2013 Cardinals Season Preview

RugbyMuffin

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Yeah Buddy!

I am so ready for the season to start.

The game of football and the analysis of it, can be very weird. Perspective is HUGE. Bigger than one really realizes.

When we say a certain player is good, what does that mean, relative to what? Is be good because the guy we had there before was so bad in comparison? Is he good compared to the rest of the NFL? Is he good compared to what was considered good 5 years ago, 10 year ago?

Thus before I breakdown this team, and this year, for some reason the breakdown is easy, and short. Why? Too many variables to take into account. More than any year in the last decade I see this year being a "wait and see" situation. New owner, new front office, new coaches, new philosophies. Just about everything is new.

My perspective:

This is a 6-10 team. You look at the talent level on the team, the schedule, the knowns, and unknowns, and you find this team staring at 6-10. I have personally embraced this record, and standing since about mid-March. Yet, am I saying that 6-10 is bad? No. Not at all. I think 6-10 is what I deem an acceptable record. Could the team go 8-8? Sure, if things go in their direction, if the band-aids do there job to a level that is more than what is expected. Could the team go 2-14? Sure, this team has so many questions. If a majority of the questions are answered in a negative way then this team could be abysmal. 6-10. I think this team is going to stick band aids on open wounds in the roster, and we will see if those band-aids stop the bleeding, and furthermore if the medicine brought it will heal those wounds. More on that in a second.

Now I understand some fans, and respectfully so, only want Super Bowls. You team either makes the playoffs, and wins the Super Bowl or they are losers. To those fans I say, don't ever lose hope, but this year it is going to be a minor miracle for the Cardinals to make the playoffs. Whizenhunt left the cupboard as bare as it could be, and Arians came in and really just cleaned what was left out.

Personally I agree with wiping the slate clean, and starting fresh. I really like the 1 to 3 year contracts given out. I like the players they brought in, and I like the direction of the team. It is going to hurt this team this season, I am certain of that, but it will produce a good foundation going forward, I am also certain of that.

Coaching:

I have to admit, I like Bruce Arians. He IS from New Jersey, and his grumpy/up front/no BS demeanor is something I am familiar with. I use it at my work, and while it "ruffles some feathers" it gets the job done and bypasses dramatic/rumor/gossip bull crap. To be honest, in today's TMZ NFL, I like that Arians is a no BS type guy. It is what it is and that is all there is to it. Granted out football coaching staff looks like an old folks home, but experience is experience, and it cannot be taught. These guys have seen it all. Literally. There are coaches on this staff that saw the option, and single wing when it was run buy guys in leather helmets. To us, it is new aged stuff, to them it is the NFL coming around full circle. Chip Kelly's "new" offense, its the K-gun with an option wrinkle, and YES I AM GOING THERE, rugby type philosophies. (easy to defend if you know how, btw).

The coaching? I am very comfortable with the coaching. The head coach position has been upgraded, IMO. The offensive coaching has been upgraded, IMO. Yet, the defense has a lot to prove against Ray Horton's defense from a season ago, and it is COMPLETELY unfair to Todd Bowles because did not have the players he needs to implement the defense he wanted when he got here, and still doesn't, IMO. The defense will struggle, and the fans (including myself) will be frustrated. But, it is a process, I will forget that myself in heated frustration, but the whole thing, the organization, and the new regime are in the middle of a process. Arians might be trying to sell tickets with his bravado but this organization is in the middle of the process of building a high end competitive football team. That has to be the plan because our division is tops in the league.


Offense:

Call me crazy but I think we are going to throw the ball deep down the field. LOL. I mean after years of Warner, and WHiz dinking and dunking, this is taking some getting used to. The Cardinals are going to pass, pass, pass, pass, and run when things are 100% to their advantage to do so. But, there is just so much work to be done on offense. There was just not enough here when Whiz left.

Quarterback:

Carson Palmer, Drew Stanton, and for now, Ryan Lindley

Carson Palmer is the band aid that the Cardinals have been looking for. When I think of Palmer and what level of QB he is, I think of Jake Plummer. Obviously two different types of QB's but I feel both are at that same level of talent. Palmer is going to win a few games for us, but he is going to lose a few too. He is not Kurt Warner, he cannot carry this team for extended periods of time. Yet, if you want a QB that was available this offseason that can throw the ball down the field, and play at a NFL level, you couldn't find a better fit. One would hope this band aid will last until we find the right medicine to heal the deep wound that is the Cardinals QB situation. Teddy Bridgewater is the type of medicine we need, and if the season goes poorly enough he could be there for this team.

