As most know, this offseason has been one of many changes for the Arizona Cardinals. They fired Ken Whisenhunt, Rod Graves and almost the entire offensive staff. They promoted Steve Keim to general manager, hired Bruce Arians as head coach and put together a larger coaching staff than in years past. They brought in Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton to stabilize the quarterback position. They changed their training camp venue. They ran simultaneous practices during OTAs and mini-camp, getting in more than twice the work that normally gets accomplished.
Now...will there be more wins in 2013?
A recent article by James Brady for SBNation.com gave the keys for success or failure on the season.
If the Cards are to be successful, Brady states:
- Get Larry Fitzgerald the football
- Keep Carson Palmer upright
- Make life tough for their NFC West rivals
The first two I think will be very doable. Fitz is moving around more and has a real quarterback throwing to him. In addition to the healthy return of Levi Brown and Lyle Sendlein, the team drafted Jonathan Cooper. That combined with the fact that Palmer is one of the best in the league at getting the ball out of his hand will make the offensive line look better.
The third part of playing the division tough is the biggest question mark, as the entire division is considered stacked. Both the 49ers and Seahawks are considered bona fide Super Bowl contenders and the Rams lost only one game in the division last year.
That will be the defining key of the three.
Brady also pointed to three things that could torpedo the season:
- Jonathan Cooper struggles
- No running back steps up
- Lack of defensive identity
Of the three, the last one seems to be a reach. Brady writes of the possible confusion of the 3-4 and 4-3 schemes. I don't think that will be a problem at all. As I have stated a couple of times, I am really downplaying this idea that we will see 4-3. I really don't see it, based on what Todd Bowles has said and what has been practiced. The defensive identity is the least of my concerns.
Cooper struggling? That would be bad news because it would mean that the interior line is not stabilized. It would also mean an early miss on their top pick. However, based on all that has been said about him, it seems unlikely.
The one likely bugaboo is the running game. At the top of the depth chart are a pair of runners in Rashard Mendenhall and Ryan Williams that have the injured tag on them. Behind them are a pair of rookies. Plus, Bruce Arians loves to throw the football. If the team wants to be able to have offensive success, and because Arians also prefers to stick to one back, they need one to step up. That is the least sure thing of the three things.
What do these mean? Nothing right now. But they are food for thought.
Are there points that could be made? The offensive line is not magically going to be top notch. However, with two starters returning and a supposed stud rookie being added to the mix screams upgrade.
Would you agree or disagree with the keys to success and feats to failure?
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