Arizona Bears Down: 10 Lessons From Arizona's Win
If this was a dress rehearsal for the Cardinals, they looked pretty good.
Wouldn't you agree?
Now, granted, 14-9 is not a sexy score in the least, but hey, a win is a win.
And I figured since this was the heralded "third preseason game," I'd try to give a little more analysis.
That and the fact that so many people are interested about the QB controversy.
But there was a lot more to learn about the Cardinals from this game.
1. Clark Haggans Isn't Finished
Disclaimer here: It was the Bears offensive line, and they have not looked good in the preseason thus far.
Still, Haggans was the defensive MVP in my mind for this game.
Haggans finished with a sack, but that doesn't tell the whole story.
He consistently created havoc in the backfield, including making a run stop of Chester Taylor early in the third.
He also caused two holding calls on Frank Omiyale.
And he brought a lot of energy to the defense, celebrating after his sack and his tackle of Taylor, attempting to continue to inject life into the defense.
If he plays like this 80 percent of the time, Arizona will be well off.
2. Arizona Does Not Yet Have a Punt Returner
Not all these slides are positive.
Of all the question marks for this team, this is one of them.
Kidding aside, it is going to be interesting to see who the staff chooses as the heir to Steve Breaston.
Justin Miller may have the inside track with his experience, and he has not looked bad on defense if you take away him getting burned by Andre Johnson.
Andre Roberts has had an uninspiring preseason, and how has injury issues.
Marshay Green has impressed in training camp, but it hasn't translated to the field, and he may not make the team.
Right now, I see Miller starting the season as the returner with Roberts taking over at some point in time.
3. Greg Toler and Daryl Washington Deserve To Start
Toler certainly made his case by playing a solid game, and picking off Jay Cutler (although Toler might as well have been the receiver).
It wasn't just the INT however that I liked about Toler's game.
For starters, he didn't get burned like Trumaine McBride did in the previous game against Tennessee.
And for another, Toler provided the effort McBride did not.
A good example of this was on a catch by Johnny Knox in the second quarter. Despite the fact that Knox held on, Toler may a diving attempt to deflect the ball, sacrificing his body for his team in the preseason.
We all would like to see more of that (that means you Albert Haynesworth).
As for Washington, he wasn't spectacular, but like Toler, played very solid.
Washington again seemed to always be around the ball.
As for what will probably happen, I think Toler won the starting job opposite Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.
And Washington I think will see early playing time and will start for Paris Lenon within the first few games opposite Gerald Hayes.
4. The Cardinals Now Need a Fullback
The Cardinals actually went out very quickly and got a fullback, trading their sixth rounder, Jorrick Colvin, to Philadelphia for Charles Scott, a rookie who played halfback for LSU in college.
That doesn't make the loss of Nehemiah Broughton for the year any easier.
He wasn't going to make the Pro Bowl or anything, but he did work with the first team, and knew the offense.
A free agent won't have that luxury.
Reagan Maui'a may still win the job, as he's been with the team throughout training camp, but I wouldn't be shocked if the Cards looked elsewhere.
5. Calais Campbell Is in For a Big Year
Campbell looked very good on Saturday night.
He definitely took advantage of a lackluster O-Line for the Bears, as he too had a sack and made the night miserable for Cutler.
And on top of that, he blocked a field goal.
At 6'8", I wouldn't be shocked to see Campbell block a few more.
With a lot of attention being given to Darnell Dockett, Campbell could register double digit sacks this year.
6. The Cardinals Will Probably Keep Three Rookie Receivers
Coming into the season, the Cardinals had question marks at the receiver position for the first time in years.
However, a couple of undrafted rookies have added intrigue to the position this preseason.
Stephen Williams in particular has made a case to see the field in the regular season in four-wide sets.
It would not shock me in the least to see him as the No. 4 guy to start the year.
Williams has been the best receiver in the preseason by far, catching any pass that his near his body.
Saturday he was rewarded with a big 27 yard touchdown in the second quarter.
