May 14, 2013; Tempe, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) and wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) looks on during organized team activities at the Cardinals Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Game Preview (Preseason Edition): Arizona Cardinals

The Dallas Cowboys are 1-1 in the young preseason, a win over the Miami Dolphins and a loss to the Oakland Raiders has made up the season thus far. The Arizona Cardinals have won last weekend over the Green Bay Packers, 17-0.

The Cardinals used their passing game to get them the “W” as Carson Palmer tossed a 38-yard touchdown pass in his first action as a member of the birds.  Palmer went 4-of-6 for 77 yards.  New head coach Bruce Arians played 4 different quarterbacks that combined for 263 yards passing.  Drew Stanton led Arizona as he threw 8-of-14 for 107 yards.  Palmer had one touchdown pass for 38-yards to Andre Roberts.  Stanton tossed a 1-yarder to Jaron Brown in the 2nd period.  The running game had some life as well with Stepfan Taylor rushing 20 times for 64 yards.

Defensively, the Cardinals held the Green Bay squad in check.  Only allowing 21.6 yards per drive with an average drive of 5.5 ppd, the Cardinals have shown that they have continued to play at a steady level after being ranked 4th in the NFL for defense in 2012.

If you read the Cardinals website, azcardinals.com, you would have thought they had lost.  Mistakes were made and coach Arians was not afraid to let the players know about them.  Miscues identified ranged from too many penalties (6 penalties for 50 yards), missed assignments to too many men on the field.  The first team defense struggled with the Packers’ no-huddle offense.  The coach also was displeased with the number of pre-snap errors that had occurred.  He was quoted as saying, “Pre-snap mental errors…they got to go, or you go to go. One of the two.”  Arian’s irritation didn’t stop there as assignment breakdowns and lining up incorrectly were the biggest of the mental errors that cost the Cardinals yards.  Silly penalties such as too many men on the field, a delay of game were a part of the problem as well as an unnecessary roughness penalty.  The biggest reason for the miscues had to do with the fact that many Arizona players were experiencing their first NFL game at historic Lambeau Field.  Anxiety had a lot to do with the miscues as stated by Tony Jefferson, “Totally just blanked out a little bit just thinking I’m in my first NFL game.”

Other complaints seen on the teams website was the running game didn’t meet the standards of the new head coach.  Arian was happy to see the team function with two running backs but the running game needs to continue to show improvement and most importantly, stay healthy.    Arizona gained 92 yards from 4 different running backs with rookie Taylor led the backs.  Improvements that could be targeted are the 2.6 yards per carry and that there were no touchdowns scored by the ground group.

Dallas has their own problems but Arizona is beatable in this game.  Granted it is just preseason, but gaining confidence with the early season wins will go a long way.  If Dallas can control their passing game from making the big plays, shutdown their running game and exploit their rushing defense.  Dallas can win this game in easy fashion.  The Cowboys need to continue to hone the running game as they got away with that in Oakland.  Dallas had only 20 total rushing carries and threw the ball 32 times.  Offensive coordinator Bill Callahan needs to keep a balance as the ‘boys try to get their footing for the regular season opener against the New York Giants in a few weeks.

Dallas plays the Cardinals on Fox Channel 11 and the NFL Network with a 3:30 pm CST kickoff.

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