I don’t know what is going to happne today, but the season feels brand new for the Arizona Cardinals. Josh Rosen is starting and the sky is the limit for the kid. Lets see what happens and I will check back in at halftime.
The Arizona Cardinals looked like trash last Sunday. Every message board and facebook group I am in are calling for Josh Rosen and an overhaul of the roster. Everyone knows that I am an eternal optimist, especially when it comes to my Cardinals, but is no time to panic.
Let Him Sit
Watching Patrick Mahomes this week gives me hope of what resting a rookie quarterback can do for their development. Mahomes looked poised in the pocket and looked like he will be excellent for a long time. Aaron Rodgers history of sitting behind Bret Farve is well documented. In many interviews, Rodgers talks about what he learned from Farve and much of it was about avoiding many of Farve’s bad tendencies, like turning the ball over. I expect that Rosen will have lots to learn from Bradford, good and bad.
The Roster Is Fine
The roster has talent. It has four guys that have all-pro ability and handful of other pro-bowl long shots. Regardless of the top end talent, some issues must be fixed on both sides of the ball.
Last season I criticized a player and they blocked me on Twitter, so I risk that again. Deone Bucannon played one of the worst football games I have ever seen. He was beaten to the spot by a tackle an a swing pass and was taken for a ride for ten yards. He was burned twice in coverage by either being out of position or flat out getting shook on an option route. The switch to a 4-3 exaggerates those mistakes.
In the 2017 season the Saints, Titans, and Patriots lost their opening game and still made the playoffs. Now, nobody is comparing the 2018 Cardinals to the Drew Brees led Saints or the Patriots, but 25% of teams that lose week one make the playoffs. I do not expect the Cardinals to win in week two on the road against the Rams, but still, 12% of teams that start 0-2 make the playoffs.
This Arizona team is brand new and has never faced adversity together. Nobody has any idea how they respond to the likely scenario of going 0-2 to start the season. I still think that this roster is better than the 8-8 team that took the field for the Cardinals in 2017 and I am still sticking to that evaluation.
This might come back to bite me later, but that is the whole point of putting my thoughts on paper.
So as Aaron Rodgers would say R-E-L-A-X.
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Tensions have flared as eager NFL fans from all over rush to share that one common aspiration they have fraught over, with months of preparation and immense anticipation. At the local Walmart, color televisions are flying off the shelves like cattle through an open chute. And it’s not those tiny, economical TVs they’re after. No, NFL fans want the big ones, with the High-definition, and a screen so wide the neighbor can watch it from across the street. Snacks? Check. Beer? Check. Team jersey? Check. Fantasy League? And check. All preparations are in order. It’s time for some football!
For Arizona Cardinals fans, the sheer passion they hold for their team is reciprocated. Some Cardinals fans (the truest fans) have not missed a single game since 1988, where we had to watch the team from primitive-style bleachers, at Sun Devil Stadium, in the middle of the sweltering, desert sun. Although the official 2018 NFL season began on Thursday night, the Cardinals must wait until Sunday to face their first matchup against the visiting Washington Redskins. The house (State Farm Stadium) will be packed, Red Bird fans are restless, and mounting tensions are growing higher than ever. Game time is set for 1:25 pm, MST on FOX.
Arizona Cardinals Game One Winning Aspirations
“Guys were locked in. They were focused,” said Cardinals new head coach Steve Wilks, after Monday’s practice. “Sometimes, you know, coming off a weekend and having a few days off, you never know. But it just shows you where we’re at right now as a team. For those guys to bounce back, and I’m talking about in all three phases, I thought it was pretty good.”
Face it; the Arizona Cardinals are in the earliest stages of a team rebuilding process. Under coach Wilks and his staff, many changes are bound to occur with this powerhouse of a team. Many changes have already been made. And with just the right ingredients the Cardinals have a fair chance against any of their divisional rivals, who incidentally are going through rebuilding phases of their own. Predictions from league analysts have the team finishing the season with an 8-8 (.500) record, in last place in the NFC West Division, and behind the Seattle Seahawks. But the Cardinals aren’t interested in analytical predictions and make-believe stats. This team has a focus on its aspiration, and that is defeating the Redskins on Sunday.
Keys To The Game
Beginning the season with a 1-0 record is very gratifying, not only to the team but also to the fans. Winning the very first game at home only solidifies the gratification. It also feels better than bearing the thought of being a 0-1 team. So what will it take for the Cardinals to defeat the Redskins on Sunday? Let’s take a look!
On the Offense
Maybe the most noticeable changes made to the Cardinals offense is at the quarterback position. The starting job now belongs to veteran quarterback Sam Bradford. The Cardinals front offense can pat themselves on the back for these decisions. With a solid running game, led by running back David Johnson (perhaps the greatest running back in NFL history), the Cardinals will have a copious selection of easy targets and open receivers for Bradford to keep the ball moving down the field. Also, with future Hall of Fame wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald added to the mix, the Cardinals offense should operate like a well-oiled machine. The defense of the Redskins will have their hands full on Sunday against this very formidable team.
Speaking of Defense
If one thing can be proven from the preseason exhibition, it is that the Cardinals have a defense. The Cardinals have been ranked at the top of the league in the defense category for the last three years straight.
This season doesn’t appear to be any different, except maybe that the defense is even better than before. Veteran cornerback Patrick Peterson is healthy and ready to return to his obdurate role covering the backfield. The front line responsibilities fall in the hands of veteran leader and defensive end Chandler Jones. Jones led the league last season with 17 total sacks. Defense wins games. The Redskins offense will discover this on Sunday.
