The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are playing the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, and we got to talk to Seth Cox of Revenge of the Birds about the Cardinals. He was kind enough to answer five questions about Arizona's team, and Sunday's game.
1) How good are the Cardinals this season? They've been very impressive in recent years, but is it something they can keep up in the long run?
If you would have asked me this last week I would have said they are a top three team in the NFL, but a slow start on offense and obvious holes on the defense make them an extremely talented, but flawed team right now. If they are able to find a consistent pass rush to take some of the pressure off of young Brandon Williams at corner, and find the rhythm again on offense, I think they are one of a handful of Super Bowl contenders in the NFL. If they don't, they are one of a handful of really good teams in the NFL that have too many issues to win a Super Bowl.
I think they can keep it going with what they are building, but they also need to commit to David Johnson and the running game. In the loss to the Patriots, they abandoned the run, giving the running backs 17 carries. If they want to have success post Carson Palmer, it will be in riding a potentially great running back.
2) How is David Johnson looking as the team's main running back?
Game one showed off his ability to continue to work for yards, even if they are not there. He is always one play away from breaking it and his ability in the passing game means even when they are not consistently running the ball, he is a useful piece.
The one thing is, Bruce Arians wants less from him in terms of being on the field, but more production. I am not sure how that is going to work, but when David Johnson is on the field, he may already be the Arizona Cardinals best football player.
3) The Cardinals have a fair number of injuries, most of them short-term. How will that affect them against the Bucs?
The only big question mark coming into the game is Evan Mathis and now Robert Nkemdiche who went from being a full participant to be listed as questionable for the game on Sunday. The rest of the team is healthy now or play a role in specials only.
Mathis is huge, simply because of the Gerald McCoy factor. While Earl Watford is a capable player, there is a reason the Arizona Cardinals have continually brought in veterans to start in front of him.
Nkemdiche is the only defensive lineman that can consistently push the pocket, in a similar but not as good yet, type of way as McCoy. If he is out, it will again be interesting to see if the Arizona Cardinals can find a consistent pass rush.
4) Which largely unknown player do the Bucs have to keep an eye on this Sunday?
Corey Peters is probably a name that Bucs fans are familiar with after his time in Atlanta, but Peters and second year defensive lineman Rodney Gunter will join other unkowns Josh Mauro and Ed Stinson as the guys up front trying to disrupt Jameis Winston. We saw what happens when Jameis has time. He may already be a top 7 quarterback in the NFL. And Arizona Cardinals fans saw what happens when you do not disrupt a young quarterback as they get into a rhythm.
Peters, Gunter, Mauro and Stinson will define the success of the Cardinals defense. All our extremely good against the run, but they need to be able to make Winston uncomfortable, or we could be in for a shootout.
5) Can you predict the game?
I think the Arizona Cardinals play a desperate game on Sunday and come out with a close win, the Bucs have a great young quarterback who can flip the switch and make this game uncomfortable for the Cardinals, and I think that happens, but the Cardinals offense is able to get back on track after a slow start against New England and grab a win.