There wasn’t a lot to say about the Arizona Cardinals in 2018. Honestly, it was basically a throwaway season. However, with the Cards having a new coach and the first pick in the draft, can 2019 bring a turnaround?
After going 3-13, the Cardinals knew things had to change. They started with firing head coach Steve Wilks after just one season, and hiring college football coach, Kliff Kingsbury. Kingsbury started coaching in 2008 moving from the University of Houston, then on to Texas A&M, and finally to Texas Tech. He had been hired as the offensive coordinator at USC in December, but obviously, let that go to coach at the NFL level.
Reaction to the Kingsbury hire was, to say the least, cool from fans and media. However, he coached quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes, Baker Mayfield, Johnny Manziel, and Case Keenum. So there is reason to think his system could carry over to the NFL. Add to that the fact they brought in former Broncos head coach Vance Joseph as defensive coordinator, this team has a completely fresh start in coaching.
The New England Patriots under head coach Bill Belichick, don’t lose in the postseason in Foxborough. This record has a chance to be broken when Belichick meets up against his old nemesis, Tom Coughlin.
Teams, coaches, and players try to outsmart Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady. This won’t be one of those games. Doug Marrone and Coughlin believe in beating you with talent, playing simple, but effective smash mouth football.
The game will hinge, not on quarterback Blake Bortles, but on Jacksonville’s front five: defensive end Calais Campbell, outside linebacker Yannick Ngakoue, defensive tackles Malik Jackson, and Marcell Dareus and OLB Dante Fowler. Brady will run if he has to, he will rush a yard or two on a QB sneak, but mostly he stays in the pocket and it’s up to those men listed above to push the pocket, snap after snap. Then hit him. And again. #Sacksonville doesn’t even need to sack him, just abuse him.
These two teams haven’t been to a playoff game in so long, kids have been born and are in high school. For a Jags home playoff game? They graduated. Two teams new to the playoff with quarterbacks who also haven’t been in one. It’s going to be either a mess or a sign of good times ahead for the under 30 guys.
Head coach Doug Marrone is coaching his old team. That should make a difference, but teams change a lot in a couple years. What will definitely have an effect, is the fact that running back LeSean McCoy is far from 100%. That hurts not only their run game but their passing ability. He’s their second-leading pass catcher. They’re losing a day of practice and the Jags don’t have to change a thing.