When I think of Drew Stanton, I think of a guy that is 5 steps above Kevin Kolb. Yeah, that is not saying much, but it is saying that Drew Stanton would have played the most games at QB for this team if he was on the roster last year. Thus our backup is better than anyone that played for the team last year. Not head and shoulders above, but better none the less. That all being said, I really like Drew Stanton as our backup. I want him to be the Cardinals version of Charlie Batch. While Arians is here, I hope Stanton stays. Why ? Cause after watching the debacle last year, games like the Atlanta game or the Jets game. I just want a QB that can give us a chance, and Stanton could give us a chance.

Speaking of last year? I was all for letting Ryan Lindley go. Unless they are letting Tom Moore beat Lindley with a stick at practice, I will never EVER have confidence in Ryan Lindley after the Jets game last year. I think he is a waste of a roster spot, and could be replaced by a practice squad QB. I don't care what his rating was in the preseason, I have seen enough from Lindley in my lifetime.

All in all, the quarterback position is in MUCH better shape than last year. It still puts the unit in the middle of the pack league wise, but Palmer and Stanton are going to give us a MUCH better chance to win games then the ridiculousness we witnessed last year.


Running Back:

Rashard Mendenhall, Ryan Williams, Stepfan Taylor, Andre Ellington, Alfonso Smith

The most overrated part of last year's team. The running back position. Chris Wells was a bust for this organization, sorry first round picks don't underproduce like Wells did, and get credit for being "decent". Blame Whiz, blame this guy, blame that guy, Wells didn't get the job done. LSH is easily replaced by Ellington.

Not only did this position get a great band aid, but they got some good medicine too. IF Mendenhall stays healthy, he should be the best back that has been in the Cardinals backfield since Edgerrin James was a one-man running game for the Cardinals, and if you don't accept James, then the last running back was who? Garrison Hearst ? Johnny Johnson ? Mendenhall has power, has moves, has good vision, has good speed, and can play all three downs. I am not sure what else you could ask for.

Ryan Williams. Well, he was given a shot via our GM to prove himself. He is VERY VERY lucky to have people who have so much faith in him. If I was the GM he would be on the street right now. I see Andre Ellington giving this team everything Williams can. But, it is what it is. He is on the team, and of course, I hope he stays healthy and serves me up some nicely cooked crow, with blue berry sauce (best with blue berry sauce). Guy has the moves to break your ankles just by watching him on TV. But, his mental toughness once on the field has to improve from where it has been. Lastly, he is not out of the woods yet. I have not heard about him NOT still being on the trading block, FYI.

Alfonso Smith, I have always liked Alfonso Smith. You have to remember how fast this guy is. If his skills ever get him to the second level of a defense, one bad angle, and we will get to watch his speed. No one is catching him, BTW. A look into the new coaching staff gave some idea of the improvement in our running back coach (Stump Mitchell) who has been working with Smith to have a little patience. When I think of Smith, I think of a RB who smashes into the line, where the hole is supposed to be, whether its open or not. I saw a few runs this offseason where he "found" a hole. Regardless, he is here for special teams, pass blocking, and emergency situations, and that's a good thing.

Yet, those guys are not the medicine to this position. Mendenhall is a very good band aid to give a chance for the wounds to heal, but the medicine is where things will improve, and stabilize. This team NEEDS Stepfan Taylor. Way, way too much is being made of what Taylor can't do. It is a little ridiculous, IMO. He can't break a big run, he can't make any moves. Yeah, but he is smart, can not only pick up blitzes, but read defenses as well pre-snap. He is a good pass blocker, he is a good pass catcher, he is a good short yardage back (picks up 4 yds when you need 3yds), and he is durable. The Cardinals have been HORRIFIC in short yardage situations, Taylor helps with that, they have struggled to find a reliable pass blocking running back since Hightower left, Taylor helps with that. And while you complain about his inability to break long runs, remember that when the defense makes a complex blitz audible, and Taylor picks up the blitz, and Palmer completes a 50+ yard pass, THAT is your big play that Taylor can be a part of. This is 2014, a back like Taylor is needed. He fills about 3 roles in the back field that are needed in the modern game. GREAT pick up for this team.

