The Arizona Cardinals will look very different in 2013, and if they hope to be successful offensively, they should rely on the shotgun formation.
On the offensive side of the ball, new quarterback Carson Palmer should give the team the stability this franchise has lacked in recent years.
The reason the shotgun formation will be the key to Arizona's success next season is it will allow Palmer to use his big arm while giving him extra time behind an offensive line that is suspect at best.
Arizona had the worst offensive line in the NFL last year, allowing a league high 58 sacks.
The Cardinals also ranked near the bottom of the league in protecting their quarterback from hits, as they allowed 97 on their signal caller last year.
Bringing in Carson Palmer this offseason was big—it's the first time since Kurt Warner that a proven quarterback will be under center.
The only way Palmer can have success, though, is if he's on his feet.
That's where shotgun comes in.
The Cardinals did improve their offensive line in the draft, most notably by selecting Jonathan Cooper seventh overall.
Cooper won't be able to resurrect this O-line on his own, though. That's exactly why they need to master pass blocking in the shotgun so Palmer has time to get the ball to guys like Larry Fitzgerald.
The Arizona roster has plenty of playmakers. The key is getting the ball to them, something they didn't do last year due to bad quarterback play.
The video on the right is a good example of how the shotgun formation can help Palmer get the ball to players in the red zone.
A quick drop back gives him just enough time to find his receiver. That can easily work for Arizona next year, mainly because Palmer can just lob it up and Fitzgerald will go get it .
New head coach Bruce Arians knows how to use a quarterback with a big arm. In his coaching career, he has worked with (and had success with) the likes of Ben Roethlisberger and Andrew Luck.
Gary Horton of ESPN (Subscription Required) writes about how Arians' coaching philosophy will affect the Cardinals:
The biggest offensive change will be in the passing game. This is not going to be a dink-and-dunk West Coast offense, as Arians is a coach who loves the deep ball. We will see a lot of deep crossing and seam routes, as the Cardinals look for those "chunk" plays. As nice as that sounds on paper, it will mean a lot of seven-step drops and slow-developing plays, which puts added pressure on the offensive line in pass protection and requires patience by Palmer.
This is why the shotgun formation will be so key.
It will allow Palmer to see the field and find his receivers before the offensive line collapses.
The photo above shows an offensive formation Arizona fans will get used to seeing.
This formation allows flexibility in calling plays and will allow Palmer to see the play develop.
Horton says this type of formation works well for Arians:
Arians values the tight end position much more than the fullback, so look for multi-TE packages where they can line up anywhere with a lot of pre-snap movement. He will go to three-wide receiver formations and likes to run bunch looks out of that scheme.
Expect Arians to bunch guys like Fitzgerald and Andre Roberts in this formation to cause confusion for the defense.
The Cardinals ranked near the bottom of nearly every offensive category last season. While there are pieces in place for Arizona to have more success this season, their biggest need is to keep Carson Palmer on his feet.
That's why the shotgun formation will be key to their success in 2013.
All stats, unless otherwise indicated, come from NFL.com