The Arizona Cardinals will enter the 2018 season with high hopes for the playoffs. The team is in the process of triming the roster from 90 to 53. Rookie head coach Steve Wilks will then lead his team into his first regular season at the helm. Here is the best case scenario for the Cardinals season.
Arizona Cardinals 2018 Preview
Sam Bradford Stays Healthy And Cardinals Are In The Playoffs
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that injuries tend to plague Bradford. The Cardinals brought Bradford in after two years with the Vikings, and he spent most of last year on the sidelines due to a knee injury. This has become all too familiar for Bradford, but he looks healthy this preseason.
Bradford, when healthy, certainly is capable of leading his team to the playoffs. Even in the stacked NFC, he can lead the Cardinals to the playoffs this year. David Johnson is back and healthy, and he will be the best running back that Sam has ever played with. Steve Wilks believes in the old adage of running the ball and stopping the run. Johnson will take a lot of pressure off the quarterback this season, and he will surely have a huge workload.
There are certainly some questions on the offensive line and at the receiver position outside of the future Hall of Famer, Larry Fitzgerald. However, Bradford’s best asset is his ability to get the ball out of his hands in a hurry, and he will need to do that with a bad offensive line in front of him.
Coach Wilks and offensive coordinator, Mike McCoy will certainly do everything they can to protect Bradford.
Steve Wilks Led Defenses Become Special
The Cardinals are undergoing a philosophy change on the defensive side of the ball heading into the 2018 season. The defense will switch to a 4-3 base defense under Wilks as he comes over from the Carolina Panthers.
The base defense has become less and less relevant over the years with the game becoming more of college spread feel. One of the things that Wilks will do is have a simple scheme that will allow his players to play fast. That will be great for a defense that has a good mix of young guys and veterans.
Budda Baker will have a huge impact in his first full season as a starter replacing Tyran Mathieu. Baker can be used almost everywhere on the defensive side of the ball, and Wilks will certainly move him around. Baker will make plays around the line of scrimmage where he is best suited, but he is more than capable of making an impact in the passing game.
Chandler Jones, the defending sack champion will certainly have every opportunity to get after the passer under Wilks as a defensive end. The Cardinals over the years have had a tendency to blitz a lot and that will certainly remain the same.
Wilks certainly has the talent on the defensive side ball to have a special unit. His philosophy to want his players to play fast will be a huge reason why the Cardinals defense ends up ranked in the top five.
Cardinals Finish 9-7
There is no doubt that the NFC is the better conference in the NFL. With the entire conference talented enough to make the playoffs, there will be at least one championship caliber team missing the postseason.
The Cardinals schedule doesn’t seem to have too many “easy” stretches, but this team can and will sneak into the playoffs. One caveat to the NFC being so challenging is that everyone will get a chance to beat up on the other teams in the conference. This will open the door for the Cardinals to sneak in as a wild card.
Despite Josh Rosen being the future of the franchise, the Cardinals will be thrilled if Bradford stays healthy and leads the team to the playoffs for the first time since 2015. The Cardinals certainly have holes and won’t be perfect, but there is no reason why this old school minded rookie head coach can’t lead this team to the playoffs.