We're now five weeks into the season, and things are not going well for the Arizona Cardinals. Fans of the franchise are beginning to get fed up with the "at least the team is competitive" argument. The fact of the matter is that the Redbirds, at 1-4, possess one of the worst records in professional football.
Not surprisingly, most of Arizona's issues exist on defense. When free agency got underway this past March, general manager Monti Ossenfort took a pass on all of the top-quality defenders who were available. Linebacker Kyzir White looks like a fantastic acquisition, but the other free-agent additions from that side of the ball have been mostly underwhelming.
The lack of talent that Cards defensive coordinator Nick Rallis is doing his best with is starting to become a major issue. It's a problem that has come to the forefront, in particular, over the past couple of Sundays.
Rallis' crew had very few answers for the San Francisco 49ers scoring attack during the Cardinals' Week 4 loss. Running back Christian McCaffrey basically had his way with the group, racking up 177 yards from scrimmage and four total touchdowns versus "Big Red". Then again, McCaffrey and the Niners appear to an unstoppable, well-oiled machine these days that is capable of inflicting a beating like that on a large number of teams.
Well-stocked offensive attacks are having their way with the Arizona Cardinals defense
Things were just as bad in Week 5, when the Cincinnati Bengals passing attack dominated the Arizona secondary. Joe Burrow, Cincy's struggling Pro Bowl quarterback, got back on track by completing 78.2% of his throws for 317 yards and three touchdowns. The Cards had no one who could cover Ja'Marr Chase, the star wideout who hauled in 15 passes for 192 receiving yards and all three of Burrow's scoring tosses.
When you head into the season with an undermanned defense, injuries could be positively devastating. If the first-string is barely starting material, imagine how rough it could be when the backups have to play. Safety Jalen Thompson exited the Cincinnati contest, and other viable contributors like Budda Baker, Jonathan Ledbetter, Josh Woods, Carlos Watkins, Myjai Sanders, and L.J. Collier have been sidelined because of injury as well.
Many observers feel that the Cardinals are exceeding expectations through the first month of the campaign. Head coach Jonathan Gannon's contingent could just as easily be in possession of a 3-2 record at the present time. Imagine how interesting things could've been for Arizona if Ossenfort would've paid just a little bit more attention to the squad's incomplete defense in 2023.
(Statistics provided by ESPN.com)