Arizona Cardinals: It's Going to Be a Rough Year

Charley MannCorrespondent IApril 4, 2010

NEW ORLEANS - JANUARY 16:  Quarterback Matt Leinart #7 of the Arizona Cardinals looks to pass against the New Orleans Saints during the NFC Divisional Playoff Game at Louisana Superdome on January 16, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Saints won 45-14.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Cardinals fans, beware. The success you have enjoyed with Kurt Warner at the helm is likely to fall around your ankles this year. Hopefully you've already taken the time to accept that fact and drown your sorrows.

With that, say hello to the Parakeets of Arizona. The poor birds are bound to be shot out of the sky with their laundry list of lost players during free agency.

Goodbye Karlos Dansby, linebacking extraordinaire.  Adios Antrel Rolle, top-ranked safety. Later Anquan Boldin, part two of the dynamic receiving duo.

Three blockbuster deals, three big losses. And that's not the end of the crisis.

Welcome Joey Porter. And with him, welcome off-the-field issues. Porter couldn't resist another opportunity to stir up controversy.

Times are turbulent for Arizona, who will need the young Matt Leinart to shed his "bust" label this year. He has to accomplish this in the shadow of Warner, who leaves the franchise after his career and team resurgence.

Beanie Wells and Tim Hightower will have to step up the ground game in order to keep the offense competitive, especially after having only the 28th ranked rushing attack last year. Expect Ken Whisenhunt to lean on this combo to deliver results.

Larry Fitzgerald can at least rest knowing that Steve Breaston is a very capable secondary target. In the meantime, the 'Cards need to find a strong receiving tight end for easy dump passes for Leinart.

The entire offensive scheme will need to be overhauled, with the run game taking over. Whisenhunt had previously expressed his desire to bring the ball back to the ground, and now he has good reason to do just that.

The defense is going to need to rework its chemistry with the volatile Porter coming in, and the leadership of Rolle and Dansby exiting. Arizona's defense may never have earned many bragging rights, but it had playmakers who could keep the team alive in tough situations. Now, it must rely on strong coaching over wizened athletes.

Looking to the future, it can be expected that the Cardinals of a couple of years from now will not at all resemble the playoff contenders they once were.  It will take some rebuilding, but they could climb their way back to the top.

In the meantime, the fans should rely on their team being in an easier division to help score them some wins. However, the whole division is on the rebound, meaning it could be competitive in a couple years time. Until then, it may not produce any Super Bowl contenders.