ESPN’s Jim Trotter has Arizona Cardinals third in the NFC West
Generally speaking, most NFL pundits predicting the outcome of the upcoming 2015 season anticipate the Arizona Cardinals to be one of a handful teams to not only compete, but clinch an NFC playoff spot. What with Carson Palmer returning from injury, a deep fleet of receivers, a revamped offensive line and a talented defense that proved to be a linchpin for an injury-riddled team a season ago, it’s not all that outrageous to wonder if the Cards could even edge out the Seattle Seahawks for the NFC West title.
That is, if you’re not ESPN NFL reporter Jim Trotter.
Trotter joined host Bertrand Berry on “Off the Edge with B-Train” on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Friday to discuss his expectations of the Cardinals this season; a season he believes will see the Cardinals endure their fair share of struggles.
“Bruce Arians has infused a lot of enthusiasm and success. Offensively speaking this year, they should go to another level with Carson [Palmer] back and some of the young receivers having another year of experience,” Trotter said. “If they can get a running game going, that offense should be fairly potent. I think the big issue with them though nationally, and even from my perspective, is defensively. How do they handle some of the losses that they had, most notably in Todd Bowles the [defensive] coordinator?”
With Bowles in the Big Apple as the new head coach of the New York Jets, Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians promoted former Cardinals outside linebackers coach James Bettcher to the vacated defensive coordinator position this past February.
According to Trotter, Cardinals fans would be a bit naïve to think that Bettcher could match Bowles’ resourcefulness and ability to motivate his charges in his first year on the job.
“To me, he did more with less,” Trotter said of Bowles. “That’s not to put anyone down, but when you think about the injuries, the suspensions, those sorts of things that every week seemed to hit his unit, and yet, he kept that group playing well even when that club did not have a capable quarterback. I thought Todd Bowles really did one of the more incredible coaching jobs last year.”
The loss of Bowles, coupled with the continued stellar play of Seattle and the momentum that appears to gathering with the Rams in St. Louis, has Arizona on the outside looking in in Trotter’s estimation.
“I would say right now I’ve got Arizona, in my opinion, third in the division,” Trotter said. “I think that clearly Seattle, which has gone to the last two Super Bowls, remains frontrunner.
“After that, I would say St. Louis is going to surprise a lot of people. I think that’s a team that’s been building and building. You know how it is when a fairly young team that’s gone through some growing pains, finally gets to that point where it’s ready to take off. The momentum builds and there’s an excitement. I think the Rams are going to be one of those clubs this year, and after that, I would have Arizona and then, right now, I would have San Francisco.”