With the Arizona Cardinals coming to town on Sunday to play the second game of the regular season against the Washington Redskins, we figured we needed to call on an expert from the other side to preview the game. We got a chance to do a phone interview with Seth Pollack, the lead editor for SB Nation Arizona and a credentialed writer for the Cardinals, for his perspective on the game.
SB Nation D.C.: How is the Tim Hightower revenge angle playing within the Cardinal locker room?
Seth Pollack: I honestly think it's a non-issue. Tim was very popular here. Him and Beanie [Wells] were really tight within the locker room, Hightower very well respected, I don't see any bad blood. I think [Hightower's comments] were blown way out of proportion. He clarified them and made a lot of sense in the conference call and said ‘Of course I think we're going to win. What else am I going to say?' I think it's a total non-issue. He obviously wants to do well against his old team.
I think he has a legitimate beef that for whatever reason, [coach Ken] Wisenhunt didn't use him as much as he and a lot of us thought he should have been used. Wisenhunt talked a lot about fumbles -- he fumbled the ball a lot and at bad times. I think it's one of these trades that worked out really well for both sides in that Hightower get the opportunity he legitimately deserves, but at the same time, [Hightower's presence] stifled Beanie Wells, who I think is more physically gifted of the two. He's looked good so far [without Hightower in the mix]. It gives both those guys an opportunity to show what they can do. Vonnie Holliday is a good pickup, too.
SB Nation D.C.: How is the new quarterback situation with Kevin Kolb developing? Do people inside that locker room believe he can be the guy for the Cardinals?
Seth Pollack: They believed that even before the first game [against the Panthers]. It really says a lot about him. They took to him extremely quickly. He's got that ‘factor' that players gravitate towards. Guys seem to really believe in him and really want to play for him. He and Larry Fitzgerald have got a chemistry going really, really fast. I think this team believes in him a lot more than anyone outside the locker room does, because the rest of us are natural skeptics. There's nothing he's done since he stepped foot in Arizona that you could criticize.
SB Nation D.C.: Cam Newton had a field day against the Cardinals secondary in his first ever start as a pro. Is the secondary a real concern at this point?
Seth Pollack: It's absolutely a concern. I think the secondary is the biggest concern on the team right now. I don't think there's anybody who doesn't think [first round rookie] Patrick Peterson won't be a great cornerback, but it'll take time obviously. Across from Peterson, you've got A.J Jefferson, who was on the practice squad last year as an undrafted free agent. He's got even got more question marks, yet no one talks about it because no one knows his name.
Safeties were almost a bigger problem in that game against Carolina than the corners. Peterson got beat on the throw to the endzone where he was there in coverage, but [Panthers wide receiver Steve] Smith stole the ball from him. The blown coverage assignments seem more to come from the safeties. Adrian Wilson was out the entire preseason with a torn biceps. The big play that Cam had to Smith, Wilson blew the assignment.
They'll tell you they're very disappointed in the way the defense played overall. They almost feel like it was a loss. [Arizona fans] are kind of encouraged by that because the team is not looking at it saying ‘We won, so whatever.' They really are taking it to heart. They really think they can improve, and they want to improve. I think they will improve, but I think it'll take more time. It might take 4-6 games for them to really get on the same page.
SB Nation D.C.: How do you see this game between the Redskins and Cardinals playing out?
Seth Pollack: I think it's a toss up. The one thing I'm encouraged by from a Cardinals perspective is the strength of their defense in the front seven. They've got a lot of depth both along the defensive line and the linebacker corps. If the Redskins want to run the ball, I think that plays into what the Cardinals would like to see because they're weakest in coverage. I think they probably think they can get to [Rex] Grossman, particularly if Arizona gets ahead and the Redskins need to pass the ball. That'd really play into their hands.
It's a toss up. I picked the Arizona to cover the spread (4.5 point).
Thanks to Seth Pollack for his answers. We'll have more on the this game throughout the week in this StoryStream. For more on the Redskins check out Hogs Haven. For more on the Cardinals, head over to Revenge Of the Birds and SB Nation Arizona.