Falcons aftermath, and Stanton’s hard count

Posted by Darren Urban on August 26, 2017 – 9:38 pm

That Drew Stanton hard count. Those of us who were at training camp practice every day saw it … well, just about every day. There it was, with the Cardinals 21 yards from the end zone, and he barked and the Falcons jumped. He had done it earlier, but guard John Wetzel flinched too. (Bruce Arians let him know: “I already got Wetzel – he don’t have much ass left.”)

But this time, just the Falcons moved and it gave Stanton a free play, and he lobbed a 21-yarder to Smokey Brown that Brown somehow came down with over-the-shoulder.

“We went back to (the hard count) and they kept jumping,” Stanton said.

Those two TD passes to Brown, along with a defense that made Matt Ryan look miserable (preseason, yes, but an 8.1 passer rating is not what the Falcons wanted to see in the third game of the preseason) made Saturday pretty good for the Cardinals. Not great. But good. Much better than this time last year. The starters and main guys are done now. They won’t play Thursday in Denver. Anyone playing this coming game is either not going to be on the team or is likely fighting (a few locks will play – they have to – but the last preseason game is what it is, especially with 90-man rosters).

That opening trip to Detroit, when things count for real, is only two weeks away.

— The running backs situation is interesting. Arians would not say Chris Johnson has locked up a roster spot, notable after Johnson fumbled twice. Elijhaa Penny also lost a fumble. Kerwynn Williams is making this team as a return man, but beyond he and David Johnson, it feels like Penny, Chris Johnson and Andre Ellington are battling for two spots.

— DT Olsen Pierre is in concussion protocol. Hopefully he’s OK. If he’s down for any time, depending on what happens with Robert Nkemdiche’s calf strain, things could get dicey on the defensive line.

— Stanton quietly had a nice night, completing 4-of-6 passes for 53 yards and his score.

— Linebacker Cap Capi probably isn’t making this team (although Jarvis Jones’ lingering back issue might create a need for a fourth OLB; that guy could still come from final cuts or a trade too). But Capi was impressive Saturday, enough to earn props from Arians. He had seven tackles, 1½ sacks and a tackle for loss.

— The playmakers on defense made plays. Markus Golden gets a strip sack. Tyrann Mathieu a pick on a tipped pass by Karlos Dansby. Patrick Peterson should’ve had a pick, but he lost it as he was going to the ground. “He’s getting fined for his drop,” Arians deadpanned.

— Matt Wile seemed to have a much better night than Richie Leone punting, although the numbers weren’t all that different. Right now, I’d guess Wile has the lead for a roster spot.

Huge comeback night for Brown. He spiked the ball on the pylon after his first score. “It was an emotional release to show people that I’m back and feeling good.” Brown said. Brown has to stay healthy. That’s a given. But the Cardinals need him out there and productive. His impact is obvious. We saw it Saturday.

— Arians acknowledged he considered not playing running back David Johnson Saturday until changing his mind, in large part because Johnson was part of the early script. Johnson made his lone catch of the preseason on the game’s second play, resulting in a first down. He came out after that.

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31 Responses to “Falcons aftermath, and Stanton’s hard count”

  1. By Jonathan on Aug 26, 2017 | Reply

    Hey Darren, could you ask Smoke if he plans on doing the Peanut Butter Jelly Dance when fully healthy? That’s what we’re all asking each other on this end…

  2. By Darren Urban on Aug 27, 2017 | Reply

    Jonathan —

    RE: Dance

    Smoke said he wouldn’t be dancing in the preseason. That’s for the regular season.

  3. By lhcflagfootball on Aug 26, 2017 | Reply

    So excited to see Smokey Get that TD. Looking forward to him on the field a lot this season!!!

  4. By CARDS62 on Aug 27, 2017 | Reply

    Smoke and the first team defense gets the game ball. Smoke second catch was very good. Honey Badger looks sooooooooo good right now.

    All 3 QBs played well again. I really like writing that point.

    Interested in all of your thinking about the o line this game and especially Wetzel playing guard verses Iupati?

