Cardinals coach Bruce Arians isn't afraid to criticize his players publicly, which was crystal clear when he said Justin Bethel's cornerback evolution was a "failure in progress" last year.
But he's been complimentary of Bethel ever since, and that didn't change after Week 1. Bethel had an up-and-down day, coming away with a pick-six in a sterling first half before giving up two late touchdowns.
The second one, a spectacular 45-yard diving grab by Kenny Golladay, was a back-breaker, but Arians has twice diverted the blame on the play away from Bethel.
Arians said postgame it was the pass-rush's fault because it allowed Matthew Stafford time to step up and deliver the heave. On Wednesday, Arians said Antoine Bethea should have been in position to help (Bethea took a jab step the other way after a subtle twitch by Stafford and couldn't recover in time.)
"That long touchdown, that was really on the safety," Arians said. "They throw the ball inside the numbers, and we've got no safety. That should have been an interception."
After reviewing the game, I had Bethel with 11 targets in the contest. He allowed six completions for 103 yards with the two touchdowns and interception (not counting his pass breakup on a two-point conversion). That's a quarterback rating of 88.2, which is average, but still better than the 114.4 rating allowed by the Cardinals on the rest of Stafford's throws.
It was a decent day, and it could have been a great one if the second touchdown pass didn't connect. While that play shaded the perception of Bethel's outing, the secondary should be in a good spot if he delivers similar performances moving forward.