Andre Ellington is the replacement for LSH. Can return kickoffs, has big play ability, and IMO, can replace Ryan Williams if he gets hurt. Again. between Taylor and Ellington you are fulfilling about 5 roles you need from your running backs, and Mendenhall gives the team time to find that "every down back" later on.


Wide Receiver:

Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, Andre Roberts, Jaron Brown, [Patrick Peterson]

Fitzgerald, Floyd, and Roberts. Nothing new here. Fitzgerald is going to have a monster year, that is my prediction. I think he will be back to putting up huge numbers. Michael Floyd? Either show me, or get ready to be replaced. He has been properly hyped up this offseason, now show it in the games. Andre Roberts is going to drop a few passes like he always has, but these days he will do enough to make up for those drops. This wider receiver core is very healthy, no wounds, no band aids needed.

Jaron Brown, anyone who has been paying attention to my posts (is sick in the head, LOL) knows I like big bodied, possession receivers. Jaron Brown is just that. His hands need to be proven on game day, but so far he has shown the ability to haul in clutch passes. Uses his size, and body well.

And yes, deal with this as a fact, Patrick Peterson is our 5th receiver. I liked Charles Hawkins, and Kerry Taylor showed promise, but I believe Hawkins needs to get his mental game at a NFL level (lining up wrong), and Taylor just is not NFL caliber talent. He is close. Patrick Peterson? Look, we all need to stop thinking about this too much. Peterson is a top flight athlete, if he gets too tired then he will say something, or the coaches will say something, etc., etc. So this, "he will get tired" is ridiculous. Plus think about the fact that Peterson is going to be lined up against a safety, or 4th strong CB, or linebacker. When your child asked what he brown stain on the back of the defender covering Peterson is, just say it is dirt, because we all know what it really is. Do we forget the type of athlete Peterson is ? It doesn't change when he is on offense. He will EASILY take the top off a defense, not to mention can just plain wreak havoc out there. Very, very unorthodox decision to setup a NFL roster this way, but IMO, very smart too.


Tight End:

Rob Houlser, Jim Dray, D.C. Jefferson, Kory Sperry, [Bradley Sowell]

Whew. This wound is open and bleeding. No band aids to be found, no medicine to be had. Rob Housler is pure hype, and didn't show anything this offseason to prove he is turning any corners. He had a very, very big drop in a highlighted situation, what does that mean. For a guy who is touted a breakout player, that has a whisper quiet offseason, to drop a wide open, couldn't place it in you hands any better, touchdown pass? Not good. Not good one bit. I have zero faith in Housler as a tight end.

D.C. Jefferson is a player that I do not like. I have watched him for 2 years, and have never EVER seen him improve past what we have all seen. Many said he was blocking well at the end of preseason, against what talent, and when I don't know cause I certainly didn't see any blocks that would make a different in a NFL regular season game. His less than 25% pass catch percentage ? That is what he does. Still a rookie, and I hope to be wrong about this player, but I HIGHLY doubt I will be.

Kory Sperry, as hyped up as Rob Housler, and produces less then Rob Housler. Should be one those "bottom 5 guys" that is constantly churned over, IMO.

So, our tight end position rests on the shoulders of Jim Dray who is about as average a NFL tight end as you can find. Good on special teams, is a average blocker, and pass catcher. Will do all the blocking and dirty work for the Cardinals this season.

And recently acquired Bradley Sowell who will be listed as an offensive tackle, but will be put out there as a tight end from time to time. This offseason Arians put Kelemete at TE a few times. I have always liked that philosophy. If a 6'7" 316 lbs man can run a few patterns, and catch the ball, then why not? In reality what is the different between that guy and a Jeff King, or Anthony Becht ? None, IMO. A guy like Heath Miller is rare, but blocking for a tight end is a must, and Sowell will do just that.


Offensive Line:

Levi Brown, Daryn Colledge, Lyle Sendlein, Paul Fanaika, Eric Winston, Bobby Massie, Nate Potter, Mike Gibson, Earl Watford, Bradley Sowell

Ahem. &$^*@!#$)*&#&$*(@#&)( *)(#$&@*)(!!! *(!&@!!!! (*&)!@!!!!!

Very few Cardinals fans can say there are not some days where you hate being a Cardinals fans. I mean, even NFL people who do not like the Cardinals let out a sign of sympathy and disbelief when Jonathan Cooper went down with a season ending injury. No doubt was our best offensive lineman. He was a guy to build around. He needs some polish, but he was knocking people on their asses out there.

