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"CARDS BEAT SKINS; ANSWER QUESTIONS"

The Setup
Preseason game #4's aren't important; except they are. A "W" is nicer than an "L", but the where the game really takes on importance has to do with injuries, roster battles and how each unit is looking in general.

The 800 lb gorilla in all this was one Matthew Leinart - the subject of media prognostication "that he wouldn't be a Cardinal by the end of the weekend. Would he play (and if he did, how well)? Would Leinart be traded (& if so, for who)? Or would he be released outright? And if he were released, would the Cards bring in a veteran FA backup? Or would they take a calculated risk and elevate Hall or Skelton to #2? Or - Could the Cards conceivably keep Leinart on the roster - either as backup or as a co-starter with Anderson.

This made the hours leading up to kickoff exceptionally nerve-wracking. I watched the Giants play the Pats (The Gints were the only team out of three rumored to have had trade talks with the Cards for Leinart who "didn't deny" the rumors. (Oakland and Buffalo were the other two). How well their backup QB (Bomar) played might influence whether they'd want to pull the trigger on a trade (Bomar had his good moments and his bad - so much for that bit of reconnaissance).

Living in the NYC television market, I watched the Giant game on our local NBC affiliate (It was blacked out in NYC by NFL Network). The game ran over into the Cardinal game by a couple of extra minutes, but even after that, the NFL Network of the Cardinal - Redskin game remained blacked out. (It took 10-15 minutes of belly-aching to the DirecTV customer service woman before the game finally popped onto my TV screen near the end of Anderson's only scoring drive). It seems appropriate here to lodge another public beef at  NFL Network - they had this annnoying habit of cutting into Cardinal coverage with"live" updates of other games (Guys - If you're going to screw us out of the first 5 minutes of playing time, at least don't leave our game from time to time without warning).

The Bottom Line:

  • We won 20 - 10 (holding them to 3 points til well inside the 2H).

  • Anderson appeared for one possession and led the team to the red zone, but couldn't punch it in - we settled for a FG.

  • Leinart came in for 2 series and in both instances did very little - On the first series, he threw one incompetion, a completion for one yard and then got sacked. On the next series, he moved the Cards from our own 20 to the Redskin 42; picking up a couple of first downs, but  the combination of conservative play calling and dropsy by a receiver or two ended the drive. Play calling was pretty conservative; but Matt's outing "was what it was.".

  • Surprise hero was backup QB Max Hall who played from midway thru the 2nd quarter to the end of the 3rd quarter. All he did was complete 7 of 9 passes for 126 yards and led the offense to two touchdowns (one on a 6-yard scramble) and a Feely field goal. I realize he's a rookie - playing with backups against Redskin backups, but in absolute terms, he: (a) looked more accurate than Leinart, (b) displayed a better pocket presence than Leinart, (c) was more mobile than Leinart and (d) made better decisions than Leinart. I came into the game visualizing a QB depth chart that looked either like Anderson - Leinart - Hall or Anderson - Veteran FA - Hall. I think we now have to consider the distinct possibility that it may turn out to be Anderson - Hall - Skelton.

  • Our 1st defensive unit continued to play lights-out. (Actually maybe a little too lights-out. They seemed a bit geeked-out beginning the game and took a couple of penalties - including an encroachment call on Calais that negated a drive-ending 3rd down play and allowed the Skins to eventually kick a FG. But aside from that, our starters and their backups continued to play tough, smart, hard-charging defensive football.

  • Daryl Washington looks more like a high 1st-round draft pick than a second rounder.

  • Beanie was injured (a Redskin grabbed his ankle to trip him up just as he was making a cut). He stayed in for a couple more plays but we then saw him on the sideline with an ice-back wrapped around his upper ankle.

  • Roster battles seemed to carry fewer-than-expected surpises (I'll cover in more detail later). One notable one was the play of #17 (Onrea Jones). Til now, it seemed as though he was being outplayed by Max Komar. Last night both looked good. (I Don't see how Roberts or Gant makes the Final 53).

Game Recap

  • 1st Quarter
    Cards received kickoff and started from their own 22. On the second play from scrimmage, Anderson hit S. Williams for +20. Two plays later, he hit early Doucet for +27 to reach the Redskin 26. But we couldn't gain anything on two short runs by THT and an incomplete pass to Spach so we settled for a 42-yard Feely FG. Cards 3 - Washington 0.