As well, on that particular possession, he bailed out Derek Anderson by catching a pass on third down that was slightly behind him.
And then there's Max Komar, who actually has two touchdown receptions this preseason.
On Saturday, he continued to impress, making six grabs on seven targets.
Komar could eventually make a great Wes Welker type clone perhaps.
And finally, the team should keep Andre Roberts, their third round pick.
Rookie receivers look to have a big impact for the Cardinals this season.
7. Max Hall and John Skelton Both Could Be the QB of the Future
I'll admit it.
A couple of months ago, I wouldn't have said this.
Mostly because I though Matt Leinart would finally step up to the plate.
But that just hasn't happened.
Max Hall and John Skelton, on the other hand, have stepped up.
Skelton wasn't as impressive Saturday as against Houston, but he was efficient nonetheless.
Hall looked very impressive, making two long throws downfield to allow the Cards to run the clock out.
Right now, my money is on Max Hall to be the QB of the future. He seems to have a better grasp of an NFL offense.
But don't count out Skelton, who clearly has the physical tools.
It's funny though, I said a while back that the Cards should get Hall (slide nine).
8. Steve Breaston Probably Won't Have a Big Year
I hate to say this, because I love Steve.
But after watching the first few preseason games, I have to make this prediction.
And it's not really Steve's fault.
That's what is so frustrating.
But be honest with yourself if you've watched the games.
The quarterbacks are just not looking his way.
Sure, he got that touchdown pass from Leinart (which was very impressive), but he seemed to be the third or fourth option.
And that's my point.
With the few catches Breaston has, he appears to be the third or fourth option.
And when Larry Fitzgerald is out there, will they look Breaston's way?
To further explain, who caught the most balls in the first half? Stephen Williams, the undrafted rookie.
Now maybe the Cardinals are targeting him specifically to see if he's the real deal.
But I don't think you can plan that in advance.
And with Williams's game more similar to Larry Fitzgerald or Early Doucet, I think those two are going to be the go-to guys this year.
But that's just me.
9. The Running Game Could Be Great
Tim Hightower was the better back by far Saturday night.
But Cardinals fans should be excited by that.
I was ecstatic to see Tim run so hard (although I wasn't as a Wells fantasy owner).
He'll make a great change of pace back for the Cardinals offense and QB to rely on.
Sure, Wells struggled against Chicago, fumbling once, and dropping a wide open pass another time.
But it is the preseason, and Wells started slowly last season.
He'll be fine in other words.
But he has the most to gain from Hightower playing like he did against the Bears.
It will definitely keep the defenses honest.
Are we ready for some football yet?
OK, and now what you've all been waiting for...
10. Derek Anderson Will Be The Starter
I'll go ahead and tell you what you'll hear within the next few days.
You heard me.
I have several reasons for this:
1. Anderson fits the offense.
With the Cardinals looking to possibly run more, Anderson's arm will just fit the offense better. He can stretch the field and open things up for the run game, much like Warner did.
Call it a gut feeling.
2. Anderson is tougher.
Anyone who watched the game may not have noticed, but Derek faintly reminded me of someone Saturday night:
Anderson hung in the pocket several times to complete long passes downfield, which I thought was huge.
3. Anderson looked better against Chicago.
He looked more confident, and in my mind, he played a better game.
Throw out the stats for a second, and think about the game:
Leinart was 9-10 sure. But most of those throws were underneath with the Bears playing backed off because it was inside of two minutes.
He took what the defense gave him. And that's not wrong.
But Anderson took chances. He didn't have as much time as Leinart did, but he still delivered passes beyond the first down sticks.
And Anderson had more incompletions, but two were drops by running backs, and one was a smart throw away pass.
4. The Signs Point to Anderson.
Why sit Leinart if he wasn't going to the bench?
If he were still the starter in Whisenhunt's mind, why risk sitting him?
So there you have it.
For those of you who want an answer to the QB controversy, there it is.
I could be wrong, but the signs seem to all point to Derek Anderson as your 2010 starter.