The Arizona Cardinals enter the 2018 season with very little external optimism surrounding them in what many believe will be a tough NFC West. The San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Rams are improved and the Cards will definitely have their work cut out for them if they want to try and earn a postseason berth.
Whether or not the team has success is going to boil down to a few players and how successful they can be. Arizona knows what they will get from guys like Larry Fitzgerald, Patrick Peterson, David Johnson (when he ends his holdout) and Chandler Jones, but they also have a bunch of unknowns on the roster that they will be expecting good play out of.
Let’s take a look at a few of those guys and see who may be feeling the pressure this season.
This one really didn’t take too much thought. It will all come down to how healthy Bradford can remain this season and his success, given that he plays quarterback, will have a direct correlation to how successful the team is. If his knees hold up, the Cardinals may surprise some people. If not, he has a team option for 2019 that likely won’t get picked up and he may be riding off into the sunset.
The defensive line isn’t exactly rife with talent on the interior, and depth is a bit of an issue as well. Corey Peters and Olsen Pierre are solid, but outside of that, Rodney Gunter and Nkemdiche have been incredibly underwhelming the past couple of seasons. Now in his third season, if Nkemdiche doesn’t show promise in 2018, he may be searching for a new job in 2019.
I am still of the opinion that Humphries can be your future franchise left tackle, but he still lacks consistency at times. He already had his fifth-year option picked up, so Hump isn’t in danger of getting cut or anything, but if he wants to hold on to that left tackle spot for years to come, he’s going to need to have a big year. That is highlighted even more given that he will be protecting the ever-brittle Bradford.
There were many comments at the time Williams was drafted in the third-round that he was selected way too high for being a running back convert to a cornerback only one year ago. He is an extreme athlete with a ton of potential, but so far, he has not lived up to it whatsoever. The team brought in Jamar Taylor to compete at the corner spot as well, so it will be up to Williams to make an impression early on with new head coach Steve Wilks if he wants to see playing time on defense.
I already wrote an article recently on how Bynes is going to need to live up to a lot now that he is slated to be a starting middle linebacker. Luckily for him, there isn’t a lot of depth to replace him even if he plays poorly. Still, the pressure for Bynes to perform is there, especially if the Cardinals want to have a strong defense.
Who do you think has the most pressure on the team to be great? Let us know in the comments section.