Game three has finally come and gone. While yes, it was the Cardinals fourth game, the Starters are officially done until games count in Detroit. The upcoming matchup against the Denver Broncos will feature all the backups and a few guys who need more reps.
The Cardinals won their second game. They sit at .500 with one to go. It’s the preseason, so the final scores don’t matter come September, but to the coaching staff, it’s what the team did to reach that final score. The Cardinals won 24-14 and answered a number of questions that they had and that the fan base had.
To answer those questions, players had to step up. Others had to fall down to allow the ones who stepped up to get there. Who were some of these players?
1st Team Defense
The starters played a quarter and a half. In that span, they forced two turnovers and nearly had a third. The coverage in the secondary was very good going against one of the best arms and receiving corps in the game. Matt Ryan has been very good in August, leading his team on two touchdown drives in two attempts prior to his game against Arizona. His first pass was a deflection into the hands of Tyrann Mathieu. He nearly threw a second pick to Peterson, who bobbled it on his way to the ground. On their last series of the game, Markus Golden forced a strip sack, and Chandler Jones recovered.
Is it possible that John Brown has returned? After having a good offseason of work, and a good start to camp, Brown aggravated his hamstring. Because of his sickle cell trait, Brown will take longer to heal than most players. He is admittedly not 100%, but if what we saw on Saturday was a not 100% Brown, look out NFL. Brown hauled in two touchdown grabs, one from Carson Palmer, and another from Drew Stanton. The Stanton touchdown was an impressive corner of the end zone over the shoulder grab between two defenders.
Just days after “officially” being named the starting corner opposite Peterson, Bethel had himself a good game. He finished the game with an 80.6 grade from PFF, the third highest grade for any DB on the roster. Bethel has earned the starting role.
Capi has been the teams best pass rusher this preseason. He finished Saturday with two sacks, seven tackles, and six pressures on the quarterback. Whether Capi makes the 53 man roster is to be seen, but the lack of playing time from Jarvis Jones could mean Capi has earned a spot.
CJ2K had a night to forget. He fumbled twice, losing one. He dropped a screen pass and struggled to hit the hole early on. He did rebound later in the game, but by that time he had already disappointed the fans. His roster spot likely isn’t in jeopardy, but his struggles showed a possible weakness behind David Johnson.
Richie Leone had two good punts. Matt Wile had two alright punts. So why losers?
Wile struggles to be consistent. He boomed kicks against the Raiders and looked alright against the Bears and Falcons. He already looks better than Drew Butler (to be fair my high school punter probably is better), but his lack of consistently kicking the ball deep is a question.
Leone continues to struggle with hang time. He booted two long kicks, but both times it seemed to not have a lot of hang time. It didn’t bite the Cardinals in Atlanta, but we have seen too often what can happen.
The Falcons didn’t slash the Cardinals. The team held them to 71 yards on the ground. But while the first team was on the field, they allowed Terron Ward and Tevin Coleman to get important yardage on crucial plays. There’s no telling if it was the loss of Robert Nkemdiche or if it simply appears to be a team issue heading into 2017. But it will be an area to keep an eye on during the season.
Who was a winner in your eyes? Did any Cardinal stick out to you in a good or bad way?