GREEN BAY, Wis. – Yes, it's the preseason. And yes, it's only the first game. But there were some troubling signs for the Green Bay Packers in Friday night's 17-0 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, their first shutout in a full preseason game since the Forrest Gregg days.
That is, when Forrest Gregg was coaching the Packers, not playing for them.
Here are five things we learned from the Cardinals' victory over the Packers:
1. ARIZONA'S DEFENSE MEANS BUSINESS: With a goal-line stand on the first drive and takeaways on the next two, the Cardinals' defense showed that it isn't just more aggressive this season, it's downright nasty. Like eat quarterbacks for lunch nasty. Three sacks, one forced fumble and one interception, and that was on top of limiting Green Bay and its potent offense to a measly 223 yards.
"We have a better all-around defense," Patrick Peterson said. "We don't just have a couple guys here, a couple guys there that can play. I believe that entire secondary is guys that have been in the league a while, guys that have been in big games. ... I believe that we can compete with the best of them."
2. FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Stepfan Taylor sure didn't look like a rookie as he carried Arizona's running game in the absence of Rashard Mendenhall (patella tendinitis).
After setting Stanford's career records for yards rushing (4,300) and total touchdowns (45) last season, Taylor showed he's more than capable of running with the big boys. Not only did he gain 64 yards on 20 carries, but he did it economically, repeatedly running straight at the Packers defense.
And he wasn't the only rookie to shine.
Tyrann Mathieu, the player known as "The Honey Badger" when he was last seen on the field two years ago, had a sack for a 12-yard loss and broke up another pass.
"I had no doubt in my mind he would start off where he left off back at LSU and I'm extremely proud of him," Peterson said. "I can't wait to see what he's going to do to help us out throughout the regular season."
3. KICK ME: If the Cardinals hope to make a real run at the NFC West, they're going to have to find a kicking game. Arizona was 1 for 4 on field goals, with Will Batson missing from 31 and 42 yards. Jay Feely also was short from 53 yards.
"I was disappointed in the kicking game," coach Bruce Arians said. "Obviously."
4. TO THE LEFT, TO THE LEFT: David Bakhtiari never heard his name Friday — and that's a good thing. The fourth-round pick started at left tackle as the Packers continue to try and cobble together an offensive line, and he played well. He didn't commit any penalties and, after getting beat on an early play, routinely held his ground.
"I didn't get touched tonight," Aaron Rodgers said. "It's nice when you're not worried about him, and tonight I wasn't worried about him. He's a confident kid. I think he's got a bright future for us."
5. MISS YOU: If anyone had doubts about Traymon Williams' value to Green Bay's defense, they're gone now. The cornerback missed the game Friday with a knee injury, and the secondary was, frankly, a mess.
Arizona receivers had enough space to make ranchers in Montana jealous, and the Cardinals quarterbacks looked like MVPs, with Carson Palmer, Drew Stanton and Ryan Lindley all finishing with QB ratings of 104.2 or better.
"We took advantage of those opportunities down the field," Palmer said. "It's a small step and a small start."