Once again there’s new management for the Arizona Cardinals and all the hope and anticipation that come with change. Arizona has won 18 games in three season so there’s plenty of room for improvement. Especially on offense.
To be blunt you’d have to look hard to find any kind of offense from 2012 when Arizona finished near the bottom of the NFL in almost every category. When that happens the quarterback is fair game and so is the case with the Cardinals. But like most coaches would, Bruce Arians brought in an experienced veteran in Carson Palmer with the hopes that a little better ball control and a strong arm would yield a quick fix. Palmer has the arm but he’s also got the tendency to throw some picks. Now who’s there to help Palmer?
The offensive line gets some help with the healthy return of Levi Brown, a good left tackle to protect the blind side. The middle of the line is going to be in the hands of a rookie, Jonathan Cooper, who comes by way of North Carolina. Arizona used their 1st Round pick so expect Cooper to start immediately. If Palmer gets better protection you can bet that Larry Fitzgerald will get more passes thrown his way. The running game is in the uncertain hands, or legs, of Rashad Mendenhall and Ryan Williams. neither has won the staring job just yet but it’s hard to see anyone else on this roster breaking through.
There is plenty of potential in the defense. Arizona was playing very well defensively early in the year. What this defense really needs is some help from the offense and they should get it. The Cardinals have a very good defensive line. They also have a young and talented corner in Patrick Peterson and signed a couple of free agents to compete for a spot opposite Peterson. Unfortunately Arizona will be playing shorthanded at linebacker for awhile because of the suspension of Daryly Washington and they have no clear cut talent at either safety position. Unless you can get something from Tyran Mathieu. The LSU castoff is a very interesting prospect, Mathieu could explode on the scene if he stays under control. Once a Heismann candidate the mercurial Mathieu is making a good impresiion in camp. If that continues he will start and make a huge difference in the Cardinals defense.
Realistically the Arizona Cardinals are a long shot in the NFC West. But there are some good things happening in University of Phoenix Stadium in 2013 and looking down the line Arizona can’t be overlooked.Eric Drouant