Concerning the offensive line. Perspective is key.

1. Anyone who wants to continue to question how poor the offensive line was under Whiz has to look no further than this offseason. There are almost more offensive line coaches then offensive lineman this year. Thus there is no doubt the Cardinals wanted to get this fixed. Gone are, Adam Snyder, Rich Ohrnberger, and Senio Kelemet. Daryn Colledge barely hung onto his job, Bobby Massie lost his, and Levi Brown, and Lyle Sendlein are there because there is only so much you can do in one year.

2. PERSPECTIVE!!! I know, I don't like Levi Brown anymore than the next fan, but he is a mid-level NFL left tackle. That is just the way it is these days. You take a look at a Trent Williams on Washington, or D.Ferguson on the Jets. Both better than Levi Brown no doubt, but not as much as you would think. Levi Brown, dare I say the Carson Palmer of left tackles. You also can go look at King Dunlap in San Diego. He is starting, and is worse than Levi Brown. Daryn Colledge. Colledge as a starter is a gaping wound, and a bad long term solution to the guard position (aka bad medicine). Colledge as a band aid solution at LG, or RG is another story. I am fine with Colledge as a place holder while our starting LG heals up for next season. Lyle Sendlein is what he is. Not preferred but it could be worse.

Levi Brown, Lyle Sendlein, Daryn Colledge are all what we know them to be. They are not going to magically improve, they are just going to play the way we know they can. Very marginally. It is one of the main reason this team is not going to be over .500 no matter the luck they receive. The line's talent level at these position are going to be dominated by elite defensive lines, just like they have been in the past. Sorry, to be a wet blanket, but the Rams are going to demolish this group. Patience. This is not last year, there is hope towards the future, and its not Rich "I suck" Ohrnberger.

Paul Fanaika this is the guy I am watching during the 2013 season. I really like how Fanaika plays the game. Like he has a hornets nest stuck in his shorts. Fights, and is much stronger than he looks. It seems he has found a home at right guard, and I would love to see him improve via learning his new found position. He is not going to get better athletically, but he is plenty strong, and though a little slow he has enough quickness to get the job done. Does he get blown back now and then. Yep. But not nearly as much as Sendlein, Colledge or Snyder. His value? He can play guard, and tackle. At 27 years old, you sign him for 3 or 4 years and he can be the depth you need at guard, and could even start again next year (if all goes well) while the medicine (Earl Watford) gets NFL ready.

Eric Winston, if we could only merge Winston and Massie together, you would have an All-Pro right tackle. For as much flak as I sent Winston's way when the Cardinals signed him, he shut my flapping mouth quickly. He may be a very average pass protector, but Winston can flat out run block. When he would run block, and Cooper would pull to his side, there were some MAJOR holes opening up. Really good signing by the Cardinals.

Mike Gibson, again, another player I really like. He is not as skilled, or talented as Fanaika. Not even close, but he is good enough. I would rather keep Colledge as a guard now that Cooper is hurt, and have Gibson come in as the center if Sendlein goes down. Gibson allows the Cardinals to keep Nate Potter, and Earl Watford.

Bobby Massie, and Nate Potter - They seem to be struggling with the new regime. They both took a step back. Massie looked bad run blocking last year, and looked way worse this preseason. Nate Potter has just regressed, period. Yet, neither would clear waivers, and sophomore slumps are common in the NFL. I am happy they are still on the roster, and I expect them to play are part in the Cardinals plans in the future. Remember the Cardinals had sinfully neglected the offensive line for decades. This is what happens when you try to correct the situation that is FUBAR. You burn roster spots, and keep a lot of players. The Cardinals need starters AND DEPTH.

Ok. Enough band aids, and known values. Lets get to some medicine. Jonathan Cooper goes on IR, but HOLY MOLY. Its like when I watched Kurt Warner play QB. It had been so long since I had seen a QB play at an NFL level that it was a shock to the system to watch it. Jonathan Cooper's play at guard was shocking. He improved the line so much it wasn't even funny.

But, how about Earl Watford. Very raw. He looked so poor in the first preseason game, and then looked so good in the last preseason game. There is no doubt he is athletic, he just needs polish. He will get it. You always have to remember only 45 guys dress on game day, so there are 8 inactives. He is a 16 game inactive unless injuries arrive.....and that is a good thing. If it ends up with Cooper at left guard, and Watford at right guard in 2014, then we will have some special athletes in the interior of the line, and Paul Fanaika backing them up. The promise of starters, and depth in 2014 ? Wow. That would be amazing.


