The second-to-last preseason game in the NFL is supposed to be the most important one of the (interminable) preseason. Since starters see the most playing time in this game, it's supposed to be the most accurate depiction of what we can expect from teams over the 17-week regular season.
The Cardinals lost in Nashville to the Tennessee Titans 32-27 Thursday night and a few questions arose.
How hard is it to play left tackle with a torn triceps?
It's amazing to me that the one of the most-maligned members Cardinals in years past will be the most-missed player this season. Left tackle Levi Brown went down with a season-ending triceps injury last week in a preseason win over Oakland.
Yeah, that's going to be a problem. Getting the first crack at replacing Brown at left tackle was D.J. Young, who went undrafted out of Michigan State in 2011 and spent most of last season on the practice squad. Young was woefully overmatched in his matchup with Tennessee defensive end Kamerion Wimbley, who got to the quarterback twice for sacks.
The truth is, Young won't be the starter at left tackle when the season opens September 9 -- or at least we should all hope he's not.
But whomever fills in for Brown will have their hands full this season. Just look at their schedule and the elite pass rushers the Cardinals will try to slow down this season. Arizona will face nine of the top 20 sack artists in the game, including Minnesota's Jared Allen, who led the league in sacks in 2011, and Philadelphia's Jason Babin, who ranked third.
And while we're on the topic of tackles, why have the Arizona Cardinals been so hesitant to invest high draft picks at that position. Left tackle is always talked about as being one of the most important positions on the football field, so why is it that Arizona has spent only one first round pick in the last eleven seasons on a tackle? Ironically enough, that pick was Levi Brown, who was chosen fifth overall in 2007.
Now, I'm not saying that simply picking a tackle in round one leads to stability at the position, but I will say this -- of the seven tackles who played in the Pro Bowl after last season, five of them (Joe Staley, Joe Thomas, D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Ryan Clady and Jake Long) were first round picks.
Right now, the Cardinals' four leading contenders for the tackle positions consist of two undrafted players who have been on the practice squad for at least a season, a sixth-round pick and a fourth-round pick.
C'mon, Levi. Rub some dirt on that tricep and get back in the game. Wishful thinking, I know.
What was he looking at?
For the most part, Kolb showed improvement Thursday night. But the two interceptions he threw were such poor throws/decisions, that they nearly erased all confidence anyone had in him to that point.
With their projected quarterback struggles, and the aforementioned offensive line issues, whomever runs this offense will have to take care of the football, first and foremost. Thursday night was not exactly a strong showing for Kolb in that area.
Is that the best you can do, ESPN?
Earlier this summer when ESPN announced that the Cardinals-Titans game would feature Chris Berman on play-by-play and Trent Dilfer on color commentary, my first reaction was "why?"
It was a warm-up for the duo, who will also broadcast the second half of the Monday Night Football debut between the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders on September 10.
I'm not a Berman fan. Sure, I thought his player nicknames were funny. Then I turned 17. I'm not a fan of his breathless studio work complete with vocal sound effects, and honestly, I don't think he knows all that much about the sports or events he's covering.
But I went into the game with an open mind. I figured with months to prepare, he'd be okay. It didn't take long to prove me otherwise. John Skelton's first pass of the game was intercepted by Michael Griffin, who wears jersey #33 for the Titans. Berman announced that it was intercepted by William Gay, who wears #23 for the Cardinals. Sure, you could blame it on his spotter, but Berman, who has "covered" the NFL for 28 years, should probably know better.
By the way, I wasn't the only one who railed on Berman. First there was this blog that appeared in USA Today that pinpoints 15 reasons why the broadcast was painful. Then there were these:
A play-by-play man will paint a picture with his words.Thanks for this Chris Berman. twitter.com/CaptTouchback/…— CaptainTouchback (@CaptTouchback) August 24, 2012
Can't wait for a Todd "Heap of Undocumented Arizona Workers" reference by Chris Berman.— Ten Foot Midget (@Ten_Foot_Midget) August 24, 2012
There are few guarantees in life. But Twitter tonight when Chris Berman does play-by-play of Titans-Cardinals is one of them.— Richard Deitsch (@richarddeitsch) August 23, 2012
Chris Berman is calling a football game. Allow me: "Back, back, back, GONE THROUGH THE WINDOW."-my television just now— Adam Kramer (@KegsnEggs) August 24, 2012
And Trent Dilfer, you're not exempt either. I'm not sure why you kept calling the quarterbacks in the game by their proper given names, when neither John Skelton nor Matt Hasselbeck has ever gone by them. Why not Jacob Locker?
About two series into the game, I was really regretting not having a radio nearby. I mean, I could have been listening to Dave Pasch -- in my opinion, the most underrated play-by-play man in the business -- and Ron Wolfley -- who gives estute football analysis in a one-of-a-kind way. And most importantly -- THEY KNOW WHO THE PLAYERS ARE!
Shame on me. I've learned my lesson in time for the Monday Night game.