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NFL 2012: Arizona Cardinals Season Outlook

Will Kevin Kolb be the Cardinals starter in 2012?
Will Kevin Kolb be the Cardinals starter in 2012?Rob Carr/Getty Images
Craig HortonCorrespondent IJuly 6, 2012

Quick Review of 2011

Offense—No. 17 passing, No. 24 rushing, No. 19 total.

Defense—No. 17 passing, No. 21 rushing, No. 18 total. 

Following a miserable 5-11 season in 2010 when the Cardinals failed to adequately replace retired quarterback Kurt Warner, the Cardinals made a big trade prior to the 2011 season.

They obtained Philadelphia back-up Kevin Kolb. Kolb had posted good numbers during his time with the Eagles, and was once thought to be the future there. However, he was considered expendable after Michael Vick won the starting job.

Kolb only stayed healthy enough to play nine games. After he led the team to a Week 1 win, the Cardinals lost the next six.

He was replaced by John Skelton, who led the team to three overtime wins, plus upsets over Philadelphia and San Francisco.

Over the last nine games, the Cardinals were 7-2 and finished second in the NFC West at 8-8.

The player with the biggest impact on the team might not have been either quarterback.

Patrick Peterson was the fifth pick of the 2011 NFL Draft. As a cornerback, he had two interceptions. He also blocked two kicks. It was as a punt returner, though, where he made his biggest impact.

In his first game, he returned a punt 89 yards for a touchdown that provided the winning margin. He would go onto score three more punt return touchdowns, including a 99 yard return in overtime against St. Louis.

His four punt return touchdowns in a season tied an NFL record. Because of his efforts, the Cardinals lead the NFL in punt returns in 2011.

 

New Additions

C Ryan Bartholowmew, NT Landon Cohen, LB Antonio Coleman, CB William Gay, LB Quentin Groves, RB Javarris James, DT Ricky Lumpkin, RB William Powell, S James Sanders, P Ricky Schmitt, TE Steve Skelton, C Adam Snyder, TE Martell Webb, LB Brandon Williams.

 

Draft Choices

WR Michael Floyd, CB Jamell Fleming, OT Bobby Massie, G Senio Kelemete, S Justin Bethel, QB Ryan Lindley, OT Nate Potter.

 

Undrafted Free Agents

WR Stanley Aruwke, WR Laron Byrd, G Braeden Clayson, FB Jared Crank, WR Gino Crump, G Blake DeChristopher, S Eddie Elder, S Blake Gideon, WR Tre Grey,  LB Marcus McGraw, LB Zack Nash, CB James Nixon, LB Colin Parker, CB Larry Parker, G Chris Stewart, LB Paul Vassallo, C Scott Wedige, WR Marc Wilson.

 

Subtractions

S Hamza Abdullah, S Sean Considine,G Rex Hadnot, QB Max Hall, OT Brandon Keith, G Deuce Lutui, CB Richard Marshall, LB Joey Porter, WR Chansi Stuckey, RB Chester Taylor, G Floyd Womack.

 

Outlook for 2012

The Cardinals will enter camp with a quarterback competition.

The jury is still out on Kolb, and Skelton's play earned him a chance at becoming the full-time starter.

The Cardinals could be an under-the-radar team that could make a postseason run in 2012. The defense was decent down the stretch last year, and their special teams can keep them in any game.

The running game should be improved. Running back Ryan Williams, who missed all of his rookie season, is on schedule to return. Beanie Wells has had offseason injury issues. However, if both are healthy by September, they will present a challenge for defenses.

The Cardinals drafted wide receiver Michael Floyd in the first round. The team needs a top-notch No. 2 receiver to pair with Larry Fitzgerald. If Floyd is that man, the Cardinals passing game should be much better, regardless of who plays quarterback.

Even so, the season could hinge on who wins that quarterback competition.

 

Schedule

Sep.  9      Seattle

Sep. 16 at New England

Sep. 23     Philadelphia

Sep. 30     Miami

Oct.    4 at St.Louis

Oct.  14     Buffalo

Oct.  21 at Minnesota

Oct.  29     San Francisco

Nov.   4 at Green Bay

Nov. 18 at Atlanta

Nov. 25     St. Louis

Dec.   2 at New York Jets

Dec.   9 at Seattle

Dec. 16     Detroit

Dec. 23     Chicago

Dec. 30 at San Francisco

The Cardinals might have the opportunity to have a pretty good first half. Four of the first six at home, plus several teams that were near the bottom last year—Dolphins, Rams, Vikings.

The schedule gets rough in the second half. Starting with the Monday Night vs. San Francisco on October 29, they face five playoff teams, plus the Jets and Bears in the last nine games.

In addition to the San Francisco game, they also play under the lights Thursday October 4 at St. Louis.

 

Prediction

Most people don't realize how close the Cardinals were to winning 10 or 11 games last year.

On the other hand, if not for four overtime wins, they might have been 4-12.

The Cardinals have the pieces to start the season out good, but the schedule will get tougher late in the season. There will also be more road games late in the season.

Because of that, and the jury still being out regarding the quarterback situation, I am forced to lower my expectations.

That being said, the Cardinals will still fall short of nine wins again in 2012. 

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