  • The Cards stifled the Redskins on the first 3 plays of the Washington possession, but a fumble recovery by Branch (caused by a sack by Haggans) was negated by an encroachment call on Calais Campbell. They made it to the Cardinal 14 (on runs by Willie Parker and short passes) but an offensive penalty followed by a stuff of a shotgun-draw in the backfield by Adrian Wilson forced Gano to follow up a penalty-nullified 40-yard FG with one for 50. Cards 3 - Washington 3.

  • Leinart in for Anderson. Incompletion followed by a 1-yard completion followed by a sack. 3 & out. After a 13-yard completion (Beck to Paulsen) the Redskins went nowhere and were forced to punt. Leinart still in. Two straight runs by Beanie and a defensive penalty took the Cards into the next quarter.

  • 2nd Quarter
    Leinart hit Breaston for +10. Beanie was tripped up by the ankle on a sweep and came up gimpy (He stayed in for a couple of plays but then was sidelined). The sequence of the next 5 plays are quite telling because they show Leinart doing nothing wrong, but not getting much done either: Leinart scrambles (+4). Leinart to Breaston (+3 & a first down). Smith around LE (-3). Smith off LG (+3 - illegal-shift penalty declined). Incompletion intended for Williams. Punt. Three penalties and a sack kept Washington bottled up, and they punted from their own 17.

  •  Hall in for Leinart - He leads a 1-play 7:13 minute TD drive. Key plays: Hits Spach for +17. Scrambles for +13. Hits O Jones for +16. Hits Jones again for +16. A, Smith circles RE for 3-yards and a TD. Cards 10 - Washington 3.

  • BSkins start from their own 22 with 0:46 to get something done. Gado's 58-yard attempt on the final play of the half falls short.

  • 3rd Quarter
    Redskins receive and go 3 & out aided by an aborted pitch and a sack. Cards get ball back on their own 48. Hall still in. This time he leads the Cards to the Redskin 4 (in 10 plays/5:21), where the Cards wound up settling for a 22-yard FG. Key plays on the drive were an 18-yard completion to O Jones and a nifty "break of your route & go deep" completion to Alfonso Smith for +21. This put the Cards on the Skins 10, but after Hall slightly overthrew S. Williams at the back of the end zone, they ran Smith twice, and he didn't get in. Cards 13 - Washington 3.

  • A penalty on the next KO boxed the Skins in at their 8-yard line, and they went 3 & out. Komar's 9-yard return put the ball on the Washington 47. A 34-yard completion from Hall to Komar helped set up a 6-yards scramble by Hall for the 2nd Cardinal TD of the game. Cards 20 - Washington 3.

  • Skins started their next drive from their own 27 (the one area they outplayed us was in returning KO's). They pecked away against a very vanilla-looking Cardinal defense and reached the Cardinal 23 at the end of the 3Q.

  • 4th Quarter
    On the first play of the quarter, Bartel hit Austin on a short completion. Ford whiffed on an aggressive attempt to make the interception or a big hit, and Austin scampered away for a 21-yard TD. Cards 20 - Washington 10.

  • Skelton in for Hall. The Cards ran Charles Scott up the middle for little or no gain. A penalty helped move the chains once but Skelton couldn't connect on two passes and also took a sack for minus-3. Starting from his 10, the Redskin trifecta of Beck, Torain and Austin managed to pick away at the Cardinal defense to march to the Cardinal 26, but on the next play, Beisel intercepted a pass into the left flat. Although he fumbled in the midst of his return, Ware (as he's done in the recent pass) was "Johnny on the Spot", recovering Monte's fumble.

  • 8:37 left to play. Cards went 3 & out (Scott, Scott and an imcompletion). After Washington moved the chains on their next possession, A sacked by Walker was instrumental in ending the drive. 4:16 left. Scott: nada; incompletion; 1st down via penalty; Scott" nada; Scott nada; Skelton's pass (intended for J. (not S.) Williams was picked off in the end zone.

  • 2:00 left. Skins held to 3 & out. Justin Miller muffs the ensuing punt (twice on the same play). Redskins take over with 0:49 left and get to the Cardinal 15 before running out of time. Final Score: Cards 20 - Washington 10.

Bright Spots

  • Max Hall (leads team to 17 points; going 7 for 9 (no picks) and scrambling for a TD. (More impressive, he was accurate, displayed a competent field sense and made good decisions constantly).

