Carson Palmer was asked why the Cardinals are so confident right now.
“We are confident because we are good,” the quarterback said. “And we know it.”
It was a matter-of-fact statement. Palmer followed up by saying he didn’t think it was being cocky, or a false confidence. In this case, the Cardinals are simply a good football team. They’ve been building to this point for a couple of years, GM Steve Keim has filled in some of the weak spots, and this is the year to really push.
The Cards are only three games in, but they know that. They are playing the best defense they’ve seen to date on Sunday when the Rams visit, but they know that and are prepared. After Sunday, they have six of their next eight games on the road, so a 4-0 start would be, while not necessary, at least important. They know that too.
— If one of the big storylines for Sunday is how the Cardinals protect Palmer, it doesn’t sound like max protection – keeping everyone in to block save for a couple of receivers down the field – is a legit option.
“It’s not a lot of who we are,” Palmer said. “We get into big personnel groups to run the ball, not to try and fake you out and take shots with one or two receivers. We will take shots with five receivers in the game.”
— This is one of those games that feels like, as long as the Cardinals don’t hurt themselves with bad turnovers or bad blocking, they will be fine. Even last year, when the Rams had a great defense and Palmer was knocked from the game, the Cardinals still won because of defensive pressure and timely offense. Since Bruce Arians arrived, it’s hard to beat the Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium.
— Mike Iupati is back. He’ll start Sunday, and Arians finally has the offensive line – although it’s funny, it wasn’t the original projected line. Remember, by the time Iupati signed, center Lyle Sendlein had been released. Still, it’ll be good to get the team’s premier free agent on the field, in a game you know the Cards want to run.
— The Cardinals’ five- and six-defensive back packages would seem to come in handy against an offense that struggles to run the ball yet whose passing game seems to rely more of short passes and runs.
— Through three games: Larry Fitzgerald, five touchdowns. St. Louis Rams offense, four touchdowns.
— This is the best three-game start of Fitzgerald’s distinguished career, by the way: 23 catches, 333 yards and those five scores. In all three categories.
— Left tackle Jared Veldheer committed three early penalties last week, including a hold that wiped out a 44-yard bomb to Michael Floyd.
“We can’t have penalties, especially Jared, that’s unlike him,” offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin admitted. “It’s just refreshing as a coach to be able to yell at him because other times you don’t get opportunities.”
— Anyone worried about punter Drew Butler? (That’s rhetorical, because I hear from plenty of you.) Guess who isn’t: Arians.
“He’s been kicking well,” Arians said. “Had the one bad kick but he’s been doing a good job kicking inside the 20, which is what we want him to do.”
— The lack of Rams’ offense would seem to bode well for the Cards in this regard: Under Arians, the Cardinals are 20-2 when the opponent scores 20 or fewer points.
— Although the Cardinals don’t officially announce sellouts anymore (no need, since the NFL no longer blacks out games locally), this will be 97-for-97 in terms of sellouts of Cardinals games at University of Phoenix Stadium.
— This will be a great test for the Cards’ huge red-zone start. So far, the Cards are 11-for-12 in the red zone, and the only “miss” was a field goal at the end of the first half last week in which the Cards had a first down at the San Francisco 4-yard line.
— The Cardinals will wear their black jerseys Sunday. And it’s their Breast Cancer Awareness game too, so black-and-white with pink accents. In case you need to color coordinate.
See you Sunday.
Tags: black uniforms, Carson Palmer, Drew Butler, Harold Goodwin, Jared Veldheer, Larry Fitzgerald, Mike Iupati, Rams, sellout
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