Arizona Cardinals: Bird Watching – Week 1


What will I be looking for from the stat-sheet to the sidelines on Sunday

Sunday marks the end of the offseason and the beginning of the regular season officially for the Arizona Cardinals and there’s more than a few things I’ll be looking for as I sit in the stands at University of Phoenix Stadium at 1:05PM in Glendale.

Running Back Split

With three dynamic backs on the roster, how will be carries be divided up between them. Andre Ellington has the pass-catching finesse to make men miss whereas David Johnson has the north/south effect to run people over and Chris Johnson still has the speed to find a hole and punch it in from 30 yards out if need be.

Ellington has already been announced as the starter for the game, that’s no surprise, however who gets what will be interesting to see. My guess is a 60/20/20 split between Ellington/CJ/DJ, but you know Arians will go with the flow and switch it up if one is excelling over the others.

Offensive Line

Now we all sound like a broken record. This type of article is not unique, I know that, and every single one you see will mention the offensive line as something to watch. Mike Iupati is out, for this week at least, Bobbie Massie is suspended for two games, Earl Watford takes over at right tackle, but is that an upgrade?

Protection is key to QB Carson Palmer’s game, he’s not a runner, although he can run at times, but it isn’t pretty. Ample time to get the ball off, but not too much time as seen in Oakland, is what he needs to connect with speedy receivers and playmakers over the middle. Can the O-line give him that?

Patrick Peterson

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#PP21 had a great year last year, but not a dynamic one, the kind we’re used to from him. It may have been the health problems he experienced, it could be a hangover from signing a big contract, regardless, he needs to play like a number one cornerback on this team that lacks a solid replacement behind him, or next to him.

Because of the Cardinals scheme in playing five defensive backs can obscure some deficiencies from a natural corner in the number two spot this may not be a problem, but Peterson needs to live up to his position and pay and put receivers on an island, and shut them down.

James Bettcher

While on the topic of defense, Bettcher has a lot to live up to, big shoes to fill, and a lot of blitzes to call over the course of the season. One game will not make or break his career as the defensive coordinator of the Cardinals, but it will set the ton for the season and set the film that other teams will see when preparing to play the red birds.

As we saw in the preseason, Bettcher is not afraid to call the blitzes that made Todd Bowles defenses so potent and lethal over the last two seasons, but as the game goes on, with first string players in there for 60 minutes, how will he mix things up enough to keep the offense of the Saints on their toes and forcing turnovers.

There’s a lot to be excited for on Sunday in Glendale, from Carson Palmer’s return to the field, what we can do with some of our tight ends, if our defense learned to protect against opposing tight ends, how many extra points the team’s will miss.

One thing is for certain, I’ll be watching some football, real, live, yes-it-counts, football, and the roar of third downs, the smell of peanuts and pretzels and the emotional high that comes with seeing those red jerseys all over the field.