Five Questions: Arizona Cardinals

Brad Wilbricht and Nate Latsch discuss Sunday's matchup between the Arizona Cardinals and St. Louis Rams.

Nate Latsch: How has running back Chris Johnson been able to re-establish himself with the Cardinals after it looked like he was nearing the end of his career following his 2014 season with the New York Jets?

Brad Wilbricht: Although it wasn't a glamorous contract with little to no money guaranteed, Arizona was one of the ideal situations for Johnson. A more than capable passing game along with an improving offensive line has helped Johnson get his career back on track. Just a few years ago, Johnson was considering to be a top five running back in the NFL, so the talent has always been there. I think more than anything it's been Johnson being surrounded by a solid organization and it's just another example of coach Bruce Arians giving someone a second chance and them taking full advantage of the opportunity.

NL: Larry Fitzgerald has been one of the NFL’s best wide receivers this season with 23 catches for 333 yards and five touchdowns. What has been different with him so far this season after having one of his worst seasons a year ago?

BW: Fitzgerald's work ethic and drive to be the best has never wavered - even during the last few seasons in which his production has dropped significantly. That said, Arians' decision to move Fitzgerald into more of a slot receiver has been the difference. Arians has done this before with veteran wideouts such as Hines Ward and Reggie Wayne so the track record is there. Also helping Fitzgerald's case has been the career revival of QB Carson Palmer as well as the emergence of both the offensive line and running game. Fitzgerald has dealt with some vey poor quarterback and offensive line play during the latter years of his career but those are both areas that are benefiting him so far in 2015.

NL: The Cardinals are 3-0 this season but their first three opponents are a combined 1-8. Does it seem like they have taken the next step toward becoming one of the NFL’s elite teams or have they just taken advantage of a weak early-season schedule?

BW: I honestly don't think it would have mattered who the Cardinals have played thus far through three games. This team was ready from the get go and health permitting, I expect them to keep this up all season long. Arians has done a tremendous job of changing the culture within the organization and now that the team's talent level is amongst the best in the league, the sky is the limit for the Cardinals. Don't expect the blowouts to continue, but it's hard to imagine that Arizona won't continue its surge and win 11 or 12 games this season. To truly be considered elite, we'll need to see some signature wins, but there will be some opportunities for those going forward.

NL: Rams coach Jeff Fisher said this week that Deone Bucannon was a player the team liked going into the 2014 Draft. How has the Cardinals safety progressed from his rookie season a year ago until now?

BW: Bucannon has progressed into a tremendous weapon in the Cardinals secondary. I'd say that Arizona has the best talent at the safety position across the entire NFL and maybe even the defensive backfield as a whole. Bucannon certainly has done his part in that along with Tyrann Mathieu, Rashad Johnson and Tony Jefferson, giving the team four dynamic options at safety . The Cardinals like to mix up their defensive fronts and formations, making Bucannon an excellent fit due to his ability to play the pass and the run. Arizona routinely moves a safety into the box, requiring more linebacker tendencies, which is an area that Bucannon has blossomed.

NL: The Rams and the Cardinals both tried to improve their offensive lines during the offseason. It hasn’t quite worked out for the Rams in 2015. How has the Cardinals’ new-look offensive line fared so far?

BW: The Cardinals offensive line has been one of the highlights of the 2015 campaign so far. Palmer has been sacked only once on the year and he's had ample time in the pocket which has put him on pace for a career-best season through three games. Arizona's offensive line has plagued them for years, but additions such as LT Jared Veldheer have really solidified the team up front. The scary thing is that starting RT Bobby Massie, who missed the team's fist two games serving a suspension, is back and RG Mike Iupati has't even seen the field yet in 2015. With those two back in the fold, this unit will only get better.

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