On Sunday my daughter celebrated a birthday. Six years from right now she’ll want, or maybe more appropriately, expect a car. If the grades are great, she is tattoo-free and she’s dating a boy from my pre-approved list….she’ll get one. But I better not hear any complaints about the color, make or model. Don’t like it? I hear the bus stop is right down the street.
I feel the same way about the Cardinals 17-13 season opening win over the Rams.
Perfect? Anything but.
Pretty? Pretty ugly.
But as of Sunday night, only three teams scored Week 1 wins on the road. The Cardinals were one of the three. So quit griping about the color or the make or the model and enjoy the fact that the Cardinals won and the Niners, everybody’s NFC West darling, lost. Road wins don’t come easy in this league. So take it, fix what isn’t working and move on. It’s like my daughter’s first car. The dashboard might be peeling and the upholstery ripped. But it’s good enough to get her where she needed to go today and hopefully it will do the same tomorrow. In the meantime, we’ll do what we can to fix it up. So if you’re the Cardinals, what do you fix?
Start by getting healthy. Larry Fitzgerald told the Fox crew before the game he was only 70-75% and he looked it. Nothing about Fitz looked comfortable on Sunday. How much of it is a function of the knee and how much a function of a new quarterback I don’t know. But he never, at any point looked happy on Sunday. Fitz needs to be happy.
Get Beanie Wells healthy. When it comes to Tim Hightower, I get it. He’s got a great attitude, tremendous work ethic and all that. But he put the ball on the ground twice Sunday; the first killed a promising drive in the first quarter, the second (which looked like a reversible call to me) could have squandered the game. I don’t understand for the life of me why Hightower seems to get the hall pass on his fumbles while Beanie gets nothing but constant scrutiny over his. After all, Hightower had more fumbles than Wells did last year….in fewer attempts.
Overall, the Cardinals put the ball on the ground seven times (four lost fumbles). Max Komar had three of them. In the matter of three quarters he went from a feel good story to a feel sick story. Credit where credit is due though, they stuck with him and he paid it off with a big catch. Mix in the seven fumbles with the ten penalties and you realize it was as sloppy as it looked.
As for Derek Anderson, that game was his career in a nutshell. At times he misfired…badly, completing just over half his attempts. But in the Cardinals go-ahead drive he was 6-7 for 101 yards and a touchdown to Fitzgerald. Getting those two on the same page is paramount; at times it looked like two people trying to have a conversation on a bad cell phone line. Anderson’s effort Sunday was good enough to beat the Rams but probably not a whole lot of teams beyond that.
This car wasn’t a total clunker. Steve Breaston was the player of the game and accounted for the play of the game (his strip following Derek Anderson’s fumble was, in effect, a seven point swing). Adrian Wilson was a man out there…..blocked field goal, couple of interceptions and a sack. For one drive anyway, the Cardinals ran the ball extremely well.
In the end, the win over the Rams was just like your first car. Probably not what you wanted, but just enough of what you needed to get you where you needed to go.
At least for now.