Drew Brees and the Saints offense got started quickly and were productive. The Cardinals offense couldn’t, and it lost its starting quarterback to boot.
Kevin Kolb’s first pass was intercepted. That wasn’t the worst of it.
On his third series, Kolb would get flushed out of the pocket and get crushed by Saints defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis. Kolb would suffer a rib contusion and wouldn’t return for the remainder of the night.
The Cardinals lost the game, 17-10, but I’m sure they also weren’t looking to lose their starting quarterback in the process.
How this affects the competition between Kolb and Skelton is up for debate, because we don’t know how severe Kolb’s injury is, but by the way Skelton played in Kolb’s place, you’d have to say head coach Ken Whisenhunt is looking a little closer at No. 19.
Skelton came in and gave an immediate spark to the offense. Skelton took them on a 14-play, 90-yard scoring drive in the second quarter, which was capped by an Alfonso Smith four-yard touchdown run.
I would’ve liked to have seen Larry Fitzgerald get more touches in the game, but it just didn’t work that way.
I liked the play of the offensive line, for the most part. The horses were up and down in their performance, which is to be expected after being in camp for a short time.
The line got some good push, to the benefit of the running game, which racked up 112 yards overall.
I thought there was a little slip in performance between the first and second team lines, but overall, it was good.
The defense also looked good at times, but got burned a lot.
I sat there watching the game and saw a LOT of empty middle and side field between the Saints skill players and the Cardinals defensive players, which allowed them to dial up a lot of big plays.
The dump and screen passes killed them.
The Saints did a great job exploiting that large space.
I was thoroughly impressed by a number of players: Dave Zastudil, Stewart Bradley, Smith, Quentin Groves, Justin Bethel and Eddie Elder.
Zastudil set a Hall of Fame record with a 79-yard punt. He was very effective in putting the Saints back in their part of the field.
Bradley, Smith, Groves, Bethel and Elder were also extremely effective at their respective positions, and gave the team a great lift by their play.
I also liked the poise and arm strength of quarterback Ryan Lindley.
When Lindley was in, he moved the offense well. He and LaRon Byrd seemed to be joined at the hip. Byrd led the receivers with four catches on the night.
I have to flip this and talk about the special teams and how much they irritated me.
It seemed like on every punt and kickoff return, they would either over pursue or just plain miss tackles, allowing the Saints to get great field position, which put the defense even further behind the 8-ball.
Special teams coach Kevin Spencer has some work to do with his players in Kansas City, Mo., this week, because that needs to be tightened up.
If Kolb didn’t go down, and if the special teams unit didn’t look so bad, and if the defense tightened up their coverage, then the outcome may have been different.
In the end, it was the first of five preseason games. There’s a lot more football to be played beyond this one.
With a short work week, Kolb’s injury has no doubt thrown a wrench in the team’s plans, depending on how serious it is.
The team will hit the road to Kansas City, Mo., and get ready for the Chiefs on Friday night.
No time to dwell on this loss…