The Incredible Start for the Arizona Cardinals
Having not made any waves in the NFL since their remarkable 2009 Super Bowl appearance, the Arizona Cardinals have fallen by the wayside and were put on the backburner of emerging teams to be on the look out for. But it seems the tides have turned in the desert at the moment, as the Cardinals are slowly beginning to show signs of strength, versatility, and dominance.
It was a Week One defensive stand against the Seattle Seahawks that helped the Cardinals prevail 20-16, and a Week Two performance by Kevin Kolb and the emerging offense that helped the Cardinals triumph over the New England Patriots 20-18. So, one of the NFL’s most unlikely teams now sits at 2-0 to begin the 2012 season. Are the Cardinals a legitimate threat this year in the NFL, or have they simply had an incredible start that may be too good to be true? We’ll see if these desert birds have what it takes to keep flying high the rest of the season, otherwise we could see the Cardinals wings being clipped somewhere down the line.
At the beginning of the season, the Arizona Cardinals were highly overlooked due to the fact that they made no effort to revamp their team. Last season’s acquisition of one time wonder Philadelphia Eagle Kevin Kolb was nothing short of a bust in the eyes of most, given that Kolb was taken in for more than he could put out on the field. The only versatile wide-receiver has always been Larry Fitzgerald, the one and only elite target for the Cards, while the rest of the receiving corps lacks much depth. The defense is another story and this year they didn’t seem to add any respectable talent to their side of the ball. But, now it seems that this team is proving that they are on the rise once again. So what exactly has changed?
What it really comes down to is how Arizona has preached defense and now uses it to win football games. The Cardinals have rebuffed and revamped their defense in a way that other teams are failing to realize, and now it has become the focal point of a team that is desperate to make a splash this season. Ray Horton is the Cards defensive coordinator. He was acquired from the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2011 where he was a defensive backs coach. It’s because of him the desert birds have won the past nine of 11 regular season games heading into week 3.
In the past nine wins, the Cardinals haven’t given up more than 20 points and have surprised teams such as the Patriots by being defensive minded. In a time when offense is preached as being why teams win more football games, the Cardinals have gone against the grain and have made a statement. Who says you need an elite QB to win games? The Cards have Kevin Kolb and John Skelton on their depth chart and by no means are these two guys considered elite quarterbacks, but they are backed by a solid defense who has backed up their game play and a defensive coordinator who has meshed talent very effectively.
The talented Arizona defense uses Darnell Dockett and Calais Campbell up front as defensive enforcers, while in the backfield, Patrick Peterson, Kerry Rhodes, and Adrian Wilson are defending against the pass. Horton is a guy who likes to utilize the blitz in many situations, and this week when the Eagles come to town, expect to see Arizona bulldozing their way through the offensive line to get to Michael Vick. If Arizona keeps playing versatile defense, expect to see more wins coming their way.
What do you think? Are the Cardinals soaring too high for their own good, or are they flying towards something sweeter? All those questions are forthcoming during the 2012 season.
Chris Strong is a die-hard Green Bay Packers fan living in the heart of Chicago and though he gets many strange looks wearing his green and gold, he represents his team proudly in the windy city. By day, Chris is a supervisor at a Chicago Cubs merchandise store located across the way from Wrigley Field, not to mention an avid film and media writer. By night, Chris continues to pursue a sports writing career as he loves all things football, especially the NFL.