During the regular season, CardinalsSource will provide an "Upon further review" piece detailing key series and plays from every Arizona Cardinals' game.
Our goal with these types of pieces is to provide you with a detailed film analysis of the Cardinals' scheme and performance, and produce anecdotes on individual players that help convey how each player performs relative to expectations.
During the preseason, we will look at smaller segments of games that help provide context regarding the team's two-deep, but because most of the personnel playing in the second half of games won't end up on the active roster, we're going to limit our analysis to the players and personnel groupings more likely to impact the Cardinals season.
Please ask questions or share your observations on the Birds' Nest forum, where you can quickly copy and paste an anecdote from this piece and share it in our broader community.
In our "Upon further review" piece from week one, we look at plays the Cardinals and Raiders starters participated in. The Raiders left their offensive starters in for two series, while the Cardinals had a mix of first and second team defenders in on the Raiders' second series of the game. So with that, CardinalsSource reviewed three series from the first quarter of the game.
Preseason week one: Arizona vs. Oakland
1st and 10: The Cardinals start out with a 4-man front against 12-personnel for the Raiders. Both outside linebackers are walked up. Single-high safety. 5-man pressure, and plenty of time for quarterback Derek Carr who hits a receiver on an out route as rookie cornerback Brandon Williams is lost in coverage and a few steps behind the route. 16-yard gain. Raiders obviously wanted to challenge Williams early.
1st and 10: Another 4-man front against 12-personnel. Twins to the wide side for Oakland. Single-high safety again. False start called.
1st and 15: Nickel package on for Arizona on first down. 3-man front with two safeties high and Williams pressed up at the line of scrimmage on the boundary side of the field. Good initial push from Calais Campbell at the line of scrimmage, but the Cardinals only sent three and a double team allowed the Raiders to block Campbell long enough on a delayed handoff up the middle. The tackle was made by Ed Stinson who trailed the play and Deone Bucannon who did a nice job evading a blocker and stepping up to hit running back Latavius Murray. 4-yard gain.
2nd and 11: Delay of game
2nd and 16: 3-man front with Markus Golden walked up on the field side at outside linebacker. Three linebackers in the box to give Arizona a 7-man box. Safety Tyvon Branch is on the field as the Cardinals remain in their nickel package. The Raiders go with an off-tackle run play that nets five yards as Campbell again got good push, but didn't step into the running lane. Safety Tony Jefferson was dragged by Murray on his tackle as Jefferson didn't drive his feet well enough to gain momentum through his hit.
3rd and 11: Obvious nickel situation, and the Cardinals use their nickel defense with Golden walked up. Really only two down linemen here for Arizona in Campbell and Stinson, with Chandler Jones on the opposite edge of Golden. At the snap, Campbell uses a great swim move to generate pressure, but it's too late and Carr's throw sails just out of bounds as wide receiver Amari Cooper had Williams beat down the boundary sideline. Williams can't let that happen on third and long, especially in one-on-one coverage.
4th and 11: Punt to J.J. Nelson who took the first team rep as the Cardinals' returner, but it sails over his head for a touchback.
1st and 10: 12-personnel for the Cardinals with a late motion from left to right from tight end Darren Fells. First carry for David Johnson. No one picks up the middle linebacker on the off-tackle rush, and it looks like center A.Q. Shipley and left guard Mike Iupati were responsible for trying to get there in what appeared to be a power running play. Right guard Evan Mathis failed to gain ground and engage a defender, and Johnson was tackled at the line for no gain.
2nd and 10: 12-personnel with wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald motioning from left to right. Both tight ends are on the right side of the formation, and Fitzgerald is just a yard or two outside of Jermaine Gresham, the outside tight end. The Raiders use a delayed blitz and there was no pick up as Johnson was in a route, so quarterback Carson Palmer is forced to get rid of the ball early and he throws a pass that should have been intercepted by Sean Smith. Poor blitz pick up by Arizona triggered the hurried throw, and it really could have and should have been a pick-six. Shipley was called for a hands to the face penalty, anyway.
3rd and 10: 11-personnel with Palmer in shotgun. Palmer uses a quick drop and completes a pass on an excellent out route from Nelson who got to the sticks, broke down, and gave Palmer an easy target for a pickup of 11. Palmer probably knew where he was going with this one all the way when he saw the Raiders' coverage shell. The Raiders' gave Nelson too much cushion and it was a clear read for Palmer.
1st and 10: 11-personnel with Fells motioning left to right to balance the formation. Outside zone running play, and fantastic blocking from the left side of the line. Iupati and left tackle Jared Veldheer set this play up for Johnson, who demonstrates great patience in waiting for the hole to open up. Gain of eight on this play. Some backs who might not be as patient could be tackled after a yard or two on this type of play.
