Sheryl Crow once sang “A change will do you good”. The Arizona Cardinals certainly took that to heart after last season. Unfortunately, the only change that stands a chance of doing them any good would involve them being moved into a division with the Bills, Jets and Jaguars. That’s not going to happen so instead they’ve decided to re-load and give it the old college try in the ridiculously tough division in which they reside.
Carson Palmer and Rashard Mendenhall come aboard, both well past their best years, trying to right a ship that went so far off course last season that after a stellar 4-0 start they lost their next 9 as well as 11 of the final 12. As mind-blowing as it sounds the duo of John Skelton and Kevin Kolb just couldn’t get this team to the promised land.
Bruce Arians also joins the fray, fresh off taking the Colts to the playoffs whilst Chuck Pagano recovered from cancer. His story last season was a really nice one, unfortunately he doesn’t have an Andrew Luck in Arizona and he isn’t in a division that includes the Jaguars and Titans. He’s in for a dog fight and he’s bring along a cockapoo.
QB – Carson Palmer
RB – Rashard Mendenhall
CB – Jerraud Powers
QB – Kevin Kolb
S – Adrian Wilson
RB – Chris “Beanie” Wells
There’s a reason Larry Fitzgerald is the guy pictured here. He IS the offense. He had a terrible season in 2012 but that had everything to do with the atrocious job being done behind center. With a seasoned QB like Palmer throwing to him expect his numbers to go back up to the elite level he’s accustomed to. Andre Roberts is the #2 but that’s really based on the fact that no one beyond Fitz was willing to step up. Michael Floyd was underwhelming after being chosen in the 1st round but is easily the best candidate to step up this year. TE Rob Housler should see a few more targets this year which actually isn’t a good thing because he can’t catch.
Carson Palmer is heading to his 3rd team in as many seasons and this is probably it for him. The Oakland experiment was a disaster and many blamed the line for those issues. Surprise Carson, you’re going to the team which yielded the MOST sacks in the NFL last year(58). They addressed the issue at the draft taking two guards in the first 4 rounds but only Jonathan Cooper really stands a chance at making noise this season. They’ll still probably be a mess.
The running game made a major change of direction going from oft-injured Beanie Wells to oft-injured and bad attitude-carrying Mendenhall. Arians believes based on his time with Rashard that he has been poorly represented and can still be a starter in the NFL. Yeah… we’ll see…
The defense is probably the reason this team didn’t set records for futility in 2012. Boasting stars such as Calais Campbell, Patrick Peterson, Darnell Dockett, and Daryl Washington this is a solid unit. They finished 12th in total defense and probably would have been top 10 if they didn’t spend so much time on the field.
Then they made the insane decision to part ways with the heart and soul of the secondary. Peterson may have the most talent but Adrian Wilson and Kerry Rhodes were the leaders. Their talent may be replaced(it hasn’t been yet) but what they bring to the table as the foundation of the unit won’t be.
Again, Patrick Peterson is easily one of the more talented athletes at this position but he had a poor year in 2012. After blowing up for 4 return TDS in his rookie year he had none in 2013 to go with a 8.4 ypr average. He’ll need to be better, but clearly has the skill to be so. jay Feely is nearing the end of his tether but is still effective. He won’t be challenging Zuerlein for distance but he’ll get the job done more often than not.
The only thing you really need to know about Arians is that he has claimed that his defense is as good as any in the division. Coaches are traditionally prone to the occasional hyperbolic statement but this one might take the cake(in the very least it’s up there with Rex Ryan claiming that Mark Sanchez is a legitimate starting QB) . Arians did a great job with the scrappy Colts last season but they played with a ton of emotion and that’s not something his new additions are famous for.
The Studs: Larry Fitzgerald. The end.
The Workers: With the terrible running game the team will have, expect Palmer to air it out a lot. This means he should have somewhere around 3,500 yards, making him an ideal QB2. Otherwise Andre Roberts might garner a WR3 spot in deep leagues.
Sleeper: Michael Floyd could have a much better second year if he works hard.
Overrated: Rashard Mendenhall. He’s terrible. Also a jerk.
Should Win: None really.
Toss Up: Detroit, Carolina, @Philadelphia, St. Louis, @Tennessee
In Tough: @St Louis, @New Orleans, @Tampa Bay, @San Francisco, Seattle, Atlanta, Houston, Indianapolis, @Seattle, San Francisco
Thoughts: Even the schedule doesn’t look pretty for the Cards. They get the AFC South, with lightweights Jacksonville and Tennessee but have to play them both away. I’ll assume they go 2-4 inside the division and win 3 more games. Beyond that it’s going to be a tough year to be a Cards fan.