Arizona Cardinals First Quarter Awards: The best offensive, defensive player, and rookie

The Arizona Cardinals have been watchable over the first four weeks of the 2023 season, so that in and of itself deserves recognition.

Arizona Cardinals v San Francisco 49ers
Arizona Cardinals v San Francisco 49ers / Michael Owens/GettyImages
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Christian McCaffrey, Dennis Gardeck
Arizona Cardinals v San Francisco 49ers / Michael Owens/GettyImages

Defensive Player of the First Quarter: Dennis Gardeck, EDGE

It’s been a season of redemption for a few players in their late 20s, and Dennis Gardeck has been no exception. Last night, I penned a piece on him, and the way he continues to exceed expectations, but Gardeck has done more than just put up decent numbers for IDP fantasy football players. 

Entering the season, the Cardinals had no proven players on the pass rush. There was talent, no doubt, but no one next to Gardeck had logged over 7.0 sacks in a season. And to be fair, Gardeck did that in 2020 and had done little since. 

This year, it’s been a different story, as Gardeck is slowly morphing into one of the NFL’s most elite pass rushers. And if you think that’s far-fetched, allow me to invoke a painful memory upon you in the name of James Harrison, who didn’t break out until 2007 at age 29. Like Gardeck, Harrison wasn’t very big, listed at just 6’0 tall, and 242 lbs, so no, this claim isn’t far-fetched in the slightest.