The Arizona Cardinals are 1-2, and everyone from top to bottom needs to look themselves in the mirror moving forward.
Although early in the season, very few signs of complete competence have been shown from Kliff Kingsbury and company.
The Cardinals now move forward to a Week 4 road trip to battle the Carolina Panthers, and while they evaluate the film and find where they can improve, there's five guys who deserve more time on the field.
Five Cardinals Who Need More Playing Time
Snap counts through Week 3: 92 (49.73% of plays)
Simmons has been on an insanely short leash since failing his Week 1 test against the Kansas City Chiefs, playing very little over the course of the last two games.
In fact, both Zaven Collins and Nick Vigil have played more than him during Weeks 2 and 3.
Simmons, boasting an insanely freakish athletic profile, is able to play essentially across the board, affording him positionless versatility.
The Cardinals have struggled mightily for a good portion of the season on the defensive side of the ball. Sending a message to Simmons after a poor Week 1 is understandable, but when push comes to shove, he's clearly one of the better weapons you have on the defensive side of the ball.
Vance Joseph was clear with reporters last week Simmons' role was merely a consequence of game plan, but ultimately your best players need to touch the field more times than not, and we can't say that's been the case for the former top ten pick.
Snap counts through Week 3: 0 (8 snaps on special teams)
In classic "Keim Time" fashion, the Cardinals went and traded for a position group that needed an upgrade.
For Arizona's secondary, insert Trayvon Mullen, who put on very good film and flashed capabilities of being a starter.
Except, that hasn't been the case since his arrival to the desert. Mullen was still experiencing some injury issues when the Cardinals sent a low draft pick to Las Vegas.
However, Mullen now displays a clean bill of health. The only problem? Kliff Kingsbury isn't confident in Mullen's grasp of the defensive concepts.
That's understandable, but given the current state of Arizona's secondary, Mullen (even not being fully caught up) would still be a boost for that room.
I'm no NFL coach or coordinator. I didn't make it past high school football. But the saying "football is football" especially at the professional level somewhat bodes true here.
Let Mullen play.
Snap counts through Week 3: 8 (4.32% of defensive snaps)
Good news: J.J. Watt has two sacks in two games.
Bad news: Those are the only two sacks Arizona has thus far.
Replacing Chandler Jones has proved difficult, and that's no slight to guys such as Dennis Gardeck who have earned playing time.
However, the Cardinals need pressure opposite of Markus Golden.
Arizona's answer to Jones' departure came in the form of drafting Cameron Thomas and Myjai Sanders on Day 2 of the draft.
Thomas displayed some good things during the preseason, but has yet to really find his footing on the depth chart. The likes of Devon Kennard and Victor Dimukeje haven't truly stepped up on a rotational basis.
The time should be coming soon for Arizona to take the brakes off Thomas, even in a limited aspect. You're not asking him to start and play 80% of snaps, but the more experience Thomas is able to get, the better.
If the early signs are true, he'll probably prove them right if/when he does get a jump on playing.
Snap counts through Week 3: 81 (34.47%)
The Cardinals have made it very clear James Conner is "the" guy in their backfield, as he should be when healthy.
In order for him to remain healthy (he's already battling injury), Arizona would be wise to actually follow what Kingsbury said earlier in the offseason and take some work off his shoulders.
Through three games, Eno Benjamin has looked especially strong when given the opportunity. His 4.4 yards per carry tops Conner's while his eight receptions are more than A.J. Green's.
Benjamin provides an explosive presence as a third down back while also displaying obvious pass-catching abilities.
His work on special teams remains consistent, but in order to keep Conner upright and running down the stretch, the Cardinals should look to deploy Benjamin just a bit more throughout games.
Snap counts through Week 3: 6 (2.55%)
This is more about principal.
Despite having Zach Ertz and glaring needs still on the roster, the Cardinals spent a luxury pick on Colorado State tight end Trey McBride in the second round.
Keim and Kingsbury raved about the different things McBride can do within the offense, both as a blocker and receiver.
After trading your first-round pick for Marquise Brown, McBride emerged as Arizona's top pick.
Especially without DeAndre Hopkins for six weeks, one would have thought McBride's impact would have gone further than six snaps, yet here we are.
It's the same story with other younger/newer players: Kliff and the rest of the staff aren't sold on their grasp around the playbook.
This was supposed to be a long-term pick, as McBride is being groomed to take over after Ertz eventually departs. That's understandable.
However, the Cardinals need results now. Should Kingsbury be the creative mastermind everybody plucks him to be, there's surely a way to get McBride on the field.
After all, they thought so highly of him to take him over actual needs.
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