Although it is similar to premature ejaculation to “look forward to the end result” and make “predictions” about the regular season before the final roster has been set, it seems that the Arizona Cardinals are primed to do great things this season, based upon statistics from last season.
In the 2016 season, the Cardinals finished with a record of 7-8-1 and second in the NFC West behind the Seattle Seahawks. Seattle finished the regular season with a record of 10-6, only two games better than Arizona. Taking 2016 under a microscope, one can notice that, even though the Cardinals did have a lot of injuries, five out of their eight losses were by seven points or fewer.
Arizona will enter 2017 with some new faces, and new mindsets. Head Coach Bruce Arians spoke on NFL Network about the 2016 season saying, “You gotta win close games, The NFL is all about close games. And we had won more close games than anybody in the league previous years. And last year, we lost four games that we had — three by kicks, one by just not playing smart. We could have been smarter. We spent all offseason practicing those scenarios that put you in critical situations so we can be a smarter football team.”
This season could turn one of two ways for the Cardiac Cards.
- They could go down in a blaze of glory, disappointing everyone and once again not finish ballgames. or
- This could be the year that Arizona finishes games, and turns it around, maybe even taking the division crown. They finished two games behind Seattle in the standings, when they played them in the regular season, Arizona beat Seattle once, and tied them the other time.
The Arizona Cardinals, need to turn this year around, and they are primed to do so both offensively and defensively.
On Offense: The team has arguably the most sought after running back in the league, along with the veteran presence of Carson Palmer and of course the long time face of the franchise, Larry Fitzgerald. The three-pronged rushing attack of David Johnson, Chris Johnson and Andre Ellington will prove deadly to defenses this season. Last season the Cardinals ranked ninth in total offense even ahead of the “high-flying” Seattle Seahawk offense.
On Defense: There are a few young faces and some veterans to watch out for, Budda Baker has been turning heads this preseason, in a defensive unit that already includes three pro bowlers in Tyrann Mathieu, Patrick Peterson, and Justin Bethel. Haason Reddick has been impressing Coach Arians in training camp. So much so that B.A. spoke to the media, saying “He’s probably the best we’ve ever had as a linebacker, Being able to cover people, it’s just natural ability, having been a safety when he was young.” (See full interview: http://www.azcardinals.com/videos-photos/live-video.html)
It’s not fair to judge a book off it’s cover, and numbers do not mean everything, however, it seems that with the team gelling, and looking at the results from last season, realizing that the Arizona Cardinals missed the division crown by only two games? It seems that the future is bright for this Cardinals squad and they definitely will be one to watch in the upcoming season.
Thanks a lot for reading.
I was at the joint practice between our San Diego Chargers and the Arizona Cardinals at Qualcomm Stadium Tuesday night. Just before it started, it was announced on social media that Cardinals’ head coach, Bruce Arians, had been taken to the hospital experiencing stomach pains. Best wishes to him in his recovery.
The practice started with special teams drills (yawn). Then it was time for 1-on-1 drills, consisting of wide receivers versus defensive backs that were much more exciting. Brandon Flowers was burned for several deep passes. His days as an outside cornerback are hopefully over. Jason Verrett also struggled early trying to cover Larry Fitzgerald.
After good coverage caused Philip Rivers to be unable to connect with Keenan Allen twice, the duo started lighting up the Cardinals secondary. First, with a deep bomb over coverage from Patrick Peterson, the Cardinals top defensive back. Allen looked unstoppable all night, catching nearly everything thrown his way, and getting open early and often.
Travis Benjamin made several nice and difficult catches where he used his quick twitch speed to change direction and come back to perfectly placed balls from PR17. Rivers later said that he and Benjamin “needed” that type of connection in practice. The duo looks to be gelling nicely.
During 11-on-11 drills the Chargers got the best of the exchanges on offense and defense. Melvin Gordon had several nice runs through the middle of the Cardinals’ defensive front seven. The Cardinals’ defense had trouble covering Tyrell Williams, because he is a beast.
Melvin Ingram looked like a man on a mission. He set the edge on back-to-back run plays to the outside with tackles for a loss or no gain. Early, Arizona was running almost every play to the outside, no doubt from watching the Chargers get gashed by the Titans on Saturday. With Ingram in the backfield on almost every run they changed the plays.
Casey Hayward looked very good; he had tight coverage on several plays resulting in pass breakups. In my opinion, Jason Verrett and Casey Hayward need to be the starting outside cornerbacks this season. Dexter McCoil ran stride-for-stride with Arizona receivers and had a great pass break-up in the end-zone.
Something interesting I saw during linebacker interception drills; both Manti Te’o and Jeremiah Attaochu had balls clank off their hands and land on the ground. As soon as they got to the huddle they were told to bust out push-ups in front of everyone. I personally love this kind of accountability. I have heard that this has happened before in some practices this year. In those cases, the whole front seven had to do push-ups during a practice when the unit was not getting enough pressure on the quarterback.
Hunter Henry had a nice toe-tap touchdown, he looks to be a better red zone weapon than Ladarius Green was.
No major injuries to report. The “no-tackling” practice was competitive but not combative.
Quickly, I will give my thoughts on that sorry excuse for a preseason game that was played on Saturday between the Titans and Chargers:
Obviously it was great to see Ken Whisenhunt getting the Bolts’ offensive linemen coming forward on run plays instead of skating backwards. It was great to see Melvin Gordon finally get in the end-zone on a long catch-and-run. Gordon looked more confident and decisive. Not much bad to say about the first team offense. A low-light on offense was too many penalties on the line (coaching); hopefully they can get that cleaned up before they play Arizona on Friday.
The defense was terrible. They picked up right where they left off last season with not being able to tackle and giving up big plays in the run game. Of course this shouldn’t be a surprise because it’s been like this for five years now. John Pagano is still the defensive coordinator, and his defense still looks like they have no clue what they are doing with tons of missed assignments.
Now, I’ve heard people say it’s the first preseason game. Tackling across the league is bad right now since these players haven’t really tackled in 7-8 months. Okay, but this defense was missing it’s assignments, shooting the wrong gaps, and looked woefully unprepared. All of which is coaching. They have a lot to clean up.
One of the few bright spots on defense and special teams was Dexter McCoil. He blew up a Titans’ returner on a special teams play that caused him to lose about ten yards. He’s big, fast and can cover and tackle. He also had a fumble recovery. He needs to be one of the starting safeties. The kicking game and punt game both looked good. That’s all for now, thanks for reading.