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.
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Formerly, as he wishes was the case so we’ll go with it, known as the Honey Badger, Tyrann Mathieu is currently prepping to take the next step in his tumultuous football career. Mathieu shows quite a bit of athletic ability and is always around the football. His off the field issues could force him to drop into the third round in the upcoming NFL draft. It is possble that he could fall even further. Although he is a bit undersized, some team will most likely take a chance on him in the second round. Let’s take a minute to break down Mathieu’s strengths and weaknesses on the field.
Weight: 189 pounds
40 yard dash: 4.50
Reps at 225: 4
Vertical jump: 34.0 inches
3 cone drill: 6.87 seconds
Mathieu has the incredible knack for always being around the ball. Although you have to go back a year to view any game tape of him, if you follow the ball, you will likely find him in the vicinity of it. At LSU, the Tigers played him all over the field at cornerback on both the outside and in the slot, and occasionally as a safety. Mathieu has phenomenal instincts. He is not afraid to stick his nose in there to make the tackle despite his size. He is very crafty when it comes to beating blocks and using what ever means necessary to do so. His ability to blitz from the slot corner position is unmatched. Very aggressive with great timing. When tackling, his is very consistent, and sneaky, about going for the strip ball. Mathieu is also very solid as a punt returner. Very rarely is he tackled by the first guy. He has a very good feel for what is going on around him. His initial impact in the league will most likely come on special teams while he gets up to speed with the NFL game.
As you can see above, Mathieu is not the ideal size for a defender in the NFL. His size will be a factor in where he is taken in the draft. Mathieu is quicker than fast. He lacks elite speed to keep up with the speed receivers at the next level. That’s not to say he won’t be able to cover them, but it is an issue and could lead to big plays on deep balls if he is matched up one on one. The most glaring problem with Mathieu are his off the field issues. There is little doubt that NFL personnel have put him to the fire repeatedly with questions regarding his marijuana use. Teams know that they are taking a huge risk by selecting him in the draft.
Mathieu is perhaps the most controversial player in this year’s draft class. I find it very difficult to believe that he’ll make it out of the third round at the latest. Most experts think he’ll go in the late second round. He is the epitome of a huge risk, high reward prospect. In Mathieu, you get a guy that plays bigger than his size and is going to find a way to make plays. You also get a guy that has shown a tendency to celebrate a day like yesterday on the regular.
Here are some highlight videos of Tyrann Mathieu
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