After a humiliating 17-13 loss to the Los Angeles Rams, Arizona Cardinals fans left University of Phoenix Stadium on Sunday feeling about as deflated as a Tom Brady football. Once again they were made to question their own self worth as they watched the Red Birds succumb to an even deeper level of low. What is going on with this team? Now at 1-3 for the season, the Cardinals are all alone at the bottom of the NFC West. To make matters worse, they must prepare quickly this week before they go back on the road to face the San Francisco 49ers on Thurdsday.
Arizona Cardinals Week Five Keys to Victory
“The sky is not falling for us,” said head coach Bruce Arians. “I’m sure it is for a bunch of fans. I’m disappointed to say that, but we’ve got another game Thursday night.”
Let’s face it, last year the Rams stunk. Even though the team was rooted out of St. Louis this year and then replanted in L.A., it is still the same team. It’s the same head coach Jeff Fisher running the squad and for the most part, it’s the same team nucleus out on the field.
The 7-9 Rams finished third in the NFC West last year and were awarded their customary prize in first-round draft pick, quarterback Jared Goff. Goff, who hasn’t played at all this regular season, wasn’t in the game on Sunday. No, it was game manager (and that is it) quarterback Case Keenum. Once again, the Cardinals had a victory in their grasp and they let it slip away.
Cardinals fans left the stadium bewildered and angry. Who is to blame for this? What is wrong with this team? Answers just couldn’t come soon enough and, unfortunately with such a short week to prepare, the questions will just have to wait.
“I’ll say this, I never envisioned this type of start,” said Cardinals G.M. Steve Keim. “I don’t know that anybody-fans or anybody in the organization-would have envisioned this.”
Two Games, One Week
Keep your heads up Cards Fans. The season is still young and there’s still a whole lot of football left to enjoy. Game five is Thursday night against the San Francisco 49ers, at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California. Game time is 8:25pm ET on CBS.
If there is one team that the Cardinals can surely set there sights on for a victory, it has to be the 1-3 49ers. Coach Chip Kelly is a college coach trying to implement a high-octane college-level offense to an over-rated, under-achieving NFL team. The 49ers are a mess. Heck, Blaine Gabbert is their starting quarterback, for goodness sake.
Expect to see a lot of three-and-outs by the 49ers offense and a tired, worn out defense towards the end of the game. For the Cardinals, this should be a victory served warm on a plate.
Quarterback Carson Palmer sustained a head injury late in the game on Sunday against the Rams and was relieved by back-up Drew Stanton. Palmer has been ruled out for Week Five, and so Stanton will take the helm for this match-up.
KEYS TO THE GAME
#1) The Backfield
For the most part, the Cardinals defense has been stout against the run. Last week, the Rams premier running back Todd Gurley was held to a meager 33 rushing yards on 19 carries. It has been the production of the backfield that has caused the most grief. Defensive backs Tyrann Mathieu (dubbed the “swiss army knife of the team”) and Patrick Peterson need to step up their game against the 49ers. It doesn’t appear that Peterson has found his groove yet this season, so maybe Thursday’s game will be his break-out party.
#2) Protect the Quarterback
With Drew Stanton as the starter on Thursday, he will need all the protection he can get. The Cardinals can’t underestimate the defense of the 49ers. Though the 49ers share the same 1-3 record as the Cards, the season is too young to know for sure what they can bring to the table.
#3) David Johnson
David Johnson is a determined man on a mission. In four games, Johnson has accumulated 300 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 64 carries. Last week against the Rams, he carried the ball 17 times for 83 yards. With Chris Johnson going down it means more responsibility for David. Let’s just hope he can hold up through the season with the extra weight thrust on his shoulders.