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Know Your Enemy: Arizona Cardinals

The Arizona Cardinals had a disappointing 2017 season (8-8) and fired coach/beret guru Bruce Arians. Long time Cardinals player, Carson Palmer, retired but David Johnson returns from a Week 1 injury in 2017. Former Carolina DC Steve Wilks takes over at Head Coach with Mike McCoy as OC and Al Holcomb at DC. Arizona looks to rebuild and improve with major changes at QB and defense.

Strengths

Secondary

Patrick Peterson is still a shut-down corner and Brandon Williams stepped up for the Cardinals in 2017. They lose Tramon Wiliams who returned to the Packers. Antoine Bethea joins the team for a veteran safety presence and 2017 second round pick Budda Baker will take over for the Honey Badger. Jamar Taylor and Bene Benwikere have talent and look to revive their career at nickel for Arizona.

Linebacker

Deonne Buchannon will be the Will in the new 4-3 for the Cardinals and 1st round pick from 2017 Hassan Reddick will be the SAM. Josh Bynes is a weak middle LB but is experienced. Scooby Wright is the backup to Bynes.

Defensive Line

Chandler Jones is a good defense end and Markus Golden can rush the passer for Arizona. Robert Nkemdiche must live up to his hype and will switch to 4-3 under tackle. Corey Peters is an average nose tackle. Olsen Pierre and Rodney Gunter are solid backups at DT. Benson Mayowa failed in Dallas but has some talent that he showed in Oakland as the backup DE for Cardinals.

Running Back

David Johnson returns and will and can add 1,100 yards rushing back to Arizona. Johnson is a great receiving back too. Chase Edmonds was drafted in Round 4 in May and TJ Logan is the 3rd back and primary returner for Arizona.

Weaknesses

Quaterback

Sam Bradford battled injury in 2017 and the Vikings didn’t want him back after getting Kirk Cousins. Bradford is the new starter to take over for Carson Palmer and battles first round pick Josh Rosen (UCLA) for the starting job. Arizona could be good at QB if Bradford returns to 2016 form or Rosen steps up as a rookie.

Weapons

Larry Fitzgerald defies age (1,156 yards and 6 TDs) and Christian Kirk was drafted in Round 2 in May. Third round pick from 2017, Chad Williams, must take a leap forward in 2018 at WR. JJ Nelson (508 yards 2 TDs) is a deep threat to replace John Brown. Brice Butler replaces Jaron Brown. The Cardinals have some talent but it isn’t a great receiving group with age and inexperience questions. Jermaine Gresham (322 yards and 2 TDs) is the tight end.

Offensive Line

The Cardinals cut Jared Veldheer surprisingly this offseason. Former first round pick DJ Humphries moves to left tackle and Andre Smith was added at right tackle after struggling the last few years with several teams. Mike Iupati and AQ Shipley is a decent LG and center combo with experience. Justin Pugh was given big money in free agency from the Giants to play Right guard. Pugh is oft-injured but could help stabilize the line. The Cardinals need to improve their run blocking and pass protection to have any hope in 2018.

Schedule

Arizona hosts Chicago in Week 3 and Detroit in Week 14 in the desert and land of Glove. The Cardinals travel to Minnesota in Week 6 and Green Bay in Week 13. Arizona is good at home at 5-3 so it will be tougher for the Bears and Lions in Arizona. If the Cardinals get good QB play, they could be a better team than expected.