Sep 27, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson (21) offers a thumbs up against the San Francisco 49ers during the second half at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Cardinals won 47-7. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
The Arizona Cardinals have been one of the least talked about teams in the NFL despite their impressive play last season, and their already-hot start to the 2015 season.
The Cardinals, 3-0, have scored 126 points in just three games, while allowing only 49 points. After Sunday’s 47-7 thrashing of the 49ers, people are starting to take note of Arizona’s talent.
Fans worried that Cardinals’ defense would struggle this season since Todd Bowles’ departure, or losing Darnell Dockett. However, they’ve made sure to make a statement especially in Sunday’s face-off against the Niners, that people have nothing to worry about.
The Cardinals picked Kaepernick off four times, two of them being returned for touchdowns, and also forced a safety. Tyrann Mathieu had two of those interceptions, and his healthiness this season is definitely factoring into the Cardinals’ success.
However, unlike last season, the defense isn’t the only factor driving this Arizona team.
Quarterback Carson Palmer is once again showing his shine. On Sunday, Palmer won his ninth consecutive game as a starter. He did it in style as he threw for 311 yards, 20-32 in passing, and threw two touchdowns.
Palmer is currently 10th in the league in passing yards, with 803 and has already thrown for nine touchdowns, and has thrown just two interceptions.
What’s really sparked these Arizona Cardinals is not only Palmer’s shine, but also him connecting with Larry Fitzgerald.
Everyone around the league began to not see Fitzgerald as a threat as a receiver, and believed that his best days were behind him.
Fitzgerald totaled just two touchdowns all last season. In Sunday’s win against the Niners, he had two touchdowns. He now has five through three games this season, already more than double his amount last season.
His leadership amongst his young receivers such as Michael Floyd and John Brown never went missing but now that he’s becoming a threat once more when thrown to, really makes the Cardinals that much more intimidating.
Another shocking surprise in the Cardinals’ offense has been running back Chris Johnson. Signed during training camp, the Cardinals decision to sign him was wise as Andre Ellington continues to have troubles remaining healthy.
Johnson has took the league by surprise in showing that he’s still got it. He rushed for 100 yards on Sunday, and reached the end-zone twice, including a 40-yard reception. He now has 219 rushing yards total this season and is averaging 4.2 yards per carry.
This plays a big factor in this Cardinals’ offense because they ranked 31st, second to last, in rushing yards last season with just 1,308 total yards. This season already, the Cardinals are tenth in the league with 374 yards rushing already.
Sep 27, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals running back Chris Johnson (23) dodges a tackle by San Francisco 49ers free safety Eric Reid (35) during the first half at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Because of the Cardinals’ early departure in the playoffs last season, their 8-1 start to their promising season wasn’t taken as seriously, just as a red-hot start won’t this season.
However, it must be taken into consideration that losing Palmer and Drew Stanton to injuries is really what cooled the Cardinals off, and with a healthy team this season, the Cardinals really are the team to watch out for.