If there was any team close to hitting the panic button after week three, it’s the Cardinals. Despite a 1-2 record this team does not look like last years but neither does Arizona’s schedule. While the first three weeks haven’t been pretty, Arizona has been facing some of the top teams in the league to start the season. This week they travel to Charlotte, North Carolina to face the shaky Panthers. If there was ever a time for this team to get back on track, this week is it. Here’s how Arizona can help turn things around this weekend:
Get the Rookies On the Field
The Cardinals have been one of few teams that have yet to really use any of their draft picks at any capacity. Arizona drafted tight end Trey McBride in the second round and running back Keontay Ingram in the 6th. Both players have hardly seen the field this season despite the offense’s struggles. While Arizona has a solid tight end in Zach Ertz, it’s important to know what you have.
The defensive side of football is no different. Arizona has given minimal playtime to defensive end Cameron Thomas and no playtime to outside linebacker Myjai Sanders. With the way this defense has played through three weeks, these guys should be on the field. It’s extremely hard to develop a player if they don’t ever see the field. While these guys are young, this team needs help rushing the passer now so it’s time these guys play some snaps.
Get Marquise Brown the Football
Last week Brown eclipsed over 100 yards in a game for the first time this season. Brown was the focal point of Arizona’s offense and led the team in receiving on the day. While last week was a good start, Arizona needs to keep feeding their recent trade acquisition the football.
Specifically, they need to take some shots down field with Brown. His longest catch this season is only 26 yards. Arizona’s offense has lacked big plays this season and it has contributed to their rough start. Getting Brown going downfield now could be extremely helpful once DeAndre Hopkins returns as well. If defense’s feel Brown is a true deep threat on every down, that will put less eyes on Hopkins once he returns. In contrast, Hopkins’ return could also open things up for Brown as well. That being said, if Arizona doesn’t get Brown going downfield this Sunday, passing the ball won’t get much easier come Hopkins return.
Pressure the Quarterback
Arizona is dead last in sacks through three games to start the year. The team only has two sacks on the year and it’s been a heavy contributor to their rough play. Arizona’s run defense has been solid to start the season but the lack of pass rush has had the pass defense looking poor. They have one of the top five worst passing defenses so far this season and facing a quarterback like Baker Mayfield is perfect for getting back on track. The Panthers were top five in most sacks allowed last season and the beginning of this season hasn’t looked much better. If there was ever a game for this Cardinals defense to get back on track, this is the one.
Arizona has to find their way both on offense and defense this week. This team has a brutal schedule and a matchup with the Eagles next week won’t make things any easier. If they can get back on track and have a solid day this Sunday, I expect they will be very competitive come next week’s game as well.