While the Arizona Cardinals game last night was a great win and a sight for sore eyes, the team still has some things that they need to improve upon in order to be successful this season. Obviously, we can't take too much away from a preseason match up (especially the first game of the preseason), but the coaches used this game as a tool to see where the team needs work and we will do the same.
After the jump, you'll see my take on five parts of the Cardinals game that they should enhance before they player their next preseason game.
First thing's first, in order for a team to be successful, the quarterback needs to have a good amount of time to sit in the pocket and throw the ball, right? Well, the first and second team offensive lines didn't do a fantastic job in that regard. While there were times Kevin Kolb and John Skelton were able to sit back and let a play develop, most of the time they were scrambling away from defenders trying to find any receiver that was open down the field. The line is building chemistry and this first game is excusable, but they will need to work on it to say the least.
Secondly, our team needs to get more pressure on the opposing quarterback. Throughout the entire game last night, only one sack was recorded by our defense (this is counting the first and second teams only). Stewart Bradley, the team's new inside linebacker, came up with a huge sack to end the first half.
If the Cardinals want to prevent the deep throws that sink a defense, they will need to make the enemy signal caller get the ball out of his hands quicker. O'Brien Schofield, Sam Acho, Joey Porter and our other pass rushers did not look overly impressive, but there's still time to improve before the season starts.
While on the defensive subject, Arizona needs to become more stout against the run. I realize that the first team defensive line was only in for one quarter and could probably have used more time to get in sync with the game speed, but they were letting the Raiders rip off big carries.
After Arizona's first major drive (where Beanie Wells failed to punch it in the end zone) the Raiders were forced to start from their own one yard line. The Cardinals should have stopped the Raiders on their own goal line, but instead they wound up with a first down and were able to continue going down the field. Dan Williams needs to get in better shape and the linebackers need to crash inside to prevent runs up the middle.
On the note of player's needing to improve, how about Beanie Wells? You could say that his game was subpar due to the fact that it is the preseason and he is doing everything he can to avoid injury, but he looked unmotivated to me. He should have been able to get the ball in the end zone with four downs to work with, but he did not seem to want to steamroll guys like we have seen him do before. Ryan Williams and LaRod Stephens-Howling had much better outings than our premiere back. To Beanie's credit, he did have a solid 15-yard run in the first quarter that still has me thinking he will be our main back this season.
Lastly, Arizona needs to cut down on the penalties. In the first half alone, the team was awarded the yellow flag six times which cost them a total of 76 yards. While offensive linemen are still looking for their rhythm and defensive backs are remembering how to play in coverage while remaining aggressive, the team cannot afford these types of mistakes come week one. Penalties such as Rashad Johnson's pass interference call in the first quarter can kill a team's momentum and that is something the Cardinals do not need.
All in all, it was a great win for Arizona. This victory will inevitably help with team cohesion and it could help them gain momentum getting ready for Carolina on September 11th. I think head coach Ken Whisenhunt summed it up best in a post-game interview, "It wasn't as bad as I thought, but it was still pretty bad."
The Cardinals next preseason game will be on ABC-15 TV again locally. It will also air on 92.3 FM for you radio listeners. The game is on Friday, August 19th at 5:00 P.M. against the Green Bay Packers.