    Just hated all 4 fumbles. Especially Chris Johnson on the first two series. 2nd year in a row we drafted a Williams that looks lost. I know we will keep him because a 3rd round pick,and hopefully he improves a lot as the season progresses and also next preseason. Hate that we will probably lose couple of young guys that show promise. I am just hoping we can get them on practice squad.

    Another LB playing well not named Reddick. We really need Reddick to play well this year and make some plays.

    Liked our coverage teams this game, but nothing from our return teams.

    Now just hoping our injuries will come back with positive news from the game and I thing the main reason to delay cuts was so that teams can play mostly 3rd and 4th stringers in the meaningless 4th preseason game.

    Go Cards beat those Lions. Matt Stafford will be another very good test for our defense, and hopefully no Andrew Luck in game #2.

  5. By mitchaz on Aug 27, 2017 | Reply

    The Cardinals did themselves proudly in Atlanta. Certainly their three turnovers and array of penalties and missed tackles are something they are going to need to clean up, but for the most part, the Cardinals donned the look of a big play team. Their highlight reel consists of (1) Honey Badger’s diving interception off a tipped pass influenced by Karlos Dansby; (2) Carson Palmer’s pylon strike TD to John Brown; (3) Markus Golden’s strip sack and Chandler Jones’ recovery; (4) Drew Stanton’s left end zone TD to John Brown; (5) Phil Dawson’s 54 yard FG; (6) Cap Capi’s 1 1/2 sacks and alert coverage of the bootleg hidden TE drag; (7) Blaine Gabbert’s 20 yard strike to Carlos Agudosi; (8) James Summer’s bounce out sprint and diving reach under the pylon TD.

    Following their disappointing performance at home versus the Bears, the Cardinals’ fairly one-sided victory at Atlanta (2016 NFC Champions) in the opening of their brand new state-of-the-art stadium has to feel very encouraging. Not sure if anyone expected a game like this, particularly since BA reminded the troops that the Cardinals have gotten blasted in Atlanta the last two times.

    Even though, yes, this is a meaningless pre-season game and the Cardinals did make their fair share of miscues, the positives the Cardinals can take from this game are meaningful.

    What made me especially proud last night was how organized the Cardinals looked whether it was the 1st stringers, the 2nd stringers or the 3rd stringers. The planning that BA and his coaches did during the week was very effective. The Cardinals came to Atlanta with a plan and purpose and for the most part they can feel very good about the results.

    BA deserves a lot of credit for his handling of the veterans, especially during a very long training camp. Carson Palmer says he feels fresh and it showed last night. Keeping David Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald on a low snap count was prudent. Like BA said, “they’ll thank me in November.”

    Yes, I have expressed doubts and worries about BA’s ego and his minimal pass and run protections…but I still appreciate all the good things he does. BA is one of the best teachers in the NFL. He is also one of the best play callers.

    Kudos to BA and new QB coach Byron Leftwich because all three QBs are playing as well as ever.

    Kudos to James Bettcher, Kevin Ross and Nick Rapone because when locked into their proper assignments the Cardinals’ secondary is covering as well as ever.

    The other very encouraging sign of this training camp has been the swift development of the team’s 2nd year players within the system:

    * DT Robert Nkemdiche is now showing flashes on domination…none of which he showed last year.
    * CB Brandon Williams is now showing confidence in his stride for stride, look back for the ball coverage.
    * G Evan Boehm is looking very solid as the starting RG.
    * C/G Cole Toner has learned the center position and played well and is now the swing C/G.
    * FS Harlan Miller is growing more confident as a middle of the field playmaker.
    * T/G John Wetzel is the valuable 6th man of the offensive line.
    * DE Olsen Pierre appears ready to join the defensive line rotation.
    * CB Ronald Zamort was turning heads in camp with his sticky coverage before his injury.
    * LB Scooby Wright has made strides at ILB and is a stud on STs.
    * LB Cap Capi is emerging as one of the best edge players on the team and is a legit roster candidate.
    * TE Hakeem Valles is a good, solid STs player and an improved blocker at TE.
    * T Ulrich John has been playing well at 2nd team RT and is roster worthy.

