With the final regular season game in the books, the Arizona Cardinals are looking ahead to a long, but optimsitic off-season. With a great 7-2 finish in their last 9 games, the Cardinals certainly have something to build on. And, like always, they have their questions surrounding them. The ROTB Writing Staff tackled three of those numerous questions.
Hit the jump for their answers, an don't forget to answer the questions yourself in the comments below!
1) What/who are you most proud of this season?
Alex Mann: Most proud of the fight the team showed. After losing several games in a row it's typical to see player give up and start blaming one another. Just goes to show the environment that Coach Whizenhunt has built.
Tyler Nickel: I am most proud of the fact that after starting the season at 1-6, the Cardinals continued to battle and ended up posting a decent 8-8 record. Although they missed the playoffs, they have some building blocks going forward.
JoeCB1991: I am proud of the team as a whole for not quitting and fighting back from 1-6 to end the year at 8-8.
Jess Root: I am actually most proud of the coaching staff. They stayed the course when so many of us thought they needed to change things up. Ray Horton stuck with his scheme and the players got it. Whisenhunt started sounding like a broken record all last season with his mantra of staying the course and just keep doing what they do. But finally it worked. Things clicked.
I'm most proud of the defense and Beanie Wells
. The defense has always been an after thought in Arizona, but now it's showcased as the main consistent threat the Cardinals have. It has taken three Defensive Coordinators to get it right, but with Ray Horton at the controls we're finally a contender. Beanie played extremely well, regardless of his injuries, and showed the world he is a professional and able to play at the highest level as a starter. With that said, I can't wait until we have the trio of Wells, Williams, and LSH next year though!
2) What/who can take the most blame for the Cardinals missing the Playoffs?
Alex Mann: There was a mixture of things that made us miss the playoffs. There were the missed Field Goals against Seattle and Washington that would have helped, there was the Defensive struggles, and our Offensive struggles. There isn't one person or group that really made us miss out on the Playoffs.
Tyler Nickel: I would say that the NFL lockout takes most of the blame for the Cards missing the playoffs this season. If they would have had the extra time in OTAs and offseason workouts, along with having the playbooks to learn their roles in the plays much sooner, this could have been a different season.
JoeCB1991: I'll go with the lockout. If the Cardinals had a full offseason to learn Horton's defense, and if Kolb/Skelton had more time in training camp and OTAs to improve their knowledge of the offense and build chemistry with their teammates we would have seen better play from all of them.
Jesse Reynolds: I dislike placing blame so I will blame the entire team, FO and coaching staff. The team wasn't making plays and they weren't being put into a position to succeed. Both the offense and defense blew games in our losing skid. It was atrocious. We can only thank Ray Horton and our defense for playing lights out after the Baltimore game for giving us any chance to win.
Jess Root: Honestly, as great as it played down the stretch, I think the defense is what we have to blame more than anything. The team had a 10-point fourth quarter lead against the Giants, a 21-point lead against the Raven and an eight-point fourth quarter lead against the Redskins. They hold those leads, they are playoff bound.
CardsFan08: I think the blame can only go to the NFL Lockout. With the lack of an offseason the Cardinals defense didn't start rolling until eight games into the year. The offense was always mediocre this year, and with and off season perhaps could have been above average.
3) What are you most excited about going into the off-season?
Alex Mann: I'm most excited about getting our injured players back. Greg Toler missed out on a crucial season, and we never got a shot to see how the duo of Ryan Williams and Beanie Wells would look. Having these two in the lineup this season wouldn't have hurt our chances to win a few more games.
I am most excited about the young players that really showed they are what this team can build around. Guys like Sam Acho, Patrick Peterson, Daryl Washington
, etc. are what this team needs and I am excited that they'll have the offseason to further develop their talents.
JoeCB1991: The fact that we won't see many changes to the team. There is a lot of young talent on this team, Toler and Williams will be back, and a lot of the young guys got plenty of experience this year that should help a lot going into next year. Horton having a full offseason to work with the Defense should also help a lot and I am really looking forward to what he will be able to do next season.
Jesse Reynolds: I am excited, like everyone else, to see our youth, our QBs and our defense have a full off season to absorb things. I am also excited for the draft and seeing who else we will bring to the team.
Jess Root: What's not exciting? I'm excited by it all -- the upcoming draft, the recovery of players by injuries, the impending free agent period -- everything. It seems the team is sitting at the precipice of something. Plus, it looks like the NFC West is developing quite nicely between the Niners, Seahawks and Cards.
CardsFan08: Getting Toler and Williams back, and finding new OT talent either through free agency or the draft. I really like the shape the team is in right now and I think we're on the verge of something great. It's great that the NFC West has turned into competitors, and it's even better that the Cardinals are very close to returning to their 2008-2009 form. They just need to get the offense going and we'll really have some heads turning!
Don't forget to answer the questions in the comments below.