New era notes: Cardinals kick off preseason with comeback win vs. Broncos

Aug 11, 2023, 11:56 PM | Updated: Aug 13, 2023, 9:04 pm

Cardinals beat Broncos...

Arizona Cardinals running back Emari Demercado (31) celebrates with quarterback Kyler Murray, foreground, and teammates after scoring on a two point conversion during the second half of an NFL preseason football game against the Denver Broncos in Glendale, Ariz., Friday, Aug. 11, 2023. (AP Photo/Matt York)

(AP Photo/Matt York)

GLENDALE — Yes, it’s the preseason.

Yes, an exhibition win — or loss — doesn’t count in the record books for 2023.

No, the Arizona Cardinals’ new regime doesn’t care. The celebration in the locker room heard loud and clear by reporters waiting to talk to Gannon next door said as much.

In Arizona’s first live action since turning over the organizational keys to general manager Monti Ossenfort and head coach Jonathan Gannon, the Cardinals walked out of State Farm Stadium with an 18-17 victory over Sean Payton and the visiting Denver Broncos.

Led by rookie quarterback Clayton Tune and veteran signal caller David Blough, Arizona kicked off its preseason with a bang behind a comeback win capped off by a two-point conversion from undrafted rookie running back Emari Demercado.

But regardless of the outcome, there’s still plenty of work to be done for the 2023 Cardinals.

“The most important thing: The good, the bad, the ugly, we got to learn from it,” Gannon said postgame. “We got to clean up some mistakes in all three phases and we got to get a little bit better from this tape.

“With saying that, I like the way they competed. I thought they ran well and hit well and we had some things that we executed down the stretch there that was really the difference in winning or losing the game.”

The Dennis & Zaven Show

They didn’t play a ton, but the pairing of outside linebackers Zaven Collins and Dennis Gardeck made a formidable duo rushing off the edge.

Collins put pressure on Russell Wilson from the jump, recording a QB hit and a tackle in his limited showing.

“He looked good,” Gannon said. “I don’t know how many snaps he got but I thought he was coming off the rock pretty good. I saw somebody’s neck snap back pretty good.”

Gardeck meanwhile recorded a sack and forced fumble to go along with a tackle and QB hit.

“I think we only had seven plays together, but it was good,” Collins said postgame. “He had some really good rushes, I had some big rushes in there, so I thought we did good. Across the board, I think our whole linebacker group did good.”

Speak up!

For the most part, Gannon thought the communication from the coaching side of things was solid outside of some volume issues.

“I had to tell a couple guys to speak up a little bit,” Gannon said. “I couldn’t hear them truthfully. I told them to volume up a little bit, ‘But JG, five minutes ago you said turn the volume down.’ Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

“But it was good, it was clean. We don’t have a lot of egos on this staff. They know it’s not about them, it’s about the players and they’re here to serve the players. … We got to make sure we operate in a way that helps the players. I was pleased with the headset.”

Ball disruption

The Cardinals defensive line has quite a few question marks around it.

But outside of improving their inside run-stopping, the line proved pesky for Broncos signal callers with four batted balls.

“I thought the ball disruption by the D-line — I don’t know how many we had but a lot of guys were getting their hands up, which saved someone there,” Gannon said. “It probably would have been a longer gain. I thought the D-line played with violence and they looked mean out there.”

Clean for the most part

There was a lot of laundry on the field of State Farm Stadium during Arizona’s Red & White practice last Saturday.

Against the Broncos, though, the Cardinals were much more disciplined when it came to penalties.

Arizona was dinged with four penalties throughout the evening. Offensive linemen Josh Jones (holding) and Marquis Hayes (facemask), tight end Blake Whiteheart (illegal formation) and cornerback Antonio Hamilton Sr. (pass interference) were the culprits.

“We went backwards a couple of times, but I thought it was pretty good. We teach our guys the rules and educate them and we got to play within the rules, because it can hurt the team if you don’t. … What I was most please with was when we did have a few, our attitude didn’t get down, which is most important to me.”

Ty’Son takeover

Corey Clement got the start, but it was Ty’Son Williams who led the way for Arizona’s ground game Friday night.

After Clement appeared to exit the game early due to injury — he eventually returned to the sideline — Williams handled the majority of the reps the rest of the way, rushing for 51 yards on 10 carries.

Williams slots in as the fourth running back on the depth chart behind Conner, Clement and Keaontay Ingram, who was not dressed Friday night.

A familiar face

Defensive lineman Zach Allen knows a thing or two about suiting up for Cardinals games at State Farm Stadium.

On Friday, though, he took in a game on the other side of the fence as a member of the Denver Broncos.

Getting some run in the first quarter with Denver’s starting defense, Allen finished with two tackles.

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(Felisa Cardenas Arizona Sports photo) (Felisa Cardenas Arizona Sports photo) (Felisa Cardenas Arizona Sports photo) (Felisa Cardenas Arizona Sports photo) (Felisa Cardenas Arizona Sports photo) (Felisa Cardenas Arizona Sports photo) (Felisa Cardenas Arizona Sports photo) (Felisa Cardenas Arizona Sports photo) (Felisa Cardenas Arizona Sports photo) (Felisa Cardenas Arizona Sports photo) (Felisa Cardenas Arizona Sports photo)

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