  • Alfonso Smith may not make the Final 53, but he played well enough to do so. (Only gaffe was allowing Henson to hurdle him in pass pro)

  • Onrea Jones made plays when asked to. (Only exception was in downing a punt while standing in the end zone instead of moving up a yard). He and Komar have clearly outplayed Roberts, Gant and other contenders for WR spots behind Fitz, Breaston, Doucet and S Williams.

  • The #2 offensive line unit (Hadnot, Lutui, Bridges, H Johnson) in some instances outshown the starting unit in the run game.

  • The entire defensive starting unit was on fire. They not only played aggressive football, they played smart football.

  • Daryl Washington has earned a starting spot. (Haggans, Lenon and Porter aren't too shabby either).

  • AJ Jefferson came into this game having most observers wondering how we might sneak him past waivers and onto the PS. He showed last night that, in addition to his athletic measurables, he's willing to go out and lay the wood to opposing ball carriers. He also had a nice KO return late in the game. With Calvin traded and J Miller struggling, he remains an outside possibility to making the Final 53.

  • Matt Ware should be nicknamed "The Cleaner" (because he always seems to be in the right position to clean up a mess created by a teammate and by doing so, prevent a TD, turnover or long gain).

  • Graham' is awesome.

  • It seems as though - based on our guy's play last night - Wiz and his coaches had accurately stacked every player into their appropriate spots on the depth chart (i.e. guys on the #1 unit looked better than the guys on the #2 unit. Guys on the #2 unit outplayed the guys on the #3 unit.. and so-on down to the very last player.

The Dark Side

  • I truly believe that Matt Leinart was given a final shot at proving himself, during the 2 series he appeared in. Vanilla playcalling nothwithstanding, he did nothing to impress.

  • Every unit still needs work on pass pro and blitz pickup.

  • Beanie's ankle (plus thin depth with Wright also gimpy and (I'm assuming) LSH unable to go.

  • I was hoping Skelton would look better.

  • Our 2H defense appeared overly "passive."


Updated September 03, 2010 Return to Highlights Page
How Each Player Did"

Quarterbacks:
03 Derek Anderson  6-6 230 Oregon State Started, played on series and did OK.
06 Max Hall 6-1 201 BYU (UDFA) In absolute terms, he outlplayed Leinart in terms of pocket-presence, accuracy, decision-making and moving the ball down the field. (And - putting the ball into the end zone).
7 Matt Leinart
 
6-4 224 USC (D1) Had two opportunities to show something, but didn't. I still think the Cards may keep him as a #2 backup or even a co-equal (because, considering what's out there in the FA or trade market) he still may represent our best option), but he didn't help his cause any last night.
19 John Skelton
 
6-5 243 ( D5)) His biggest mistake this preseason might have been raising unreasonable expectations in preseason Game #1. Could be our #3 under the right circumstances but what might be best for him is a year on the PS. (Problem is - how to sneak him past waivers so that we don't lose him).
Running Backs:
34 Tim Hightower RB  (6-0 217 - Richmond D5) Appeared for one series and did OK.
26 Chris "Beanie" Wells 6-1 235 Ohio State (D1) Was tripped up by the ankle as he attempted to cut upfield on a sweep-left and came up gimpy. (Played a couple of downs afterward but wound up on sidelines with an ice pack).
31 Jason Wright 5-10 215 Northwestern  (FA - Browns) Muli-talented. Nicked up and didn't play last night.
45 Reagan Maui'ia FB 6-0 260 Hawaii The only true lead-blocking FB still on our roster, so he probably stays..
36 LaRod Stephens- Howling 5-7 180 Pitt (D7a) Did not play in final preseason game. Coaches like his versatility, but there are some things Alfonso Smith did last night that may make the decision - as to which one to keep - a difficult one.
46 Alfonso Smith RB 6-1 208 Kentucky (UDFA) Has the physical tools but is still somewhat of a work in progress (i.e. he got hurdled by a LB in blitz pickup, didn't pickup consistent yardage between the tackles and may have whiffed on a Redskin return, but he came back from playing hurt toplay pretty well and seems to have a nose for the end zone at crunch time.
38 Charles Scott FB 5-11 238 LSU Saw plenty of playing time last night but didn't flash much. More a big back (he was used that way at LSU) than a lead blocker. Longshot to make final roster.
Wide Receivers:
11 Larry Fitzgerald (D1)
 
63 225, Pitt (D1) Didn't play.
15 Steve Breaston (KR/PR) 6-0 193 Michigan (D5) Had a couple of early catches and then came out..

