11 Observations About the Cardinals – Week One

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2) What happened to Beanie Wells in the second half? Usually, Beanie gets better as he carries the ball more often, but today the reverse was true. I can’t complain about his overall performance, though. Even the fumble (which looked like a case where he eyed the end zone before securing the ball) was a better kind of mistake than the fumbles that Tim Hightower used to make. I’m hoping he’ll continue the driving, head-down rushing in future games that we saw today.

3) Face it, Cam Newton was great today; except for a couple of plays, he stayed cool and confident. I kept waiting for Newton to make a mistake, but Cam always seemed to find a receiver, even under some intense pressure by the Cardinals defense. The Cardinals secondary continues to be the weak link on the team, and needs to improve if the team is going to beat the better teams this year.

4) Larry Fitzgerald had a tough day today…only three catches. But he caught a ball when it counted most—on a beautiful long pass from Kevin Kolb on third down and short yardage, which moved the chains and helped the Cardinals continue a drive in the fourth quarter. I’m sure he’ll bounce back with a better game next week.

5) If you like big plays, you definitely would have liked the Cardinals game today. Three of the four Cardinals TDs were more than 45 yards. The Panthers had a few big plays, too. Personally, I would have liked to have seen the Cardinals execute more 4-6 minute drives to the goal line, but the big plays are definitely game changers – and it’s nice that the Cardinals were able to capitalize on these kind of plays in their victory.

6) Jay Feely has generally been lights-out on field goals from within 40 yards (he was 14 for 14 last year from that distance), so it was surprising that he missed so badly today on his only field goal attempt, which was a relatively easy 36-yard kick. I hope it’s not a sign of things to come. We are going to need Feely to help us win the close games.

7) Daryl Washington had a nice interception, and truthfully he should have had two picks. One was called back for a terrible roughing the passer penalty that was unfairly whistled against Richard Marshall of the Cardinals. It was a big break for the Panthers, who were able to continue a drive and take the lead at halftime.

8) The Cardinals tackling today was average at best. But there were three standout tackles that are worth noting: Adrian Wilson made a great wraparound tackle in the first quarter on Deangelo Williams, showing no signs of his injury; Richard Marshall made a terrific tackle of Cam Newton, grabbing him by the ankles and preventing a big gain on a scramble; and Paris Lenon’s made a game-saving tackle that stopped the Panthers a yard short of the first down marker on a fourth down play and assured the Cardinals of a victory.

9) Patrick Peterson still has a lot to learn before he becomes a premier cornerback. You could see it most clearly on the highlight of Steve Smith’s second touchdown. Smith faked one way, Peterson flinched, and Smith then gained a step or two on him and caught a TD pass in the end zone. Eventually, Peterson will become a great secondary man, though. Understandably, he’s not quite there yet.

10) Speaking of Peterson, yes, the punt return for a touchdown was terrific, but what was he thinking at the 20-yard line when he slowed down and almost got caught before diving head first into the end zone? That’s a mistake that hopefully we will never see again in his career.

11) Kevin Kolb is the real deal. I liked the fact that he did not throw an interception, and that he made some big time plays, but I’m worried about the protection for him. The offensive line did not protect him well at all today. It’s nice to have a quarterback that can roll out once in a while, if necessary, but Kolb is best in the pocket when he has some time and can zip a ball to an open receiver. I am hoping we’ll be seeing more of Kolb in the pocket rather than scrambling for his life, which he seemed to be doing a little too much of on Sunday.