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Posts tagged with "Andre Ellington"

The Cardinals are clearly hamstrung on offense, and it’s showing up in the numbers.

Coach Bruce Arians loves to throw the ball deep, but with injuries to key linemen D.J. HumphriesMike Iupati and Alex Boone as well as speedsters John Brown and J.J. Nelson, it’s just not possible.

Instead, the Cardinals as presently constructed are much more of an underneath team.

In the past, Palmer did seven-step drops with regularity, but this season, his dropback depth of 7.1 yards is the second-lowest in the NFL, half a yard shorter than league average, per Pro Football Focus. There’s no other option at this point, since he’s been pressured an NFL-high 75 times, per PFF, and has been sacked six times in each of the past two games.

Palmer knew he had to get the ball out quick on Sunday against the 49ers, and found his running backs with regularity. Andre Ellington led the team with a whopping 14 targets, catching nine of the passes for 86 yards. Even run-first backs Chris Johnson(three catches, 31 yards) and Kerwynn Williams (one catch for 10 yards) got involved in the passing game.

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Arizona Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson (4) attempts a field goal as punter Matt Wile (6) holds during the first half of a preseason NFL football game against the Chicago Bears, Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. The Bears recovered the missed field goal and ran it back for a touchdown. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

New kicker. New punter. New holder. New kick and punt returner.

The Arizona Cardinals special teams underwent a major renovation since the end of last season, and for good reason: The unit was directly responsible for three losses with an argument to be made for as many as two more in 2016.

Gone is kicker Chandler Catanzaro, replaced by Phil Dawson; punters Drew Butler, Ryan Quigley and Matt Wile were swapped out for Andy Lee, who will also do the holding; and the combination of Andre Ellington, Brittan Golden and J.J. Nelson plus Patrick Peterson, at times, in the return game have all stepped aside for one individual, Kerwynn Williams.

The only familiar face is long snapper Aaron Brewer, though he joined the Cardinals after Week 3 last season.

In other words, there are no players returning in 2017 in the role they had at the start of 2016.

“It’s the first time I’ve ever gone to training camp in 34, 35 years, whatever the heck it’s been, where I had nobody that had ever been to training camp with me. So I was looking at four new faces, from a training camp standpoint,” special teams coordinator Amos Jones. “Obviously, Matt and Brewer had been with us to finish the season but from a training camp standpoint, just the regiment of getting them acclimated to how we do things, everything was new in that respect.”

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Three trade possibilities with every increasing odds for the Arizona Cardinals.

Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Thus began another trade season for the NFL, who’s going to go where? If you are a Cardinalsfan, who do you think the Cardinals could trade for? All of this is just speculation, but these are some reasonable trades that the Cardinals could do to make themselves either save some cap space, or to gain valuable pieces. Let’s begin.

Arizona Cardinals receives:
2018 6th Round Selection

Baltimore Ravens receives:
Andre Ellington – Running Back

Small moves like these make for huge waves. Does Andre Ellington have a realistic chance to make the roster? Maybe, since T.J. Logan is gone, but just like we did with Marcus Cooper last year, we traded for someone who obviously was a borderline cut player for the Chiefs. The Ravens may want to pay the small toll to get a former 800+ yard rusher in Ellington.

Could the Ravens actually depend on Lorenzo TaliaferroTerrance West, or any of the other misfit running back toys that John Harbaugh likes to use. Worth the gamble if you are asking me.

This is only trade number one, buckle up folks, it keeps going. Now that the small trade is finished, we have bigger fish to fry.

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Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

With less than two months ago before the first preseason game of the 2017 NFL season, I figured now is a good time to look at developing storylines for our NFC West rivals. I’ll start things off with last season’s runner-up, the Arizona Cardinals.

How much does Carson Palmer have left?

Two years ago, Carson Palmer had a strong case for winning league MVP over Cam Newton. Last year was still statistically a pretty good one for Palmer, but he also took an absolute beating in the backfield, getting sacked 40 times and suffering a concussion. Palmer has been in the league since 2003 and will be 38 by the time the regular season is over. Bruce Arians says his arm is stronger than ever, but of course he’s going to say that. Arians is aggressive to a fault, but depending on your measurements for “explosive plays,” 25+ yard passes for Arizona were down from 2015, and in fact the lowest in the Arians era. Arizona loves the vertical passing game, but what good is it if Palmer plays like an old quarterback behind what is already a less-than-stellar offensive line?

Does the offense permanently run through David Johnson now?

David Johnson is a tremendous player and the third-year man is already arguably one of the five best running backs in football. No RB was more valuable as a receiver than him in 2016, and he managed at least 100 scrimmage yards in every game except the last one, in which he suffered a knee injury. He was second behind Larry Fitzgerald for the team-high mark in pass receptions, and you’d have to go back to the days when the Cards were in St. Louis to find a running back who had more single-season rushing yards than Johnson’s 1,239 in 2016.

Johnson touched the ball 373 times last season, much of it because Chris Johnson’s season-ending injury in October left them without even halfway decent depth. Andre Ellington has since been shifted to wide receiver, so that leaves Arizona with Kerwynn Williams and fifth-round rookie pick T.J. Logan as Johnson’s backups.

While Palmer isn’t going to be there much longer, David Johnson figures to be the franchise running back that Arizona has long sought, and that’s not good news for Seahawks fans.

The special teams can’t get any worse than that, can it?

I don’t want to say that the Cardinals missed out on a playoff spot because of special teams, but they absolutely were major liabilities in multiple losses. Following a shaky snap, Chandler Catanzaro missed the game-winning field goal against New England in week 1, and that set the tone for the entire season.

Arizona finished an appalling 30th in special teams DVOA, including giving up a 104-yard kick return for a touchdown against Minnesota, botching a field goal snap that led to a fumble return touchdown, seven missed field goals, four missed extra points (with one returned for a crucial two points against Miami), and uh … the entire 6-6 tie with the Seahawks speaks for itself.Not only did Arizona change its longsnapper midseason, but they also got rid of punter Ryan Quigley for Matt Wile, as they ranked near the bottom in punt coverage. Wile remains on the team, but Catanzaro is now on the Jets. The seemingly ageless Phil Dawson is Arizona’s new placekicker, so we’ll see if the tweaks are enough to give Arizona’s much-maligned special teams unit a lift.

The health of Honey Badger

Tyrann Mathieu is one of my favorite non-Seahawks players to watch, and that’s mostly because he ticks the boxes that would’ve otherwise made him a fit on the Seahawks defense. Sadly, injuries have been a major problem for him throughout his career. He tore his ACL and LCL in 2013, which caused him to miss the start of 2014, in which he missed time with a thumb problem. His outstanding 2015 campaign ended with a torn ACL in the third-to-last game of the year, and his 2016 ended prematurely due to an ongoing shoulder problem. When healthy, he’s one of the top safeties in the league, but his career is trending dangerously into Bob Sanders territory. This season more than ever, Arizona can’t really afford for him to miss time, which brings me to the final storyline…

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