The Arizona Cardinals are practicing at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., as they get ready for Sunday’s game.
Cardinals reporter Josh Weinfuss and Buccaneers reporter Pat Yasinskas talk about Sunday’s game.
Yasinskas: Josh, I know IMG has great facilities. The Buccaneers used them during the lockout, and the Carolina Panthers worked out there last year to avoid the congestion from the Democratic National Convention before playing the Bucs. But why did the Cardinals elect to come east early?
Weinfuss: Having just adjusted to the two-hour time difference in New Orleans, Bruce Arians didn’t want his players’ bodies to get totally out of whack going back to Pacific time (technically, Arizona is on Mountain time, but the state doesn’t change its clocks when the rest of the country does) and then five days later fly cross-country to the East Coast, another three hours ahead. I’m tired from thinking about it. This way, the Cardinals can adjust their body clocks to playing what would be a 10 a.m. home game in Arizona. We’ll see whether it works. There’s a pretty significant contingent inside the locker room that's not a fan of this, but those players might be after they realize what their bodies would have gone through. And then there’s playing in the Florida humidity, which takes more than a day or two to adapt to. In Arizona, it’s a dry heat (yeah, I know, everyone doubts it, but it really is), and the Cards neither practice nor play outside, so the added time in the elements could help.
Arizona Cardinals at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
Speaking of elements, is the Bucs' locker room in as much disarray right now as the perception makes people believe?
Yasinskas: It might be in even more disarray than people realize. Wednesday's news that the Bucs are benching quarterback Josh Freeman in favor of rookie Mike Glennon was just more evidence of how much dysfunction is going on with this team. Freeman and coach Greg Schiano never were firmly on the same page, and Freeman's fate was sealed the moment Schiano used a third-round draft pick on Glennon in April. But the fact that Schiano now is going with "his guy" isn't going to instantly solve all the problems. Freeman is a popular figure in the locker room, and some teammates might not agree with his benching. There also have been multiple reports about players not liking Schiano's militaristic style. The Bucs have denied those reports, but I think there's something to them. I believe that where there's smoke, there's fire.
Speaking of coaching styles, it’s early in the Arians era, but what is his persona and how has he been received by the players?
Weinfuss: He’s a no-nonsense type of guy, and the players love it. Well, maybe they loved it. Having a lackluster offense and starting 1-2 wasn’t what this team projected out of Arians. There haven’t been any signs of the players losing faith in their coach. They all raved about him during organized team activities, minicamp and training camp. The players appreciated his candidness with them. If they ever want to know where they stand, he’ll tell them the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Whether they like it or not.
He has been there for only three games, but is the Darrelle Revis acquisition working out and how has he changed the Bucs' defense?
Cardinals at Buccaneers: Stat of the Week
The percentage of teams that started 0-3 and still made it to the playoffs since the NFL went to its current postseason format in 1990.
Yasinskas: Revis has been everything the Bucs hoped for. They brought him in to fix a defense that led the league in passing yards allowed last season, and the early results have been good. Revis is the kind of player who makes those around him better, and his arrival really has helped strong safety Mark Barron. I’d imagine the Bucs will put Revis on Larry Fitzgerald for most -- or all -- of this game.
If Revis can neutralize Fitzgerald, do the Cardinals have enough other offensive weapons to win?
Weinfuss: That’s the $10,000 question. The short answer is yes, they do. The long answer is only if the other weapons -- most notably receivers Michael Floyd and Andre Roberts -- are not double-teamed. If they are and Revis can shut down Fitzgerald, it could be a long day for Arizona’s offense. But Arians is a smart enough offensive mind, so I’m sure he has accounted for this. Expect tight end Rob Housler to play an integral role Sunday, and look for the Cardinals’ stable of running backs -- Rashard Mendenhall, Alfonso Smith, Andre Ellington and Stepfan Taylor -- to come out of the backfield for passes and to create mismatches.
Aside from Revis, how has the rest of Tampa Bay’s defense looked?
Yasinskas: The defense has been a bright spot for Tampa Bay. In addition to the secondary, linebackers Mason Foster and Lavonte David, defensive end Adrian Clayborn, and defensive tackle Gerald McCoy are off to very good starts. But the Patriots were able to run the ball against the Bucs, and Tampa Bay had trouble with the tight ends against the Jets and the Saints. The Bucs could be susceptible if Arizona can get some production from the running game or its tight ends.
The final word on Sunday's matchup at Raymond James Stadium:
Pat Yasinskas: The Bucs haven't looked good at all in their first three games. But I think the adversity that has surrounded them so far will force them to pull things together -- at least for one week. I think Tampa Bay's defense can keep the Cardinals in check. Buccaneers 21, Cardinals 14
Josh Weinfuss: Arizona is looking for a reason to break out offensively, but it has some major work to do on third down before it can. A week without the distractions of home could help the Cardinals figure out what's wrong with their offense and help them make the necessary corrections, but there will still be some flaws in critical situations. Cardinals 20, Buccaneers 14