2011 Cardinals Week 1: Five observations

Five things I noticed while watching the Arizona Cardinals defeat the Carolina Panthers, 28-21, in Week 1:

  • Cardinals left guard Daryn Colledge putting Panthers linebacker James Anderson on roller skates and driving him straight backward into the end zone about 10 yards, allowing Beanie Wells to charge forward during a powerful 7-yard touchdown run.

  • Cardinals safety Kerry Rhodes repeatedly looking back while chasing Panthers receiver Steve Smith during a 77-yard scoring reception. Rhodes kept looking back toward fellow safety Adrian Wilson during the run, eventually shaking his head as if he weren't at fault on the play. There's a fine line between expressing frustration and playing the blame game. As for Wilson, his biceps tear appeared to be a non-factor. He used his arm to hit opponents. He swung it aggressively to deliver low-fives with teammates.

  • Arizona's Kevin Kolb is the most exciting quarterback in the division. He might be the best one, too. Kolb can bail out an offensive line. He moves with purpose and delivers the ball with plenty of velocity. Kolb was falling backward and about to get hit when he found tight Jeff King for a 48-yard touchdown. That was an impressive play even though King was wide open. Kolb threw quickly to beat pressure on his 70-yard touchdown pass to Early Doucet. He's also not afraid to take chances. The Panthers nearly picked him off deep in Arizona territory for what would have been a walk-in touchdown for Carolina.

  • Linebacker Daryl Washington easily beating Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams on his way to sacking Cam Newton. Washington tossed aside Williams. Later, Washington picked off two passes. One was overturned when officials flagged teammate Richard Marshall for a late hit. Still, it's easy to see why the Cardinals are excited about Washington. His stock is rising.

  • Panthers defensive end Charles Johnson beating an out-of-position Levi Brown with a pass-rush move to the inside. Brown was so out of sorts that when he turned to the inside, he knocked Colledge to the ground while Johnson sacked Kolb. Johnson is a tough matchup for anyone.

I'm planning to run items similar to this one relating to most or all NFC West games each week. Late last season, I combined these into "15 little things" posts covering all division games. I'd rather break out one game at a time.

These items won't always cover the key plays. Sometimes they'll point out little things that wouldn't show up in a game story, column or box score.