Cardinals vs. Chiefs: Josh Rosen, David Johnson build offensive optimism for Arizona
The Arizona Cardinals visit the Kansas City Chiefs as massive underdogs. What does an expert think of their chances to upset K.C.?
The Arizona Cardinals come to Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday with a significant task at hand as they try to slow the NFL’s most prolific offense—perhaps in several years. The Kansas City Chiefs are making quick work of most opponents these days with Patrick Mahomes under center and a strong all-star cast of offensive weapons around their star QB.
We recently asked Cardinals expert Scott Allen of our sister site, Raising Zona, to find out more about the team’s state of mind these days, their chances on Sunday for a win and to gauge how fans are feeling about Josh Rosen midway through his rookie year.
How are you feeling about Josh Rosen being the future of the Cardinals?
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A lot better now than initially on draft night. The only positive about this season is going to be Rosen got plenty of time to get his feet wet because Sam Bradford didn’t work out for various reasons. Rosen’s composure is what I love most about him. He has the confidence and the tools to win. Now he just has to learn how to put it all together at this level.
David Johnson hasn’t been the same running back this season as he was before his injury. Is that due to a new offensive scheme, blocking, or him getting back healthy?
All of the above I think. Certainly, scheme wasn’t allowing him to do much other than run it up the middle early on but now that they’ve got plays to the outside, that seems to be working a bit more. Also, he needs to continue to get more involved in the passing game.
Health may have only played a part early on in that he may have been thinking about the injury and worrying about it happening again but I’ve not seen any recent trepidation from him. He has self-admitted not playing well at times, missing blocks (which took him off the field in crucial situations as a form of punishment I guess), but DJ is 100 percent healthy now with a new offensive coordinator. He does need help from an offensive line that has not looked good this season.
Larry Fitzgerald is looking to be a Hall of Fame receiver. Will he play after this season?
He’s never counted out next season. He has only promised this one so far. Many assumed last year was it, then have assumed this year is it. Some believe it will be it because of how the first half of this season has gone. He was not involved much early on but is coming off an 8-reception, 102-yard receiving game. At this point it would not be shocking to hear him say he is coming back or is retiring. We won’t know until probably a good 30 days or so after the season ends.
Does Arizona have the right coaching in place to get the best out of Rosen?
In my estimation, he does with having a former NFL quarterback in Byron Leftwich as his coordinator. We can only hope Steve Wilks allows Leftwich to run the plays he wants.
The defense has looked better the last couple of weeks. Are you seeing signs of improvement and where?
The defense has given up a lot of yards but has made plays in 6/8 games to give the Cardinals a chance to win. Only in Week 2 against the Rams and Week 7 against the Broncos were the Cardinals really out of it. The middle of the defense is still suspect but the corners/safeties and the defensive line have played well for the most part.
The defense has a few great players to be the building blocks of the defense. Who would you consider the main building blocks and where do you see this defense going forward?
Chandler Jones will be around for a while. The Cardinals just paid him handsomely last year. Also defensive end Markus Golden is a force. In the middle Josh Bynes at linebacker, then in the secondary, Budda Baker has turned into a gold draft pick from a year ago.
Is all of the Patrick Peterson wanting a trade drama out the window?
Yes. He was frustrated with the losing. This was supposed to just be a transition year with the quarterback, a new coach, and a little roster turnover. The Cardinals were still expected to compete. But he’s not going anywhere after being promised the Cardinals are trying to win now.
What are your expectations for Rosen by the end of the season? Better yet, the entire team?
The schedule is daunting for sure. Chiefs, Chargers, Packers, Falcons, Rams are five of the eight games remaining on the schedule. They may only have shots against the Raiders, Lions, and Seahawks. So at best, it looks to be a 5-11 season. With 11-5, 10-6, 9-7 aspirations before the season, it will look like a down season and no doubt it already has been. Just go out and compete. Stay in games. Honestly, this week against the Chiefs scares me the most and am afraid will get embarrassed.
What do you expect from this game on Sunday?
Listen I love the Cardinals but I am also a realist. The Chiefs are 17-point favorites. That is such a rarity in the NFL. Everyone knows the outcome before they even take the field. This won’t be pretty on the Cardinals end. Rosen is likely to take some lumps but may put up a couple of scores. I’ve gone back and forth with how I think the score will end up. Every scenario ends in a blowout. Chiefs 56, Cardinals 14