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Cardinals Face First Test in Green Bay

The Cardinals are heading up to Green Bay Friday night to play the Packers in their second preseason game. Let’s hope they make it back in one piece.

The Cardinals are going to find themselves playing their first game against a truly tough competitor in a game that will (hopefully) showcase the progress Coach Whisenhunt and the Cardinals have made since last we saw them, against the Raiders.

Coach Whiz and the Cards will make their way into Lambeau Field with an agenda filled with issues that will need to be ironed out before the regular season opener, starting with the learning curve of both Kevin Kolb, and the defense.

The play calling in Oakland was pretty vanilla, as expected. The coaching staff is still working on installing portions of their playbook on both sides of the ball; so playing a team coming off a Super Bowl victory will be a good example of where they are at from a developmental standpoint.

The Cards will hopefully let Kolb establish a real rhythm in this game, now that he has had more than a couple practices under his belt, and has had more time to learn the new system. Against the Raiders, he did not play poorly by any means, but did not have the time to establish himself running the first team offense.

Expect that to change against Green Bay.

Something else to watch out for is how, if at all the running game has improved. Early in the Oakland game, the Cards had four opportunities to score running the ball, yet were unable to capitalize on any of them.

After watching replays of the game, running back Beanie Wells was running too high to be able to get adequate push at the goal line.  Subsequently, he did not score. On those plays, tight end Todd Heap pulled to the weak side of the play, leaving his man unblocked. The offensive line did not create much space for the backs against the Raiders, providing another issue for the coaching staff.

All these are fundamental errors that can be corrected, but neither back, Wells or rookie Ryan Williams, has stood out as a viable threat to defenses. The passing game is going to need a consistent complement if they plan on being successful, and so far they have failed in providing them with that.

Defensively, the Cardinals are going to have to find a pass rush if they are going to have a real chance to win the game. The Packers have not only one of the deepest receiving corps in the NFL, but they also have one of the top quarterbacks in Super Bowl MVP Aaron Rodgers. That combination can be a death sentence to a defense that cannot adequately force a player like Rodgers to hurry passes and play without confidence.

The preseason is the perfect time to play a team like Green Bay, when the Cards can truly assess themselves on a stage against the NFL’s elite. They just might not like what they find.

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