2018 ARIZONA CARDINALS FOOTBALL PREVIEW

HEAD COACH: Steve Wilks (1st season)

RECORD WITH CARDINALS: 0 – 0

CAREER RECORD: 0 – 0

2017 RECORD: 8 – 8

2017 DIVISIONAL RECORD: 3 – 3

OFFESNIVE COORDINATOR: Mike McCoy

DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR: Al Holcomb

STADIUM: University of Phoenix Stadium (63,400)

 

2018 SCHEDULE

September 9 Washington

September 16 at LA Rams

September 23 Chicago

September 30 Seattle

October 7 at San Francisco

October 14 at Minnesota

October 18 Denver

October 28 San Francisco

BYE

November 11 at Kansas City

November 18 Oakland

November 25 at LA Chargers

December 2 at Green Bay

December 9 Detroit

December 16 Atlanta

December 23 LA Rams

September 30 at Seattle

 

2017 RESULTS

Detroit 23 – 35

Indianapolis 16 – 13 OT

Dallas 17 – 28

San Francisco 18 – 15 OT

Philadelphia 7 – 34

Tampa Bay 38 – 33

LA Rams 0 – 33

San Francisco 20 – 10

Seattle 16 – 22

Houston 21 – 31

Jacksonville 27 – 24

LA Rams 16 – 32

Tennessee 12 – 7

Washington 15 – 20

NY Giants 23 – 0

Seattle 26 – 24

 

FIVE – YEAR WINNING TREND

2013: 10 – 6

2014: 11 – 5

2015: 13 – 3

2016: 7 – 8 – 1

2017: 8 – 8

 

STARTERS RETURNING OFFENSE: 6

STARTERS RETURNING DEFENSE: 5

 

2017 TEAM STATS

OFFENSE:

TOTAL: 314.1

RUSHING: 86.6

PASSING: 227.5

SCORING: 18.4

THIRD DOWN%: 35.2

PUNT RETURNS: 7.0

KICK RETURNS: 20.4

 

DEFENSE:

TOTAL: 310.9

RUSHING: 89.6

PASSING: 221.3

SCORING: 22.6

INTERCEPTIONS: 15

SACKS: 37

TURNOVER MARGIN: -4

 

2017 INDIVIDUAL LEADERS

PASSING: Carson Palmer, 164 – 267 –1,978 – 9TD – 7INT

RUSHING: Adrian Peterson, 129 – 448 – 3.5 – 2TD

RECEIVING: Larry Fitzgerald, 109 –1,156 – 10.6 – 6TD

TACKLES: Karlos Dansby, 95

SACKS: Chandler Jones, 17.0

INTERCEPTIONS: Antoine Bethea, 5

 

2018 ARIZONA DRAFT: B

QB Josh Rosen, UCLA

WR Christian Kirk, Texas A&M

OL Mason Cole, Michigan

RB Chase Edmonds, Fordham

CB Chris Campbell, Penn State

OT Korey Cunningham, Cincinnati

 

KEY PLAYER MOVEMENT

ADDITIONS

CB Bene Benwikere, Dallas

QB Sam Bradford, Minnesota

WR Brice Butler, Dallas

QB Mike Glennon, Chicago

DE Benson Mayowa, Dallas

G Justin Pugh, NY Giants

OT Andre Smith, Cincinnati

CB Marcus Williams, Houston

 

SUBTRACTIONS

CB Justin Bethel, Atlanta

G Alex Boone, free agent

LB Karlos Dansby, free agent

S Tyrann Mathieu, Houston

TE Troy Niklas, New England

QB Carson Palmer, retired

DT Frostee Rucker, free agent

OT Jared Veldheer, Denver

G Earl Watford, Chicago

CB Tramon Williams, Green Bay

 

OFFENSE PREVIEW

The Arizona Cardinals were one of the best in the NFC just a couple of seasons ago. Things have changed and they have changed quickly in the land of the sun. Bruce Arians retired after becoming the winningest head coach in franchise history. Now the ship will be directed by Steve Wilks, a first year head coach with assistant coaching experience at Carolina. Mike McCoy will be the OC and he has the resume’ to get this offense clicking.

The Cardinals struggled on offense in 2017 ranking 20+ in six major categories including 22nd in total offense, 30th in rushing and 25th in scoring. There will be several changes in 2018 including at quarterback where Carson Palmer called it quits after the 2017 season. The Cardinals are hoping Sam Bradford is the answer after he signed a two-year contract. Bradford has missed 48 of a possible 128 career games due to injury. If Bradford is healthy, he will be the starter. If not, Arizona has veteran Mike Glennon and rookie Josh Rosen waiting in the wings. Rosen is the QB of the future (or maybe now) after throwing for 9,339 yards and 59 touchdowns at UCLA. He also completed 60.9% of he passes.

