Football Nation Preview: The 2013 Arizona Cardinals

By Justin Henry
June 11, 2013 9:20 am
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2012 Record: 5-11

2012 Downfall

Offensive Line Woes

A whopping 58. That's not the number of the defensive lineman that caused the most havoc against Arizona that season, but rather the number of sacks given up by a pitiful Cardinals' line.

That's seven more than than the next worst team, and 21.5 higher than the league average.

Kevin Kolb has never been the most fleet-footed of quarterbacks, but in 28 games played prior to 2012, he'd been sacked a total of 50 times.

In six games played in 2012 for Arizona, defenses dragged him into the abyss a whopping 27 times. The blows took their toll, and Kolb suffered a rib injury that cost him the next seven games.

The clumsy three-headed monster of Brian Hoyer, John Skelton, and Ryan Lindley took the remaining 31 sacks over a combined 16 games played, which indicates a lot of minor injuries and 'way behind in garbage time' subs that were precipitated by the line's ineptitude.

Defense Undone by Offense

Ray Horton's defense in Arizona was a rugged, aggressive bunch when it came to the passing game. Safety blitzes, strong-armed turnovers, and the emergence of punishing linebacker Daryl Washington were a big reason why Arizona was 4-0 to start the year.

But for as rambunctious and brutal as the defense could be, they have their physical limits. When the offense turns the ball over often (34 times, fifth worst in the league), and is stalled by their bad offensive line, the defense has more pressure laid on them.

Case in point: first five weeks of the year, the Cardinals never allowed more than 115 yards rushing against Marshawn Lynch, LeSean McCoy, and others. After that, they allowed 150+ rushing yards in seven of their last 11 games, because the defense can only do so much.

2013 Projected Wins: 6

Top 3 Rookies

-Jonathan Cooper, G (1/7): The line needed an upgrade, and it should get it in this stout run-stopper with exceptional down-field mobility and side-to-side quickness.

-Kevin Minter, LB (2/45): You already have Washington, as well as the returning Karlos Dansby, but why not add this instinctive anticipater to the middle?

-Tyrann Mathieu, CB (3/69): Trouble-making "Honey Badger" missed his senior season, but at his best, plays with unchained fury; could be ideal in third-and-long nickel spot.

Other Moves

The biggest move made this offseason looks to finally solve the quarterback conundrum. Veteran quarterback Carson Palmer was acquired via trade with the Raiders for a total of three draft picks, including one in 2014. Palmer's coming off a solid 2012 in Oakland with 22 touchdowns and 14 picks; his best season since 2007.

As a complement to Palmer, Arizona also brought in an old Bruce Arians disciple, Rashard Mendenhall, at running back. But he needs a line to work behind, and the Cardinals will try to get some mileage out of inconsistent guard Chilo Rachal.

Much of the changes have come on defense, after Arians' former ally Horton was let go. Veteran safeties Kerry Rhodes and Adrian Wilson are history, replaced by the likes of Yeremiah Bell, Curtis Taylor, and Rashad Johnson. The aforementioned Dansby, as well as Jerraud Powers, an Arians' recommendation from Indy, also join.

Potential Starting Lineup

QB - Carson Palmer
RB - Rashard Mendenhall
WR - Larry Fitzgerald
WR - Andre Roberts
TE - Jeff King
TE - Rob Housler
LT - Levi Brown
LG - Jonathan Cooper
C - Lyle Sendlein
RG - Earl Watford
RT - Bobby Massie

DE - Calais Campbell
NT - Dan Williams
DT - Darnell Dockett
OLB - Lorenzo Alexander
ILB - Daryl Washington
ILB - Jasper Brinkley
OLB - Sam Acho
CB - Patrick Peterson
CB - Antoine Cason
FS - Yeremiah Bell
SS - Rashad Johnson

K - Jay Feely
P - Dave Zastudil
LS - Mike Leach

 

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14 months ago
Like it, but I'm sky-high on Palmer this season - I think he's a dark horse MVP candidate. I know the first thought is that his O-line was bad last year, but is that a chicken-or-egg situation? They're not going to turn into an elite unit, but a competent QB with a quick release could go a long ways. Kolb looks terrified under center, and Skelton and Lindley were both quite indecisive.

He threw for 4,000 yards in essentially 14 games in Oakland with hot garbage for a receiver set. Now he gets a legitimate NFL wideout rotation with a star anchor. Is 4,500 yards and 30 TD's really out of the question?

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