Thumbs-up for the rookie defenders. Thumbs-down for the offensive line.
That sums up Arizona Cardinals general manager Steve Keim’s thoughts on his team’s 41-20 loss at the Denver Broncos on Sunday.
On the plus side, Keim said the Cardinals’ 2014 first- and third-round draft picks — safety Deone Bucannon and defensive end Kareem Martin — were a rare bright spot for a defense that allowed 568 yards of total offense and sustained injuries to star defensive end Calais Campbell and three-time Pro Bowl cornerback Patrick Peterson.
“Deone Bucannon flew all over the field, was extremely aggressive, physical and downhill — exactly why we drafted him No. 27 (overall),” Keim told Doug and Wolf on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Monday.
“And then, Kareem Martin played excellent. Played really well at the point of attack. Gave (Broncos tackle) Ryan Clady fits on several occasions.
“He’s continuing to grow and get better. His lateral pursuit at times and the way he chased really looked like a young Calais Campbell at times, and I think once he continues to gain confidence and get stronger at the point of attack, he’s a guy that has a bright future.”
On the negative, Keim had two words to sum up the performance of the Cardinals’ offensive line Sunday.
“Below average,” he said, noting its inability to open holes for running back Andre Ellington, who averaged just two yards per carry against the Broncos, and allowing three total sacks of quarterbacks Drew Stanton and Logan Thomas.
“A lot of that wasn’t the fact that we weren’t being physical, it was just we weren’t playing in unison … We were having a player leave too early or too late and there was leakage inside.
“And then in the pass game when you really get to a point when you’re throwing too often or being forced to throw too often, and you’re letting (Broncos defensive end) DeMarcus Ware and (linebacker) Von Miller pin their ears back — it is what it is.”