For the love of God, somebody has to win this season between the Seattle Seahawks and the Arizona Cardinals. The funny thing is that you can split a season series by going 1-1, but as long as the Seahawks and Cardinals don’t tie on Saturday, someone can say they got the best of the other in 2016. (I mean, Seattle can say they won the division and all that, but will it be worth it if they don’t even get a win over Arizona???)
The Seahawks host the Cards on Saturday. To prep for our opponent, I sent five Qs to Seth Cox from Revenge of the Birds, and in kind he returned five corresponding As. These be them:
Q: With the Cardinals eliminated from postseason contention, do you expect anybody to get rest or time off that they wouldn't normally get? Any chance we see Drew Stanton or an increased workload from Andre Ellington?
A: Short answer: No. Longer answer, the Cardinals need something good for themselves to pull from this season. Carson Palmer struggled to begin the season and has been picking it up lately, I think a big game in Seattle, against a dominant Seattle defense would be the best thing for fans outside of a ruling the Arizona Cardinals get a free playoff spot.
With David Johnson looking to be in the record books, Larry Fitzgerald still making his way up all-time lists, and the fact that players like Stanton and Ellington are not in the Arizona Cardinals future plans (Ellington is a free agent this offseason and Stanton is a backup at best).
Also... The Arizona Cardinals really have no young players, on offense, worth putting out there, so that is another reason I don't see any reason Stanton or Ellington will get extended looks. Unless Seattle gets up big early.
Q: Speaking of running backs, David Johnson is having one of the best seasons of all-time. He's only 200 receiving yards shy of having a 1,000/1,000 season (!!!) He could become the first player in the NFL history to have 100 total yards in all 16 games. Given the danger of the position, does any part of you want to keep him off the field, regardless of records? Is this team geared towards becoming "The David Johnson Cardinals" for the next six or seven seasons, if it isn't already, and does that alter the approach at all of how to proceed with Carson Palmer, Larry Fitzgerald, John Brown, and the passing game?
A: I am a big advocate of use em and lose em at the running back position, unless you have someone special. I think it is safe to say Johnson is special, so I think that there is a hint of keep him fresh moving forward.
Yet, with records in his cross hairs, I don't think there is much in the way of resting Johnson. Also, the Cardinals offense is very dependent on Johnson being good, so if you give him time off, no matter what you get from Larry Fitzgerald, the rest of the offense will be lethargic at best.
John Brown is a part time player now as he tries to figure out how to deal with his sickle cell trait, J.J. Nelson is their de facto wide receiver two and while he is good for a big play or two a game, he is not a reliable wide receiver at this point.
The best weapon on offense this season, outside of Johnson/Fitz, is Jermaine Gresham. That is kind of the disappointment this season has been, you have a team with Michael Floyd, John Brown, Andre Ellington, Troy Niklas, Chris Johnson, and somehow Jermaine Gresham is your third best weapon on offense.
Q: If you had said that Arizona would be getting an MVP-type season from Johnson, a fair season from Palmer, pretty much 1,000 yards from Fitzgerald, you would have never guessed in a thousand years that they'd be 5-8-1. But a big reason for that is giving up 30+ points five times. The defense was not supposed to be an issue at all, but they are 19th in points allowed. However, they're also third in net yards per pass attempt allowed and fifth in yards per carry allowed. What's the disconnect between the talent on the defense and the number of points allowed? What's your biggest concern to fix on the defense headed into the 2017 offseason?
A: Oh man, shameless plug here, but on our podcast, Rise Up, See Red, the host Jess Root (Cardswire.com) and I have talked about the fact that this defense really is not good, despite those lofty yards against ranking. They were outside of the top ten in points per game for much of the season and after actually playing some good offenses, Atlanta, New Orleans and bad offenses, San Francisco and Minnesota, their rankings started to stagger even more.
First, their special teams play is literally the worst I have ever seen in the NFL. This is not hyperbole, they can't cover punts, they can't cover kicks, they can't return punts, they can't return kicks. Their kicker is in one long funk of a season, they have had three punters, two long snappers and have lost six of their top cover guys on teams.
They set teams up way too often.
Next, despite having a Pro Bowl alternate in Marcus Cooper, they have one good cover man in the secondary in Patrick Peterson. Tony Jefferson does a nice job in coverage, but it is not his strength and Tyrann Mathieu has been not good at all this season.
Literally you can trace almost every touchdown pass given up this season to whoever Patrick Peterson is not covering.
Finally, Chandler Jones is in his late season swoon in which he was known for in New England, apparently. He has become almost a non-factor in the pass rush, which in turn has created a giant hole on the defense. As Jones has declined, offenses have started to move the ball easier and score more points.
Seahawks - Cardinals Preview
The Seahawks want victory to keep the 2nd seed. Arizona can play spoiler and has had more success than many teams at the Clink. Expect a hard fought game on Saturday.Posted by Field Gulls: For Seattle Seahawks News and Analysis on Thursday, December 22, 2016
Q: Bruce Arians has taken some heat in the media, or just from fans, about the way he talks about certain players. Off the top of my head I can think of kicker Chandler Catanzaro and cornerback Justin Bethel, who he said was a "failure in progress." I think fans tend to admire people who take accountability, but maybe there's also an argument to be made for respecting leaders who don't shy away from putting blame where blame is due. Where do Cardinals fans fall on the spectrum in terms of how they feel about Arians' treatment of players and his dealings with the media? With the first losing season under his belt, have many fans abandoned ship with Arians?
A: Love Arians, love his aggressive style, love his quotableness with the media, but this seems to be a weird way of taking out your frustration on what is simply a lost season.
I think there is definitely a segment of fans that look at Arians and quite frankly do not care what he says or does, he is the best coach in Cardinals history from a win/loss standpoint, he can say what he wants.
The other segment, which is smaller, is unhappy that this is how he reacts to a poor season. Why these players? Why not the coaches?
It is one of those things that if he comes back and gets back to 11+ wins, no one will remember or care, if he has another season where they struggle and miss the playoffs, I think the segment of fans wondering if his style is conducive to winning.
Q: Finally, rather than ask for a score prediction, I'd rather ask: How badly do you want to win this game? Preseason, midseason, this looked like a matchup for the NFC West. Instead, the division is locked up. The rivalry is on hiatus. Draft position is the only thing hanging in the balance for the Cards. How badly do you think the fans want to put a beatdown on Seattle and how badly do you think the players are just ready for the offseason, or do they still feel a hatred for their division rival, do you think?
A: Incredibly bad. There are always fans who want to get as high in the draft as possible when they are officially eliminated, but the majority of fans want to win this game and justify the idea that three bad kicks are the difference between the Cardinals and Seahawks playing in week 16 for the division crown and... Well where they are now.
As for the players, I think last week took a lot out of them, but there is a lot of veterans on this roster and there are a lot of young guys finally getting a chance to play. I don't know if they show up or not, to be completely honest, gun to my head, they will, but we will know fast because we all know Seattle is going to come out and punch them in the face. If they respond, great, if they are done, we will know early.