    These players are still young and are going to make their share of mistakes (as all young players must)…but they are showing that their learning curves and their desires are strong.

    The success the coaches have had in developing these players is all the more reason why the Cardinals should be patient with all of their draft picks and best UCFAs this year.

    Clearly, the Cardinals are making significant strides in their player development. How cool was it to see the Cardinals’ 1st, 2nd and 3rd stringers outplay the Falcons’? This was a big step forward.

  6. By shannon robinson on Aug 27, 2017 | Reply

    Personally, I got a great kick out of the All Polynesian Defensive Line in the third and fourth quarters. Tough, strong, immovable 4X4’s – what a joy to see them stand tall and not give an inch! Hilarious note to Mr. Dansby and B-Train: The TV broadcasters were served a Chic-Filet chicken sandwich that they couldn’t identify for a full quarter when it finally dawned on them, “Hey this is Chic-Filet!”

  7. By dynosoar on Aug 27, 2017 | Reply

    Darren and others watching the games,

    how is Haason Reddick doing? I don’t see a lot in the stats. I was beating the drums for Derek Barnett before the draft and he has three sacks for Philly in only two games (and yes, I understand they are pre-season, but I don’t see any sacks out of Reddick in the same pre-season.)

    I read all the articles on Reddick after the draft and have been cautiously optimistic, t not being in practices and not seeing the games (though I think gamepass is happening in a couple weeks, before Detroit), I don’t see much beyond stats and articles.

    So how is our boy Haason doing?

  8. By Darren Urban on Aug 27, 2017 | Reply

    Dyno —

    RE: Reddick

    He is having rookie ups and downs. He played better last night. You’re not going to see sacks out of him — he’s playing inside linebacker right now and is in coverage a lot of the time on passing downs.

  9. By dynosoar on Aug 27, 2017 | Reply

    2-2 in preseason,

    like Coach says, pre-season isn’t about winning and losing, but this win and the play we’ve had so far has been nice. Very nice indeed.

    I’m enjoying watching us make plays that in pre-season last year were missing.

  10. By JTDG on Aug 27, 2017 | Reply

    Weird game 3 of preseason;

    In past years, the two teams would play starters into the third quarter. It was a good measuring stick for the teams. Not last night.

    – Palmer and Ryan both out in the start of 2nd quarter.
    – Fitz and Julio basically didn’t play
    – Freeman and Johnson didn’t really play

    I watched the charger game and the rams sat their starting defense the whole game. In game 3 !

    We all remember Denny Green’s rant about the 3rd game. I think it doesn’t hold water any more.

  11. By JTDG on Aug 27, 2017 | Reply

    As for the game, Dave Pasch (sp), made a good statement among the ramblings of the almost unbearable Woofley.

    He said John Brown is to the offense as Badger is to the defense.

    I thought this was a good observation. Can the team live without either one, yes. But with them on the field, the team is elevated from a 8-8 team to a contender.

    Badger is the playmaker on defense. Peterson is the best player on defense, but Badger makes it work. Fitz is the best player on offense, but without John Brown, this offense stalls.

    It was huge that John Brown performed last night. Now, there is still a huge issue about injuries. I think rotating in Jaron , would help lower the risk of injury. Using him for the right situations might prove better than having him start.

  12. By Adam Smith b1723 fka DTL on Aug 27, 2017 | Reply

    Looked like Smoke collected both TD pass balls. Symbols of triumphant return? Works for me. OL still iffy… but better, huh. This was a fun game, playmakers making plays.

  13. By JTDG on Aug 27, 2017 | Reply

    Last night the team revealed something I have been noticing a bunch last year.

    Zone defense. They played a lot of zone last night. Betcher is putting his stamp on the defense as he has changed the mentality of the island CBs and blitzing to dropping guys in coverage and playing zones.

    I am not a fan of zones but we will see. They clearly are using safeties to cover up Bethel. They were dropping OLBs in coverage, they didn’t have PP following the top receiver as you saw a deep pass to Sanu (Julio was out) and Badger and branch were running deep with him.

    I think we will see a different type of defense this year. Better or worse, we will see.

