Bruce Arians wasn’t the only one feeling sickly in San Diego. For the second straight week, the Cardinals offense looked ill.
In its first five possessions on Friday at Qualcomm Stadium, Arizona managed just three first downs and both quarterback Carson Palmer and backup Drew Stanton threw interceptions against the Chargers in a 19-3 loss.
It should be repeated that this is the preseason. Drawing significant conclusions from these games is foolish, given the fact that teams don’t gameplan, don’t show off what they will do during the regular season and the starters don’t play enough to establish any sort of rhythm.
That said, it would be nice to have something to feel good about from the offense as the Cards come home for another week of practice at University of Phoenix Stadium, even if Larry Fitzgerald wasn’t in the lineup due to a minor MCL injury.
Instead, Palmer was 4 of 8 for 37 yards with the interception thrown on a wide receiver screen. Stanton continued to sail balls over the heads of his receivers, hitting Chargers safety Jahleel Addae in the numbers on his pick, and missing a wide-open Jaxon Shipley late in the first half with the Cardinals trying to get something going in their two-minute offense.
“Very disappointing performance, especially offensively,” coach Bruce Arians told reporters in San Diego. “After we practice against the team all week we should play much better. Our quarterback play was not up to par, any of the three.
“We have to get it together. I mean, this is two games that we have not played very well.”
There really wasn’t anything to brag about on offense. Running backs David Johnson and Chris Johnson combined for 12 yards on seven carries, the top three backs managed a whopping 18 yards on 10 carries, the tight ends did not factor in the passing game and receiver Michael Floyd had one catch for two yards before departing.
At least the Cards got a another big effort from receiver Jaron Brown, who had a pair of terrific catches for 40 yards. All of the other superlative belonged to the defense, where Deone Bucannon delivered a vicious yet clean hit on receiver Dontrelle Inman over the middle that knocked Inman’s helmet off.
Cornerback Brandon Williams also bounced back from some early struggles to break up a couple passes to Chargers starting receiver Travis Benjamin, and the Cards defense held the Chargers out of the end zone (San Diego’s one TD came on a pick-6).
“He played his tail off,” Arians said.
Arians won’t spend too much time fretting over the offense’s struggles in these first two games. He’s still got a ridiculous wealth of weapons as the Cardinals approach the regular season opener against New England, but you can bet he’ll want to have something positive emerge in the team’s third game in Houston before the starters take a seat in the final game against Denver.
Preseason games are meaningless, but there’s a basic level of pride at stake here and the Cards haven’t shown their coach much so far.
“We will go back to work; that’s why we play preseason,” Arians said. “These don’t count other than you find out a lot about yourself.”
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