Cardinals win! 3 takeaways from preseason victory over Falcons

Cardinals win! 3 takeaways from preseason victory over Falcons
Posted at 7:10 PM, Aug 26, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-27 08:39:45-04

In what was probably the last time we'll see most of the starters take the field until Week 1 of the regular season, the Arizona Cardinals did plenty to reassure fans after generating multiple causes for concern last week.

Here are three big takeaways from the Cardinals' impressive 24-14 road win over the Atlanta Falcons in Game 4 of the preseason on Saturday night.

1. Starters shine

As we documented here: The Cardinals' starters, most of whom played the majority of the first half, were much more impressive Saturday than they were last weekend in their loss to a mediocre Chicago Bears team. Quarterback Carson Palmer looked sharp, wide receiver John Brown made his return to the field in style, the offensive line showed improvement, the linebacker corps wreaked havoc, and the secondary shut down Atlanta's receivers.

It's unlikely we'll see many (if any) starters play in the Cards' preseason finale Thursday at Denver, so this was all highly refreshing to see. The Cards went into halftime with a healthy 17-3 edge over the Falcons.

2. Stanton, Gabbert look just fine

Earlier this week, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians announced Drew Stanton will keep his role as second-string quarterback, despite a strong preseason showing from third-stringer Blaine Gabbert. Both men had strong showings vs. the Falcons.

Stanton completed 4 of 6 passes for 53 yards and a touchdown pass to John Brown, who made an outstanding catch in the corner of the end zone. Gabbert looked great for the third time in four preseason games for Arizona, as he completed 6 of 11 passes for 84 yards and picked up a first down on a 10-yard run in the fourth quarter, leading to the Cards' final touchdown of the game.

While Palmer remains the best QB on the team by a wide margin, Stanton and Gabbert reminded fans they could -- emphasis on the word could -- fill in adequately if needed.

3. Butterfingers befuddle Cards

The primary negative from Saturday's game was the four fumbles allowed by the Cardinals. Veteran running back Chris Johnson fumbled twice, and RB Elijhaa Penny and rookie wide receiver Chad Williams both put the ball on the ground, as well.

Johnson's two fumbles were especially troubling, as he's listed as the No. 2 RB on the depth chart behind starter David Johnson. But Arians could decide to rearrange that depth chart if Johnson keeps putting the ball on the ground.