Everything I will say that isn't positive I must preface by saying it is little to worry about considering it's the first preseason game following the shortest preparatory offseason we've seen in decades. Three draftees who look like sure fire Raiders come September got some time, and for the most part made the most of it. Stefen Wisniewski looked like he needed the most work, while Denarius Moore showed that the camp hype is anything but, and Ausberry demonstrated he can be a red zone weapon that has been sorely lacking from our offense with a spectacular catch, making it look easy. Also, our team just looks markedly better with Hue Jackson wearing the Motorola headset, and card in hand. Soooooooo much better. TC looked lost with that thing in his hands, and so did our offense at times--the worst possible times.
Jump over for a brief look into the whole game charted, which will come after the weekend, and after I watch it all a few more times on DVR.Let me start by providing a fantastic link some of you followers of PFF already checked out with the twitter link that came up earlier. For those of you who wonder what the hell we are talking about when we say, "zero technique, three, technique, etc, referring to how a tackle or end attack designated A, B, or C gaps on the offensive line, wonder no more. This is a fantastic breakdown with great illustrations, and will come in handy when we get into charts on the defensive side of the ball: FANTASTIC ARTICLE FROM PRO FOOTBALL FOCUS ON D. LINE TECHNIQUE
So we won the toss, and gave AZ the ball to start the game. Special teams coverage was solid, but not spectacular, to be expected. That's what I would've done, myself! No Darren in this one, no Ford, no Murph.
We came out in our traditional 4-3 Man Press defense. In the 4-3, our four lineman to start were Lamarr Houston, Richard Seymour, Tommy Kelly, and Matt Shaughnessy. No surprise there. This is an amazing unit. 3 lbs were Quentin Groves weakside, Rolando McClain at Mike, and Kamerion Wimbley on the strongside. In the secondary, Chris Johnson started CB on the weakside with Stanford Routt opposite, and Michael Huff and Tyvon Branch rounding them out at free safety and strong safety, respectively.
1st and 10 AZ: 21 personnel, two wideouts. A conservative first call by the Cardinals with a handoff to Wells from a shift to a weakside I formation for no gain, bringing up a clear, 2nd and long passing situation.
2nd and 10 AZ: 11 personnel single back set, three wide. The answer? A Michael Huff safety blitz from the free position (single high) which makes this tough, because he needs to sell to Kolb he's staying home. He gently walked up to the line, and timed the snap just perfectly running at Kolb past the blocking Wells to cause an errant pass that hit the dirt between Chris Johnson and Tyvon Branch.
3 and 10. On this play, Jerome Boyd, S, came in to provide an additional safety, replacing one of the backers in Groves. Boyd postured like he was coming, but dropped back into coverage, with just the front four rushing. Kolb kept the ball and netted a 14 yard gain and a first down. On plays like these, we've got to dedicate a guy to spy qbs, or we'll get killed on similar plays all year, and Kolb is not even known for his footspeed or ability to make plays running.
1st and 10. Still in the 4-3, with Boyd the add'l safety on the field lined up deep, Routt and Johnson the corners, and Michael Huff on the slot receiver. Mike made a nice read and came up to stop (almost missed the tackle, but second effort and help in time got him) the quick dump off screen to Early Doucet, after Kolb audibled at the line. Plunk notes Huff looks a little "broader", and bigger in the arms than last year. This time Tyvon played the "impostor" pretending to be coming, then backing off into coverage.
2nd and 10. AZ back to 21 personnel, backs offset, two wide receivers. On this play, our front four absolutely blows up the pocket almost immediately, with Shaughnessy giving chase from the right side and showing the heads up ability to almost make a spectacular pick off the deflection by Wimbley getting in the face of Kolb. He looks like a safety in this play! Huge athleticism.
3 and 10. 20 personnel. 3 wide receivers. Bad call, as Kolb sees the pocket imploding immediatey again and tries to escape up the middle with Kelly grabbing him from behind. This would be all we'd see of our starting defense...
So, like I said, just a teaser so far! We'll resume with what we did on the offensive side of the ball. I was pleased with the qbs collective qb ratings, but I'll have the numbers for Jason's short action as well. Be sure to check out the link; it's worth reading for sure.
I'll be off the grid for the weekend, enjoying my first year anniversary imbibing in Paso Robles and getting some R&R. By all means, have your preferences for what you'd most like to see, and we'll watch this column evolve and become something we can all be a part of creating by mid-season.