Cardinals cannot stop Cowboys in first preseason matchup
The NFL preseason officially kicked off on Thursday Night. The Arizona Cardinals were defeated by the Dallas Cowboys 20-18. A few things stood out, but quarterback Blaine Gabbert had possibly the best game of his professional career.
The Cardinals offense looked prolific through the first half, as Gabbert shredded the Cowboys defense with his versatile passing. He also scored a two point conversion. The first score of the game was by running back Kerwynn Williams, which put the Cardinals up early. Andre Ellington then scored on the next Arizona drive and made it a two touchdown lead. After a penalty, Arizona elected to go for two instead of attempting the extra point. Gabbert then took it upon himself to put his team up 15-0. But the Cowboys didn’t shy away. Dallas scored and it was then 15-7, on a pass from Kellen Moore to former Baylor University basketball player Rico Gathers.
Around the NFL: Texans sign free agent safety, Marcus Gilchrist
So what stood out about the Cardinals in their first game of the NFL preseason?
1. Blaine Gabbert
Gabbert was striking the Cowboys defense with his elusive passing. Going 11-14 for 185 yards, the veteran quarterback showed out and made his case for the backup to Carson Palmer. Though it is just the first game, Gabbert proved that he can still be a quality quarterback in the league. He didn’t record a passing touchdown, but he looked as good as ever. He started the game for the Cardinals, but was replaced in the second half by rookie Trevor Knight. Watching Gabbert throw the ball so nicely was a sigh of relief for Arizona fans. Many weren’t sure how he would perform in the game. The veteran definitely showed he wants to help this team win, and raised his stock in the depth chart for the regular season.
2. The Battle for Third String Running Back
David Johnson and Chris Johnson will ultimately be the one and two at running back when the regular season kicks off. But that didn’t stop Kerwynn Williams and Andre Ellington from battling for the third spot on the depth chart. Taking into account how each back performed on Thursday Night, that position battle will be close until the season starts. Both backs had elusive rushing games and scored. The case for Williams over Ellington is certainly alive, but only one game won’t tell who is the better running back. Both players got quality playing time and played their hearts out. Williams showed flashes of greatness with cuts up the middle and shaking off defenders. Ellington proved that he still deserves a spot on this team and wants a better role than the third string.
3. Defense Seemed Shaky
With hardly any of their starters playing, the defense seemed a little shaky at times trying to defend the Cowboys’ receivers. Brandon Williams allowed too many long plays, and rookie Budda Baker showed that he needs more work before earning a starting role. The big plays given up hurt the Cardinals’ defense all game long. Dallas was able to shred the Cardinals with long passing plays by Kellen Moore to multiple receivers. However, Arizona redeemed themselves as a defensive unit in the second half. Williams intercepted a ball in the end zone. Expected to be the backup corner, Williams will have to play better during the remainder of the preseason to earn a spot on the depth chart. The entire defense looked somewhat lost in the game, and needs to revamp themselves as a unit before next week’s matchup.
3. Trevor Knight Proved His Worth
The rookie quarterback showed the NFL what he was able to do. Through his college career at Oklahoma and Texas A&M, Knight was able to scramble out of the pocket. In Thursday night’s game, he did just that. Knight ran out of the pocket a few times and gained positive yardage. His case for third string quarterback will be between him and Gabbert. Knight likely won’t earn the backup role, but if he continues to make smart decisions he may earn the third spot on the depth chart.
4. Brittan Golden Looked Solid
Golden is a young receiver that the Cardinals could possibly utilize in a big role. With Larry Fitzgerald and John Brown being the WR1 and WR2, Golden could be Arizona’s third option once the season starts. The routes he ran were clean, and he caught a few solid passes from Gabbert during the opening game. Golden will eventually become a fan favorite should he continue to prove his worth. It’s unlikely that he will be the WR2 in 2017, but he could work his way towards that role later in his career. The young wide out definitely has potential to be a special player on this Cardinals team.
5. Losing the Game Hurt Arizona
Losing the first game of the preseason is something that no team wants to experience. Even though it’s just the preseason, every team and player wants to show that they have talent and can win. But for the Cardinals, a lack of being able to stop Dallas ultimately lead to their defeat. Being defeated by such a small margin is something that the Cardinals are too familiar with. The way that Arizona gave up big plays on defense has to have the coaches wondering whether some of these players deserve a role on the team. Though Brandon Williams redeemed himself, he has to play better the rest of the way.