There are just some holes one cannot climb out of, and being 1-4 in the NFL might be one of those holes.
This week’s Thursday Night match up has the Arizona Cardinals traveling to San Francisco. Both teams find themselves at 1-3 heading into week 5. Both teams have to realize that another (divisional) loss might be all she wrote. Sure, the season won’t technically be over for the loser, but we can safely say it would be incredibly hard to right the ship after going 1-4, and having 2 losses within the division.
The 49ers have become accustomed to rough times. San Francisco has continued to spiral downwards since the departure of Jim Harbaugh and Colin Kaepernick. One could say that Kaepernick is still on the 49ers, I guess, but he especially hasn’t been the same since Harbaugh left. Some players flat out retired, others asked to be traded, the 49ers went from a super bowl caliber team, to an ongoing joke in the NFC.
Enter Chip Kelly, San Francisco’s third coach in the last 3 years. Some call him an offensive guru, others call him… well we won’t go there. The 49ers started off like gangbusters, giving the Los Angeles Rams a 28-0 drubbing in the home opener, but things unraveled quickly from there. San Francisco has lost 3 straight, and to add insult to injury, they’ve also just lost (LB) NaVorro Bowman to a season-ending Achilles injury.
With the Arizona Cardinals it’s much different. They’ve actually won for the past 3 years, they have the same Head Coach, and a majority of the same players.
Despite having an offense that’s ranked 7th overall, and a defense that’s ranked 8th overall (through 4 games), the Cardinals continue to fall in the standings. It’s a combination of misfortune and mental lapses, of bad timing and the inability to get points on the board early in games. Arizona hasn’t scored a single point in the first quarter this year, not even when they beat Tampa Bay 40-7.
This Week’s Match Up:
Much of this game hinges on who will behind center come Thursday. Arizona’s (QB) Carson Palmer is currently in the concussion protocol after a nasty hit this last Sunday vs the Rams. Word around the nest is he’s doing better then expected, but the team will not make any decisions until the team leaves for San Fran.
Now, in a game that the Cardinals would’ve been considered as the odds on favorite, things get a bit more interesting. Back up quarterback Drew Stanton will be, in my opinion, the one starting Sunday.
I believe Stanton will get the start because the Cardinals simply can’t risk rushing Carson Palmer back on the field with his type of injury. He would have to be clear as a bell, and he would probably have to demand to play. There is an entire season to think of. Going 1-4 would be brutal, but going 1-4 and losing Palmer for a long period would be nothing short of devastating.
This means the Arizona defense has to have their best performance of the year. The Cardinal defensive front had a great showing against the Rams and Todd Gurley, but it will have to be a complete team effort. The Arizona secondary will probably change a bit this Sunday, Tyvon Branch is out, and Tyrann Mathieu will most likely be returning to his havoc position. Cooper and Patrick Peterson will have to be on their games again. The goal should be to shut San Francisco down, the Cardinals defense has played this way before with Carson Palmer being injured, can they do it again?
~Give Me the Keys Playa~
Turnovers, can’t win games while giving up the ball. Drew Stanton came in and threw 2 and a half interceptions on 11 attempts Sunday night. The half was when the defender luckily landed out of bounds. I’ve seen a lot of Stanton over the last few years, when he tries to do too much, that’s when stuff goes sideways. He will have to stay calm and cool against the blitz, the blitz that will probably come for all 4 quarters.
Running the ball – (RB) Chris Johnson (CJ2K) is out with a groin injury. So it will be (RB) David Johnson and (RB) Andre Ellington doing most of the dirty work. I am extremely confident in these two backs. Both have to concentrate on ball security, and have a good day if they want to help Drew Stanton out with the blitz.
Don’t let Blaine Gabbert do what Case Keenum did – The Cardinals assumed shutting down Todd Gurley would do the trick against Los Angeles, and in most cases it would have. The Arizona front will have to disrupt Gabbert’s day, while the Arizona secondary seals the deal. Communication has been the issue for the most part, the Cardinal safeties and corner backs have to be where they are supposed to be.
Special teams – We just need one day where special teams plays well in all facets of the game. Field goals, punts, and limiting returns all have to be successful at the same time.
~Give Me The Key Players~
Drew Stanton.. the Cardinals don’t need him to do it all, they should just need him not to blow it. I would love to see us run the ball more then we throw it, but the score ultimately makes those types of decisions. If the defense is playing well, and our ground game is moving chains, the Cardinals may be better suited using Stanton as a game manager.
Cardinal Wide Receivers, simply put, they will just have to man up. Some of the passes on Thursday will come high and in traffic, and they will probably be coming on the crucial third downs. Things could get bumpy. The focus will have to be there, Arizona needs to do better at keeping drives alive. We need a big day from the receiving core.
Tyrann Mathieu, we miss you. We need the tackles for a loss, we need strip sacks, we need the chaos. We need it all and we need it now. Game changing plays from a game changing player, time to get back to your savage self, your boys desperately need you.
Last but not least, the offensive line. If Drew Stanton gets injured, forget about it. If Drew Stanton takes a bunch of hits, forget about it. Stanton will need time to be successful, and he will need to be standing at the end of the game.
Who knows? We can only hope that Arizona shows up and shows up with a sense of purpose. I seriously doubt we will win 10 in a row, so we simply can’t lose 3 in a row. The time is now, now or never, do or die, however you want to put it. There is still a chance to win this division, but it starts with a win in San Francisco. Players have to hyped for this game, from roster top to roster bottom, everybody.
Feel free to comment here or hit me up on twitter @ShawnRivard777.
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