The Arizona Cardinals Need to be the Atlanta Falcons
The Arizona Cardinals want to get back to a Super Bowl, and being more like the Atlanta Falcons can get them there
They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. This is especially true in the NFL, where fads come in, are copied by nearly everyone, then fade away. The teams that are looking up to the front-runners tend to copy what works, and in 2017, the Arizona Cardinals could stand to look to a Super Bowl team to learn what is working.
The New England Patriots, the Super Bowl champions, would be ideal, but it’s impossible to replicate Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. The Atlanta Falcons, though, had great success in 2016, and they did it in a way that the Cardinals can learn from.
On offense, it starts with a quarterback, of course. The Cardinals have had Carson Palmer, but he is nearly at the end of his career, and hasn’t even committed to playing in 2017 yet. Tony Romo, or another veteran, could be brought in as a stopgap, but the team needs to find a long-term answer in the NFL Draft at some point.
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Aside from an MVP season from their quarterback, the Falcons went out and go weapons in free agency. The Cardinals received the good news that Larry Fitzgerald is returning, and they have some potentially solid receivers around him, but would certainly benefit from more talent there. Head coach Bruce Arians loves a downfield passing game, so getting play-makers is a must.
The running game was also a big part of the Falcons success. The Cardinals have David Johnson, but could use a number two guy with the ability that Tevin Coleman has for Atlanta.
The defensive side of the ball is where the Falcons made the biggest moves, and what made the biggest difference for them. They used the draft to get, not only more talented, but much faster, and it showed.
The Cardinals play out of a 3-4, but the principle is the same. Guys like Vic Beasley, Deion Jones, and De’Vondre Campbell were all added in the last few seasons, and made all the difference. In the NFL, speed on offense has always killed. It can do the same on defense.
Arizona had a great pass rush in 2016, and Patrick Peterson is a terrific cornerback, but management has to deal with a large number of free agents, and the defense may not look the same in 2017. It would benefit the Cardinals to seek out replacements that move well, can play in space, and can win one-on-one.
This year’s draft is deep at several defensive spots, and the Cardinals have the ability to get more than one solid contributor. If they can find the right guys, especially in the middle rounds, the defense could take another huge step.
Cardinals fans would love to see one more deep playoff run with Palmer and Fitzgerald. The Falcons made some smart decisions in free agency and nailed a few drafts on defense. This allowed them to make the leap from 8-8 in 2015 to the Super Bowl in 2016. That’s one Falcons move the Cardinals would love to copy.