The running game ranked 30th in the NFL with Adrian Peterson and Kerwynn Williams as the primary ball carriers. The Cardinals are hoping David Johnson will be healthy after missing significant time over the last two seasons. Johnson rushed for 1,239 yards and scored TD’s just two seasons ago. If Johnson can’t get the job done, Coach Wilks will turn to Elijhaa Penny, rookie Chase Edmonds, and TJ Logan. Edmonds has great vision and the type of instincts that will make him a success in the NFL, if he stays healthy!

It won’t matter who runs the football if the offensive line doesn’t get better. Arizona addressed the issue by signing Justin Pugh from the Giants and Andre Smith from Cincinnati. Pugh will start at RG with Smith handling RT. Center A.Q. Shipley returns along with LG Mike Iupati. The Cardinals are hoping LT DJ Humphries can return to form after suffering a knee injury. Arizona drafted Mason Cole (Michigan) and Korey Cunningham (Cincinnati) to provide depth.

When most talk of the Arizona Cardinals they think of WR Larry Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald returns for his 15th NFL season after a very successful 2017 campaign (109 receptions, 1,156 yards). If the QB and OL situations are resolved, he may be targeted 150 times in 2018. Joining Fitzgerald will be rookie Christian Kirk  (Texas A&M), Brice Butler (Dallas), Chad Williams and JJ Nelson. Williams and Nelson must be more consistent in order to get more playing time. At tight end, Arizona is hoping Jermaine Gresham can return from a torn Achilles. TE Ricky Seals-Jones is an excellent receiver, but must be a better blocker.

 

DEFENSE PREVIEW:

The Cardinals were actually respectable in 2017 ranking 3rd in total defense, 4th in rushing and 8th in passing. In fact, Arizona joined Baltimore and Denver as the only defense’s ranked in the top-10 over the last three seasons. Coach Wilks is making a change from the 3-4 to the 4-3 scheme. Can the Cardinals maintain their level of excellence in the switch? Also, can Arizona be better without playmakers Tyrann Mathieu and Tyvon Branch? And, what about the loss of Karlos Dansby and Tramon Williams?

Despite all the questions, there is a lot to like about this defense. Chandler Jones led the NFL in sacks with 17. Markus Golden is back from an ACL injury and will move to DE. Corey Peters and Robert Nkemdiche are expected to start at DT. The Cardinals are expecting more from Nkemdiche after inconsistent play. Olsen Pierre played well last season and very well could start in place of Nkemdiche.

At linebacker, the Cardinals are expected to start Josh Bynes, Deone Bucannon and Haason Reddick. Depth shouldn’t be an issue with Jeremy Cash, Vontarrius Dora, Scooby Wright, Edmond Robinson and Praise Martin-Oguike as primary back-ups.

The secondary should be solid with three starters returning. Patrick Peterson is one of the top corners in the NFL. Peterson is a three-time All-Pro and a seven-time Pro Bowler. Finding a opposite corner hasn’t been an easy solution for the Cardinals. Coach Wilks will take a long look at former third-round draft pick Brandon Williams, Marcus Williams, Bene’ Benwikere and Harlan Miller. Arizona also drafted Penn St. corner Chris Campbell, who has great size and length. He can play inside, outside or even at safety. At safety, Budda Baker is expected to replace Tyrann Mathieu. Veteran Antoine Bethea returns, but turns 34 this season. Also in the running at safety will be Rudy Ford and Miller.

 

WHAT THE SCOUTS ARE SAYING:

Arizona stumbled through the 2017 season. Bruce Arians and Carson Palmer saw enough and retired. The running game suffered after David Johnson was hurt. The QB situation is still up in the air with Bradford’s health concerns, Glennon’s willingness to be a back-up and Rosen, who may not be ready for the NFL. Rosen was the best passer in the draft, but some question his intangibles.

WR Larry Fitzgerald was the only weapon on offense and he may be counted on even more in 2018.

Some consider the defense to be just average after losing some key personnel. Chandler Jones is the only real game-changer.

 

PREDICTION:

There are way too many “ifs” for Arizona to be a real playoff contender in 2018. Bradford must stay healthy, the running game must be much-much better and the defense has some holes. Counting on Bradford and Johnson is risky. If Rosen is thrown into the mix too early, Arizona will be thinking about 2019.

 

PREDICTED FINISH: Fourth, NFC West.