I want to ask most Cardinals fans something: Could a weakness last year turn out to be a strength this year without making HUGE upgrades?
I started the preseason thinking sour thoughts about Brandon Williams and the overall secondary for the Cardinals. Obviously, I’m not including Pat P because he again showed up to camp in tremendous shape. So far, that dreaded secondary has seemed reliable for the most part, and it seems like maybe we undervalued the development of Brandon Williams.
The negatives still outweigh the positives. I thought (and still think) the second corner position was occupied by Justin Bethel (and deservedly so), so the competition is over there. Brandon Williams is definitely improving in being a steady contributor. Oh, and did I mention this type of play makes Tramon Williams the fourth corner? That’s not a bad dime corner.
If Justin Bethel struggles, we could see the pressure building to replace Bethel, but it depends on whether Brandon can continue this steady improvement.
I cannot wait until the season starts, but if Brandon Williams, Justin Bethel, and Tramon Williams show the same competency as they have so far, this could be a top secondary. That’s not even including Tyrann Mathieu and Budda Baker, both of which have shown glimpses of amazing potential.
Imagine this scenario also: The Cards could also be planning for Brandon Williams to be the top dog next year with Bethel on a one year contract currently. Don’t get me wrong, they should still draft a corner next year (not round 1). The very problematic situation could be a strength with the development of Brandon Williams. Also, it’s not like Harlan Miller couldn’t fill in at dime either.
Some more observation:
- So, not to beat a dead horse, but the offense against the Bears looked sluggish. The Bears defensive line made the Cardinals o-line look unreliable. Veldheer and Humphries were very slow footed against Leonard Floyd and Willie Young, while Mike Iupati (who was injured during the game?) was getting bullied by Jaye Howard. Jaye freaking Howard! It looked like Humphries got settled down during the touchdown drive, but that touchdown drive didn’t happen until the SECOND QUARTER. Brings me to my next point:
2. The Cards cannot start the game with the lack of urgency that they showed against the Bears. It seemed equally sluggish for the first team defense, as rookie Tarik Cohen cut it outside multiple times. The gap discipline was horrendous, contain seemed more like elastic tape, and the inside linebackers were not communicating. That’s not to be unexpected, as Scooby Wright and Haason Reddick have yet to be able to ‘command’ the defense. If they are able to communicate, maybe they are able to direct traffic. I guess that’s the good thing about having a Karlos Dansby.
3. Someone who could develop into a decent linebacker is someone I think will push as hard as he can for a roster spot. Most likely, Tre’Von Johnson will be a practice squad guy. I think Tre’Von has done a very decent job at blitzing through gaps, and doesn’t seem to have a problem getting into a blockers chest. I think he’s intriguing.
4. Another undrafted guy that seems to be putting out some very good tape is Ironhead Gallon. Don’t be surprised if he makes the roster for special teams. Gallon still needs to develop his coverage skills, but he’s been a very eager tackler. He’s keeping up with most tight ends, and seems very poised in reading play action. Just like Tre’Von Johnson, he needs a little seasoning before he starts making an impact. I’m afraid that if Gallon doesn’t make the roster, the Cardinals could lose out on his talent, just like they did with Harold Jones-Quartey and Matthias Farley (both have been starters).
5. I am officially convinced, one way or the other, Blaine Gabbert is going to be on an active roster this year. He has proven time and time again his worth throughout this preseason. Don’t be surprised if the Cards wave him around like trade-bait. He was very poised in the pocket against the Bears (again), and showed really good arm strength.
6. Is it me or does the tight end group (finally) seem like a competent group? They have put together a solid preseason, and it continued for the Bears game. Jermaine Gresham found himself open in the back of the end zone, as Carson Palmer rolled out during a goal line situation. Troy Niklas also had a very good crack-back block on a Chris Johnson run, and Ifeanyi Momah showed off his good hands again. Niklas seems like a very good option right now, as someone who could be a starter (seriously, finally). It only took three seasons for him to be healthy (knock on wood).
7. Besides the first string offensive line, I felt very uneasy with the second string o-line too. They’ve been a big bright spot for the Cards this preseason, but just couldn’t hold up against the Bears pass-rush. I think that it might have been an off game for most of the Cardinals, so don’t rush to blowing up the offensive line. It’s not time for that yet. It is time to start thinking about the future of the o-line. I think that John Wetzel and Ulrick John could be starters for the 2018-2019 season, maybe on this team. With the struggles lately of Jared Veldheer and Mike Iupati, they seem like prime examples of the next step in the evolution of the Cardinals line.
8. I really love the play of Jeremy Ross. All this offseason, I’ve heard comparisons about Ross’ legs, as if it’s resemblant of recently retired little big man, Anquan Boldin. When Ross could of went out of bounds, he instead stayed in and gained an extra 5 yards right in front of ex-Card Marcus Cooper. If Ross continues to play like this with the first string offense, he could find a regular starring role with the Cards.
9. We need to pay tribute to the Q. Seriously, he (along with Darnell Dockett) were my favorite players for a time period. My fondest memory of Anquan Boldin was feeling like crap when the Jets broke his jaw. I thought he deserved better than he got, and that’s why he left Arizona. I know that he should of stayed in Arizona (thanks Rod Graves), but his journey made the man. I think he’s going to be a hall of famer one day, but probably won’t be until 10 years after he’s retired.
10. I know that Robert Nkemdiche was recently deemed injured for the last two weeks of the preseason, and could miss the regular season tilt against the Lions. To me, I think they are in good hands until he comes back. I am really comfortable with Olsen Pierre and Josh Mauro to replace him. When Nkemdiche returns, watch out. Until then, I am excited to see if Pierre can step up to the challenge.