The New England Patriots and the Arizona Cardinals are squaring off on Sunday Night football, so I spoke with Seth Cox, our Cardinals coverage at Revenge of the Birds, to get their take on the upcoming game.
What have the reports been like for Chandler Jones as an outside linebacker?
He’s been a wrecking ball in practice and has shown some flashes in the preseason. The key for Jones is not necessarily to be a guy that is an unstoppable force, but more to allow the other components of the Arizona Cardinals defense to function at a higher success rate in pass rushing.
That being said, Jones has won quite a bit in the training camp portion against his own team mates and had one sack in the preseason in about a three quarters worth of snaps, so we’ll see how he transitions that into the regular season.
I think the biggest thing about Jones has been how good he has been in the run game, something the Arizona Cardinals pride themselves on, but let’s be honest, he was brought here to be a 10+ sacks a season guy, so getting that started against his former team would surely be sweet.
The Patriots offensive line is always questionable, so how dangerous is the Cardinals pass rush- and how do they generate pressure? (note: the Patriots declared LT Nate Solder as OUT after the questions were answered)
I think the Cardinals focus on improving the pass rush- they took Robert Nkemdiche with their first round pick and traded their second round pick for Chandler Jones- was made so they can generate pressure without blitzing.
Except they have already said they are not going to stop blitzing, something they did more than any other team in 2015. They like to play games and bring Deone Bucannon, Kevin Minter, D.J. Swearinger as well as Tyrann Mathieu from different spots on the defense as much as possible.
Sometimes it hurts them, like the NFC Championship game, but if they are playing with a lead, they tend to start rolling.
The Cardinals have had some issues with roster turnover and injury in the secondary- could this become a vulnerability against the Patriots?
Despite the overwhelming belief in the team, if you asked anyone what the downfall of the 2016 Arizona Cardinals could be (outside of Carson Palmer’s health) the answer would be cornerback number two. The Cardinals have thrown quite a few bodies at the position, now the question is who sticks and makes the plays.
The rest of the secondary is going to find out really quick if they have improved with having to cover Gronk and Bennett (note: TE Rob Gronkowski was declared out after the questions were answered), but there is no bigger question than whether or not Brandon Williams or Justin Bethel can be good enough to allow this team to flourish.
The Arizona passing attack loves to take the top off of opposing defenses. What is the Cardinals philosophy with taking home run shots so frequently?
It is a combination of Bruce Arians philosophy (six homerun plays a game), Carson Palmer’s belief in his arm and the fact that they have three guys in John Brown, J.J. Nelson and Michael Floyd who thrive in winning deep. Brown and Nelson have speed for days, while Floyd’s best attribute is his ability to win a jump ball against a smaller, less physical defensive back.
Palmer and Arians have developed their trust in each other, and they trust all these guys to win, so they like to push the ball down the field and see what happens.
Running back David Johnson is on every fantasy football top five list, but how does he look in reality?
Without being too much of a homer, he has looked… special. He has matured in training camp and the preseason as a runner, learning to be patient and let the play develop inside, something he did not do consistently in 2015. When it comes to running outside or catching passes, he has the ability to take any play to the house.
The Marshall Faulk comparison has been tossed around quite a bit this off season and while I personally would not want to put that much pressure on Johnson in year two, he has the chance to be as good as a Matt Forte type of runner, who could evolve into a Faulk type weapon.