Defense:

It is almost unfair. I tip my hat to Bruce Arians. He wants all the responsibility for this team. He personally knew Ray Horton, and knew it was not going to work with him as the defensive coordinator. Enter Todd Bowles who is not Ray Horton. Who does not run the same system, does not use the same types of players, and who would have to have a minor miracle happen to match last year's defense, which was VERY special.

But, in Bowles defense, it is much of the same. A lot of band aids, and a lot of change on the roster. What I do like that changed ? You have four groups. Defensive lineman, Edge Rushers, Inside linebackers, and defensive backs. Yeah, NT, DT, DE, OLB, ILB, CB, NB, FS, SS, that is all well and good but Bowles just puts players out on the field where they will succeed. I like that.


Defensive Line:

Calais Campbell, Darnell Dockett, Dan Williams, Ronald Talley, Frostee Rucker, Alameda Ta'amu

The window is closing for the Campbell, Williams, and Dockett trio for the 3-4 base defense. Hopefully all the talk about this system fitting Dockett and Campbell better will be justified. There is a reason they don't make the pro bowl, or all-pro, or the Top-100 list. Because they need to produce more, plain and simple. We know the talent here.

"Point of attack"

This is no longer Ray Horton's defense, the Cardinals are not going to try to run around blockers. Ronald Talley, Frostee Rucker, and Alameda Ta'amu are here to hold the point and not be driven back. The battle for the line of scrimmage will be won with power per Todd Bowles defense. Thus David Carter is cut, and Ronald Talley is kept. It is the right decision. Frostee Rucker and Ta'amu are not going to be making plays, they are going to be using their power to hold the point while others make plays. I think Talley, Rucker, and Ta'amu will be an upgrade over Carter, Eason and Holliday.


Edge Rushers:

Jonathan Abraham, Sam Acho, Alex Okafor, Lorenzo Alexander, Matt Shaughnessy

It is so hard to find pass rushers in the NFL. One must understand that Sam Acho is what you have to have on an NFL team playing the 3-4. It is so rare you have a pass rusher that can also play the position, against the run, against the pass in coverage, thus you need a guy that can do all the little things at the position. Sam Acho does that in my opinion, and Alex Okafor has the potential to be a player like Acho but with more of a pass rushing threat. Acho is the player we have seen, as for Okafor, just watch how he uses his hands, it is what can propel him to be a better player than Acho.

Ok, I get it now. Quentin Groves was a poor man's Lorenzo Alexander. I see the value in Alexander now. A special teams dinamo that can play well here and there at OLBer. Alexander is going to excel in his role here in Arizona, but don't expect sacking the QB to be part of his role.

Matt Shaughnessy is being played as a DE in nickel situations, and played here and there in 3-4 situations as a quasi-OLBer. What is he doing out there most times ? Defending the run. He is pretty darn good against the run that is for sure. There is talk about his pass rushing ability but I have not seen it. Yet, he is a very solid depth guy, good at the point of attack, very good against the run.

Jonathan Abraham. Watch closely because that is what a pass rusher is supposed to look like. He makes it look so flippin' easy. Its just looks so easy when he gets to the QB, it makes you question why others can't do it. Well, that is because the is just that good at what he does. He was a great pick up by the Cardinals and he will win us games this year via 1 or 2 plays a game. He is the ultimate band aid.....yet, like Carson Palmer he is as good a band aid as you can find, but there is no medicine on the roster to heal this wound.


Inside Linebackers:

Jasper Brinkley, Karlos Dansby, Kevin Minter

I would believe Lorenzo Alexander will be asked to play a little big inside backer, and dare I say Sam Acho may as well until Daryl Washington comes back.

But, Daryl Washington being out is a killer. Absolute killer. Dansby is a savvy vet who can makes plays, but he cannot cover TE's and WR's like he used to. Washington is much, better in coverage, but there is no one who can do that but him. The middle of the field stuff killed this team in the preseason and will do so again until Washington comes back.

