Behind Enemy Lines: Cardinals takes by expert Aarron Van Buren
By Bret Stuter
Is anything special about the Arizona Cardinals special teams?
Ramblin Fan: Much like the LA Rams, the Arizona Cardinals special team return game seemed to be the weak link in 2021. Any FA signings to improve the team in that area?
The Arizona Cardinals just didn’t do anything significant on special teams. Devin Fitzsimmons was hired after successful stints in Indianapolis and Detroit, where he most notably made Jamal Agnew into a Pro Bowl punt returner. That was the high hope along with his prior work with Matt Prater. Prater did set a new franchise record with a 62-yard field goal right before halftime of the Minnesota game, but he did struggle from that point on. But it’s no reason to give up on Prater who is definitely no Zane Gonzalez or Chandler Catanzaro.
The punting team is set with the extremely-good Andy Lee booting deep kicks for the Cardinals. But what has the most room for improvement is the return game on both sides. The Cardinals haven’t had a kickoff return touchdown since David Johnson took the opening kickoff back for six against the Chicago Bears in 2015, and a punt return touchdown hasn’t happened since Week 2 of the 2014 season when Ted Ginn made a house call. It would change a lot for Kingsbury’s offense if the Cardinals had gotten starting field position that was actually worth something.
The only special teams-related signing was the re-signing of Zeke Turner who is slowly becoming the Cardinals version of Matthew Slater. Technically a linebacker, Turner is most well-known for his blocked punt in Week 1 of the 2020 season on the road against San Francisco.