The Arizona Cardinals are 4-1 now after having defeated the Washington Redskins 30-20. It wasn't a pretty game, but it was a win and kept the Cards atop the NFC West.
What did we learn from the game?
They were too sloppy
Arizona committed 14 penalties for 108 total yards. That is basically a touchdown. They came at bad times, too, as they extended Washington drives when they could have gotten off the field. "It's got to be cleaned up," said head coach Bruce Arians after the game. "We had red zone penalties again, last week and this week. They are inexcusable."
Alex Okafor might be the answer to their pass rushing woes
After finally getting healthy and an opportunity to play after Matt Shaughnessy was lost for the next eight weeks, he picked up a pair of sacks and "he got a close a couple more times and he started commanding chips." Arians said, "That's the type of player we though we had all along." He just has to stay healthy. The two sacks were the first two of the season by a linebacker for Arizona.
Tyrann Mathieu looked like the player he was a year ago
Mathieu got his first significant playing time of the season. He was given playing time in nickel and dime sets, coming in at safety for Tony Jefferson. He had four tackles, a fumble recovery, a pass deflected, a hit on the QB and other pressures.
What made it so he could play more this week?
"He's getting more and more used to the (knee) brace," Arians told the media. "Nothing's wrong with him, he's just getting to learn how to play with a brace on."
Mathieu noted that on the DeSean Jackson touchdown play he felt a little restricted by the brace.
Mathieu also took the blame for the touchdown. He said "it was great coverage by (Patrick Peterson). I took a bad angle." He said Washington "messed up" their original coverage when they set the tight end in motion.
The defense can still stop the run without Campbell and Shaughnessy
Without Calais Campbell and without Matt Shaughnessy, the Cardinals still allowed only 72 rushing yards on 17 carries. Dan Williams played more and they used a different look in dime sets at times. Rather than taking one down lineman out, they kept three -- usually Dan Williams in the middle -- to keep them strong up front.
Carson Palmer's shoulder wasn't an issue
Palmer said he was rusty and Arians did too, but Larry Fitzgerald didn't see it. Palmer was 28/44 for 250 yards and two touchdowns. That's good for a passer rating of 93.9. He made all the throws he needed to, he took some hits and played as well as he did before getting hurt.
He did so only getting "a quarter of the reps in practice" on Friday and throwing "very little" on Wednesday or Thursday. He was not limited in any way throwing the ball, but he did say he is tired and "it's definitely weak." He said he needs to throw more and that he's "not out of the clear."
There are other takeaways from the game -- Andre Ellington had almost another 100 yards from scrimmage, Larry Fitzgerald had an impactful game, Jerraud Powers is probably not leaving the slot any time soon, among other things.
What else did you learn about this first place team?
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