Until then, we have Jasper Brinkley whom I absolutely love. What a great pickup. Watch the tape. Just watch the tape. He takes on offensive lineman with NO PROBLEM. He plays really, really strong against the run, and is faster than he looks. It seems the NFL has been good to Brinkley who looks leaner and faster than he did in college. One has to remember he had a knee injury his last year in college and now is two year removed from the surgery. He has impressed my this offseason, and I expect him to rotate with Dansby and Washington all year long. Really good pick up for a position that has been woefully neglected since Gerald Hayes last played the position, and I think he is better than Hayes.

Karlos Dansby, you know what ? He is the same guy we saw when he last played for the Cardinals. Same time of style, and play. The difference is very slight. He has gained power, experience, and awareness, and has lost speed, and quickness. Very happy to have him back. In nickel packages with Washington and Dansby out there, it will be a vast advantage to the Cardinals . Just remember Dansby is no stranger to effectively blitzing up the middle thus when Washington and Dansby are out there.......just a nightmare for a QB to figure out who is going where.

Kevin Minter, I was really high on this kid before then draft. I was so certain Alex Okafor would be drafted in the 1st or 2nd round that I always had Okafor and Menelik Watson as our 2nd round pick, but Minter was always on my radar. Then we picked him, and I was happen, then I saw him in pictures, and a little in the first preseason game and I was all "Oh no, this is not going to work out well". I don't know why that is just where my mind went. Over the next three preseason games I notice a couple things. Great instincts, and hits like a ton of bricks. Finally. The guy IS HUGE!!!!! LOL. He is one thick man. If you look at him from the side when there is a pile up at the line of scrimmage you can mistaken him for a small guard. That power, and hitting ability are going to propel him into a hell of a strong side inside linebacker. This position is about 3 deep at strong inside linebacker. Head and shoulders better than Paris Lenon and Stewart Bradley.


Defensive Backs:

Patrick Peterson, Jerraud Powers, Rashad Johnson, Yeremiah Bell, Tyrann Mathieu, Javier Arenas, Antoine Cason, Justin Bethel, Tony Jefferson, Jamell Flemming

Patrick Peterson - nuff said. He is just getting better and better, and he does it without any pass rush.

Jerraud Powers has everyone nervous including myself. He is a solid CB, and I feel he will play as such. It is a rarity just to find one shut down type cornerback, you are not going to have two on one team. No way. A pass rush would really help Powers, but that is not going to happen. A really good pair of safety would really help Powers, but that is not going to happen. Powers is in a tough spot this year.

Rashad Johnson has steadily improved every year with the Cardinals, and I hope to see that continue. I am not too worried about Johnson, I know what to expect there. Now Yeremiah Bell? I still don't see what Bell has over Adrian Wilson. Experience ? Then why not hire Bell as an assistant and keep Wilson? I dunno. Bell didn't do too much that made me agree with dumping Wilson and signing Bell. Yet, in Bell's defence, he knows what he should be doing, and showed a little bit here and there in the preseason. Big question mark there.

The mighty mights! Tyrann Mathieu and Javier Arenas. I think Mathieu is going to struggle this year. I think he will be too aggressive, and make too many bad risks. Now, I am not saying he is not going to be EXTREMELY fun to watch, and make plays, but it is going to be a "take the good with the bad" in his first year. IF he stays out of trouble, and learns, he could turn into one of the best players on the team. Now to a lesser extent there is Javier Arenas, now how in the bloody hell did Arians and company know about this guy. The Cardinals traded Anthony Sherman for him, and I just wrote this guy off in my mind for some reason. Arenas, plays the slot well, tackles really well, plays special teams really well, returns punts, returns kickoffs.....uh, what else can you ask for ?

I really hope that Jamell Flemming is at the bottom of the pecking order when it comes to depth on this team. Justin Bethel actually looks like a CB this offseason, and that is saying something. His special teams play is still elite, but he looked good in coverage this offseason. Antoine Cason, looked bad this offseason, but I think that EVERYONE in the NFL knows at this point he cannot play man to man, Cason has a role and he will do solid, vet-type work for this team. Not to mention you need SOMEONE to play the outside cornerback position if injuries arise, and unless Flemming has matured Cason is only one that can do that job. Don't get me wrong, Flemming has all the physical gifts needed to play CB in the NFL. But, mentally the story is he is about to turn 6 years old.

