Vaunted Cardinals fall flat in season opener
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) A season of sky-high expectations began with a thud for the Arizona Cardinals.
A day after his team lost at home to the depleted New England Patriots 23-21, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians watched video of the contest Monday and dissected what went wrong.
''It wasn't just the young players,'' he said, ''but it was a lot of young players that got caught up in everything that was going on. There were some critical errors by some young players.''
Third down woes, on offense and defense, plagued the team, as did missed tackles and, on one big play, blown coverage by a rookie.
''Nothing to the point that can't be corrected,'' Arians said. ''It was not talent.''
General manager Steve Keim was much harsher in his assessment.
''You wake up Monday morning with a loss, you're angry, disappointed, embarrassed, and that's the way we should all feel,'' he said in his weekly radio appearance. ''Just didn't get it done, and a lot of reasons why we didn't get it done. And that needs to improve. That's certainly unacceptable.''
Still, Arizona had a chance to win it but Chandler Catanzaro missed a 47-yard field goal in the final minute. The snap from rookie Kameron Canady was a bit low. Holder Drew Butler said he trapped the ball and spotted it a few inches from where it was supposed to be.
''That probably threw the timing off a little bit,'' Butler said. ''... But me and Cat (Catanzaro) have a job to do and I'll definitely take some blame on that one. I wish we could have put it through for our teammates. The offense did a great job of giving us the opportunity.''
Butler, the Cardinals punter, hurt his ankle on his first punt. Arians called it a ''severe sprain.''
''It hurt pretty bad,'' Butler said. ''I thought it was bad initially but just gutted it out and was able to finish the game.''
He said some extra tape on the ankles that a trainer decided to apply before the game prevented the injury from being worse and he expects to be ready for Sunday's home game against Tampa Bay.
Arians said rookie cornerback Brandon Williams was in the wrong coverage scheme when Jimmy Garoppolo threw to a wide open Chris Hogan for the Patriots' first touchdown.
''The guy didn't beat him for a touchdown, he beat himself because he missed the check,'' Arians said. ''He was in roll coverage and they went motion.''
That meant Williams was supposed to shift to man-to-man coverage but instead stayed in a zone scheme.
That Patriots TD drive came after Arians uncharacteristically declined to go for it on fourth-and-one near midfield in Arizona's first possession.
''Probably the most conservative call I made all night,'' he said.
Asked how first-round draft pick Robert Nkemdiche played, Arians said, ''poor.''
''He jumped offside when they (the Patriots) weren't even set, on a big third down,'' the coach said. ''Other than that, he was not a factor.''
And he was critical of Justin Bethel, a three-time Pro Bowl selection on special teams who is trying to play despite a sore foot that has not recovered fully from surgery.
''Justin has got to decide that he's going to play with that foot,'' Arians said. ''He was just an average spectator on special teams. He missed two tackles. If he's going to play, he needs to play better. Or he shouldn't play.''
And there was D.J. Swearinger, who joined Chandler Jones in a celebration dance after Jones recovered a New England fumble. The Cardinals drew a penalty for a choreographed celebration.
''One of the things that has not happened around here and will not happen again,'' Arians said, ''or you won't be here.''
Notes: Arians said defensive tackle Frostee Rucker will miss two to three weeks with an MCL sprain. Arians was still awaiting results of tests on a foot injury to guard Evan Mathis. ... The Cardinals released quarterback Aaron Murray from the practice squad and replaced him with cornerback Trevon Hartfield. The move leaves Zac Dysert as the only quarterback on the practice squad.
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