GLENDALE, Ariz — There are certain things one should look for in a preseason game, but the truth is, the only people who can really judge most performances are the coaches.
They know where players are supposed to be; they know if someone played well or not.
That’s not to say one cannot tell certain things, like if a receiver drops a pass or a defensive player misses a tackle, but really, there is plenty we really, truly cannot understand or make declarations from.
Add in the fact that the final score matters so very little, and you have a rather difficult night to try and assess.
That said, the Cardinals did share some thoughts following their 31-10 loss to the Oakland Raiders, and below are some of the notes worth highlighting.
Good players played well
Coach Bruce Arians seemed pleased with his first teams, both offense and defense.
“I liked the way we started,” he said. “I thought our good players played well. We got them out quickly, they were successful. Showed up ready to play.”
To that end, QB Carson Palmer was 3-of-5 for 38 yards, David Johnson gained 31 yards on three carries, Chris Johnson totaled nine yards on three runs and Michael Floyd gained 30 yards on his one reception.
Defensively, the starters surrendered a first down, but not much else.
From there it was no doubt a mixed bag. Arians said he thought there were some good individual performances from some of the younger players, but noted the collective result wasn’t particularly great.
Asked about the idea that the team’s good players were the ones that played well, defensive lineman Calais Campbell laughed.
“For the starters, we were out pretty quick,” he said. “On defense, I mean, it wasn’t a three-and-out but they made a first-down completion real quick, and then we shut them down, made them punt. Then we were done.”
D.J. was good, depending on who you ask
One of the bigger story lines this camp is the progression of second-year pro D.J. Humphries, last season’s first-round pick who was inactive for every game but is penciled in to be the starting right tackle this year.
Friday was his first significant game action since last preseason, and while he appeared to get beat on some plays, it did not appear as though anything he did poorly was catastrophic.
Arians said he thought Humphries “played extremely well” from what he was able to see, adding that they ran the ball pretty well when heading in the right tackle’s direction.
QB Carson Palmer agreed with his coach’s assessment, saying Humphries “looked really good.”
“Khalil (Mack) is probably the second best pass rusher in the league already and to go out against him in your first time at home when you’re jacked up, I think it took him a little bit to settle down,” he said. “He said he was really amped up and I thought he really did a good job.”
Humphries admitted his personality is such that he gets excited, which can work against him at times. He said there are some bad plays from Friday that will stick in his mind.
“I know I’ve got to come out and not over-set on guys that have great inside moves,” he said. “Just come out and I watched enough film, I knew what I was going to get. I got so excited, I just kind of got out there and was like ‘I want to put my hands on this guy’ and it doesn’t work out like that; you can’t play like that. You’ve got to play sound to your technique and let the game come to you.”
Still just 22 years old, Humphries said he began to get more comfortable as the night wore on, and he is confident that he’ll be “pumping on all cylinders like I’m supposed to” by the end of the preseason.
Matt Barkley’s performance
For Cardinals fans, Friday was the first opportunity to see QB Matt Barkley running the team’s offense in a game. To say his night was a rough one would not necessarily be inaccurate, though, at the same time, there are factors beyond the QB’s control that could have led to some poor statistics.
In all, Barkley completed 8-of-24 passes for 121 yards with one interception.
“Good and bad and ugly,” Arians said of his performance. “He had some really nice throws; forgot to send a motion on three plays in the formations for his receivers, so we didn’t have a play. But other than that, he did make some nice — he can make every throw, it’s just some of those little things he’s got to clean up.”
Arians seemed especially miffed at the formation problems, noting that it’s a thing that should be learned in high school.
“You can read a wristband, it ain’t real hard,” he said.
Barkley was in the locker room after the game, but had no time to stop and chat because his wife was going into labor.
For Campbell, it’s no fantasy
Mixed into Campbell’s answer about the team’s good players playing well was his thoughts on Carson Palmer, who he said looked good, and David Johnson, who he said was “definitely going to be my first pick in fantasy football this year because he looked amazing.”
Campbell said he could not remember who he took first overall last year, but remembered earning some ridicule for nabbing Johnson in the fourth or fifth round.
“And then he turned out to be a crucial piece to my championship run,” he said. “I did win a championship — insider information, I don’t know. My team was full of Cardinal players.”
And yes, that includes the defense for which he plays.
“Oh yeah,” he said. “I usually take the defense pretty high, too. Some people — I’ve been doing it with my family a lot of years — they try to take them early just because they know I really want them so they try to trade me later, but I’m strategic about my game plan.”