Long-dormant Cardinals offense shows signs of life

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- It was one game, and one that didn't even count at that. But the Arizona Cardinals' offense, particularly the passing game, showed signs of life in the preseason opener after three years of dormancy.
The top three quarterbacks -- Carson Palmer, Drew Stanton and Ryan Lindley -- all played well against the Green Bay Packers on Friday. Palmer and Stanton each had long completions and touchdown throws.
Again, that might mean little going forward. But, for now, it's an encouraging sign for a team that had just 11 passing touchdowns a year ago.
The Cardinals threw long five times in the first half also, something Bruce Arians promised to do the day he took the head coaching job.
"We're not always going to do it; we're not going to force it," Palmer said of throwing deep. "But when those opportunities present themselves we're going to try to take advantage of them."
Preseason games come with a lot of fine print, but it's obviously better to look good than not. And the Cardinals, for the most part, looked good.
Palmer was not touched in six pass attempts, a positive sign for a team that gave up 58 sacks a year ago, the most in the league.
"I thought really, the first and second groups did a phenomenal job," Palmer said. "There were great pockets to throw in. I didn't have anybody around me at all. Drew had time when he was back there."
Palmer's 38-yard touchdown pass to receiver Andre Roberts was another eye-opener. Last year, the Cardinals had only three passes of at least 38 yards or more. No team in the NFL had fewer.
Arians was pleased, for the most part, with the play of his veterans, "the top 40" or so guys on his roster. The other 50 or so, mostly young players, need a lot of work, he said.
On basic run plays, those young offensive linemen and receivers made 15 mental errors, said Arians, who found plenty of things in the game that need to be "cleaned up.
"We left way too many points on the field in that game. Two dropped balls. Three missed kicks. I think we were 1-for-4 in the red zone, which was terrible. Goal-to-go, I think we were only 1-for-3, which is terrible. Those are things that have to improve."
Defensively, it was hard to make many judgments. The Packers starters used a no-huddle to march down the field on the first possession. A goal-line stop on fourth down ended the possession.
The Packers pulled their starters then, while the Cardinals' starters continued to play.
That's one reason it's hard to make too much of the Cardinals shutting the Packers out.