The Arizona Cardinals get ready to open the pre-season against last year’s Super Bowl runner-up Cincinnati Bengals and have done something unconventional with their depth chart going in.
Usually, the depth chart has its best players that start the game at every position, but being the first pre-season game the Cardinal chose to do the chart backward in terms of player importance.
In other words, the first was made last and the last was put first.
What does this mean?
Well, it can be looked at in many different ways.
There are rookies and undrafted free-agent players fighting to make the team and will play, simply because it’s pre-season and they can put tape on their prospective resumes.
Then there are projected starters coming into the new season that should have already cemented their spots throughout training camp, but have failed to impress the coaching staff and are being singled out to a degree.
Therefore, they are with the group that is last on the depth chart, and usually, that means your job is not secure.
It’s the opposite when guys are doing what is expected, if you’re not logging any minutes in a meaningless pre-season game, then that can be a clear sign the coaching staff has seen the flash they are looking for that gives them confidence that the player is going to be their starter.
The one guy that comes to mind, in this case, would be swiss-army knife player Isaiah Simmons, who is under the scope for being one of the most important players on defense this year.
Moving him from position to position, one would think he would be one of the guys playing in the first preseason game, but that is not the case and in fact, he probably won’t see the field at all at any position.
That’s good news if you’re a Cardinals fan, with all the questions coming in about Simmons, this answers a few questions and adds some excitement as to what he will bring to the table this season.
On the other hand, there is second-year man Zaven Collins, who will be a starter in a meaningless pre-season game on Friday night.
Collins is a supposed starter, but on a backward depth chart says, he is nowhere near ready to be the starting linebacker for the start of the season.
This raises concerning questions, like if he is catching on to the scheme, or is he just simply not as talented as they projected him to be at the draft?
We have seen very few flashes last year from Zaven because he was not good enough to even get on the field, which is ironic after being deemed the starter on draft night.
If there is one crucial piece to this team’s success this year, it’s got to be the development of Zaven Collins being the quarterback of the defense.
If Collins is not ready to walk in those shoes, we could see a team that will struggle to stop the run again and give up big plays in the screen game as we have seen countless times last year.
There are other guys to keep a close eye on in this preseason game, and it is imperative that we hear the announcers of the game saying “wow this guy is all over the place” or “he’s looked good all night” and simply hear high praise of them several times.
It’s not a good thing to hear the announcer say “we haven’t called his name all night” that is a death blow to your chances unless you’re an offensive lineman, they never get called.
The Cardinals Head Coach Kliff Kingsbury said that Kyler Murray will not play at all during the preseason, but how many other guys have that status that we also may not see during preseason?
Maybe James Conner would be the only other guy being held out because runningbacks pretty much know their job, and the less unnecessary punishment Conner takes the better going into the regular season.
There is usually a preseason game where the starters play a full half, if Kyler is not working with the first team in live action does that mean he has flashed so well that it’s not needed?
Or is a 230 million dollar man too risky to put in games that don’t matter?
Who knows, but the Cardinals have had a very tumultuous off-season, and one would think that they need all the reps together they can get.
Perhaps with the crazy off-season, let’s hope all the madness has stopped and gets erased by another winning season that ends in another playoff birth with better results.