The Arizona Cardinals shocked the NFL nation last year when they flew there way through the playoffs. Even more shocking was the fight they put up against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLIII. Only to loose 27-23 on Santonio Holmes’ outstanding tip-toe catch in the back of the end zone with just 35 seconds remaining in the game! A moment that will never be forgotten from Super Bowl history nor the minds of the Cardinals.
The Arizona Caridnals enter the 2009 season looking to repeat as NFC West Division champions, and hopefully a trip to Miami to play for another Super Bowl. However, the Cardinals, like last year, know it wont be easy.
If they want to repeat last years success they must continue to use the leadership of veteran quarterback Kurt Warner, who re-signed with the team this past off-season. The team hopes Warner’s off-season hip injury doesn’t bother him during the regular season or affect his play. Another big time player who will need to continue his dominance on the field is none other then wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald.
Fitzgerald of course, will always be remembered for his phenomenal play during the playoffs and in the Super Bowl last year. If the Cardinals want a shot at the NFC West title and a return to the Super Bowl, Fitz must be stellar again all season long. Known for his leaping ability and soft hands to catch any pass, the Cardinals hope to see that again this year.
Taking some pressure off him will be team mate and fellow wide receiver, Anquan Boldin. Boldin who missed a few games during the season last year after a brutal hit taken from New York Jets safety Eric Smith, hopes to play in all 16 games this season. Fitzgerald and Boldin were to of the biggest keys in Kurt Warner and the Arizona Cardinals revival from past poor seasons.
Another issue the Cardinals hope to fix this season is their running game which was ranked the worst in the NFL. (32nd) The Cardinals’ run game was awful last year, pinning all their play calling the pass, meaning more pressure for Warner to handle. The Cardinals drafted running back Chris Wells of Ohio St. in the 2009 NFL Draft, hoping to change their running game mis-fortunes. Leading the running game though will be second year man Tim Hightower who was also a part in that dreadful running game.
The other biggest key to success in 09′ will be the Arizona defense, which hadn’t been the best in recent memory. But that all changed in 08′, and the Cardinals hopes that defensive play style is here to stay. The Arizona Cardinals return most of their players from last year, the only key difference will be the absence of defensive back Roderick hood who was cut by the team in late April. The defense will have to be aggressive once again, creating mis-matches in their favor, causing turnovers and pressuring opponents’ quarterbacks.
Overall, the Cardinals have another shot at the NFC West again this year, but they will have stronger competition from NFC West rival, the Seattle Seahawks, a team that will be looking for payback after an injury plagued season cost them victories and another NFC West title. If the key pieces of the Cardinals offense come together like last year, there is no reason they can’t have success in the red zone. Also with a similar look on defense, there is hope again that the Cardinals can be a intimidating defensive unit.
But the biggest issue to keep an eye out forthis season will be Arizona’s running game and wether it can have success behind Tim Hightower and rookie runningback Chris Wells. If both peices of the offense come togehter, you have a dual threat, wichmakes the play calling on the field harder to read for opposing defenses. Thus, causing them to defend both the pass and the run.
Hopes are high in Arizona, and rightfully should be with a young team that returns to try and prove critics wrong once again and repeat as division champs of the West. Also on the Cardinals wish list is a return trip to the Super Bowl, but it must start with one game at a time.
*This article is originally from: www.nfltouchdown.com