There are still multiple questions surrounding the team to discuss. We may not win Superbowl 48, but this off-season will be anything but boring.
The writing staff took their shot at answering three of these questions. Don't forget to answer them yourself in the comments below!
1) Who was your biggest "surprise" player of the season?
Jesse Reynolds: Tyrann Mathieu: When we drafted 'The Honey Badger' I thought he was a bad pickup. He was phenomenal in college but his size and "average" (for a pro) athleticism scared me but than came the Rams game and one play completely changed my view of him. The guy is a hustle player to the extreme and I love that in an athlete. A few weeks later and he makes a great fourth down stop against Detroit cementing him as one of my favorite young players. Washington, Campbell, Peterson, Mathieu. Is there a better young core in the NFL right now on one side of the ball?
Randy Fields: TM32 and John Abraham. I know the question asked for one, but both of these guys were huge surprises! The Juke deserves an honorable mention, but this team was not counting on either of these guys to make the impact they did make and suddenly they're stars of the defense.
Jess Root: The easy answer would be Andre Ellington, because of where he was drafted. However, I will go in a different direction -- Karlos Dansby. I knew he would be productive, but I don't think anyone would have expected the type of impact he had on the field. To go from productive, but unspectacular player to a viable Defensive Player of the Year is impressive.
Robert Norman: Andre Ellington. He was a rookie so there is the argument fans didn't know what to expect. Not only was he the best running back on the team much of the season was spent leading the NFL in yards per touch. With the breakout year completed, the next step is to improve in less flashy areas like pass blocking so that he can stay on the field even more often.
2) Who was your biggest "disappointment" player of the season?
Jesse Reynolds: Rob Housler: This was the year to break out and this year he was a nothing but average. Housler has made some great plays and there is yet hope for him but I thought he was going to break out and cause havoc on other teams defenses. He made some nice plays and is a good receiving TE but is not a player that other team's defenses worry about.
Randy Fields: Ryan Williams. I can't believe he didn't suit up one game, he didn't get a single rushing attempt in the 2013 season, and he collected all of those checks. I don't know what they're plan for Williams is but I can't wait to see what it is. Does he still have it in him to play? Are the Cardinals treating him like their own version of Lattimore and giving him a red shirt year to get healthy? I don't know, but I hope they get something out of him next year either through trade or on the field. Runner up - Housler!
Jess Root: Rob Housler has to be that guy, hands down. Bruce Arians talked him up, Carson Palmer talked him up, fantasy football guys talked him up. What did we get? More injuries and more disappointment. Just when you think that he's got it, he gets hurt and takes two steps backward. Likewise, Ryan Williams has to rank up there, as he could not even get active.
Robert Norman: Rob Housler. In a league with increasingly great receiving tight ends. 39 catches for 454 yards isn't really good. At least not when everyone and their mother says you are supposed to have a breakout year. He did end up doing quite well as the stats above show, but if he can't stay healthy there will come along another athletic tight end who will take his job.
3) Going into the off-season, what is the team's biggest strength, and what is its biggest weakness?
Jesse Reynolds: It's weird to say this but this teams strength is the FO and coaches. Have Cardinal fans EVER had this much faith in their front office? I haven't and I was a big fan of Ken Whisenhunt, but I wasn't a fan of Rod Graves who constantly drew my ire. This year I trust the FO and coaching staff top to bottom. Players are part of dynasties; coaches build dynasties.
I know many of the ROTB contributors will harp the line, and I agree, so to add some pepper to the mix I think the biggest weakness after the line is age at the key positions. John Abraham isn't getting younger and neither is Carson Palmer. In Keim I trust and with that I believe he will do everything he can to shore up those key positions.
Randy Fields: Biggest Strength - WR Talent - Floyd is really coming into his own, Larry is still Larry as we've discussed multiple times, and Roberts was great and very clutch when called on.
Biggest Weakness - Don't shoot me, but OL talent. We had a very serviceable OL by the end of the year, but we don't have big names. We don't see the stand out plays or the aggressive maulers who can handle the elite pass rushers. Now Sowell did have some impressive games in the final 6 games, but there were other times he was man-handled. I'd hope for an injection of talent at LT and RG and suddenly the team gets a lot better.
Jess Root: The biggest strength would have to be the defense overall, but if you refer to the personnel groups, then you have to like the front end of the receivers, the young talent at running back and the front end of the defensive line. The biggest weaknesses are the offensive line, the tight ends and then in the return game.
Robert Norman: Offensive Tackles are the weakest. Bradley Sowell is not the answer at left tackle. The Cardinals shouldn't reach for a LT in the draft, but neither can they afford to stand pat at the position. Same goes for Eric Winston, both improved, but I really think you have to give Bobby Massie another shot at starting. While he openly lost the job in 2013 to Winston, reports throughout the season indicated Massie put the mental mistakes behind and was even able to get on the field during the season and do quite well.
Strongest? It has to be wide receiver. The depth has been worrisome and Andre Roberts is becoming a free agent. But with Micheal Floyd and Larry Fitzgerald starting I don't see a real big issue unless one of them goes down for an extended period of time during a season.