NFL Preseason 2010: Five Lessons From Arizona's Win Over Houston
The preseason can be way too over-hyped.
In order to get something out of these games, one must look in between the lines.
And what does winning a preseason game really mean anyway?
The Rams and Lions both won three games in the preseason last year.
So let's take a step back from the Arizona Cardinals 19-16 win for a moment.
Let's look at some things we should take away from this game.
1. The Entire Offense Struggled...Not Just Matt Leinart
Everyone seems to be ripping Matt Leinart.
I'll admit, I wasn't comforted overall from what I saw.
But if you go back to last preseason, it's not like Kurt Warner was great either.
Granted, maybe Leinart's stats are misleading (6-7, 49 yds), but that is Matt's game. He's not a strong-armed QB (which everyone has pointed out).
So why should we be surprised?
This is Matt's first action with the first team in a real game setting for the first time in over half a year.
As well, Whisenhunt made it a point to call out the entire offense, saying it was sloppy in general.
That sounds familar, doesn't it?
As in, the same thing happened last season, when Warner was at the helm.
But last time I checked that's what the preseason is for, isn't it?
To make mistakes...then learn from them? I thought as much.
2. Larry Fitzgerald Could Be Affected
If there is one genuine concern in my mind coming out of this game, it's actually Larry Fitzgerald.
For those of you who don't know, Larry came off the field after he took a shot when he caught a ball over the middle from Matt Leinart.
And now he's got a right medial-collateral sprain.
While it doesn't look to be serious, knee injuries have a way of slowing down receivers just a bit.
It's a shame too, because according to Larry he was "having his best preseason."
But maybe what concerns me more is the way Leinart connected with him.
With Leinart not having the type of arm that would suit Larry (Warner didn't exactly have a cannon either), it will be difficult to throw downfield to Larry often, thus limiting him in his game.
Will Larry get his catches this season?
Yes, but it won't be as many.
Sorry to all you fantasy owners out there.
3. Daryl Washington Could Start Sooner Than Expected
With the Cardinals having questions at inside linebacker, Washington's performance on Saturday night was a welcome sight, albeit against backups.
Washington was all over the field, using his great speed to finish with a team high 13 tackles.
According to the Cardinals official website, Washington was very disruptive in the backfield, causing an intentional grounding then a hurried throw in back to back plays.
Right now, should Gerald Hayes not be ready for the season opener (which it looks like he will be), Paris Lenon and Monty Beisel will be the starters.
That could all change very soon.
4. The Defense Won't Be As Bad As Expected
The first team defense actually did quite well against the first string of the Texans, whose offense looks to put up some major points this season.
The Cardinals, despite injuries and a number of new players, came away relatively unscathed, allowing just a field goal.
And I noticed that Whisenhunt was much harder on the offense, than on the defense.
That's a very good thing if you're a Cardinals fan.
The first touchdown of the game, in fact, came when the second-string was put in against the Texans starters.
Taking note of some key players, Joey Porter, Calais Campbell, and Darnell Dockett each had a tackle, while rookie Dan Williams and newbie Paris Lenon each had two.
Rookie defensive end John Fletcher had the only sack for the Cards, while Pago Togafau had a forced fumble, which Daryl Washington recovered.
5. John Skelton Was Worth A Fifth Round Pick
Many questioned the Cardinals when they traded away one of their starting cornerbacks for a quarterback from Fordham.
I hope some of those people watched Skelton perform on Saturday night.
Now, granted, it was against the backups' backups, but still.
Skelton got a perfect passer rating in leading the Cardinals to two touchdown drives in the closing stages.
He certainly put himself ahead in the race for third string, ahead of Max Hall for the moment.
What's even more comforting is that if Leinart doesn't work out, then Skelton sure looks the part as the QB of the future.
Let's hope he turns out better than the last QB to wear #19 in the desert: Tony Sacca.