As the NFL lockout draws to a close, teams are seriously addressing their weak spots both offensively and defensively.
Offense—Will Arizona solve its QB issue?
The quarterback position was an unmitigated disaster in 2010, with three different players starting throughout the season—Derek Anderson, John Skelton and Max Hall.
Cardinals fans would prefer not to see any of these players start in 2011.
Arizona has been linked to Kevin Kolb, who would provide an instant upgrade over all three of last year's starters.
Kolb went 2-3 as a starter last season with the Philadelphia Eagles, completing 60.8 percent of his passes and throwing seven touchdowns to seven interceptions. The stats don't jump off the page, but Kolb's 2010 statistics are misleading. He looked quite capable of managing an offense while Michael Vick was injured and Arizona head coach Ken Whisenhunt wants his quarterbacks to do just that.
Kolb on his worst day is still an improvement over the Cardinals' current QB corps.
However, Kolb is currently under contract with the Eagles and would require significant compensation to Philadelphia before he could move to Arizona.
The Eagles reportedly want a top-flight player as well as a high draft choice and cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie's name has been thrown about. Rodgers-Cromartie is a young, talented corner who had a down year in 2010, but could easily rebound to have an excellent career.
Arizona should do everything it can to get Kolb, even if it means getting rid of Rodgers-Cromartie. 26-year-old franchise quarterbacks don't come easily and should be acquired whenever possible.
The deal with Philadelphia looks certain and when paired with Larry Fitzgerald, Kolb can lead the Cardinals back to the postseason.
Defense—Will anyone step up as a leader?
Answer: For Arizona's sake, hopefully.
Arizona had plenty of problems in 2010, mainly with its defense—the Cardinals finished 29th in yards given up and 30th in points given up.
The problem for Arizona is not a lack of talent. The team is full of talented, athletic defenders such as recent first-round picks Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Dan Williams, recent mid-round picks like Alan Branch, Daryl Washington and Rashad Johnson, as well as veterans Darnell Dockett, Kerry Rhodes, Joey Porter and Adrian Wilson.
How could the defense struggle with such athletic talent on the field?
Arizona lacks leaders on the field. They desperately need someone with the ability to fire up the troops and get a huge third down stop—something the Cardinals finished 21st in last year.
Who on the defense will step up as a leader? Wilson—the team's longest tenured player—should have already been the team's primary leader, but clearly the fire wasn’t there during the past few seasons.
However, Arizona's head coach Ken Whisenhunt has been pleased with Wilson's improvement in that area.
“He's grown tremendously as a leader,” Whisenhunt said.
It's a start.
Williams—Arizona's first-round pick in 2010—had a slow start to his rookie year, but came on strong in the latter half of the season. He began his career at Tennessee with character and weight concerns, but matured in his senior year. He needs to do the same for Arizona.
Everybody knows who Darnell Dockett is, whether due to his famous Twitter feed (@ddockett) or his breakout 2007 season where he finished with 43 total tackles, seven sacks and a pair of forced fumbles.
Perhaps what Dockett needs now is to stop tweeting and take control of the locker room.
He's already a great player—now it's time for him to become a great leader.
Next Team: The Atlanta Falcons
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