The Arizona Cardinals were the subject of heavy focus this week with the release of embattled wide receiver Michael Floyd following an arrest earlier in the week. The wideout has since been signed by the New England Patriots, a team headed to the postseason. The Cardinals however, facing off against the Saints, look like they won’t be as fortunate as Floyd is.
Shaking Up The Depth Chart
The departure of Floyd leaves a spot open at the wide receiver position left to be filled. The likely replacement based on recent performances for the team would be J.J. Nelson who has been able to add the vertical threat to the passing game that the team has lacked all season long thus far. Even though he did not have a deep catch last week, Nelson did bring in a pass in the endzone from eight yards out and even took a trick play around for a 56 yard pick up on the ground. Speed is the biggest killer of defenses in this game and Nelson has it in spades when he is healthy and focused on the game. The perfect scenario would be to put Nelson in as the number two receiver and use himself, Larry Fitzgerald and Jermaine Gresham who has finally started to make himself seen on the field with a few multiple catch games the last few weeks. Look to see Nelson running deep routes early to catch the Saints’ 29th ranked pass defense sleeping.
Making Brees Sweat
Drew Brees since he arrived in New Orleans has been one of the toughest sacks in the NFL to get among defensive players. It seems that almost every year the perennial Pro-Bowler has had one of the most stellar lines in the game of football and this year hasn’t been any different. Having been sacked only 20 times this year he has been able to generate a strong season with yet another 4,000 yard season passing. The main issue this year with Brees however is his tendency to let the ball sail and end up in the hands of defenders. Just barely skirting over a 2 to 1 touchdown to interception ratio this year, defenses have been getting the ball away from the usually turnover free Saints this season. The best way to get those bad passes is getting pressure from the interior of the line into Brees’ face. His lack of height makes him quick to react to pressure up the middle and he is less effective throwing the ball on the run than he is square from the pocket. Calais Campbell will need to bring his best in order to provide that advantage for the Cardinals.
Injury Bugs Still Biting Cardinals
The playoffs at this point are a pipe dream for Arizona. They’d have to run the table and hope for some kind of pseudo-miracle with how much help they’d need from other teams. Not only that, but they’d probably need to hope that all their players suddenly spark back to life like some kind of phoenix rising from the ashes. While Tyrann Mathieu will be returning for certain this week, Tyvon Branch returns to IR after finally getting off the injury list just last week and joining him was Deone Bucannon. Ulrick John was also just placed on IR earlier this week meaning there will be another shuffling of the offensive line. With the slew of injuries the Cardinals have turned to signing players off the street to fill up spots on the roster, including former U of A Wildcat Scooby Wright who was cut by the Browns earlier this season. While Wright is sure to be grateful this holiday season to be on a team with an actual win on their record it is unlikely that he sees any true playing time as a linebacker this week as Sio Moore will replace Bucannon. It is unclear what the starting lineup will be for the Cardinals across the board, but just fielding 11 starters on both sides of the ball at this point could be considered minor miracles.
Catch the game live this Sunday on FOX at 2:05 PM when the kickoff happens at University of Phoenix Stadium.