80 Early Doucet  WR

6-0 211 LSU D3) One catch of 27 yards and then outtathere.
14 Stephen Williams WR 6-5 199 Toledo (UDFA) Appears to have established himself as #4.
86 Jones, Orea WR 6-0 202 Hampton  4 grabs of 6 thrown to him. He and Komar are battling for #5 (though both could stick on the 53 if the Cards keep 6 wideouts)
18 Max Komar 5-11 202 Idaho (UDFA) 1 grab of just 1 thrown to him. He andOJ are battling for #5 (though both could stick on the 53 if the Cards keep 6 wideouts). Helpful to Max is that he returns punts (3 for 21 last night)and kicks (1 for 25).
12 Andre Roberts WR 5-10 195 The Citadel (D3)
Did not play. Has not done enough to beat out other guys for a roster spot.

87 Mike Jones

ASU Late appearance. Longshot to stick.

16 Edward Gant

6-1 197 No. Alabama ZHasn't stepped up - albeit against very stiff competetition.
Tight Ends:
84 Anthony Becht 6-5 280 West Virginia Didn't notice
83 Stephen Spach 6-4 250 Fresno State 1 grab of 2 thrown his way.
89 Ben Patrick 6-3 252 Delaware (D7) Returned to action, but we didn't notice
81 Ken Dray 6-4 251 Sanford (D7) Active for final preseason game, but we didn't see much of him. I think the Cards will keep all 4 TE's (especially since they'll probably keep only one FB).
Offensive Linemen:
75 Levi Brown OT 6-5 323 lb Penn. St. Brief appearance last night. Did OK
66 Alan Faneca 6-5 307 lb LSU (FA Jets) Brief appearance last night. Did OK. Does he still "have it" (especially in pass pro)? Or is he living off his past reputationj?
63 Lyle Sendlein C (6-2, 305) -Texas (UDFA)
2007
Solid starter. Nothing of note.
74 Reggie Wells OT (D6a) 
 
6-3, 302 Clarion
2007
Subject of trade rumors as Deuce plays his way into shape and onto starting unit. I've always considered him more of a finesse guy than a road grader (on an offense that may be transitioning over to more of a power run game).
76 Taitusi (Deuce) Lutui G/T 6-4 350 USC (D2)
2007
2nd or 3rd unit - looked good in power-run blocking schemes. Radio guys expect him to move up the charts and regain his starting role.
70 Rex Hadnot G 6-2 310 Houston (FA Cleve) I like the way he pulls and escorts RB's through the holes..
72 Brandon Keith OG/OT 6-5 345 lb No. Iowa (D7) Brief appearance last night. Did OK
73 Jeremy Bridges G/T 6-4 326 So Miss (FA) Versatilityh makes him a valued backup
62 Ben Claxton C 6-2 301 Will Cards rely on Hadnot to be their #2 center (with Claxton either kept as #3 or released).
67 Herman "House" Johnson G 6-7 382 LSU D6) Looked better than we've seen him before in Washington game. Most of our reserve linemen are guards who can play a little tackle. Johnson is more of a pure tackle and that, alone, might save him a spot on the Final 53.
68 Pestock, Tom G/T 6-6 317 MW Missouri St Longshot to make Final 53..
66 Jordan Palmer G 6-5 338 Auburn (2)) Longshot to make Final 53..
Defensive Linemen:
90 Darnell Dockett UT/DE  6-3 292 Florida State (D3) Congrats on the extended contract. Brief appearance. Did fine. No tackles recorded.
98 Gabe Watson NT 6-3 341 Michigan (D4)  Brief appearance. Did fine. No tackles recorded.
93 Calais Campbell (D2) 6-8 283, Miami (FL)

Continues to shine, but his encroachment gaffe cost us a fumble recovery..

74 Ken Iwebema (D4) 6-4 269, Iowa

Had an outstanding outing with one tackle, one sack and one tackle for loss..

92 Dan Williams NT 6-2 327 Tennessee (D1) ICredited with a couple of stops.
78 Alan Branch 6-6 331 lb Michigan (D2 2007) In the thick of a lot of action. 2 tackles.
97 Bryant Robinson (FA) 6-3 304, Fresno St

Starter but not credited with any stops.

71 Jeremy Clark DE 6-3 09 lb Alabama (FA) One tackle and a couple of plays on special teams but longshot to make final roster.
65 John Fletcher DE 6-6 272 Wyoming(FA1)

One tackle. Pretty good, but unlikely to make the Final 53.

