Two winners, one loser from Arizona Cardinals first preseason game

The anticipation finally ended tonight, as the first preseason game for the Arizona Cardinals has come to a close.
Aug 11, 2023; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Arizona Cardinals quarterback Colt McCoy (12) throws a pass
Aug 11, 2023; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Arizona Cardinals quarterback Colt McCoy (12) throws a pass / Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

There are several steps when it comes to training camp and the preseason, and it goes something like this: Bold predictions, hype, another round of bold predictions, more hype, a third round of bold predictions, and even more hype. Then, reality strikes, and things don’t go even remotely as you figured they would. That was the case with the Arizona Cardinals in tonight’s preseason opener vs. the Denver Broncos

About the only thing I anticipated that actually came through was Russell Wilson driving down and scoring on the Redbirds defense. The catch? He managed to score when the Cards had their second and third teamers out there, and even then, Wilson and his Denver offense only scored when they went for it on fourth down. 

So what happened that we didn’t anticipate in this first preseason matchup? Let’s explore two winners who shocked us, and one massive loser.

Winners and losers from Arizona Cardinals first preseason game

Winner - Defensive Line

All spring and summer long, even an optimist in general manager Monti Ossenfort’s plan that I had nothing good to say about the Arizona Cardinals defensive line. But, I also thought that maybe Ossenfort, head coach Jonathan Gannon, and defensive coordinator Nick Rallis saw something we didn’t, and perhaps that was the case.

Early on, they put pressure on Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson. They were efficient against the run, and they got their hands up when needed for multiple batted passes. Overall, it couldn’t have been a better start for the Redbirds defensive line, but it remains to be seen if they can keep this up next week. 

Loser - Marquis Hayes

Marquis Hayes easily had the worst game of any notable Cardinal. Hayes missed a key block early in the game, and he also ran into Corey Clement later on, shaking up the running back. 

Hayes was fringe as it was, but after a game like that, he will need a pair of stellar performances in Weeks 2 and 3 if he even manages to last that long. There were several players who could have landed here, but Hayes’ poor performance was at another level.

Winner - Colt McCoy

Colt McCoy only played one series, and the man we’ve all been waiting for, Clayton Tune, the one we’ve been hyping up all spring and summer, entered and, for a good chunk of the game, played like a rookie. Tune completed a pair of passes, and the interception he threw was a result of Rondale Moore slipping. 

But Tune did little to show he’s capable of opening the season as the starter, sailing throws, having passes batted away, and making questionable decisions with the ball. Now, in his defense, he had little help on the offensive line, and was often flushed out of the pocket. 

Want more upside? This quarterback battle should still be far from over. If Tune can learn from his mistakes tonight and look better in Weeks 2 and 3, he can still close the gap on McCoy. He also got better in the second half, which culminated with an accurate touchdown pass to Kaden Davis.