Wrapping your head around these Cardinal pre-season games is like clearing the table after Thanksgiving dinner. There are dirty napkins, leftovers, half-eaten dinner rolls, cranberry stains on the tablecloth. Some people are perfectly satisfied, others sick to their stomach from over eating.
At the beginning, everything is pretty. The table is set. The silverware is perfect. People are hungry, ready to get to work.
The truth from the previous two paragraphs probably falls somewhere in the middle for Ken Whisenhunt and his staff after they review the tape from Thursday’s 32-27 loss to the Titans in Nashville.
Things couldn’t have started worse for John Skelton. Sacked on his first snap, he was picked off by safety Michael Griffin badly overthrowing tight end Jeff King. Griffin’s big return set-up Jake Locker’s touchdown toss to rookie Kendall Wright two plays later. Skelton finished just 4-10, but both Todd Heap and Michael Floyd dropped balls.
Kevin Kolb was far from perfect, throwing two horrible interceptions, one Colin McCarthy returned for a 31-yard touchdown on the first play of the second half. When he had time to throw (when, being the operative word), Kolb found his groove late in the second quarter going 5-5 in one stretch. His final numbers, 17-22, 156 yards, a touchdown, and two interceptions give him a slight edge over Skelton based on what I saw, but neither took a significant step closer to becoming the starter.
*Safety Adrian Wilson flew to the football all night registering six tackles, two for loss. He seems to be getting more and more comfortable in Ray Horton’s defense. The Red Birds will again rely heavily on his leadership in the back half of the secondary.
*For the second-straight week, the Cardinals played hard fighting back from a 13-point deficit early in the third quarter when they could have packed it in playing their third road game, this one just six days after hosting the Raiders. It’s the kind of team effort Whisenhunt said he was looking for from his team.
*Tell me if you’ve heard this before. Wait for it…the offensive line. Skelton, Kolb, and Ryan Lindley rarely had time to in the pocket, much less to go through their progressions. D.J. Young, stepping in for Levi Brown, was completely overmatched by Kamerion Wimbley who registered two sacks and was in the backfield all night.
*Patrick Peterson was beaten twice by Wright for big plays, one going for touchdown. The rookie from Baylor finished with four receptions for 44 yards. He hadn’t really been tested the first three exhibition games. No doubt he will be ready for Week 1 with more reps, but looked sloppy at times against Tennessee.
*Five pre-season games, with three of the first four on the road. Let’s hope the travel, short weeks, and other distractions (quarterback controversy, o-line breakdowns) doesn’t affect the psyche when the regular season begins.
*The ESPN broadcast with Chris Berman and Trent Dilfer was a disaster. “Boomer” was a step slow (confusing the numbers on both teams several times) and just being his normal, annoying self, while Dilfer brought little to broadcast and kept referring to Skelton as “Jonathan” Skelton. Stick to the studio work, boys.