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The Setup
1st preseason game. Overriding question - "How did Kyler Murray do?"

Opening preseason games are typically auditions for backups fighting for roster spots after the starters shake off the rust for a series or two. This year, things are a bit different for the Cardinals working with a new head coach, a new QB and a totally different offensive system. So the burning questions early in the game had to do with "what ws the new system like?" and "how did the new QB look?" Then, as the game wore on, the key iissues had to do with "how our backups looked?" and "were their any pleasant surprises in the form of unsung guys who flashed unexpected talent?" And, - as one Cardinal die-hard fan so delicately put it -" Please! No frickin' injuries!"

The Lede
Card backups hang on to preserve a 17 - 13 Win Over the Chargers

The Bottom Line:
Phillip Rivers sat and Kyler Murray played for one series. while you could envision the new Cardinal offense posting enough points to keep them in most games during the regular season, our defensive starters had tackling issues - both in sloppy technique and anemic physicality.

If it was at-all possible, Kyler Murray looked better than advertised, completing 6 of 7 passes for 44 yards in the Cards' opening series. He looked poised and confident taking snaps our of the shotgun and got his throws off quickly with exceptional accuracy. (Note - Murray's one incompletion was due to a technicality - a "touching" penalty on a completion to the WR was technically considered an incompletion.

Telecast issues were full of typical NFL first preseason gameconfusion - the game was the second of a doubleheader featuring Giants vs. Jets on NFL Network, starting at 7 pm ET followed by Chargers at Cardinals at 10 pm.The game was telecast locally on NBC in Greater NYC and blacked out on NFL Net. A one-hour rain delay caused considerable confusion for us DirecTV viewers. Would the Cardinal game be blacked out until the delayed Giant game was completed? (Or maybe our game wouldn't be telecast at all)? The Cardinal game was also telecast on the ABC West Coast Feed (featuring Charger announcers), but past experience had shown that LA coverage of Cardinal players was woefully "patchy." I started the 10 pm time-slot ready to accept a Chargers vs. Cardinals blackout and being stuck with the bogus Charger west coast feed. But when, at 10:05 pm, I snuck a furtive peek over on the NFL Network channel, their blackout message ws gone and the entire game (with Pasch and Wolfley) was on the air. Yippee! I realize that most of your readers could give a rat's-damn about snafus in TV reception, but I thought you might gain a better understanding of what we out-of-town Cardinal fans frequently go through.

Answering some of the obvious questions we had going into last night's contest:

Murray looked good enough to guide his team to a winning season - all other factors being equal.

Chase Edmonds looked solid in a backup role, and TJ Logan was solid as a passing-down RB. It's unclear how many RB's Kingsbury will keep on the active roster, but rookie Wes Hills (from Slippery Rock) - at 6-0 218 - gives the offensive backfield some inside between-the-tackles toughness.

The starting OL held up fairly well. Big questionmark will be if we have enough quality depth to last us a season.

Isabella, Kirk and White didn't play. Fitz was in for a play or two. Sherfield, Byrd, Cooper D Johnson and Butler saw most of the action as receivers and did well. (We're going to have tough decisions at cutdown time).

Defense - especially throughout the first quarter, was sloppy and non-physical vs. the run. Play improved during the second half, but the overall theme was that, when there were collisions - on either side of the ball - their guys generally knocked our guys backward

The only thing that saved the day were a couple of key turnovers.

Benwikere's interception was a thing of beauty - we know he can tackle. If he has the speed to stay wiith receivers and the quickness to cover on short routes, he and J Taylor should provide depth and stability at CB #2 opposite Patrick Peterson.

Gonzalez was up to two challenges - kicking off deep into the end zone and kicking the winner from 55-yards out.


Game Highlights
Source: FOX

Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson started and was in for the first defensive series. He’s suspended for the first six games of the season for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancers.

Second-year pro Mason Cole started at left guard in place of the injured Justin Pugh for Arizona, then moved to center for the second offensive series with starter A.Q. Shipley playing one series.

The Chargers were whistled for 10 penalties, including four on one play, a punt in the second quarter.

Cardinals: Rookie cornerback Byron Murphy did not play and had his leg in a boot. Kingsbury called it a soft tissue injury in a foot and said Murphy could practice soon. … WR Kevin White didn’t play due to a hammy. … WR Andy Isabella is expected back in the coming week after a knee injury.

Cardinals: vs. Oakland on ESPN next Thursday night.

We're having trouble locating Game Long Info (Each new season brings with it new "surprises"). We'll post it if an when we can find it.

Last Word:
In the wake of last year's shambles under former HC Steve Wilks, the Cardinal web universe has been full of doom and gloom. This has carried over to such issues as: "Should we fire the GM?" "Can the head coach coach?" "Is our roster substandard? "Will we ever win another game?"

I maintain that last season was an outlier, Cardinal mgt moved decisively to right the ship and, while paying our annual homage to the"football gods", we feel this team (with a little bit of luck perhaps) is capable of reaching the playoffs. Yesterday's preseason "reveal" did little to dissuade us.

True, there are the usual strengths and weaknesses - but nothingt so dire as what we experienced a year ago. We need help at TE. We're not in tip-top shape in OL talent nor depth. Our DL and ILB posiitions lack physicality and toughness. But all of these - with a little bit of luck and a lot of effort - are fixable.

Biggest cause for optimism is that we have a rookie QB who looks like a young, talented QB who knows what he's doing, and he's throwing to nearly a dozen good looking receivers and RB's.

Chill, chillun!

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Copyright 1996 Gollin & Associates. Last modified: 11/26/2012