It was exciting to finally see the Arizona Cardinals play an actual game -- their first since December. We finally got to see just how much our team has progressed since they were last on the field, and they seemed to have progressed even more from where they ended their season. So without further ado, let us examine five positives and negatives from Saturdays game.
1. QB Logan Thomas
Fans were perhaps most excited to see how Logan Thomas performed in his first live NFL game. He did not disappoint. Thomas went on to complete 11-of-12 passes for 113 yards and a touchdown for a 133.7 quarterback rating. On that touchdown drive, he converted a fourth-and-one on a sneak, which should be easy for a 6'6", 260-pound quarterback. Of course this is preseason, but you have to be cautiously optimistic that Thomas can continue to develop.
2. Offensive line
Aside from a few hiccups here and there, the Cardinals offensive line provided excellent protection from the first unit all the way to the third. The Cardinals were sacked collectively three times, which is a marked upgrade from any of the Cardinals offensive lines in recent memory.
3. Tight ends
Jake Ballard retired earlier this week, propping Rob Housler up to second on the depth chart. This unit was already coming in better off than last year, but it still had its questions. A few were answered. Rob Housler showed the speed and athleticism that Cardinals faithful have been watching for since his being drafted. He caught the ball and broke off for a 38-yard catch-and-run. John Carlson caught a touchdown over rookie Jadeveon Clowney, but it was called back on an illegal-use-of-the-hands penalty (get used to that call). Of course we still need to watch if they can stay healthy, but for the time being, we can expand our optimism to the tight ends.
4. WR John Brown
Brown has been questioned at every turn thus far. It has not been a question about his talents, but more so whether his talents can play out in an actual game. He showed that on Saturday, breaking out with five catches for 87 yards. He dropped a couple that he has made in practice, but they were either over his head or behind him. To get his hands on them is impressive, but he will learn to make those grabs in time.
5. Depth, depth and more depth
From start to finish the Cardinals dominated. They won the time of possession, one of Arians' keys to the game. They were fantastic defensively, holding the Texans to zero third-down conversions on eight attempts, only 17 minutes of possession and a mere 172 total yards.
Fans witnessed just how talented a team the Cardinals have built as the Texans kept their starters on the field for the entire first half, while the Cardinals second-team players came in during the middle of the first half. The depth on this team is scary, and defensive coordinator Todd Bowles even said they ran out of depth, which is a testament to how he has built his unit.
1. OG Jonathan Cooper
Cooper was not horrid by any means, but if you had to sum up his performance in one word, it would be average. He made some excellent plays, and he made some decent plays. And then he had plays that made you wonder if he was truly ready. Fans had a brief scare as he was helped up by teammates after having the same leg that was rolled up on last year, rolled up on again early in the game. There was an evident amount of rust that Cooper has to shake off, and only time and more reps will give him that.
2. Running Game
The running game from start to finish was lackluster. The Cardinals managed only 2.2 yards per carry and were tackled behind the line six times for a loss of 12 total yards. Undrafted free agent, running back Zach Bauman, was the team's leading rusher, due in large part to his 13-yard scamper in the fourth quarter. Robert Hughes impressed in the receiving game, but he did not see a touch in the running game. The run-blocking seemed to be the source of the error, but time will tell if there's cause for concern.
Again, the tackling was not horrid, but too many players tried to hit instead of wrapping up. Defensive end Frostee Rucker let Texans running backs Alfred Blue and Jonathan Grimes slip away several times after meeting them in the backfield. This could be due to the fact that tackling will take time to come since teams don't tackle in camps. It is not much reason to worry, but it was disappointing in Saturday's game.
4. Punt Return
Wide receiver Brittan Golden was the return-man on Saturday night in relief of the injured Ted Ginn Jr. He made some nice plays, in particular a spin away from an oncoming tackler. But what was most disappointing was the blocking in the return game. Cornerback and gunner Justin Bethel, it seemed, struggled in keeping his man away from Golden for much of the evening.
5. The fact that this game does not count
Perhaps the biggest negative from Saturday was that this game does not count toward the regular-season record. It's excellent to see the Cardinals perform the way they did, but fans must have guarded optimism. The Detroit Lions went 4-0 in the preseason in 2008, only to falter and become the only team to go 0-16 in the regular season. Time will tell if this game shows it is the same team that demolished an admittedly bad Houston Texans team, or if they're just a mirage.
- Cardinals vs. Texans final score: Young receivers star in 32-0 shutout win over Houston
- Cardinals vs. Texans halftime quotes
- Texans vs. Cardinals: Michael Floyd, Ted Ginn to sit out in preseason opener
- Power Ranking the Top Cardinals Fantasy Options
- 2014 NFL countdown: 30 days left and a look at the Cardinal history of No. 30