Season 72 opens up for the Arizona Cardinals with the team hitting the road to face one of the many playoff teams which they will face this season - the Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins are coming off a nice playoff run which ended in heartbreak while the Cards are rebuilding after a rough season. Two QBs with something to prove and two teams still trying to find their way to the big game.
The Cardinals offense was revamped this offseason as the WR corps turned to a youth movement. #1 pick (6th overall) WR T.Forbes came into this team looking to make an impact. The young WR had 6 catches in his first game, which included a big third down conversion late in the game (pictured below).
K.Marshall would have 89 yards and a TD (pictured below) on 17 carries. The young RB was able to show patience and nice holes against a very tough Dolphins defense. Marshall was able to help the Cardinals become balanced and eat clock late in the game when the Dolphins made this close. Marhsall also had a 20+ touchdown run called back due to a holding call.
B.Osweiler had over 200 yards and a TD to go with one INT on the day. Brock made some nice throws and really was just swarmed by a tough Dolphins pass rush. His one TD came to D.Spann (pictured below) which seen the big WR use his size to break through 2 tackles at the 2 yardline and get in the endzone to put this game out of reach late in the 4th quarter.
The Cardinals defense looked to get things turned around against two of the best WR in the league. P.Peterson tied as many INTs as he had last season in just one game wth 2. Peterson and all of the DBs really swarmed the Dolphins passing attack, which led to 4 INTs on the day.
A.Lynch (pictured below) was potentially the player of the game for the Cards, with 2 sacks and a big redzone interception of Bortles. The Cards defense also D.Parker under 35 yards and no TDs on the day.
The Cardinals defense also had 8 sacks on the day as they constantly harrassed Bortles all game. D.Dykes (pictured below) had one of those sacks late in the game to seal the victory.
The Cardinals team played on of the most well rounded games. They were able to stick to their game plan and never paniced even when the Dolphins defense was swarming all on-comers. Marshall and Osweiller both played above average and the Cardinals defense was lights out from the opening kickoff.
The Cardinals will keep their AFC playoff onslaught going with the NE Patriots coming to Arizona for next weeks game.
Season 71 will be remembered as the year of reality for the Arizona Cardinals. "We just didn't play well at any section of our team. Offensively we turned the ball over way too much. Defensively we didn't get any turnovers. Special teams lacked excitement from our return game. I didn't coach well and we didn't set our players up to be successful.
Season 71 Recap
The Cardinals went into the season with a revamped backfield which consisted of Brock Osweiler, Keith Marshall and Danny Vitale. Though the rushing attack was much improved with Marshall being a top 5 running back in the league, the passing attack was one of the bottom 3.
The defense also struggled with leaders Patrick Peterson and Avery Williamson having very little impact on the year. The defense gave up massive gap rushes and big plays in the passing game. Both of these struggles put together caused a 5 win team and a top 5 pick after two back to back playoff runs.
Off-Season 72 Recap
Cards front office brass knew that the offensive line needed improved play, the Quarterback needed serious help with weapons and the defense needed to be sured up to limit big plays. After trading for Aaron Lynch and signing some improved back-ups, the Cardinals front office realized that the cap was tight and bringing in a top flight QB or play maker at the WR or LB positions were just out of the picture. This means the attention was turned to the draft and ensuring a solid draft for another run in Season 72.
Draft for Season 72 Recap
Holding the #5 pick in every round and an additional pick in the 2nd round, the Cardinals knew they needed to find the right players. They drafted Tank Forbes, WR, was the 6th pick in the 1st round, Riley Breckner, C, was the 6th pick in the 2nd round, Bryan Miree, LOLB, was the 29th pick in the 2nd round, Willis Copeland, RT, was the 3rd pick in the 3rd round, Vernard Gordon, WR, was the 6th pick in the 3rd round, Riley Ena, RT, was the 6th pick in the 5th round, Lewis Sellers, WR, was the 6th pick in the 6th round, and Antoine McNair, WR, was the 33rd pick (Mr. Irrelevant) in the 7th round. The Cards also nabbed Javier Derby, MLB, was a undrafted FA.
With this the Saints add a play making WR with Forbes which they have been missing for two seasons. Tank adds size and hands to make the big play downfield. Paired with Darby Spann, Jermichael Terrill, J.J. Nelson and Kian Mealey, the Cards now have an impressive skill set to place on the field for their QBs. The Cardinals also added some much needed youth and depth to their OL with the addition of 3 rookies and two potential sleepers in Derby and Miree on the defensive side of the ball.
Season 72 Outlook
The Cardinals were in financial troubles to start the offseason. Salaries had to be cut loose and potential stars had to be dangled as tradebait. No big moves were made but the Cardinals were able to get some nice young talent in a very deep draft.
This whole season will rely on three things. Can the defense rebound and not allow the big play. In the OMFL is all about stopping the run and forcing people to pass. Can the DBs force INTs? Can the three 1st round picks on the DL cause havok for opposing QBs? Can the LBs stop teams rushing attack? All things that must happen for a defense that should have played much better last season.
Secondly, who is making plays in the passing game. Forbes will carry a lot of pressure with him into the season. The Cardinals coaching staff is impressed by the young players playmaking ability, but will he be able to carry a staff of wideouts who have a lot to prove?
Last, will Osweiller stop turning the ball over? A league and carrer high in INTs last year, the QB situation in Arizona was as fuzzy as could be. Only a large salary and massive cap struggles kept the Cardinals from brining in another QB to compete. A 100% improved passing attack is the #1 must have for the Cardinals to compete this year.
For the Cardinals to move forward, they must look back. A look back at the massive struggles and inability to change course mid-game. They must look at the forced passes and key turnovers to increase opportunities to score points. This could be the year. The year that the Cardinals have another top 5 pick, or a year in which they challenge to actually win the NFCW.