Before I get into my post, I just wanted to say I know I've been on a hiatus for a while. I've been pretty busy and time certainly flies by when you're busy. I check in from time to time to see how the site is going and wish I could still post regularly, but I'm still here as a Cardinals fan at the end of the day. Hope everyone's doing good.
If there's one thing that the Cardinals reminded us of on Sunday, it was their continuous pattern of playing the game down to the wire. The "Cardiac-Cards" as they say, won a close game against the new-look Carolina Panthers, 28-21. Don't get me wrong -- they showed tremendous growth from their abysmal 5-11 season of a year ago. However, many issues were carried over as well.
The shortened offseason certainly threw a wrench in coach Whisenhunt's plans to turn around the team. Implementing a new quarterback in the offense was also no easy task. So I'll hold my breath before I make any assumptions about what this year's team may look like down the stretch. Be that as it may, I will provide you with my thoughts from Sunday:
- Kevin Kolb has more to give - It would be easy for me to say Kolb met the expectations of the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday. Sure, he threw for 309 yards and connected on two passing touchdowns, but it was the potential that excited me most. The Panthers gave Kolb a lot of looks defensively(they rushed 8 on Kolb's 48-yard touchdown pass to Jeff King), and the Texas product stood pat. If the protection improves and Kolb and Fitzgerald begin to gel, we'll be in store for something great at quarterback this season.
- Turnover at defensive back sucks - Losing Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie -- at the time -- was less of a blow because Kolb addressed the Cardinals need for a franchise quarterback. They also had quite-possibly -- the best pick in the draft in Patrick Peterson. The LSU star was the shutdown defender coming out of college, but there is clearly an adjustment period, as Steve Smith's breakneck speed gave Peterson fits throughout the day. Throw in the unfortunate loss of Greg Toler and the Cardinals have much work to do in the secondary.
- 2011 is Daryl Washington's and Beanie Wells' year - At least, that's how it looks at this point. Washington played great against the run(7 tackles) from what I could see, but it was the two interceptions that stood out the most. Never mind the phantom roughing the passer call that negated one of the picks. The fact that Washington was in position to make those plays and essentially affect the outcome of the game is what impressed. Beanie on the other hand, played surprisingly well on offense after a disappointing sophomore slump last season. He hit the hole quickly and put the Cardinals first seven points on the board. Even then, Wells will need to work on his late game carries. He may have put the game away sooner had he converted more first downs.
- Why are we not talking about the d-line? - Rookie quarterback Cam Newton has garnered most of the spotlight from Sunday's game because he was the draft's first overall pick. But the Cardinals won the game right? Let's not forget that Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams has gashed the Cardinals D in the past. On Sunday, Williams rushed for 30 yards -- and the team was held to just 76 yards as a whole. The Cardinals defensive line recorded 9 tackles for a loss and held Panthers backs to just 2.7 YPC. You might be tempted to say that Carolina didn't run the ball, but their 27 rushes accounted for 40% of their 68 plays.
- Early Doucet's performance was admirable -- granted, a large chunk of yardage came on his touchdown play. Please Early, can we keep that going?
- Offensive line - the good news? They only allowed 2 sacks. The bad news? Kolb was often forced out of the pocket.
- Did you really think I would overlook Peterson's punt return? The 89-yard return won the game and was the longest in franchise history.