The first game of the real season for the Arizona Cardinals had the Birdgang head out of town to visit one of their NFC West brethren, the St. Louis Rams. After a pitched back and forth battle the Cards lost in the final seconds.
Some quick thoughts:
Levi Brown is going to get Carson Palmer hurt. As predicted, Robert Quinn worked him over. Brown is not LT material.
Outside of Levi Brown, the offense looked effective. I like what Bruce Arians envisions and brings to the table with regards to play calling.
The running game moved the chains, with Rashard Mendenhall and Alfonso Smith getting solid yardage on their touches. This kept the Rams honest and opened the play action playbook.
Carson Palmer took advantage of the Rams through the air, finishing the night 26/40 for 327 2TD and an Int. Speaking of those 2 TD, they were both caught by a guy you might recall before the QB debacle of the Whisenhunt era, Larry Fitzgerald. 8 receptions for 80 yards and 2 TD brought a smile to Larry's face that I didn't see at all last year.
Speaking of receivers, the threat for 3 thousand yard receivers is possible. Andre Roberts out of the slot had 8 grabs for 97 yards and was effective in third down situations. Michael Floyd added another 4 receptions for 82 yards.
On the flip side, the defense took a step back from what they were last year under Ray Horton's guidance, getting gashed on the ground as well as through the air.
The defense managed to get pressure on the Rams QB but notched 0 sacks on Sam Bradford, who had a 27/38 night for 299 yards, 2 TD and 1 Int.
Most worrisome is how the Rams TE Jared Cook had a pro-bowl showing against LBs Karlos Dansby and Jasper Brinkley with 7 receptions for 141 yards and 2 TDs. That's a fatal flaw when you play Vernon Davis twice a season.
For the run defense, they let the Rams Daryl Richardson average over 3 yards a carry and looked incapable of defending the run without having to stack the box.
Overall, I see a long season for the Cardinals. They are a better team than they were 5 - 11 last year, but I don't see them bettering that record with the way their schedule looks.