Finally, Tony Jefferson. The guy is a football player. Great instincts, and makes plays. I have no idea why you would ever cut this kid. Sit him next to Earl Watford all year long and enjoy having two players that AT WORST are going to be prime depth players in the NFL. Plus if Jefferson continues to improve, you may at some point have Mathieu and Jefferson as your safeties, that is a lot of potential for play making ability back there, IMO.

Special Teams:

Jay Feely, Dave Zastudil, Mike Leach, Patrick Peterson, Tyrann Mathieu, Javier Arenas, Andre Ellington

Feely, Zastudil, and Leach - Are what they are.

I like the fact we have a lot of players that can return kicks. I like Mathieu is there to punt return if Peterson needs a breather. I like that a lot of players can return kickoffs since that part of the game is practically a waste of time thus just having someone that can catch the ball and take a knee is all that is needed, and a spot just for a kick returner doesn't have to be wasted on game day.




Well, that is is. A good solid team that wreaks of a organization in transition. How will all these new guys play ? Who will be the players the organization invests in next offseason ? Will the medicine the Cardinals brought in start to heal the wounds of the past ?

I dunno. But I am looking forward to it. I think the team will be competitive in most games, and will upset a few big names in the league if they are taken lightly.

I think the team will be exciting to watch. Big plays on offense and defense will be plentiful.

I look forward to talking about it on ASFN all year long.

Here's to an entertaining season filled with hope. Remember, I think we will go 6-10, I hope we will go 16-0 !

Go Cardinals.
 
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jefftheshark

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You typed a lot of words for someone from New Jersey.

JTS



Just kidding - great work Rugby, always enjoy your opinions :)
 

Chainthroer

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A really excellent writeup, Rugby. I appreciate the thought and time you put into it. I agree with most of what you indicate. Except, you may be a little more optimistic than I about the CBs overall. Hopefully, I'm wrong.
 

Cheesebeef

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i'm thinking we go 5-11.

but looking at our schedule, there's a very real possibility we go 3-13 and people start calling for Arian's head by December.
 

Bodha

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Shouldve traded for Albert when we had the chance.

Chiefs were practically begging for someone to take him off their hands. Couldve gotten a top 10 LT at discount price. Maybe a 4th rounder. Probably 3rd. But worth it for a premiere position player.

Probably wouldve been a bigger impact than trading for Carson because Albert would still be our LT in years to come after CP is gone
 

Duckjake

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ASFN.. where hope springs non-existent!

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3 winning seasons in 25 years, plus constantly finding new and imaginative ways to lose will do that.

Half the seasons in Arizona either 4-12 or 5-11.

And to make it worse they tease us with back to back playoffs and a SB before turning back into the same old Cardinals and going 18-33. :(
 

Duckjake

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This is no longer Ray Horton's defense, the Cardinals are not going to try to run around blockers. Ronald Talley, Frostee Rucker, and Alameda Ta'amu are here to hold the point and not be driven back. The battle for the line of scrimmage will be won with power per Todd Bowles defense. Thus David Carter is cut, and Ronald Talley is kept. It is the right decision. Frostee Rucker and Ta'amu are not going to be making plays, they are going to be using their power to hold the point while others make plays. I think Talley, Rucker, and Ta'amu will be an upgrade over Carter, Eason and Holliday.

So why did the Cardinals want Dan Williams to lose so much weight? This is an odd bunch our coaching staff.
 
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RugbyMuffin

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ASFN.. where hope springs non-existent!

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LOL.

True but that's not on the fans.

I have hope for the season, unfortunately those hopes lie in players and coaches and not wins.
 

JeffGollin

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So why did the Cardinals want Dan Williams to lose so much weight? This is an odd bunch our coaching staff.
Don't be surprised if Mr. Lott puts Alameda on his version of Jenny Craig (i.e. each individual has an optimum weight that allows him to operate at maximum physical effectiveness, given the size and nature of his specific frame).
 

b8rtm8nn

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This is going to be a fun year - win or lose. The good things about Bowles he that he doesn't like to play it safe - so if our defense plays like Clancy's but doesn't go prevent with the lead, I'll take it.
 

Catfish

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Muffin, This work-up is a gem. I love the analogy of Levi Brown is the Carson Palmer of Left Tackles in this league. That is so very, very true.

This write-up is about the best that I have seen this year concerning what has occurred with our Redbirds. Just as you were correct in showing just how much of the slate has been swept away, you were also spot-on with your warning of perspective and the need for us to keep that in mind before when we are about to tear into this team as we do our weekly analyses.

