Arizona Cardinals Preview: Maybe It's Just Too Hot for Good Football in Arizona?
We all want to root for the Cardinals to succeed. We really do.
But they’re just so bad at it.
The NFC West borders on pathetic. Why the Cardinals haven’t been able to put it together enough to win that division is mind-boggling.
Every time I look up, someone’s unhappy with their contract, someone else is demanding a trade, and someone else is enjoying keg-stands with co-eds when he should be trying to figure out a way to improve to the point where his job won’t be taken by a 37-year old former MVP.
Let’s look at these issues one at a time.
Larry Fitzgerald was upset with his contract, and he actually got a new one. Larry Fitzgerald can make the case that he’s the best wide receiver in the NFL, and I’d be hard pressed to find a reason to disagree with him.
Anquan Boldin liked Larry Fitzgerald’s new contract so much, he wanted one of his own. When he was reportedly insulted by a low-ball offer from the Cardinals, he demanded a trade. The Cardinals aren’t going to trade him because he might be the best possession receiver in the NFL, when healthy.
But they haven't paid him yet either.
Matt Leinart loves to party. He also likes digital cameras. That combination is troubling for Arizona fans, as the guy who was outplayed by a 37-year old last year should at least be trying to giving off the impression that he’s busting his ass in an attempt to get better in the offseason.
That said, giving the starting job to Kurt Warner is incredibly shortsighted. Yes, he makes the Cardinals better in September of 2008. But Matt Leinart, beer bong and all, would have been the right move for the future of the Cardinals.
Look, if you’re a team that is expecting to win a Super Bowl, you bypass the young guy for the proven veteran who will better help you win now. If you’re the 2008 Cardinals, you’re not winning a Super Bowl with either of these guys.
Why risk the future for a few extra regular-season wins?
It’s the type of decision a team that hasn’t been to the playoffs since Jake Plummer was relevant makes. It’s the type of decision a team that is going to have to start over with the quarterback position next season makes.
It’s a bad, shortsighted decision.
Kurt Warner or Matt Leinart, the offense will still be able to move the chains passing the ball. The receivers are just too good to be covered by most of the secondaries in the NFL.
The question is whether they can move the chains with the running game.
Either Edgerrin James got extremely old extremely fast (which is possible), or the offensive line is terrible at run blocking (also possible).
Edge needs to get his per-carry average closer to four yards-per-carry. An offense can’t survive on the passing game alone, unless it’s New England's offense.
There’s no reason why this offensive line can’t get the job done in the running game.
Levi Brown and Mike Gandy are both good tackles. Reggie Wells and Deuce Lutui are both good enough in the running game. The only minus run-blocker in the group is Al Johnson, and he’s not THAT bad.
The Cardinals’ offense has the potential to be pretty good. We shall see.
The defense is...well, the Cardinals’ defense.
Antonio Smith and Darnell Dockett are both decent-to-above-average on the defensive line. Gabe Watson is mediocre. When they’re in the 4-3, Bertrand Berry is the fourth lineman, but he spends more time on IR than he does on the football field.
Rookie Calais Campbell is the most talented of the group, but it remains to be seen how quickly and effectively he can be added to the rotation.
The linebackers are very average. Gerald Hayes is pretty good. Karlos Dansby is above average, but I think he’s a little overrated.
Chike Okeafor should be backing up a better player, but there aren’t any on this roster. Clark Haggans may see some playing time here, as he’s familiar with the system.
The secondary is actually pretty good. Roderick Hood is decent. Eric Green is underrated. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is going to be a solid corner—or at the very least a speedy, playmaking nickel.
Antrel Rolle should make a better safety than he did a corner. Adrian Wilson is a very good strong safety, assuming he can stay healthy.
The Cardinals are right there in the mix to win the NFC West. But then, so are the 49ers...
I’m stretching a bit here, but if he can get his fumbling under control, he’ll be their short-yardage guy. If Edge stinks again, he could see some carries with the regular offense as well.
But his potential goal-line carries will make him worthy of a late look in deep fantasy leagues.
Fighting for draft picks, fighting for the playoffs, or contending for the Super Bowl?
They’ll be fighting for the playoffs, but only because everyone in the NFC West has a shot.
Another 8-8 season—well worth playing a 37-year old quarterback over the potential future of your franchise.
Sean Crowe is a Senior Writer and an NFL Community Leader at Bleacher Report. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. His archive can be found here. You can find everything he writes, including articles for other publications, here.
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