Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press
Can Andre Ellington Build Off Strong Rookie Season?
By now, you should know that Ellington became the first rookie running back to lead the NFL in yards per carry since Ickey Woods of the Cincinnati Bengals way back in 1988. If you didn’t know, now you do and you should store that away; it will be a good trivia question and answer 20 years from now.
But can he build off that success with an increased workload this season?
We’ve all laughed about Arians’ “25 to 30 touches per game” claim, because that will never happen. While he may have over-exaggerated quite a bit, his point is that Ellington will be a focal point of the offense—and for good reason.
I chronicled his rookie season and the notion of 25 to 30 touches back in May, which you can check out here.
How Will the Offensive Line Look?
If Watford wins the right guard job, the offensive line will have four new starters compared to a year ago. Normally that could be considered a recipe for disaster, but what Keim has done with the line in the short time since he took over for former GM Rod Graves is undeniable.
A former offensive lineman at North Carolina State and longtime scout for the Cardinals, Keim knows how to spot good offensive line play. It’s why Jonathan Cooper became the first offensive guard taken in the top 10 of the NFL draft in nearly 20 years.
It’s also why he took a Day 3 flier on Watford when he did. He saw a potential 16-game starter who needed time to develop.
With left tackle Jared Veldheer signed on for five years, Cooper manning left guard, the possibility of Watford taking over for an overmatched Fanaika at right guard and Massie asserting himself, Arizona’s line could potentially become a strong point for the offense as soon as later this season.
As Arians has said in the past, however, “Potential ain’t s--t.” Let’s see it on the field.
Which Carson Palmer Will We See in 2014?
It was truly a tale of two seasons for Palmer in 2013. Over the first seven games, the team went 3-4 and Palmer—though he completed 60.5 percent of his passes—looked horrible at times. Some of that has since been blamed on receivers running wrong routes, but he threw 13 interceptions and only eight touchdowns over that span.
It wasn’t all on the receivers.
But from Week 8 on, the Cardinals went 7-2. Palmer looked like a Pro Bowler, save for one game in Seattle in which he managed to lead a game-winning touchdown drive after four interceptions. From Week 8 through the end of the regular season, Palmer was among the best quarterbacks in the league in every major statistical category. Then there’s this:
Palmer was the only quarterback in the NFL from Weeks 8 through 17 to post a completion percentage of at least 65.0 percent, throw for over 2,500 yards and average better than 8.0 yards per attempt.
Which Palmer will we see in 2014: Weeks 1 through 7 Palmer or Weeks 8 through 17 Palmer? Hopefully the latter, but if it’s somewhere in between the two, that would be just fine.