I too laud this front office for the clean sweep, and even more for the short term contracts, the talent level, and low cost of the replacements brought in. The amount of teaching by this staff in this one off-season has surely broken new ground in the league. Yet it is clear that they have a long term plan, and that the culture has changed long-term with this management group.

As much as I have been enthralled by the positive turnover this year, I cannot hardly wait to see what is to come in 2014. I truly believe that we are about to embark on the road to respectability, and that it will be long term in duration. Nice job Muffin!!!!
 

Osbern61

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Great write up RM, enjoyed it!
If I had been able to look into the future after our final game last season and see who would be our o-line starters, I think my jaw would have fallen off.
 

Cardiac

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Outstanding post Rugby. Loved the analogy of open wounds, band aids and medicine.

I agree with the vast majority of your assessment on players and coaches.

Your point about believing a player is good is relative to your competition. The Cards have improved the talent level but the NFC West in particular and the NFC in general has a ton of talented teams.

Many are saying the NFC West is the best division in FB and there is an argument for that.

The NFC South is very tough as well. Saints & Falcons are top notch. Panthers with Cam Newton could surprise and if Freeman takes the next step the Bucs could make the playoffs as well.

The NFC North has the Packers with Rodgers and are considered SB contenders every year. Vikings made the playoffs last year and just need Pondereerere to step up to be upper echelon. Bears were 10-6 last year so they don't suck. Lions - Stafford, Megatron, Suh, Fairly etc. They have some top notch talent and one year removed from the playoffs.

NFC East, any of those teams could make the playoffs.

So getting back to being good is relative. The Cards are better but where would any of us rank the redbirds compared to the other teams in the NFC.

Elite Teams:
49ers
Seahawks
Packers
Falcons
Saints

Top Notch Teams:
Vikings
Bears
Giants
Redskins

Very Good Teams (at least talent wise):
Cowboys
Lions

Jeffersons (Ready to move on up)

Rams
Panthers
Bucs

More Questions then answers:

Eagles
Cards

Sort of a Power Rankings for just the NFC.

Maybe the Cards have a better season then the Eagles, Rams, Panthers, Bucs, Lions and Cowboys. Let's be really homerish and say the Cards do better then the Bears and Vikings as well. That's still only the 8th best team in the NFC.

I believe this is our best case scenario until we get a franchise QB. Warner was great medicine but it had early side effects and unfortunately it didn't cure anything but simply made the disease go into remission for a couple of years.
 

Brak

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I see a 7-9 finish. I think you're spot-on about Stepfan Taylor. One thing I'll add is that he's one of those backs that gets stronger as the game goes on - the defense wears down, he doesn't. Needs a lot of carries. If Mendenhall doesn't hold up, look for Taylor to get the bulk of the carries. The guy can easily tote the rock 20-30 times per game

Really looking forward to the season! Anything will be an upgrade after that debacle last year. I figure at the very least, this team will be entertaining. And my girl won't be calling each play before the snap, as she was pretty much able to do last year. And that's a good thing.
 

Duckjake

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I too laud this front office for the clean sweep, and even more for the short term contracts, the talent level, and low cost of the replacements brought in. The amount of teaching by this staff in this one off-season has surely broken new ground in the league. Yet it is clear that they have a long term plan, and that the culture has changed long-term with this management group.

1. Those are the same things I think are wrong with the team. (Cheap Bidwills? :p )

2. Where have I heard this before?

Funny how different people see the same things in a different light. I don't know maybe these guys have burned me too many times. One thing we know for sure it will be an interesting season.
 
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Vermont Maverick

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Rugby, speaking of New Jersey, me and a Giants fan (there are a lot of those up here in the Northeast) buddy of mine are going to the Giants-Broncos Manning Bowl week 2. Are you anywhere near the stadium?
 

MrYeahBut

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Nice work Rugby... Appreciate it very much.

I have to chime in that it bugs me to no end that Flemming and Floyd have done nothing of note. Another 2 high draft picks that have so far not produced jack squat.


.
 

Shaggy

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For what I saw from PS, the reason we lose games is because of the defense. I believe the offense is good enough to score enough points to win. I think the cards will win more games then we think if the D can play alot better then the did in preseason. The defense is scaring me this year. It was the offense last year.

You all think that if we do go 3-13 that the fans will want to get rid of BA? I wouldn't think so. Maybe some, but not the majority.
 
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