Half of the 2015 NFL season is in the books.
The Arizona Cardinals, who own a 6-2 record, have had a very good first half of the season. Not only are they in first place in the NFC West, but they rank in the top five in the league in total offense and total defense. They’re the only team that can make that claim.
There are plenty of individual players who are enjoying great seasons as well. NFL.com honored two of them by naming them to the website’s Midseason All-Pro Team.
Slot receiver Larry Fitzgerald and slot corner Tyrann Mathieu received the honor.
Chris Wesseling on Fitzgerald:
How explosive is the Cardinals’ offense? They already have six games of 400-plus yards this season, equaling the number of times they have managed that feat in the past five seasons combined. It’s hard to quantify Fitzgerald’s leadership in Arizona. After selflessly moving from the outside to the slot in Bruce Arians’ scheme, he’s now willingly taking on lead-blocking duties for Chris Johnson’s short-yardage runs. He’s also on pace for career highs in receptions (110) and touchdowns (14).
The 32-year-old Fitzgerald is fifth in the league with 55 catches and 706 yards and is tied for the league lead in touchdown catches (7) with Odell Beckham Jr. of the New York Giants and Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots. Fitzgerald had only 63 catches for 784 yards and two touchdowns all season.
Wesseling on Mathieu:
A legitimate Defensive Player of the Year candidate, Mathieu plays like a combination of undersized but fierce former Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield and disruptive free lancing former Steelers safety Troy Polamalu. He’s the first cornerback I’ve ever seen holding the top spot across the board in Pro Football Focus’ grades for coverage, run defense and pass rush.
Mathieu is Arizona’s second-leading tackler with 46. He’s also intercepted two passes (including one he returned for a touchdown in a 47-7 win over San Francisco), a sack and a fumble recovery. He’s also proven to be the emotional leader for a Cardinals defense that ranks fourth in the league in pass defense and fifth in rushing defense.
The Patriots had the most players represented on the squad with five. The St. Louis Rams had the second-most with three, while the Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, Miami Dolphins and Carolina Panthers all had two apiece.
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