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Chiefs vs. Cardinals: Five questions with the enemy

We welcome in Revenge of the Birds for five questions on the Cardinals heading into the Chiefs game at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday.

Denver Broncos v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Editor’s note: We welcome in Arizona Cardinals writer Seth Cox of Revenge of the Birds for “Five questions with the enemy,” leading into the Kansas City Chiefs’ matchup with the Browns on Sunday.

1) The Cardinals come into Arrowhead Stadium with a poor 2-6 record, only beating the San Francisco 49ers twice. We can read the scores, but what has been the root of the problems for Arizona?

COX: How much time do we have? There’s not a single thing that’s brought the team down, which is why you’re seeing the outcomes like you are each and every week.

Offensively, the combination of Sam Bradford and Mike McCoy was an utter disaster, which is why neither is with the team and we are only in Week 10. They tried to fix the offensive line, but it hasn’t worked, Pro Football Focus ranks them as the worst in the NFL.

So, they have nothing along the offensive line, David Johnson has been a shell of his former self, Larry Fitzgerald is finally getting healthy but has not been most of the season.

Then, defensively they just don’t have the talent to run the defense Steve Wilks wants to run. No, instead of adapting to the talent he has, Wilks has really pushed his defensive ideals on the Cardinals and their lack of talent at linebacker has set the team back.

So, they have an awful offense that they hope is getting better, a bad defense for their talent and that’s where they are.

That’s how you end up 2-6.

2) The Cardinals fired offensive coordinator Mike McCoy in favor of Byron Leftwich after their Week 7 loss to the Denver Broncos. The Cardinals won their next game, 18-15. Was there a noticeable difference in the last game for the Cardinals, an 18-15 win?

San Francisco 49ers v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

COX: Absolutely, even though they still couldn’t score, they were using David Johnson like he’s David Johnson, they force-fed Larry Fitzgerald for the first time in 2018 and at the end of the game they played like a team that has offensive talent for the first time all season.

With Johnson, they started running much more inside and outside zone plays, which allows him to use his ability to press the hole and make moves to open space instead of running power in the A-gaps. Then, much to the delight of everyone, they threw the ball to DJ. It was incredible, it’s like they found a running back who could run and catch the ball and make plays. It wasn’t much, but it was something, and hopefully, it can continue this weekend.

3) What have been your early impressions of rookie Josh Rosen? Did you agree with the decision to release Sam Bradford?

San Francisco 49ers v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

COX: Rosen is a rookie, he makes mistakes over the middle too often, but he also shows talent that few players in the NFL have. He’s able to make throws and reads beyond what a lot of rookies can. Then, he throws an interception that reminds you he’s a rookie and needs time and quite frankly, talent around him.

As for Bradford, is was a bad decision from the start. One, they paid him way too much money and two, they then bubble wrapped him for the preseason. They had no idea what he had left against live bullets and then when it was time to find out, it was too late.

Cutting him was the right move; signing him was the wrong one.

4) What has been the difference with RB David Johnson this season? How do you expect him to fare against the Chiefs?

Seattle Seahawks v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images

COX: He was grossly misused for the first seven games. Now, we’ll see if an extra week will provide even more for Johnson in the run and pass game this week and if the Cardinals as a whole are getting closer to looking like an NFL offense again.

It’s simple to say that Mike McCoy is an awful offensive coordinator in today’s NFL, but it’s also the truth. McCoy’s use of DJ showed how he doesn’t understand today’s NFL game, how he doesn’t understand how to use high-end talent and how much he needed to go.

With Leftwich, you’d expect to see more concepts similar to that of Bruce Arians and through one game, we did in the running game and with Johnson’s usage. Now, we need to see if they have similar results.

5) We all know what cornerback Patrick Peterson can do. Many Chiefs fans wanted the general manager make a move for him at the trade deadline. Who is a lesser-known defensive player for the Cardinals worth watching on Sunday?

Arizona Cardinals v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

COX: Markus Golden has gotten better week after week since coming back from his ACL injury. Last game against the San Francisco 49ers, who have talent at the offensive tackle position, he finished with seven tackles and a sack in the win. He has 1.5 sacks his last two games.

Another name who has played really well is Bene’ Benwikere, a veteran cornerback who replaced incumbent starter Jamar Taylor in Week 3. Since then, the Cardinals defense has played better as a whole, despite that Broncos fiasco.

Let’s see how it goes against the best offense in the NFL.

BONUS: Score prediction

COX: Chiefs 31, Cardinals 20

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