Helping us preview the Arizona Cardinals is Paola Boivin, columnist for the Arizona Republic. You can follow her at @PaolaBoivin and read her work here.
As always, our questions and her answers:
Q1: How has the defense been able to overcome all of its injuries and other personnel losses?
A: Two words: Todd Bowles. The defensive coordinator is like a mad scientist and players on the team have raved about how he plays to their strengths and puts them in positions to succeed. And he changes things up week to week and even play to play, an approach that drew high praise recently from Rams coach Jeff Fisher. One moment two defensive linemen are in, the next, four. He’ll be a head coach very, very soon.
Q2: Has the offense changed much with Drew Stanton now at quarterback?
A: It is the same pass-heavy offense with a few nuances. Stanton likes to go deep to speedy rookie John Brown, who gets better every game (and has a unique touchdown dance). In fact, Stanton likes the deep ball, period, and nearly a quarter of his passes have gone 20 yards or more. He is more mobile than Carson Palmer and will throw outside the pocket.
Q3: What kind of season is Patrick Peterson — who often gets compared to Richard Sherman as one of the best corners in the game — having so far?
A: He started out slow and some blamed the $70 million contract he signed in the offseason. His coaches think he hurts himself by being over-aggressive at times. Lately, he has looked like the elite cornerback he is and against the Rams two Sundays ago, intercepted two passes, returning one for a touchdown. He loves the spotlight and will enjoy being on the same field with Richard Sherman again.
Q4: It sounds like Larry Fitzgerald is questionable at best for Sunday. How would his loss impact the offense?
A: It will hurt a bit. It’s not just Fitzgerald’s receiving skills, it’s how his presence attracts the defense and opens up opportunities for others. But it’s also true that the Cardinals are deep in this area and will send Jaron Brown out there if Fitzgerald doesn’t play alongside Michael Floyd and John Brown. Ted Ginn could see more action, too. In fact, the receiving corp will probably be faster without Fitzgerald in there, no offense to a future Hall of Famer.
Q5,: Finally, is there a feeling in Arizona that the Cardinals have really turned a corner and this is the real team, or are people stay waiting for the other shoe to fall?
A: Most definitely feel they have turned the corner. It starts with Arians, who proclaimed from Day 1 how much he believed in this group. And seeing how the team has endured despite injury after injury has turned most skeptics into believers. The community is downright giddy.