2015 NFL Season Preview- Arizona Cardinals
A season that started with so much promise, ended with shear disappointment.
Following an explosive 9-1 start to the regular season, they finished at a disappointing 11–5, achieving their highest win total since 1975 when they were still in St. Louis. The Cardinals clinched their first playoff berth since 2009, and had a chance to become the first team to try to play the Super Bowl on their own home field. However, they were defeated in the wildcard round by the 7-8-1 Carolina Panthers, 27-16.
The Cardinals had one their worst offensive seasons in franchise history and lost all five games by a combined total of 80 points. Quarterback Carson Palmer went down in the 10th game with a knee injury. Arizona would likely have still won the NFC West had backup Drew Stanton not injured his knee four weeks later. Instead of going with rookie Logan Thomas, the team resigned Ryan Lindley, who never threw a touchdown or won a game, to be the starter. Lindley lost all of his three starts including the playoff loss. Wide receiver Michael Floyd played his best when Stanton came in at quarterback and Larry Fitzgerald may have lost a step, but he is still a dangerous weapon. Left tackle Jared Veldheer was the team's MVP as he was the best offensive lineman and was a phenomenal pass blocker.
The most mysterious part of this team is the downfall of what was once an elite defense. The Cardinals allowed a least 100 yards rushing in six of the final eight games after only allowing 100 yards once in the first eight games. Defensive end Calais Campbell has played at a high level for years and was finally awarded with his first Pro Bowl selection. Tommy Kelly was forced into the starting lineup after Darnell Docket went down with an injury. Cornerback Patrick Peterson has the potential to be the best cornerback in football but still has a lot of growing to do.
The rookie class was a mix of good and bad. Safety Deone Bucannon played well as the nickel corner but faded off towards the end of the year. Tight end Troy Niklas showed flashes but ended up on IR. Wide receiver John Brown showed big play ability and speed but dropped too many balls on the year.
Cardinals 2014 Rankings
Opponent Passing Yards
Opponent Rushing Yards
NFL Rank- 14th
NFL Rank- 31st
NFL Rank- 29th
NFL Rank- 13th
NFL Rank- 24th
NFL Rank- 24th
After finishing the season on a disappointing note, head coach Bruce Arians had a lot of questions to answer. For starters the questions on offense with the decision to play Ryan Lindley over Logan Thomas and what to do with aging veteran quarterbacks Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton.
After defensive coordinator Todd Bowles left to become the head coach of the Jets, the team promoted outside linebackers coach James Bettcher to be the team's new defensive coordinator.
Notable Additions- G Mike Iupati, TE Jermaine Gresham, LB Sean Weatherspoon, LB Lamar Woodley
Notable Departures- WR/RS Ted Ginn Jr., TE Rob Housler, DE Darnell Dockett, DT Dan Williams, CB Antonio Cromartie
John Brown Rookie Highlights
2015 NFL Draft
Arizona held the 24th overall going into the draft with many positions that needed addressed. Most notably at running back and linebacker.
Andre Ellington has big play ability but his size leaves him open to injury. There isn't a big, physical running back on the roster and it was needed last year.
Kevin Minter hasn't produced yet and Daryl Washington can be counted on to return. The team needs an infusion of speed from the middle linebacker spot.
Alex Okafor had a better sophomore season, but the Cardinals don't have any one that keeps offensive coordinators up at night. Arizona needs a pass rusher.
The Cardinals ended up selecting Florida offensive tackle D.J. Humphries with the 24th overall pick. Humphries has undeniable talent and has the speed and quickness of a tight end but has struggled with consistency in college. The pick was questionable as tackles Jared Veldheer and Bobby Massie were coming off their best pro seasons.
Arizona also notably drafted Northern Iowa running back David Johnson in the third round. Johnson is a big, strong runner with decisive, athletic strides but doesn't possess breakaway speed and can be caught from behind.
David Johnson Highlights
What to Expect
This team has a lot of questions that need answers.
Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton will both be back, but Palmer has a catalogued injury history and he will 36 this season. David Johnson has the potential to be the team's starting running back with Stepfan Taylor and Andre Ellington as change of pace backs. Michael Floyd has to step up and prove he can be the number one option as Fitzgerald approaches the end of the road.
With Todd Bowles now in New York, James Bettcher has to step up and prove he can run this defense. The pieces are there, they just have to return to their 2013 form.
With the questions involving the health of the quarterbacks and the mysterious decline of the defense, Bruce Arians will make this team competitive but I can't see them in the post season this year.
Best record they can hope for: 9-7