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Heroes and Goats: Cards at Bills

Cripes, what a freaking disaster. Sunday’s game between the Arizona Cardinals and Buffalo Bills delivered the message that the 2016 Arizona Cardinals are not in the top tier of NFL teams. They’ll fight to be a playoff team.

Fans have enjoyed a feeling through the offseason that this team was going to be defined by how it plays in January. It seems the coaching staff let that same feeling creep in to the locker room. You can’t win a division or home field advantage in September and October, but you can lose them, which the Cards are perilously close to doing.

While both losses have come against the AFC East and do the least damage that a loss can, this team has to get its mind and preparation right. No one is giving this team a bye into the playoffs.

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David Johnson, RB 111 total yards and 2 TDs is a pretty good day (in just 22 touches!), even in a loss. Bruce Arians needs to find a way to integrate Chris Johnson into the offense earlier in the game, if only to give Johnson a break. He seems to get tired early because getting through the first level takes so much effort.

 

Darren Fells, TE His 2 receptions for 15 yards aren’t going to look great on the stat sheet, but he puts tremendous effort out there every opportunity. The undrafted free agent plays with a sense or urgency that many of his more highly drafted teammates lack.

 

Markus Golden, OLB Another sack and 4 tackles to go with some solid work setting and holding the edge against a strong rushing attack. It should speak volumes that the Bills opted to attack Chandler Jones in the running game instead of Golden.

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Bruce Arians, HC It’s unfair to fault the offensive philosophy – it’s one reason we all love him. But it’s not clear Arians is having fun this year. There’s a lot of pressure on Hardy Drive, and this team hasn’t been prepared or played smart football consistently.

 

Michael Floyd, WR Floyd is a tone-setter; when he gets involved early in the game, it makes everyone better. When Floyd drops catchable passes on consecutive drives to begin the game, it blows a huge hole in the offense and the defense.

 

Kevin Minter, ILB You have one job, and that’s to be a thumper. Minter lost weight in the offseason to become more effective in pass coverage; now he’s getting easily pushed out of holes or overrunning his gap. Hard to imagine Minter as a core player on this defense after 2016.

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