Five Remaining Offseason Questions Facing the Arizona Cardinals
Every franchise has questions that need answers in the offseason.
Despite recent years of postseason success, the Arizona Cardianls have several that need to be answered as well.
I've been harping on the fact that I believe in what the Cardinals are doing, but the following questions need to be answered to have continued success.
What happens on the offensive line?
The player pictured above (Deuce Lutui) may be the odd man out this season. The offensive line, at the beginning of the season was thought to be possibly a weakness, but is shaping up quite nicely.
The only question is: "who will play where"?
That's a good problem to have, however.
With the signing of Alan Faneca, the Cardinals almost have too many good offensive linemen.
And right now, about the only guaranteed spot is Lyle Sendlein at center.
Levi Brown is supposed to move back to left tackle.
Jeremy Bridges and second year man Brandon Keith are supposed to compete for the right tackle job.
Then there are the guard positions. I would assume Faneca will man one, and Reggie Wells the other.
And there's the matter of whether they'll sign Lutui, and then maybe trade one of their plethora of lineman.
To trade would make sense, as they have other positions of need perhaps, and they'd like Brandon Keith to get his chance.
Like I said, it's a good problem to have. And Russ Grimm should have a lot of fun this offseason.
Who Takes Dansby's Place?
This is an important question. For all of the other large pieces that are gone from this offseason for the Cards (i.e. Kurt Warner, Anquan Boldin, Antrel Rolle) they all have replacements (more on QB in a sec though).
This is perhaps the biggest hole to fill. Sure, I've downplayed the loss of Dansby because I know in the Cardinals system, they can get someone to replace him.
The question is whether it's Paris Lenon, or Daryl Washington.
My bet is definitely on Daryl Washington in the long run. But what about this season?
Lenon has a decent track record, so the two could split time. But I think the sooner that Washington is ready to take command, the better for everyone.
Will Beanie Wells Step Up?
This is a huge question for the Cardinals.
All true Cardinal fans know that it has been a long time since we have had a legitimate pro-bowl caliber running back.
We've gone through so many of them. We've gone through a lot of running backs other teams didn't want, running backs we've drafted, and even traded to get running backs.
None have really worked out. As a result, the Cardinals have very rarely averaged over 100 yards a game rushing.
That could all change this year.
Now, it's not all due to the possible emergence of Wells. Let's give credit where credit is due.
Tim Hightower will definitely help.
But when we boil down to the heart of the matter, it has to be Wells. He's the physical specimen of a running back that the Cardinals have never had. The type that can actually wear down defenses in the 4th quarter, not wear himself out.
Wells really came on at the end of last season. Now it's time to see what he can do in a full season.
He is a big key in the Cardinals attack this fall. Should he stay healthy, 1,100 to 1,200 yards is very possible.
Plus, he'll take a lot of pressure off whoever the QB may be.
Most importantly, ff the Cardinals are to return to the playoffs and win the NFC West, they must be able to run the ball.
How Will The Secondary Fare?
When the Cardinals got absolutely toasted in the playoffs last season, the secondary faced the blame.
As well they should have.
Don't get me wrong, they weren't exactly stopping the run with ease either.
And they didn't get a whole lot of help from the pass rush.
And there were some bad injuries.
But good secondaries overcome obstacles like those.
And Arizona's flopped when they needed it the most.
So, armed with two new secondary mates (Kerry Rhodes and Greg Toler), the Cardinals aim to improve their defensive weak link this season.
The good news? They don't face a tough schedule in terms of passing teams, although they will face New Orleans, Dallas, and San Diego.
If the Cardinals can slow down those offenses, it will be a definite sign of improvement.
Who Will Step In For Kurt Warner?
The biggest question of all for the Cardinals this offseason is finding Kurt Warner's replacement.
It's not just in terms of on-the-field play either. Kurt was a leader in the huddle as well. On and off the field.
Matt Leinart is the leader right now. And to his credit, he's trying. He recently moved his locker closer to the offensive lineman to "bond" more with them.
And of course, should Leinart fail, Derek Anderson should be ready. As will John Skelton, the Cardinals 5th round pick this year.
But let's hope it doesn't come to that.
The ideal scenario is Leinart stepping up and being the QB we all thought he would be a few years ago.
He certainly has the capability, and the weapons. This job is his to lose.
But should he lose it, the Cardinals could be in big trouble, even if Derek Anderson does step up.
Let's hope that one or the other will be the clear starter for the season out of training camp.
And let's hope it stays that way.