Linebackers:
55 Joey Porter OLB 6-3 255  (FA Miami)
Brief appearance.
58 Daryl Washington ILB 6-1, 230 TCU (D2) Has earned a starting spot and our sleeper pick for rookie of the year. Tied for tackling lead last night with 5.
53 Clark Haggans DE/OLB 6-4 243 (Steelers) Contines his outstanding play.
51 Paris Lenon 6-2 235 Richmond 9 (FA Rams) Has surpassed expectations. Solid citizen inside.
50 Monte Beisel 6-3 240 Kansas St Picked off a pass last night and then fumbled it. One sack. Two tackles for a loss.
56 Reggie Walker 6-0 238 Kansas State Had a sack to his credit last night.
95 Pago Togafau 5-10 242 Idaho St.FA Decent outing vs. Skins. 3 tackles (plus one on special teams). Kind of on the cusp between keeping or cutting.
52 Cody Brown 6-2 244 UConn (D2) Saw a lot of action last night but not credited with any tackles or other defensive play.
59 Will Davis 6-2 261 Illinois (D6) Same as Cody Brown - one tackle but not really standing out.
57 Stevie Baggs 6-1 245 Bethune Cookman(FA fr CFL)) Tough to figure. 1 tackle last night. How important do the Cards feel about keeping a pure pass rushing specialists on their roster "just in case?"

96 Mark WashingtonOLB

 

6-3 245 Texas St. - San Marcus Longshot to stick.
43 Chris Johnson 6-2 230 So Dakota St Longshot to stick.
54 Gerald Hayes ILB 6-1, 239, Pitt (D3) PUP .
Defensive Backs:
24 Adrian Wilson S 6-2 213 (D3) In briefly, and (per usual) made his presence known with a drive-stopping tackle for a loss.
25 Kerry Rhodes 6-3 209 Louisville (Jets(Trade) In briefly
29 Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie 6015 185 Tenn. St. (D1)
In briefly/one tackle
28 Greg Toler CB 5-11 191 St. Paul's (D4) In briefly (which suggests he's been made the starter opposite DRC)
22 Matt Ware S 6-0 210 (Waivers Philadelphia) UCLA Played a solid game - only credited with one tackle, but it was the one that kept the Bears out of the end zone late  in the game.
27 Michael Adams CB  (5-8, 178) - Louisiana-Lafayette (UDFA) In early/may have injured his shoulder.
41 Hamzah Abdullah  S 6-2 215 Washington State Solid preseason plus 3 tackles last night - seems to be outplaying Rashad Johnson for a backup safety spot.
37 Trumaine McBride CB 5-9 180 Ole Miss

Appears to haver been beaten out by Toler for starting CB, but Cards still figure to rely on him for veteran depth. Credited with no stats last night (You have to wonder how the Cards view him competitively in juxtaposition with a raw but athletic rookie like Jefferson)?

20 A.J. Jefferson CB 6-0 190 (UDFA) Fresno St (UDFA) Surprised by tying for the lead in tackles with 5 plus one pass defensed. Started preseason seeming too raw to be much more than a PS backup, but has improved his game from week to week, showing a willingness to stick his nose into the action. Also returned a kickoff for 37 yards (& everyone knows that special teams play can ice or de-ice a roster spot).
49 Rashad Johnson S 5-11 205 Alabama (D3) Led the team in tackles (5) but isn't making much happen. May be on the bubble.
47 Justin Miller CB
5-10 195 Clemson (FA Jets, Raiders) 2 tackles and a defended pass. But continues not to impress as much as some of the other youngsters. Not so hot this time on kick or punt returns. Figures to  be a tough late-cut decision.
30 Marshay Green CB 5-9 175 Ole Miss (UDFA) Production has fallen off since first 2 games.
39 Trevor Ford CB 6-0 188 Troy

Gambled on an open field hit of Austin late in game and it gave them a TD 

40 Pat Tillman,   (S) 5-10 208 (3) ASU Permanent part of the Cardinal roster..
Specialty Teams
04 Jay Feely K (FA - Jets) Generally kept KO's deep. No FG opportunities.
05 Ben Graham  P 6-5 235  FA) Jets With one exception in 2H, he consistently kept the Bears bottled up inside their own 15.
82 Mike Leach LS 6-2 240 William & Mary (FA Denver)  
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