Despite what the hosts of Good Morning Football are saying, the entire 2018 Arizona Cardinals offense is a glaring question mark, in my opinion.
Frankly, an injury prone Quarterback, no second Wide Receiver, (or WR3 for that matter) no second Running Back, or a capable Tight End along with an average at best offensive line is exactly why I’m concerned. While David Johnson is still one of the NFL’s best RB’s and Larry Fitzgerald is a legend in this league, I’m not sure it will be enough to generate enough points to be competitive in 2018.
The Cardinals have Sam Bradford and Mike Glennon at quarterback, currently. I like this QB set. Bradford is an average starter, though if protected he can excel, as shown in his first year in Minnesota when he set the NFL completion percentage record. As for Glennon, well, he is an acceptable backup, enough said on that issue. As long as the new OL can protect him look for Bradford to shower short precise passes to David Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, and the other assorted unnamed pass catchers in Arizona.
However, Bradford’s health is really key to this season. The Cardinals OL has ranked in a variety of places after the 2017 season. The Football Outsiders have them ranked surprisingly high at 16 for run blocking yet 25th for pass blocking. Pro Football Focus has the 2017 OL group ranked as the league’s 31st worst.
The Cardinals made some interesting moves this offseason, including moving on from Jared Veldheer, who was scheduled to make $6.5 million base salary in the last year of his 5-year $35 million contract. To replace him they signed Andre Smith and Justin Pugh, but both players arrive with concerns. Smith is in his thirties and was placed on IR last year after the week 15 game due to a sprained knee. Pugh also ended his season on the IR after suffering an injury in week 7 due to his back. After that game, he only played once more in week 10. Hopefully, both players are fully healed, if so, this OL could be significantly improved. Though, if not, expect the same sorry OL play in 2018.
David Johnson was out with a wrist injury last year, but he’s now been declared healthy again and he is ready for offseason workouts. Expect him back and ready to set the NFL on fire again. Again, the only concerns here are whether or not the OL can’t open up holes for him. The Cardinals need to think about continuing to address their offensive line throughout the NFL Draft. Elijhaa Penny currently is the primary backup RB, if they have to fall back that far there will be significant concerns. Expect a late FA signing or another RB to be drafted.
Behind the great Larry Fitzgerald, it is pretty barren. The only WR’s worth being mentioned are J.J. Nelson and Chad Williams, and Cobi Hamilton. J.J. Nelson is a speedster who stretches the field but, unfortunately, isn’t particularly effective at it. Chad Williams appears to be a rare Bruce Arians 3rd-round WR draft bust and Cobi Hamilton has had a career total of 18 receptions for 242 yards, according to PFF. Despite adding Brice Butler recently in free agency, I’m personally hoping that Arizona is able to target a player like polished collegiate route runner from Notre Dame, Equanimeous St. Brown. St. Brown would give Sam Bradford a large, high quality, target to throw to in addition to Fitz.
TE is surprisingly acceptable. Though Jermaine Gresham isn’t a superstar he is serviceable. With Ricky Seals-Jones as a backup and ready for any 2TE sets, they should be ok at this position. As mentioned, they are acceptable, this doesn’t mean good. They just have much bigger concerns for the offense, mostly at WR and a long-term QB.
My Quick Take
I don’t expect much from the Cardinals this year. Unfortunately, even if they perform above expectations they are going to have a really tough time in their division. The hype surrounding the Rams and 49ers is enough to stifle hopes for my Cards. I dream of a deep playoff run with Bradford slinging Fitz passes for an exciting last chance to get Fitz a Super Bowl ring, but I don’t see any of this happening. Instead, I will go make my Madden Cardinals team run the table and get Fitz what he deserves.