The Arizona Cardinals' Window Is Closing, Kurt Warner Needs Protection
The Arizona Cardinals made it all the way to their first Super Bowl last year and should have high expectations for their 2009 season, but uncertainty looms almost everywhere you look.
Anquan Boldin, Darnell Dockett, Karlos Dansby, and Adrian Wilson represent the short list of players who would like more money or would rather play somewhere else.
Will head coach Ken Whisenhunt be calling the plays?
Will Kurt Warner recover from hip surgery?
One thing is certain; unless Russ Grimm gets their offensive line to improve they wont make the playoffs.
When defenses play Arizona they have an easy route to the backfield.
The Cardinals have a porous offensive line, little run game, and pass protection greatly exaggerated by Warner's quick ability (more like necessity) to pull the trigger on his rocket-arm.
Without a doubt, the Cards had success last year because of Warner getting the ball to playmakers fast, despite being driven into the turf by constant defensive pressure.
Warner was a pocket-passer, but now he's something else. The Cardinals offensive line doesn't consistently form a pocket, so he doesn't have time to sit back and survey the field like a Tom Brady.
Kurt Warner has to be quick with his reads, tough, and lucky not to get seriously hurt.
The receiving tandem of Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin is known as the best in the NFL, but no one knows if they will stay together. Boldin would be a number one receiver on any other team, so it shouldn't be surprising to anyone Boldin wants proper compensation.
As far as offensive philosophy the Cards pass to set up more pass. Forget about setting up the run. They rarely had rushing success last year.
Everyone knows traditionally you have to run to set up the pass. Without a reliable offensive line, the Cards were forced many times to abandon the run game.
Rookie Tim Hightower led the team with 143 rushing attempts and scored 10 touchdowns, yet only accumulated 399 yards.
The Cardinals lack of run game was evidenced by their drafting of Chris "Beanie" Wells in the first round and the releasing of Edgerrin James.
James was a workhorse in Indianapolis for years, always staying low and falling forward after contact. With the Cardinals, James was often hit behind the line of scrimmage. Even though he was falling forward, it was usually for minimal gain.
Chris Wells could give the Cardinals a better first-down run option, but there are questions about how productive he will be in the NFL. After all, he did run for Ohio State, a perennial powerhouse. Plus he spent time injured.
Although he is built bigger than James and Hightower, Wells wont be much of a threat if he doesn't get good push from the offensive line.
The only player who could break multiple tackles in the backfield several times in one game was Barry Sanders. Unfortunately for the Cardinals he's not pulling a Favre.
The Cards ended the regular season 9-7 last year with an impressive 6-0 division record and conference title.
There are no flukes in the NFL. The Cardinals had an impressive run last year because they were good, but whether or not that will translate to anything tangible this year is just plain uncertain.
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