The Arizona Cardinals under Ken Whisenhunt tend to start slow. After two pretty abysmal performances against the New Orleans Saints and the Kansas City Chiefs, the Cardinals finally decided to show up and play football.
Last year the Oakland Raiders were 8-8 but surprisingly were a top eight offense in the NFL. They were ranked seventh in rushing yard per game and very surprisingly, considering their QB situation, where ranked 11th in passing yard per game. On defense the team was ranked in the low 20's on defense.
After the break, what went well for the Arizona Cardinals.
What went well Friday night? The Cardinals defense decided to show up against a good offensive team. They held Carson Palmer to under a 54 percent completion rate, 107 yards on 23 attempts and no touchdowns. While the defense wasn't able to sack the veteran QB they were able to rush him into multiple bad passes, including an interception picked off by Kerry Rhodes.
On the defense, several players showed up:
One player that has really impressed lately was Stewart Bradley. In the beginning of the game he whiffed on an attempted tackle of Darren McFadden, but was solid in run support and had a hit on Palmer. Paris Lenon has been a stud for the Cardinals but Bradley has played too well to be on the bench.
Quentin Groves also has continued to perform well, getting a sack. Groves is definitely going to see playing time this year and should push O'Brien Schofield for snaps played.
Quan Sturdivant also showed up Friday Night with six solo tackles, two for losses. After a quite start he came on strong Friday.
The best player of the game was Reggie Walker who had a great TFL on McFadden in the first quarter, a QB hit on Palmer and four tackles, three solo. Walker needs to perform well again and he will lock up a roster spot.
After seeing how the team played Friday night with some basic pass rushes up the middle, I cannot wait to see what Horton has planned for the season. The defense looks legit with depth across the boar and should be a scary force this season.
The offense started hot against the Raider. The first series of the game held several high moments, the best of which was Ryan Williams first live action in a year. Kevin Kolb also completed his first three passes, leading the team on a scoring drive. Sadly, that series is Kolb's only highlight of the season.
On offense several players stuck out:
John Skelton's only got one series this game but he took full advantage of it and the short field position he was handed. He completed all three of his passes and connected with Anthony Sherman on play-action touch down pass. Skelton is clearly the starter and unless Joe jinxed him and a scoreboard falls on his head, he should be the Cardinals starting QB game one.
William Powell continues to impress. The second year player had 37 yards on seven carries and a touch down. Alfonso Smith needs to step up this week or risk losing his position.
While this stat isn't completely relevant since much of it came against backups, it is nice that four of the Cardinals five running backs averaged 4.8 yards per carry or more. While the offensive line may not be able to pass block, they sure can run block.
With the injury to Levi Brown and the QB battle still going on, there is much to be concerned about. However defense wins championships and with talent on the team the Cardinals will be competitive every game this season.