The Arizona Cardinals finished off the preseason last night with a with a 26 -7 victory over the Denver Broncos. The team played well collectively, giving the Cardinals some positive momentum going into their regular season opener against the Carolina Panthers. There were many positives in this game and many young players played well, making it difficult I'm sure for coaches to cut to a 53 man roster this week.
The Cardinals have plenty of things to work on in the up coming week, however, here are five positives that I saw in last nights game against the Broncos.
Rich Bartel's play has all but solidified his position as the #2 QB
Rich Bartel took over the reigns last night after one series by Kevin Kolb and payed very well. Due to the high ankle sprain of second year veteran John Skelton, Bartel has moved up on the depth chart as the #2 QB for the Cardinals. Bartel was 12-16 passing with 216 yards. He did throw one interception and still had a quarterback rating of 130.2. Bartel showed poise in the pocket and the ability to make the second and third reads, finding Chansi Stucky on one of those reads for a 48 yard touchdown pass. I wish Skelton a speedy recovery to earn back his #2 spot, however, Bartel is going to make it very difficult if he keeps playing as well as he did last night.
"Are they who we think they are?"
The Cardinals' second team defense played the majority of the first half and they played very well. In the first half alone they forced Denver to punt the ball 5 teams, forced 1 fumble, had an interception, and 1 sack. In my opinion there wasn't one player that particularly stood out, it was just a great showing of hustle and good team defense. Stewart Bradley did have a nice interception that he returned to the redzone, however, the offense only capitalized with a field goal by Jay Feely. The Cardinals are also showing signs of getting pressure on the QB, which caused Brady Quinn to make several bad passes that caused Denver plenty of "3 and outs" in the first half.
The offense nearly doubled Denver's time of possession
The Cardinals' time of possession was nearly double that of their opponents last night. The Cardinals had the ball for 39:23 to the Bronco's 20:37. This stat wasn't common to the Cardinals this past year and not since Kurt Warner led our team, but this could be a sign of things to come. I know the starters of both teams didn't play much last night, however, this is still a positive sign which contributed to a good victory.
Jay Feely the MVP?
I ask this only to be a little humorous. Is it though? Jay Feely had 4 field goals last night, one of those for 52 yards! I know the Cardinals shouldn't be depending on the field goal kicker as much as they have in the past, but this is one positive I couldn't pass up. To have a "money" field goal kicker on your team is very important, especially in close games where three points could cost or win you the game. What I also like about Feely is that he isn't afraid to make a tackle on kickoff returns when he needs to. Maybe it's the gloves he wears that give him supernatural powers? Whatever it is, I hope he keeps kicking well, he may be depended on quite a bit this year.
Tim Tebow containment
I didn't include this in the defense for a couple of reasons. Tebow's instinct will always be to run the ball if he can't find an open receiver. The Cardinals held Tebow to only 8 yards rushing last night, but did allow him to throw for over 100 yards. I thought this was important because they will be playing the Panther's next week and Cam Newton will be the starting quarterback. Newton and Tebow have similar running traits, so hopefully this is a good sign of what to expect next week from the defense. The Cardinals' should make Newton beat them through the air and not the ground, where he is absolutely dangerous when given the chance.
I'm glad the preseason is finally over and the regular season is now just nine days away. I hope the Cardinals will be ready by then and will unleash against Cam Newton and the Panthers next week. The last thing I want to see are highlights of Cam Newton beating us at home in his first NFL game.
I predict we will see the opposite, and a 34 to 17 victory for the Cardinals.