  14. By Birdgang4life on Aug 27, 2017 | Reply

    I am maintaining quiet optimism as the regular season approaches. I’m loving the performance that we are getting on both sides of the ball and am really hoping for a nice turn around from the previous year. Chris Johnson did have some “whoops” moments, but I am not concerned with the state of any of our skill positions on the offensive side. Has anyone else been really enjoying the play of Brittain Golden? I can tell that he is really stepping up and I am excited to see him make an impact this year more than he has in the past. It’s also nice to finally see Troy Niklas back in action. The cogs are turning and the engine is starting to get broken in. I have a lot of faith in our guys this year and as long as the Birds remain relatively healthy this season, I see no reason that they don’t have a legitimate shot to disrupt the league. What are your thoughts on the DL situation though? Do you think that they may consider bringing in another Veteran to cushion the line?

  15. By mitchaz on Aug 27, 2017 | Reply


    The post I sent this morning is shown above but says “awaiting moderation.” Do you need to approve it?

  16. By Darren Urban on Aug 27, 2017 | Reply

    mitchaz —

    RE: Post

    I’m not sure what happened.

  17. By mal on Aug 27, 2017 | Reply

    Why did you guys take down BA’s post-game presser vid?

    Something he said?

  18. By Darren Urban on Aug 27, 2017 | Reply

    Mal —

    RE: B.A. video

    User error. I was trying to adjust something in the file (nothing to do with what he said) and I accidentally took it down. It’s back.

  19. By mitchaz on Aug 27, 2017 | Reply

    Thank you Darren.

    Are you going to make a 53 man roster prediction?

  20. By Darren Urban on Aug 27, 2017 | Reply

    mitchaz —

    RE: 53 man

    Yes. Friday morning.

  21. By clssylssy on Aug 27, 2017 | Reply

    it was refreshing to get a win in Atlanta, even if it was preseason. WOW! what a facility! I kinda got the impression that our guys were a little in awe or just had first road game jitters to begin with, not confined to one or two players but evenly spread across both sides of the ball from some iffy throws by Carson to missed catches and fumbles by Chris and Pat P, we don’t normally see, Got work on ball security overall as it seems other teams have identified this as a weakness this will surely be exploited down the road. Our 0-line still is weak but seemed to improve as the game went on while our D-line seemed to weaken. As mentioned previously, this did not seem like a legitimate game 3, since our best players did really match up with Atlanta’s best, but as far as preseason games goes, it was decent and worth watching.
    It was good to see John Brown playing better than he’s done in two years, and hopefully we can be sensible about how we use him, as I think his sickle cell is always going to make him vulnerable to healing slowly if injured and therefore questionable as to durability.
    I think the cut to 53 is going to be a lot more difficult than anticipated, as some of our draft picks clearly are Practice Squad material but will have to clear waivers and may be lost if not given a spot so they can redshirt; a spot better served by a legitimate signing of need.
    I do love the fan friendly construction of the Falcon stadium and would much prefer the field seating to a champagne bubble bar–guess their fans aren’t as afraid of the DUI Squad in Atlanta as we have in Phoenix!

  22. By Scott H on Aug 27, 2017 | Reply

    I was driving home to NJ from N. Carolina Sat night into Sunday, so…didn’t see a minute of the game. Didn’t even know the final score until middle of the day today! Tough to get back to normal after a vacation!

    I’ve only been able to see highlights ( and some lowlights, ie the fumbles ) and read some write ups /impressions. So, my view is limited.

    But overall, I like Darren’s bottom line – overall, it feels better now than it did last year this time. Don’t care if it’s pre-season, I think how it looks and how it feels matters.

    Love the TD catches by Smoky! WOW!! The one he caught from Stanton ( on a BEAUTIFUL throw, by the way ) was Larry-esque! We needed to see him looking like that. Fast, sharp, making the catches. Getting THAT level of play from him will put this offense on a whole different level. Getting THAT level of play from him gives us that 2015 explosiveness that 2016 just did not have.

    Gee…..isn’t it interesting that Stanton plays well, on a couple of different levels, and no one has anything to say about it. Yet, if he hadn’t, you’d be hearing it in every other post.

