I have a few concerns this year. I hope I am wrong about them. I listed them in order of concern.
1: 8-8 record. I look around the west and don't see that much improvement in over all talent from last year. I don't see the 49ers as much more talented than last year. Seattle and Rams have a way to go although they got better. I think over all the Cardinals are more talented top to bottom than last year- except at QB. I think Leinart will be average this year. Some games he will look great and others he will cost us the game. In the end I think the Cardinals will be an 8-8 team. Good enough to have hope but in the end... For me a 9-7 or 10-6 season would be a Whizenhunt miracle.
2-Hayes' Chronic Back. This bothered him last year and limited him some. Maybe I am a little jaded because I also have a chronic bad back because of football and have been through a "proceedure" or two, and chronic bad backs just don't go away. You learn to work around it but that is hard to do playing in the NFL. I think this will be an issue all through the season and will severly limit his playing time. The problem is that there is no heir apparent unless you are higher on Walker than I am. D. Washington is a Will not a Mike and so could not easily slide into that position. (This was my concern in 2009 when we drafted a safety in the 3rd and a corner in the 4th. I mentioned back then that I thought we should have gone corner in the 3rd and Jasper Brinkley in the 4th- I understand the reason for a safety at the time as insurance against Rolle- but that is old news) I think the MIKE will be a priority in the 2011 draft but that is for another post.
3-D. Washington. That leads me into my take on Daryl Washington. I think I am not as high on him as everyone else because I wanted to get someone who played better than Dansby. Dansby played great in space, did well on the blitz (especially up the middle), and was effective in converage on third down. Dansby was not good against the run. He ran around more blacks than through them. To me that is a key difference between a 4-3 Will and a 3-4 Will. In a 3-4 I think both the Mike and the Will need to be able to fill and stuff the whole. Dansby didn't and that was why he never got a sniff at the pro bowl. The description of Dansby fits D. Washington's college career perfectly. He plays in space great, blitzes well, athletic in coverage, and less effective when ran at. I guess I wanted better than Dansby. I understand why the Cardinals are high on him. He was the most athletic ILB in the draft and he does well flowing from the weak side, which is what a 4-3 Will is suppose to do. I guess I wanted more of a run stuffer and I don't see that in Washington. I wanted to remove Dansby's liability and I don't see that in Washington. I hope he proves me wrong.
4-DRC's Knee. I know rehab is going great. Everyone is saying all of the right things. But DRC's game is based on speed. Until I see him open up and chase down someone I will be worried. Our whole defense is built around DRC and losing him would hurt more than losing Hayes. I am trying to be confident but until I see with my own eyes...
No one will be happier than me if I am wrong on all counts.