2nd and 2: 11-personnel with Palmer under center, Fitzgerald goes in short motion and after great protection and a play-action fake, Palmer hits wide receiver Michael Floyd on a deep cross. 30-yard gain and a nice play call because it builds off of a successful run play on the previous down.
1st and 10: 12-personnel with both tight ends and Fitzgerald bunched on the right side of the formation. This is key because Fitzgerald and Gresham are both above average blockers at their positions, and Gresham unleashes his best block of the game on this play. He's five yards down the field when Johnson hits the line of scrimmage, and once Johnson enters a one-on-one situation with the Raiders' cornerback, he shakes him and races to the outside. Gresham walls off the interior defender from being able to make a play on Johnson and he scampers for a gain of 23 yards.
1st and goal: 11-personnel and Chris Johnson replaces David Johnson at running back. Floyd goes in bubble motion behind the backfield to keep the defense honest for an end-around, but Johnson takes the handoff and rushes off tackle for a gain of two on the left side. Cardinals' didn't have numbers on this play.
2nd and goal: 11-personnel with a play-action fake to Chris Johnson, followed by a quick screen to Fitzgerald that fails miserably. This play takes way too long to develop, and four Raiders' defenders are able to clearly read the keys of the Cardinals' linemen that give away the direction of the play before Fitzgerald has the ball in his hands. Loss of three on a bad play call.
3rd and goal: 11-personnel with a trips set to the wide side of the field and Fells in as the tight end on the boundary side. Strong protection, but better coverage from the Raiders who guessed pass correctly on 3rd and 7. Palmer's not a scrambler, and he may have been able to find Fells isolate on the left side of the field, but instead throws the ball away and the Cardinals settle for a field goal. The Cardinals used 12-personnel nearly the whole drive until they got down to the goal line, and failed to give themselves the type of physical blockers they needed to gain ground on 1st and 2nd down, which is in part why this drive stalled.
1st and 10: (The Raiders' first team offense is on, with a split unit for the Cardinals' defense) Arizona starts off in its nickel package with Branch lined up as the slot corner. 5-man pressure from Arizona and the Raiders have strong protection, allowing Carr to float a pass over the head of Williams toward Cooper. Williams was once again a step behind on this play, but the ball was a bit overthrown and falls incomplete.
2nd and 10: The nickel defense remains on the field for Arizona, with Cariel Brooks on in place of Patrick Peterson. The Raiders line up with trips to the right, and throw a quick screen to Cooper. Williams dropped back immediately at the snap, and misses a tackle on Cooper after accelerating to come up and make the tackle near the line of scrimmage. Rookie safety Marqui Christian shows good closing speed and comes to make the play after a six-yard gain.
3rd and 4: 3-down linemen for Arizona, and one outside linebacker in Alex Okafor all at the line for the Cardinals, who still have five defensive backs on the field. A four-man rush doesn't generate much pressure, and Carr lofts a beautiful pass for Michael Crabtree who hauls in a catch over the head of Alan Ball who was in good position to make a play. 22-yard gain. Really not much Ball could do here, sometimes a quarterback and receiver just make a great play.
1st and 10: Base defense back on for Arizona with the Raiders now inside the Cardinals' 40-yard line. 21-personnel for Oakland with an inside zone running play. Stinson gets good initial push at the line of scrimmage and helps wall off a cutback lane, and Clemons comes up to make the tackle about two yards beyond the line. Branch nearly got his helmet on the ball and also played a big part in the tackle. Good wrap-up by the Cardinals' defenders on this play.
2nd and 8: Base defense with two outside linebackers on the line, basically a 50 look for the Cardinals. 12-personnel and a shotgun set for the Raiders. A pass rush of five wasn't really effective for Arizona, but the downfield coverage was strong, especially from Christian who defended a fullback out of the backfield and covered him all the way down to the end zone. Carr lofts his pass in the fullback's direction, but it sails out of bounds.
3rd and 8: The Cardinals are showing blitz immediately when the Raiders come up to the line. Six players at the line of scrimmage with five lined up in coverage, including a single-high safety. Carr immediately targets Cooper when he realizes there's single coverage from Williams, but the ball is overthrown and Cooper never really had a chance to make a play. The Raiders settle for a 53-yard field goal to tie the game at 3-3.
At this point in the game, most of the starters are out for both teams, so there's not much to go off of in terms of evaluating how Arizona's first unit played. However, it's still interesting to see the Cardinals abandon the 12-personnel set that worked so well for them early in their first drive when they get down to the goal line. The preseason is an opportunity to try things out, but if they do this again over the next few preseason games, we'll begin to follow this trend closely in the regular season. Defensively, Arizona didn't show many exotic pressures and played mostly man coverage, so the Cardinals clearly wanted to just line up and see how their personnel fared in its first live action of the preseason. There wasn't too much to gather from the Cardinals' defensive looks, but we'll monitor the starters once again on Friday night when Arizona takes on San Diego.null