During last night's game against the Green Bay Packers, there was plenty to cheer about. The offense and defense both looked much more locked in than the previous game against the Raiders, but the Cardinals were unable to overcome the Super Bowl champs and fell 28-20.
Even though the team looked better than last week, there are still some things that the team needs to improve upon and some negatives that came out of this game.
Penalties, Penalties, Penalties: In the first half alone, the Cardinals were penalized ten times for a total of 60 yards. Most of these mishaps came along the line of scrimmage, including false starts and neutral zone infractions. Levi Brown was the biggest perpetrator as he collected two false starts and a holding call against him. The team will have to clean up these mistakes if they wish to keep drives going on offense and keep the opposing offense from continuing their drives.
Quarterback Reads: Multiple times during the game against the Packers, Arizona's quarterbacks made bad reads. Kevin Kolb should have been picked off by Nick Collins, but luckily he dropped the ball. Richard Bartel did throw an interception when he targeted a triple-teamed Robert Housler in the end zone. The Cardinal QB's will need to get a better handle on reading the defense.
Tight End Coverage: Last season, the defense taking on tight ends was one of the most noticeable flaws for the Cardinals. Tonight might have given some fans a bit of a flashback. Granted, Jermichael Finley is a huge part of Green Bay's offense, but he absolutely dominated during their first touchdown drive. He ended his night with four receptions for 33 yards. Joey Porter was able to deflect one pass away that was targeted for Finley, but other than that, Jermichael had his way with Arizona.
When covering elite tight ends such as Finley, I think the team should consider doubling them. The linebackers are too slow and the defensive backs are just too small to play against these type of talents. My wish would be for Arizona to put one of each on Antonio Gates next week, who tore the Cardinals up during the 2010 season.
Bottling Up The Opposing Run Game: Four different players were in the backfield for Green Bay last night and they had a total of 17 carries for 73 yards. That comes out to an average of about 4.3 yards per carry. The coaches and fans of the Cardinals would like to see that scaled back to somewhere around the three yards per attempt range, especially against a team that is so explosive through the air.
Injuries: This by far is the most negative category of them all. Brandon Keith, the starting right tackle, left the game briefly with an undisclosed injury, but he later returned. Second string quarterback, John Skelton left during the second quarter with a sprained ankle, but Coach Whisenhunt does not see it as a serious injury and he should be fine to play next week.
The biggest blow came when Ryan Williams injured his knee after being tackled in the second quarter. Coach Whisenhunt announced that it is believed to be a ruptured patella tendon. If that is the case, Williams will likely be out for the season. This is undoubtedly a huge loss for the team. Arizona will look to replace him with a free agent, according to the head coach.
To me, every event from last night was overshadowed by the loss of Ryan Williams. I was really looking forward to seeing a one-two punch from him and Beanie Wells, but it looks like my dream is in jeopardy. Heal up fast, Ryan, the bird gang needs you.
Next week's game is at the University of Phoenix stadium where the Cardinals will take on the San Diego Chargers. The game is on Saturday and will start at 7:00 PM local time. It will air on ABC-15 and 92.3 FM radio.