158.3: The Cardinals' defense allowed Texans QB Matt Schaub to achieve a perfect QB rating. In the limited time Schaub was on the field, he found little resistance from the Arizona secondary. The highlight of Schaub's night was a perfectly thrown 44-yard touchdown pass to WR Andre Johnson. Johnson was at least three steps clear of CB Justin Miller but Johnson has done the same to countless cornerbacks around the league. The main concern here is that the Cardinals' secondary has struggled in recent seasons, allowing over 230 yards per game through the air during three of the last four campaigns. Saturday's performance in pass defense didn't do much to ease those concerns.
7: QB Matt Leinart's lack of arm strength has been well documented over the years and his inability to stretch the field could forever stunt his growth under center. Leinart completed 6-of-7 passes but accumulated only 49 yards and was sacked twice. The lone pass thrown downfield was a 16-yard gain to WR Larry Fitzgerald over the middle. Leinart never looked comfortable in the pocket, partially due to the inefficiencies along the offensive line. Alan Faneca, Brandon Keith and Levi Brown all missed blocking assignments that resulted in hurries from the Houston defense. If Leinart is able to help keep Arizona's offense balanced, he'll need to improve on the seven yards per attempted pass.
3.2: The Cardinals' running game showed great progress a year ago, improving nearly 20 yards per game on the ground from the previous season. However, that growth slowed during the preseason opener. The offensive line didn't have much of a push upfront and was ineffective until later in the second half. RB Beanie Wells found some running room during Arizona's fourth quarter comeback but hopefully the 3.2 yards per carry averaged against the Texans doesn't become a trend. The lack of a vertical passing threat will greatly affect the team's rushing attack as opposing teams crowd the line of scrimmage until Leinart forces them to back off.
0-4: One of the most positive results from Saturday night's game was the Cardinals' defensive performance in the red zone. Houston marched inside the 20-yard line four times but came away with zero touchdowns. The highlight came when LB Pago Togafau surged through the Houston offensive line pushing back RB Steve Slaton and forcing him to lose the ball. LB Daryl Washington pounced on the ball in the end zone for a touchback. Arizona's goal line defense has been terrific during training camp and it looks to be no fluke as it translated to game action. The secondary also played a major role in this feat, particularly Greg Toler who was fantastic in one-on-one coverage.
9: Rookie wideout Andre Roberts has struggled throughout camp thus far and the team wanted to get an expanded look at him Saturday. The early returns weren't good as Roberts managed just two catches after being targeted nine times. Roberts tipped a Derek Anderson pass up in the air that was eventually picked off. Late in the fourth quarter he saw a laser from QB John Skelton go right through his hands. Roberts isn't living up to his third-round draft status but Stephen Williams and Max Komar picked up the slack to make big plays down the stretch. Komar made an outstanding diving catch for a 36-yard gain while Williams reeled in a 20-yard pass and later drew a long pass interference penalty.
Questions or comments? Contact Brad Wilbricht at email@example.com
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