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Bruce Arians is in for the ride of his life in Arizona.
New Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians had the following to say about the performance of his club during offseason activities last month (h/t ArizonaCardinals.com):
We’re just not picking it up fast enough, not picking it up the way I want to at all positions... Normally for the defense it’s a little easier, to put in a defense than it is an offense and have some continuity.
I don’t like mistakes and I really don’t like mental mistakes. Especially if you made the same one last week. Correct it and have it in the books right now. The receivers are not getting that done.
Arians is what you would call a hard-nosed, all-business coach. He doesn't take crap, and he tells his players exactly how he feels.
It's now up to the Cardinals to take his guidance and run with it.
They face a major uphill climb out of the cellar in the NFC West. Arizona must not only play two times each against two of the best clubs in the NFL (San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks), but it also has two more games against the up-and-coming St. Louis Rams.
It's hard to envision the Cardinals coming out of those six division games with more than a single win. This is only magnified with issues as it relates to protecting Palmer.
Darren Urban of the Cardinals' official website indicates that Levi Brown will be the opening day starter at left tackle:
Arians has spent so much time talking Brown up this offseason I don’t see any way Levi isn’t starting. He’ll be playing the left side, and we will find out if his strong finish to 2011 was a mirage or not.
As I mentioned in an article earlier this week, Brown was among the worst pass-protecting starting tackles in the NFL in 2010 and 2011 before missing last year due to injury. For what it is worth, Urban did indicate that Brown had a strong finish to the 2011 season.
According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Brown had a positive grade in pass protection in his final six games that season. It remains to be seen if that can carry over in his return.
This still has to be worrisome for a Cardinals offensive line that allowed 59 sacks last season. In addition, it isn't like Palmer is the most mobile of quarterbacks. The good news here is that he was sacked only 43 times over the past two seasons in Oakland. That's important to note because the Raiders didn't exactly have a great offensive line in front of him.
Linebacker Daryl Washington, perhaps Arizona's best overall defensive player, is also a major question mark heading into the season.
Washington, who is already suspended the first four games of the 2013 season for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy, might face an additional suspension for a recent arrest on aggravated assault charges, according to Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic. It remains to be seen how much, if at all, Washington will play this upcoming season.
For a team that was already showing cracks, this offseason hasn't exactly been the best for Arizona. It could be a long season in the desert.