Arizona Cardinals get it right by keeping Nolan Cooney, releasing Matt Haack

One position battle just ended for the Arizona Cardinals when they retained Nolan Cooney and released Matt Haack.
Jul 27, 2023; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals punter Nolan Cooney (16) during training camp at
Jul 27, 2023; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals punter Nolan Cooney (16) during training camp at / Rob Schumacher/The Republic / USA TODAY

By the end of the Arizona Cardinals Week 2 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, it had to be official. Nolan Cooney, with five punts this preseason, landed three of them inside the 20. One of his punts looked like it was heading for the end zone before the backspin he put onto it forced the ball to take a nominal Chiefs bounce, and the Cardinals downed it. 

In Week 1, Cooney punted just once while the now-released Matt Haack punted four times. Cooney landed his only punt inside the 20, forcing the Denver Broncos to start well within their own territory. In that game, Haack punted four times for just a 42.3 average, and a touchback. 

In Cooney’s four punts this past weekend, none landed in the end zone, and he also averaged an astounding 54.3 yards per punt. If the Cardinals starting offense is incapable of moving the ball with Colt McCoy under center, then at least the Redbirds have a guy capable of pinning opponents deep. 

Arizona Cardinals right to keep Cooney, release Haack

To be frank, I am a big fan of throwback football, and something tells me we are going to see a lot of it this year. And yes, I pretty much suffered through watching Kliff Kingsbury and his college-like offense stagnate between 2019 and 2022, knowing it was destined to fail, and fail it did. 

Because I’m so appreciative of the throwback game, I also value the punt more than most. I’ll even go as far as to say that it’s one of the most important plays in the game and in some cases, the punt wins games. 

And when you have a punter capable of regularly booting the ball 50-plus yards, assuming the coverage team gets downfield fast enough, they will help you win a little more often than you may be projected. Or at the absolute least, they will pin opponents deep and force them to drive most of the field to get points.

While we didn’t see that necessarily play out this past week given the backups’ struggles on defense, the starters have played better than we thought so far. And if that trend continues into the regular season with (most of) the starters, then Cooney could give the Cards some shorter fields to work with by helping them win the field position battle.


Source: Cardinals cut punter Matt Haack after Nolan Cooney’s big preseason game by Arizona Sports

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