The season started with optimism, with the thoughts of the Arizona Cardinals making the playoffs, and a much-needed Super Bowl run for wily vets like Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald. This season has been anything other than expected, with injury after injury taking its toll on the roster, and depleting it.
Now, looking at week 5 and week 6, could the Cards go 2-4 to start the season? Would most Cardinal fans be happy if they split it 3-3?
The Cardinals are again, the underdogs of the NFC West. Beating either/or of the next two opponents could prove to be difficult, as the Eagles and Buccaneers combine for a 5-2 record.
Some hard facts about the first four weeks:
- The O-line has had a very troubling time protecting Carson Palmer.
- There are no free lanes for runners to break through.
- The team is now sticking a back or tight end to help in protection, something Bruce Arians hates.
There are some positives going forward though: The defense has done as good of a job the last three weeks as can be expected, as I feel the Cowboys really didn’t beat the Cards, as much as they shot themselves in the foot. And then you hold a team to field goals throughout the game against San Francisco?
No Markus Golden or David Johnson or Mike Iupati? Well, that’s what the youth is for.
Golden will probably be replaced by the combination of Kareem Martin, Haason Reddick (can play outside linebacker), and maybe a street free agent (LaMarr Houston, Josh McNary, Sio Moore?)
Who replaces David Johnson?
Well, I think the way they are doing it is possibly the only way of doing it, but realistically, someone needs to step up and be a workhorse in this offense.
The opposing defense probably aren’t fooled by the combo of Chris Johnson running a majority of his snaps, and Andre Ellington catching a majority of his snaps. I think it could be time to test Elijhaa Penny, see what he can do.
Iupati is a different story. We thought that Alex Boone could be the replacement, but he himself has been injured. That left rookie Will Holden to fend off DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead and that didn’t go well.
Who replaces Mike Iupati as a lead blocker? Not a superstar, but someone who could step in. If D.J. Humphries returns, maybe John Wetzel fills in?
These next two weeks will be important for the Cards, it all depends on who they can get to step up.
Being an underdog isn’t unfamiliar territory, as the Cardinals weren’t expected to win many games in 2013, instead they just barely missed the playoffs at 10-6.
There are reasons to make 2017 an excuse, that we are missing too many players, but the Cards shouldn’t make any excuses. They need to find a way to persevere. It could end up being the theme for the Cards in 2017.