The first half of Arizona Cardinals vs Dallas Cowboys told the tale of this preseason game. The Cardinals made red zone mistakes and failed to drive for a touchdown but scored 3 field goals in the first half. The Cowboys punted twice, fumbled twice, and gave away two interceptions. It took until the fourth quarter for the end zone to see action when third string Dallas QB Alex Tanney completed a five yard pass to TE Gavin Escobar. Neither team stroke an impressive ego, but there were definite positives and negatives as we examine the Arizona Cardinals second performance prior to the regular season.
“A” for Effort:
Defense and Special Teams. Defense managed to hold off both the Green Bay Packers and the Dallas Cowboys to zero points in seven quarters. Turnovers were both the downfall of the Cowboys and the savior of the Cardinals. Dallas ended with six turnovers while Arizona walked away with one. Safety Tony Jefferson was quick to read the Cowboy offense and managed two interceptions while Linebacker Jasper Brinkley racked up two fumble recoveries for the Cardinals. Arizona Linebacker Alex Okafor said in a pregame statement that he grew up with an admiration towards Cowboys DE DeMarcus Ware. He had been looking forward to being across the field from the Dallas Cowboys (“It’s definitely one I circled on the calendar.”). Along with fellow LB Zack Nash, Okafor added a sack to his resume with a sack on QB Tanney.
Less of a Concern:
Kicking Game and Avoiding Penalties. In their preseason debut, a concern for head coach Bruce Arians was the accuracy of the kicking game for the Cardinals. With a 53 yarder and a total of 12 points in field goals, Arizona can be grateful for the trusted foot of Kicker Jay Feely. A roughing the passer penalty by LB Brinkley hurt momentum early in the first quarter and granted 15 yards on a play that could have been a fourth down for Dallas. The Cardinals had six penalties against the Green Bay Packers and only four in this game.
Although fans across the NFL would put their faith in Fitz, WR Larry Fitzgerald remarked that he needs to show QB Carson Palmer that he can be trusted to receive. He averaged about 15 yards per reception and was targeted four times. WR Kerry Taylor caught the eye of the QB six times, his attempt to show his worth to the Cardinals. WR Andre Roberts fought against tough coverage and at one point it took four Cowboys to hold him at bay. RB Rashard Mendenhall finished with seven carries for 32 yards in his first start with Arizona. Bruce Arians was disappointed by the same blunders down field by his Arizona offense as they weren’t able to put points on the board. The opportunities presented themselves (on a silver platter at times) but they couldn’t capitalize, which seemed to be a baffling mystery to the new head coach. Safety Tyrann Mathieu (who started for injured S Rashad Johnson) tweeted that the day wasn’t about him, it was about being there for his team. The team seems to be getting into a groove on the field and taking responsibility for immediately addressing specific errors off of the field.
The Arizona Cardinals face the San Diego Chargers in their next preseason game at the University of Phoenix stadium on August 24, 2013.