If the Rams have a sliver of hope of getting into the playoff race, it requires a win in Phoenix. No pressure.
So to get some info from the Cardinals' side of things, I linked up with Jess Root from Revenge of the Birds, SB Nation's community for fans of the Cardinals.
So 7-1...this must've been a fun ride to the midpoint of the season. How have you guys pulled off that record? What are the major factors that are making sure you guys get wins out of the close battles that you might have dropped in years past?
Well, the Cardinals just aren't turning the ball over. Carson Palmer through eight games in 2013 had 10 TDs and 14 INTs. This season he has 11 TDs and 2 INTs. They are taking the ball away from other teams and making them one-dimensional. Palmer is the best in the NFL in third down passing. The team is so good in the fourth quarter.
The offense doesn't seem to be overwhelming. You guys are tied for 14th in scoring, 16th in passing yards and 28th in rushing yards. Is there concern that the lack of production is going to catch up with you or do the traditional stats not convey something more positive about the O?
Again, it is taking care of the football and converting third downs. Andre Ellington makes the offense clock because of the threat he is in the backfield and out of it in the passing game. The offense should be better and is expected to be better. There were thr three games with the backup. The receivers and tight ends have dropped a ton of passes. One of these games, we are expecting a breakout game.
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So defensively, you guys are shutting down opponent's running game with aplomb. Last week's win over the Cowboys is a prime example of that. How have you guys found improved success in rushing defense? Is that forcing teams to get more desperate in the passing game or how else would you characterize the effect it's having on opposing offenses overall?
The success is a mix of talent, trust and scheme. Todd Bowles puts guys in positions they can be successul. Then the mix of veteran and young players all trust one another, so you don't get maney missed assignments up front.As a result, teams have to pass. Then the Cardinals like taking the ball away. That is why the passing defense looks so bad -- teams pass against them. Plus, without much pass rush, they can have plays made.
With Carson Palmer having missed a couple of games already and Larry Fitzgerald seemingly in the closing chapter of his career (to say nothing of the other 30+ year olds in key spots on the team), is there any concern that this might be a one-shot deal for you guys? Is the youth standing out to a degree that there's legitimate hopes of extending the early 2014 success into a multi-year run?
The Cardinals have a good mix of young and veteran. But the belief is that Palmer could play another two-three years. As long as he is solid, they can contend. With guys like Patrick Peterson, Tyrann Mathieu, Michael Floyd and Andre Ellington, they are well setup. As for Fitz, it is very likely he will end up off the team.
And kind of building on that, what are the expectations? Coming off of Whisenhunt's last year as head coach with the 5-11 record, things didn't exactly look stellar. But last year's 10-6 final showing and this year's 7-1 mark have to have changed the fans' feelings toward the trajectory of this team. Is making the playoffs enough to satisfy the fan base given the last 24 games? Is the bar being set too high for you?
Well, after a 7-1 start, expectations should be higher. The expectations coming into this season were to compete in the division and hopefully get into the postseason, knowing the division would be tough. There was talk within the team of the goal to play in the Super Bowl at home, but no one really believed that among the fans. It was nice, but more of the absolute best case scenario. Well, that apparently was something that could happen. The bar isn't set too high. The sky is the limit for this team. They play smart, they play physical. Will it happen? It will depend on how they play in the division, in my opinion. But once the postseason comes around, this defense will be tough for anyone to face.
Thanks to Jess for the time.