University of Phoenix Stadium was hopping in the preseason matchup between the Arizona Cardinals and the Oakland Raiders last Saturday night. Hometown fans were more than anxious to finally get a chance to see their team competing once again, but more importantly is how the Cardinals actually performed out on the field.
From a fan’s perspective, besides the 20-10 victory over the visiting team, the Cardinals looked fresh, determined and focused. Especially in the first quarter, the starting offense looked greedy and they drove the football to pay-dirt with efficiency and seeming ease. Besides the offense, how the defense looked to the fans in attendance is another story altogether. To the other 31 teams around the league, the Cardinals may have looked dangerous.
Arizona Cardinals Looking Dangerous In Preseason
Next up, the Cardinals are taking on the Chicago Bears for the second matchup in this long stretch of meaningless preseason football. Cardinals general manager Steve Keim paid a visit to the Doug and Wolf show on Monday. Kiem was asked what he wanted to see in this upcoming game against the Bears.
“Just continuing to build on the little things that we‘ve done so far,” said Keim. “I’ve been extremely pleased with the offensive execution, for as early as it is in camp. I thought all three quarterbacks played well. I thought for Carson’s first action, the one thing that stood out to me is I thought his arm looked extremely live. Aside from that, just defensively, reading your keys, making sure they play sound with gap control.”
The entire interview can be heard here on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.
Winning games is huge, but it isn’t necessarily a factor in preseason play. For the most part, preseason and training camp gives the veterans of the team an opportunity to shake the rust off and fine-tune their talents. Also, it is a developmental period to condition the young rookies and the newcomers for the next level, and the taxing demands of playing hardcore, Arizona-style football.
Head coach Bruce Arians has always been vocal when it comes to the concerns with his team. When players are not performing to his expectations, Arians is not afraid to call them out. It’s just how he rolls. On Tuesday the head coach had to say this about his wide receiving core.
“I must’ve been seeing things back in the spring when I said we had 12 guys who could play in the NFL. We have two.”
Of course, Arians is trying to stoke the fire under these talented player’s butts. With wide receiver John Brown (quad injury) still in question as to his official return date, it takes the alacritous talents of next-men-up J.J. Nelson, Jaron Brown, and the other receivers on the roster to fill the void. Have the players received the message?
“Loud and clear,” said Jaron Brown.
Nelson had this to say about the comments of Coach Arians .
“I’ve been cussed out plenty of times in my three years here,” he emphasized. “He’s pretty much saying it in a nice way right now, but he’s getting his message across. It’s up to us to respond.”
For the record, after Thursday’s practice, Arians was complaining that the defense was allowing too many touchdowns. Obviously, the receivers are heeding the coach’s message.
One of the biggest flaws of the Cardinals run last season was the poor performance from special teams. Correction, it was the biggest flaw. Working diligently over this off-season, the Cardinals feel they have this situation under wraps. Hopefully this is so, because last season the Cardinals special teams play was ranked one of the worst in the league.
Having special teams coach Alex Jones return for his fifth season with the team is a positive. Nobody understands the responsibilities of the special teams players more than Coach Jones. Of course, it is up to the players on the field to execute their assignments professionally and not up to the coach.
Cutting kicker Chandler Catanzaro and then signing veteran kicker Phil Dawson is big in the improvements department. In practice, Dawson has proven he can kick the football as accurately as anyone and from anywhere on the field. Set him up on the 50-yard-line, the results are the same. Dawson doesn’t miss.
With David Johnson, the Cardinals have perhaps the greatest running back in the league right now. As if their running back depth isn’t deep enough, besides the efficiency from Kerwynn Williams and the speediness of Andre Ellington, the Cardinals have resigned Chris Johnson to a one-year contract. It was the Johnson/Johnson tandem that solidified the Cardinals and their successes in 2015. Having a reinforced offensive line opening holes and creating necessary running gaps, in the ground game department, the Cardinals appear to be an unstoppable force. They look dangerous.
Game time for Saturday night’s preseason match up against the Bears is 7 PM MST. Check your local television listings and be sure to watch.