At least four of the Cardinals eight losses last season can be attributed to the poor performance on special teams. Granted, the Cardinals finished out winning the final two games of the season, but it was mainly the combination of missed field goals, weak tackling, and overall piss-poor play on special teams that kept the Cardinals from garnering a winning record and a post season berth. A solid special team performance is essential if the Cardinals aspire to win against the Redskins on Sunday, especially in a close-game scenario. Enjoy the game.
Three games into the Arizona Cardinals preseason and we have learned a lot about the team. The Cardinal’s have not lost a game under new head coach Steve Wilks. In those three games, Arizona has forced 16 turnovers with eight of them coming last week against the Dallas Cowboys. After watching a few meaningless games, only one thing is sure. The Arizona Cardinals are going to win the Super Bowl.
The Cardinals Are Better This Year
Every single expert has Arizona at the bottom of the division, if not the entire league. Madden has given the team the same overall rating as the Cleveland Browns. That is correct; Madden thinks that a team that went 8-8 without David Johnson is somehow on the same level as the 0-16 Browns.
Blaine Gabbert and Drew Stanton lead our team to eight wins and were a botched field goal or two away from a ten win season. The signing of Justin Pugh has gone unnoticed, but he is a considerable upgrade over Evan Boehm. Boehm was playing out of position at guard in only his second year in the league. The left side of the line is back and healthy going into this year and through the first three games rookie Mason Cole has only allowed one pressure.
How experts think that the team is going to be worse than 8-8 after adding Bradford and Rosen at QB is confusing.
Parity Is Real
Watching the rest of the NFL this preseason has only shown me that the league is up for grabs. The Patriots are going to be good, but the difference between them and the bottom of the league is not that much. With the Cardinals defense’s ability to keep them in games, they will have a chance to win every week. They have some challenging games on the road this season, but as the saying goes, defense travels.
If they can go 6-2 at home and 4-4 on the road, they will find their way to the playoffs. We all know that if they can get in the playoffs, anything can happen. The perfect mix of veterans and young guns will help Arizona in the close games that they will find themselves in. Larry Fitzgerald looks like he is still is ridiculously good self and Patrick Peterson and Chandler Jones are in positions to dominate this year.
What It All Means
The Cardinals have four guys on their offensive line that have injury problems. The health troubles of our QB has been well documented throughout his entire career.
If we can keep our core starters healthy, the Cardinals have a real shot this year. Coach Mike McCoy can protect Bradford by getting the ball out early. Our defense can cause turnovers at an incredible rate. We have two of the best players in the league on both sides of the ball. I will repeat it. The Cardinals will win the Super Bowl.
Phoenix Suns #1 Pick Overall
My immediate take as soon as the first pick of the NBA draft happened was, thank goodness the Suns didn’t mess it up. The Suns added a very exciting young big that is an elite rebounder and solid scorer from the post. Deandre Ayton has excellent touch on his jump shot from mid-range and shoots 75% from the free throw line.
Playing in Sean Miller’s defense, you would expect the seven-footer to be better than the fourth-ranked within the Pac-12 in blocked shots. He attributed the lack of blocks to not playing much on the ball defense in the system. I see him being able to use his freakish athleticism to defend at a high level in the NBA despite what Joel Embiid tweets.
Don’t compare Ayton to me either… I play DEFENSE
— Joel Embiid (@JoelEmbiid) June 22, 2018
I am very excited to see the two-man game that Booker and Ayton can create for Phoenix. Will they be Stockton and Malone or Kobe and Shaq, I doubt it. But, I do think that they will create unique matchups to take advantage of most teams.
Phoenix Suns #16 Pick
The Suns’ second pick had a little drama to it. As the picks kept coming in and Micheal Porter Jr. was still on the board at 12, Suns draft twitter started getting excited. There was real buzz that the 6′ 10″ phenom would still be on the board for Phoenix. By the time the Nuggets were on the clock fans were foaming at the mouth for the big man as Denver ruined their hopes and took Porter two picks ahead of the Suns.
When the 16th pick arrived fans were convinced that the pick was Donte DiVincenzo, but a trade offer came in. John Gambadoro detailed this perfectly on Twitter.
Ok here is how it went down according to the Suns – 30 seconds before the Suns were going to select Donte DiVincenzo they got a call from Philly who proposed a trade that Phoenix couldn’t pass up.
— John Gambadoro (@Gambo987) June 22, 2018
Bridges, whose mother works for the Sixers was giving an interview about how great it is to stay in Philly before he found out about the trade. It had to be a tough moment for Bridges, but an early reminder that this is a business. I like Bridges a lot. He is a knockdown shooter from the catch and shoot or off the dribble. Bridges is also a good defender and finishes at the rim very well. He can be a starter next year if the Suns decide to play Booker, Jackson, and Bridges together.
Suns Pick #31 (Second Round)
Finally, with the 31st pick, the Suns took the French guard Elie Okobo. The guard once dropped 44 in a first-round playoff game and averaged nearly three steals a game. I don’t know enough about him to say if he is the answer to the point guard issue in Phoenix, but at 31 he was worth the risk.
As a struggling Suns fan, I would say that I am skeptically optimistic, but there is hope. That is something that I haven’t had in a while when it comes to the hometown team. Let me know what you think about the picks in the comments or on twitter @lennyletcher.