My colleague Dan Bickley made an excellent point on his show Friday leading into the Arizona Cardinals’ preseason opener. For two weeks prior we had heard nothing but glowing reviews of the players, the schemes and the coaching of the Cards.
Outside of a gentle nudge in the direction of Jonathan Cooper, the Cardinals could do no wrong since the start of training camp. Surely, Dan reasoned, the preseason opener would expose some of the hidden flaws of this team and lower expectations back to a reasonable level.
Saturday’s 32-0 win over Houston was like putting out a fire with gasoline (hat tip to David Bowie for the line).
It was a borderline perfect night and instead of calming things down, it has ramped things up.
Nothing wrong with that. Nothing wrong with being borderline perfect.
So please don’t interpret this list as complaints. More like concerns. The five things I’m still concerned about despite a borderline perfect preseason debut. Except, I couldn’t come up with five. I got to four and my head hurt trying to come up with another one. So today’s edition of “The Five” is instead “The Four.” If you’ve got a fifth, by all means throw it into the comment section.
1. Cooper – His knee has been drained. He got rolled up on Saturday and hurt his toe in the process. Called out by his coach. Splitting time with Earl Watford. It’s been anything but perfect for the former first-round pick. My concern for the left guard isn’t long term in nature. I think he’ll be fine. But it’s fair to wonder if this team will be as good as they can be if Cooper isn’t.
2. The kicking competition – It’s pretty clear Chandler Catanzaro took a big step toward claiming the job with his borderline perfect Saturday night. Now it’s Jay Feely’s turn. Catanzaro is a boomer and that’s a big reason he may be the leader in the clubhouse. If that’s what the job is about then he’s probably going to beat Feely. What concerns me is that we won’t know if Catanzaro can handle the other part of the gig, making the clutch field goals, until the regular season starts. If he wins the job, his ability to make those kicks will be a major question mark heading into the season.
3. The running game – It was anything but perfect Saturday night. 37 carries. 81 yards. 2.2 yards per carry. It doesn’t sound like Andre Ellington is going to get a whole lot of carries this preseason and it sure looks like this team will be throwing it more anyway. So perhaps it’s too early to worry. Still, 2.2 is 2.2.
4. Linebackers – Yes, Kevin Minter tipped a pass. Yes, Kenny Demens can hit. But one preseason game hardly calms down any of the concerns that the absence of Daryl Washington and Karlos Dansby or the continued absence of John Abraham will be so easily solved.
5. The Seahawks, 49ers and Rams – That’s all.