback position for the Cards this season, Arizona is looking to have a turnaround year. Other key free agents such as Todd Heap, Stewart Bradley and Daryn Colledge were all brought in to aid the cause as well.
However, there are a few things to consider when looking at some of the team's new acquisitions and even the players the Cardinals had under contract last year. The players that came in on new contracts have only been able to practice with the team for exactly one week. Timing and chemistry will be flawed throughout these four preseason games and most, if not all of the players are bound to make mistakes.
We have seen the depth chart that has been laid out for the team as of now. These positions are still very much up for change and the coaching staff, including head coach Ken Whisenhunt, will be looking out for the guys that step up and become playmakers and leaders during these preseason contests.
As far as starters like Larry Fitzgerald and Darnell Dockett go, they will likely play for only about a quarter of tonight's game. Giving some of the younger guys time on the field is what the team will lean upon in terms of evaluation once the cuts start taking place.
The bottom line is that teams do not play preseason games to beat their opponents. These games are simply for evaluation, practice and fan pleasure. None of the teams even game-plan for one another, so taking too much away from individual performances can be a huge mistake.
So, if by chance Kevin Kolb throws an interception or Patrick Peterson gets burnt on a fly route down the field, just remember that these games count for nothing. If the Cardinals don't win a single preseason game, it does not matter. The team will have gained chemistry and become more of a solid unit by the time it is all said and done.
Take a deep breath folks and I beg of you, save your inflammatory Kolb posts until after week one against the Carolina Panthers. After all, this is just the preseason. As Jessesb would say, "tempered expectations" are in order.