The Arizona Cardinals open their 2017 season on Sunday against the Detroit Lions on the road. They hope to have their offense return to their prolific form of 2015, even though they were still a top-10 unit a season ago.
What is key to the offense this week?
Use David Johnson early and often
Johnson was one of the league’s best players a season ago and the expectations once again are high. Last year, the Lions were only 18th in the league against the run, allowing more than 106 yards per game. Johnson should be able to have some space. And his ability to cause problems in the passing game should be a nightmare for Detroit, who doesn’t have the most incredible linebacking corps.
Protect Carson Palmer
Last season, the numbers were staggeringly different when Palmer was sacked two or more times in a game than when he was not. The Lions have no proven pass rusher outside of Ezekiel Ansah, and even he missed all of training camp. So it is unknown how effective he will be in Week 1. But this is always the case — Carson Palmer is great when he has time.
Connect on a couple of deep passes
Last year’s Cardinals offense was good, but it wasn’t dynamic without the threat of the deep ball. With John Brown, Jaron Brown and J.J. Nelson, the Cardinals could have three speedsters on the field at once. All it will take is to connect on a couple of those throws and the field will open up for Arizona.