This weekend wasn’t too kind to Arizona hometown fans in the sports department. In baseball, the Diamondbacks lost two games in a row to the San Diego Padres. In college sports, the Sun Devils lost 30-20 to lowly San Diego State, and the Wildcats lost their game 19-16 to Houston. Come Sunday morning, all faith was on the visiting Arizona Cardinals to handle business at Ford Field and beat those pesky Detroit Lions. Arizona fans needed this win badly.
Losing is never a good feeling. What could’ve been one of the most sloppiest, most penalty-ridden games in NFL history (it wasn’t that bad, but it was bad), the Cardinals were given chance after chance to do something on offense and secure this victory. The Lions were shooting themselves in the foot, left and right, throughout the entire game. Unfortunately, so were the Cardinals. In the end, the Lions came away with the 35-23 victory and the Cardinals are now 0-1.
Week One Arizona Cardinals Takeaways
David Johnson Injury
The biggest part of this loss for the Cardinals is losing running back David Johnson late in the third quarter. Going down after a huge 24-yard reception from quarterback Carson Palmer, Johnson had to leave the game. Reports say Johnson suffered a serious wrist sprain. He will have an MRI on Monday and could miss up to eight weeks depending on test results. Johnson finished the day with 23 rushing yards and six receptions for 68 yards (91 yards overall).
“We’ll find out the severity of that,” said head coach Bruce Arians, after the game.
Losing Johnson (maybe the most valuable player on the team) could be the biggest takeaway of the game. For the most part, almost none of the takeaways for the Cardinals in this horrendous loss are any good. Here are the others.
Palmer may have had the worst outing in his entire career, especially in the first half. The aging quarterback could get nothing going in the passing game. Seemingly his target selection was limited to screen passes to star wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald and dump off plays to Johnson. Palmer finished the day 27-of-48 for 269 yards, one touchdown, and three interceptions.
The only real highlights from the offense came from wide receiver J.J. Nelson who finished with five receptions for 43 yards and a touchdown and from running back Kerwynn Williams who hauled in a ten-yard pass for paydirt. Maybe it was just butterflies in the stomach or first game jitters or something, but the Cardinals offense was very stagnant in this match up. Hopefully, these issues don’t persist going forward.
Against the run, the defense for the Cardinals was solid. Rookie linebacker Haason Reddick realizes his role on this team and he performed accordingly. The Lions finished with only 82 rushing yards overall. Lions running back Ameer Abdullah ended with 15 attempts for 30 yards. The issues on defense were not with the running game, but came mainly from preventing the pass.
Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford seemed to be having a field day when it came to chunk pass plays down the field. Especially later in the game, receivers were being left wide open and Stafford was able to pick the Cardinals defense apart. The weakest link in the defensive system was exposed by the Lions. It was cornerback Justin Bethel.
Granted, Bethel secured a pick six very early in the game and bolstered his stats significantly. Mainly, it was in the second half of the game where Bethel’s defense became a non-factor. Maybe he got winded too early. Bethel did enough in training camp and preseason to own the starting corner back position, but his abilities have always been in question by Arians and the coaching staff. We’ll see how this plays out from here.
Last season’s greatest flaw for the Cardinals was the performance of special teams. So far, so good for this season as the Cardinals actually did well against the Lions in the special teams department. Kicker Phil Dawson missed a field goal try in the first half by dinking one off the uprights, but nobody’s perfect. Acquiring punter Andy Lee from the Carolina Panthers has already made an impact to this very questionable squad.