The past week has been a fantastic one for the Arizona Cardinals. Following a pair of close losses, first-year head coach Jonathan Gannon's crew finally broke through with an upset victory last Sunday. The Redbirds hierarchy has received a ton of praise, and rightfully so, for the squad's 28-16 triumph over a despised Dallas Cowboys squad.
Things have changed drastically over the past eight months or so in the desert. Cards owner Michael Bidwill got the ball rolling back in January when he hired Monti Ossenfort to be the club's new general manager. "Big Red" had stopped moving forward with longtime GM Steve Keim, and the front office was in dire need of a fresh perspective.
Many Cardinals fans, including yours truly, were unimpressed with Ossenfort's approach to free agency. There was a belief among the franchise's faithful that the players being brought in would not make a difference. Boy, were we wrong.
Arizona's most "noteworthy" acquisition of the offseason was Kyzir White, a high-energy linebacker who Gannon brought in to be the quarterback of the defense. Safety Budda Baker, the heart and soul of the group, was retained. It's White, however, who appears to be the star of the Cardinals' new and improved unit.
Ossenfort raised some eyebrows back on August 24th when he orchestrated a trade for journeyman quarterback Josh Dobbs. A large segment of observers criticized the move. Dobbs is proving his detractors wrong, however, and there are some who believe that the 28-year-old can handle the offense better than injured starter Kyler Murray.
Arizona Cardinals have acquired individuals who are buying into the program
White wasn't the only defender that Ossenfort acquired to appease Gannon. K'Von Wallace, a former teammate of White's with the Philadelphia Eagles, was plucked off of the waiver wire just a month ago. In three games, Wallace has racked up an impressive 22 tackles and three passes defensed for the Cards from the safety position.
There were also some doubts about Hjalte Froholdt, a center who offensive coordinator Drew Petzing was familiar with from the Cleveland Browns. Arizona enthusiasts were a bit taken aback when it was announced that the native of Denmark would be a starter. Froholdt is ignoring the noise, and has proceeded to confound the skeptics with his stellar play as the anchor of the Cardinals blocking unit.
Additional acquisitions such as Geoff Swaim and Elijah Wilkinson are contributing to the scoring attack. Krys Barnes, Andre Chachere, and Kevin Strong were signed to help out on the defensive side of the ball. Other new members of the roster like Josh Woods and Zach Pascal are assisting the Cards on special teams.
Several youngsters from Ossenfort's first draft class with Arizona, led by first-round pick Paris Johnson Jr., have also been vital contributors. Wide receiver Michael Wilson has hauled in seven of the nine passes thrown his way, and is averaging a whopping 23 yards per reception. Cornerback Kei'Trel Clark has more than held his own as a first-year starter in the Cardinals secondary.
Shame on all of us Cards fanatics who believed that Ossenfort didn't know what he was doing. There's a plan in place with this new regime that has the franchise headed in an exciting direction. It's now time for the loyal members of the "Red Sea" to just sit back and enjoy the transformation.
(Statistics provided by Pro Football Reference)