Well, it wasn’t the outcome we were hoping for, but there were plenty of good things to take out of Sunday’s loss to Arizona. First, let’s start with inactives and injuries. Brandon Gibson, Dominique Curry, Jerome Murphy, Fendi Onobun, John Greco, Eugene Sims, Jermelle Cudjo, and Thad Lewis (3rd QB). As far as in-game injuries go, we got out pretty clean. Michael Hoomanawanui was in a walking boot for his ankle after the game, and Chris Chamberlain was a little gimpy with a foot injury, but neither is expected to be serious.
Moving to the play on the field. The first thing that stood out to me, as it did everyone, was Sam Bradford throwing the ball 55 times. I never, in my wildest dreams, thought we woul drop back and throw like we did today. That being said, I was enormously impressed with our rookie QB. Yes, he turned the ball over a few times. Yes, he made some poor decisions, especially late in the game. Guess what? He’s a rookie, and he made rookie mistakes. What I saw today was a guy getting his first taste of real NFL football, and he looked like he belonged. Sam will continue to improve, and I saw enough from him today against a very formidable secondary and pass-rush to be excited. For those of you who missed the game, Sam was 32-55 for 253 yards, one touchdown, and three picks.
Looking at the rest of the offense, I thought Steven Jackson was his usual self today. The man is a beast. The biggest suprise for me was the play of Mark Clayton. The man hasn’t even been here long enough to unpack, and he looked like he has been playing with Sam and running this offense all his life. There was some kind of comfort level between Clayton and Bradford, and it is only going to get better as they get more work. He had a couple of drops, but that comes with the territory with Clayton. Overall, it’s safe to say we have finally found a go-to receiver.
Defensively, I was very impressed. Take away that touchdown drive where they ran it down our throats, and they were pretty outstanding as a group. They got some pressure on the quarterback, and they really made Derek Anderson look uncomfortable all day. Ron Bartell did a fantastic job on Larry Fitzgerald, and OJ Atogwe layed down several big hits. James Laurinaitis was around the ball all day, and Larry Grant had a strong showing as well.
I said we would have a chance to get some turnovers, and we did. The secondary even dropped a few more potential picks, but they did take advantage. The Clifton Ryan fumble on the return was unfortunate, but you can’t fault a big-boy defensive tackle for not holding on to the ball when he never gets to touch it. If this defense continues to make big plays, we will win some games.
Losses in the NFL are always tough to swollow, but I saw a completely different team with a completely different mindset out there today than we have seen for the last several seasons. I’ve said that we need to look for improvement, and I saw it today. This team is interesting to watch, and I think being able to see them grow in front of our eyes is worth tuning in.
Game Balls: Sam Bradford, Mark Clayton, Ron Bartell, Chris Long.