The Arizona Cardinals officially open training camp today.
Tyler and I took turns look at the ABC’s of the 2018 Arizona Cardinals training camp.
Arians era is over - Gone is the winningest coach in franchise history. Also gone is Camp Med, with days off, and veteran treatments. How does the Steve Wilks era play out? It will be interesting to watch.
Bring on the football - Finally, something to get somewhat excited about. Feels like this offseason in particular has lasted forever.
Christian and Chad - The Cardinals desperately need a young receiver to take hold of the room. They need someone who can take the pressure off Fitz and possibly… Extend his career?
David Johnson - one hit wonder or face of the franchise? This will be his most important season yet and will dictate the direction the Cards go this year and beyond. It starts in camp, where DJ has ended his holdout and is back in action.
Early end to camp - Steve Wilks has already put his mark on Arizona Cardinals training camp and it hasn’t even really started. Less open practices, more outside practices and an overall shorter camp. Wilks has the team breaking camp just before their week two preseason tilt with the New Orleans Saints. He is using the week three preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys as an opportunity to get the team into a game week scenario.
Fitz and…? - who is going to line up with Larry Fitzgerald at wide receiver? Chad Williams, Brice Butler and Christian Kirk are all candidates right now.
Gunter, Rodney - The Cardinals desperately need production from their interior defensive linemen and Gunter has taken a step back since an initially solid rookie campaign. In his contract year can he step up?
Helicopter - Antonio Brown showed up to Steelers training camp in a chopper like a baller. Somebody on the Cardinals (my bet is on Chandler Jones) needs to one up that performance.
Iupati, Mike - Iupati is one of the keys to the offensive line for the Arizona Cardinals. They need him to comeback healthy and having found the fountain of youth. If Iupati is a destructive force in the run game it will take the pressure off of…
Josh Rosen - Let’s see what he’s got...
Kicker battle - While Matt McCrane isn’t a household name, he should present a worthy challenge for incumbent Phil Dawson. The 43 year old Dawson will have to show he is worth the big payday he is scheduled for if he makes the roster for the Cardinals.
Lines - both the offensive and defensive lines have a lot to prove. Additions have been made, schemes have been changed, but fans still have yet to be satisfied with the performance on either side the past couple of years. Hopefully that’s all about to change.
Mike Backer - Is Josh Bynes really ready to play as the starting inside linebacker in a new defensive scheme? Can he man the middle between two athletes learning new positions as well?
New quarterbacks - what do any of the three new guys have to offer? So far, we haven’t seen much of Sam Bradford, Josh Rosen or Mike Glennon. Which one will separate themselves from the pack?
Offensive Change - The Cardinals are not going to be the high-flying Arians attack of old. No, their new game plans will likely resemble what we saw with Blaine Gabbert at quarterback for Arians. A short, timing based passing game that gives a rhythm passer like Sam Bradford time and works off a hopefully dominant run game.
Patrick Peterson’s pal - Tyrann Mathieu is gone and left behind are Budda Baker and Antoine Bethea as the starting safeties. The team also just signed Tre Boston, who figures to get plenty of snaps. Hopefully the secondary still plays with that level of swagger that they did at times before.
Quarterbacks - No position will be watched more this camp. Who stands out?
Reddick’s rise - the Cardinals aren’t exceptionally deep at the linebacker position and will be relying heavily on Haason Reddick to have a stellar sophomore year and live up to his draft status.
Safeties - Out are Tyrann Mathieu and Tyvon Branch. In are Budda Baker and Tre Boston. How do the new do versus the old? Will the new defensive scheme be as safety friendly as James Bettcher’s defense was?
Time is now… or never - For many players on this roster, it’s now or never for them to prove they belong. Brandon Williams and Robert Nkemdiche are the first two that come to mind.
Ugly - The Cardinals have talked ad nauseam about their offense being based around the run game. They want to win ugly now. Defense and running the ball. Do they have the horses up front?
Victories can’t be moral - Whoever is named the starting quarterback, whether it’s Bradford or the rookie Rosen, they are going to be expected to win games. Moral victories won’t help them retain the starting job.
Wins - Tyler hit the nail on the head. You can’t go from most successful five seasons in franchise history to worrying about moral victories. The production needs to start from the jump and wins are what matters most.
X - Seth definitely gave me the even numbered letters just so I would get X. Now I’m throwing him under the bus.
X-Factor - The Cardinals need Robert Nkemdiche to be the “X-Factor” on defense and become the player they hoped he could be.
Youth Movement - The Cardinals were consistently one of the oldest teams in the NFL under Bruce Arians. Now, it is time for the youth movement to start. They need their young guns to take control and usher in a new era of Arizona Cardinals football.
Zoom! - The Cardinals need to get through this training camp and preseason healthy and hungry and ready for a great regular season!