    NOT liking the fumbles at all. And two from CJ?? Can’t have that, Chris. C’mon, man. But he wasn’t the only one. That was just sloppy.

    As always, I LOVE the comments from BA. This man is a treasure!

  23. By Coach K on Aug 27, 2017 | Reply


    Gabbert looked solid once again and I feel Keim will keep three QB’s for sure.

    CJ2K had the two fumbles, but I have to say the second one was an absolutely perfect strip from behind. I don’t think anyone would retain that ball on a perfect punch strip like that from behind. he made a few really nice runs later in game. I think he remains #2 RB behind Johnson.

    Williams looked lost at receiver. Needs to sit a year and develop. He’s not ready. Ross looks solid. Catches everything. Not too good on punt returns.

    Do you think Ross can beat out Golden Darren?

  24. By Darren Urban on Aug 27, 2017 | Reply

    Coach K –

    RE: Golden and Ross

    I’d think Golden beats him out but it’s close.

  25. By dkerry5242 on Aug 27, 2017 | Reply

    Koni Ealy has been released by the Pats. Why not try and claim him off waivers if possible? We could always use a pass rusher.

  26. By Richard S on Aug 27, 2017 | Reply

    NFL Network looks like it will show the game on Tuesday at 10:00 a.m. California time. That’ll be my first chance to see it. After the previous weeks game with the 109 yard field goal attempt return, I was thinking that it reminds me of last year’s special teams. I made it back to my hometown in Missouri to see the total eclipse. It was worth the trip. It was neat but when I got back to the Central Valley it looks like we’re going to get a high pressure system pushing your hot weather right at us. 9 days in a row with 98 degrees as our lowest high temperature. I think what happens in Arizona should stay in Arizona. We’re not used to the heat out here.

  27. By georgiebird on Aug 27, 2017 | Reply

    Strong first half- something to build on. Must keep 3 QBs- that will hurt. Can’t get Gabbert to the taxi squad.

  28. By Scott H on Aug 28, 2017 | Reply

    Darren –

    Is everyone ( all teams ) playing their last game on Thurs night?? The Cardinals have been playing their games on Sat nights….seems strange to me that pre-season games would be played on a short week. Heck, maybe it doesn’t matter since no starters will be playing. And maybe the the longer “week” leading up to the opener on the other side is a benefit. No big thing, just curious.

  29. By Darren Urban on Aug 28, 2017 | Reply

    Scott H —

    RE: Preseason finale

    The last game of the preseason has been on Thursday night across the league for many years now. It gives teams a couple of days to decide on final cuts. And yes, the fact no one of import seems to play anymore is a factor.

  30. By clssylssy on Aug 28, 2017 | Reply

    Looking at our competition, winning the Division is not going to be a slam dunk and while it’s sometimes difficult to determine anything from preseason, the Seahawks are still the Seahawks with a better 0-line, the Legion or Boom stronger than before and enough offensive weapons to supply several teams. The Rams didn’t even play their starting defense this week but still looked better than ever and a retooled, re-energized 49ers played a VERY physical. high energy game, before losing by one point to a VERY physical Minnesota,in a nearly mistake free game . Yes, I hope our guys and coaches were watching so they can keep their egos in check, knowing that these aren’t the “same ole” teams, anymore than we are (hopefully).
    While many fans whine and complain about preseason, I have found these past three//four weeks highly informative about the state of competition in the league this year and have come to the conclusion that every body has upped their game and this should be a good year for football (unless, of course, you are on the losing end). Good Luck Birdgang, magic time is almost here!

  31. By Joe C. on Aug 28, 2017 | Reply

    I’m pretty happy with the state of things. My hope is we win the division with a bye as the cherry on top. I’ll wait for playoffs to set goals any higher. Interesting article on the loss of three of the top five secondary players. They were an undrafted free agent, a cast off mid season pick up on his third team of his rookie contract, and a late training camp pick up for a seventh round pick. Why is that interesting you say? because it shows you never know who is going to shine. We have a great core and definitely need a player or two to elevate their game. but odds are someone will. I think any where from 4-2 to 6-0 in our division is a distinct possibility.

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