NFL.com author Adam Schein has made some bold statements about the Arizona Cardinals this off season. Back in February, before the draft, before free agency, before the epic trade for Carson Palmer, knowing that the Cardinals played in the toughest division in football, with Kevin Kolb at the helm, with the line in shambles and knowing that the Cardinals lost a budding defensive guru in Ray Horton, Adam Schein believed that the Cardinals were dark horses to make the playoffs.
How could someone who isn’t a Cardinals homer make such a bold prediction? One reason, Bruce Arians. Read the article, it feels like it hails from a different era despite it only being three months old!
Washington has received my vote as a first-team All-Pro linebacker in each of the past two seasons… Without Washington (for the first four games of the season), Arizona will be hard-pressed to succeed in the season's opening month, facing the following slate: at St. Louis Rams, vs. Detroit Lions, at New Orleans Saints, at Tampa Bay Buccaneers. With him, I would've picked Arizona to start 3-1. Washington is a dominant tackling machine with a nose for making plays. Arizona will miss him dearly…
Schein ranked Geno Atkins of the Cincinnati Bengals first, Brian Cushing second, Von Miller third, Justin Smith fourth, Richard Sherman fifth, Jason Pierre-Paul sixth, Vince Wilfork seventh, Luke Kuechly eighth and Washington ninth. Washington beat out studs NFL players like Haloti Ngata, Cameron Wake, Jared Allen, DeMarcus Ware, and NaVarro Bowman.
Probably much like most readers I am not in a 100% agreement with Schein’s list. Kuechly over Washington? What? Calais Campbell not being mentioned at all? Wow. Despite our personal opinions take into mind that this list was not designed to highlight the absolute best players on the best teams or even players who thrive in their team’s respective scheme. It was designed to highlights players who are keystone players to their respective defense. Schein makes the point that the Texans have two phenomenal defenders in J.J. Watt and Brian Cushing. Despite Watt playing brilliantly last year it was Cushing that Schein believes was the indispensable player. His reason was that once Cushing was injured the Texans defense took a step back and it showed in a statistical dip from the top five to middle of the pack in the rankings.
Whether you agree with Schein isn’t what’s important, what’s important is that Daryl Washington is finally getting some much earned national media love. It is a shame that Washington has to miss four games because he is a rising star in the NFL and an impact player for the Cardinals.