It’s football time, folks, and we’re back again with the Interview with the Enemy series. This week, Seth Cox of Revenge of the Birds answers 5 quick questions about the upcoming preseason matchup between the New Orleans Saints and Arizona Cardinals:
What is the position for the Cardinals battle Saints fans can focus in on in the first preseason game?
There are not many pure position battles at this point. Wide receiver two between Brice Butler, Chad Williams, J.J. Nelson and rookie Christian Kirk is one to watch, and the first week of preseason did nothing to help that battle. The Cardinals only completed three passes to wide receivers against the LA Chargers, one to undrafted free agent Jalen Tolliver and two to Kirk for nine yards.
From there, the starting defensive end opposite Chandler Jones is up for grabs with Markus Golden still returning from injury. Benson Mayowa, Arthur Moats and undrafted free agent Vontarrius Dora are in the mix for that job.
The biggest battles are for depth positions and roster spots. The wide receiver room is wide open after Larry Fitzgerald, as is the linebacker room after the injury to Jeremy Cash. The offensive line was a mess after the first unit left the field, so all five backup positions are in play as well.
How many reps do you anticipate for starters like David Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald and Patrick Peterson?
As few as possible? Johnson had two carries for 28 yards in his playing time on Saturday. Larry Fitzgerald was targeted one time, had a catch that was nullified due to penalty. I won’t be surprised if that is doubled on Friday, four carries, two targets, then those fighting for depth and roster spots get the rest of the time.
As for Patrick Peterson, he saw 15 snaps against the Chargers. He’ll probably see in the 25-30 range against the Saints, unless the defense is out there for two long Saints drives.
The Cardinals are moving to a defensive scheme that Saints fans are familiar with, having faced off against Steve Wilks last year and Sean McDermott for years before that. So, it is taking the team a little bit of an adjustment.
You’d think the same about the offense under Mike McCoy, but when your offensive is DJ and Fitz, it’s better to be safe.
Speaking of Fitz, obviously there is a lot of hype surrounding Christian Kirk after his electric punt return, but who are the other pass-catchers in the ARI offense?
Ummm… How do you feel about Brice Butler? J.J. Nelson? The Arizona Cardinals, once the toast of the NFL with a trio of Fitz, Michael Floyd and John Brown, now have maybe the worst depth chart in the NFL at WR… after their Hall of Famer of course. It is a lot of veteran guys, getting a chance to do something they haven’t done before (Butler, Nelson, Greg freaking Little), or young guys who need to make a big step early, Chad Williams and of course Christian Kirk.
The New Orleans Saints wide receiver room they are not.
Not for the preseason, but in the regular season, what are general expectations from the fan base? Is this a rebuilding year, or do you expect to contend?
This is the million-dollar question. The Cardinals with Sam Bradford are more apt to trying to contend for a playoff spot, where if it was Mike Glennon or the rookie Josh Rosen it would clearly be a rebuild.
We’ve been calling it a transition year… Meaning, they are transitioning from the expectations of the Bruce Arians era to a new era where we quite frankly have no idea. When you just look at Bradford’s career though, the idea of transition, at least to me means to stay afloat. Bradford, outside of a single miserable year with the Rams, is basically a career .500 quarterback. So, to me, the transition is to keep the Cardinals in a position of semi-relevance, where they can get Rosen ready for 2019, or likely to replace Bradford if hurt.
Just for fun: what’s the final score of the game? Who scores the first Cardinals TD?
Preseason… Yuck. Not knowing what the Saints will do I am going to say 27-23 Cardinals as Chad Kanoff continues to play well for the Cardinals against the fellow third and fourth stringers in the NFL.
Cardinals first touchdown is a pass from Sam Bradford to tight end Ricky Seals-Jones.
Good luck and more importantly, good health to the Saints in the game.
Thank-you, Seth, for taking the time to answer our questions. Saints fans, make sure you check out Seth and the work his guys are doing over at Revenge of the Birds. You can follow Seth on Twitter @SCoxFB, Revenge of the Birds @RevengeofBirds, and of course you can follow me @dunnellz.