• Carson Palmer and the rest of the quarterbacks- Palmer showed excellent accuracy down the field and really just looked poised and collected in the pocket. For Cardinal fans, that is a breath of fresh air from what the Cardinals have had since the retirement of Kurt Warner. Drew Stanton also showed to be a very capable backup if needed. Stanton showed good accuracy, good arm strength as well as good mobility and an ability to escape and make plays out of the pocket. Even Ryan Lindley showed some flashes and made a couple of very nice throws as well. It was just preseason, so the enthusiasm should be tempered slightly, but it is definitely nice to see the Cardinals have an offense that can move up and down the field.
• Pass protection- Again, temper your enthusiasm a bit, Green Bay was not exactly running a ton of exotic blitzes, but Carson Palmer never even was close to being touched. The first and second unit offensive lines were simply great in pass protection even while missing starting Right Guard Daryn Colledge, and aside from a false start by Levi Brown, all four tackles had great games, this really will be a fun competition to watch unfold as the preseason continues.
• Todd Bowles and the Cardinal defense- Even in preseason, a shutout is a shutout. The defense forced a pair of turnovers and held Green Bay scoreless. Aaron Rodgers had a great first drive, but after that the Cardinal defense simply dominated. The guy who really stood out had to be Tyrann Mathieu. Mathieu was seemingly around the ball all night, showed to be a very strong tackler, had a couple pass breakups as well as a sack. Mathieu also had a dazzling 24 yard punt return. It was just one game, but it was a very good start for the Todd Bowles era in Arizona.
• Charles Hawkins and Jaron Brown- One of the stories of camp has been the competition for the fourth and fifth wide receiver jobs, through one preseason game, it’s safe to say that the two favorites for those jobs are Hawkins and Brown. Hawkins had 4 catches for 92 yards and showed good speed in the slot, while Brown had 5 grabs for 46 yards and a touchdown.
• Bruce Arians/Play calling- Cardinal fans know that the Cardinals did not exactly help themselves with the play calling of the old regime. Bruce Arians came saying that he wanted to throw the ball down the field, and that is exactly what he did in the first preseason game of 2013. The Cardinals took five “big play” shots down the field, connecting on two and getting a pass interference call on another, as well as the “chunk” plays that Arians loves (17 yards to Fitz, 18 yards to Floyd on the first play of the game).
• No major injuries- I don’t think I need to explain this.
• Kicking- Because of how well the Cardinals played, it’s easy to forget what was left on the field. The Cardinals were one of four on field goal attemps in the game including misses by Jay Feely (53) and two by backup kicker Will Batson (31, 42). While Batson was never expected to make the roster, you can never leave nine points off the scoreboard because of poor kicking.
• Way too many substitution errors- It is to be expected when dealing with young players trying to learn a new system, but I counted five burned timeouts and a delay of game due to substitution errors. That is not acceptable when it is something that players have done every day for nearly the past three weeks. I expect a much cleaner performance in next week’s game against the Dallas Cowboys.
• Poor performance from D.C. Jefferson- The Cardinals seventh round pick was a questionable one when it was made and Jefferson did nothing to quiet the doubters. With two drops including a potential touchdown, then leaving with a hip pointer, Jefferson is going to need a much stronger showing through the rest of the preseason if he wants to make this team.
While it was just one preseason game, Cardinal fans have to be encouraged by what they saw in this game. The entire offense, particularly the quarterbacks looked very good, and whether it is preseason or not, it is always nice to see a defense pitch a shutout. The Cardinals will need to sustain this success throughout the preseason, but it was a very good start. Reinforcements will be on the way with guys like Daryn Colledge, Andre Ellington, Ryan Williams, Jeff King, and Kerry Taylor all scheduled to return next week. The biggest thing, no major injuries.