The Arizona Cardinals have addressed the offense with two main moves this offseason, signing offensive linemen Mike Iupati and A.Q. Shipley. They addressed two positions on the offensive line and appear to try to become a team who can run the ball when needed. A move to add a running back is sure to come either in the draft or with another move.
Darren Urban, Kyle Odegard and Damien Anderson got together for a "Cards Underground" podcast that discussed the offense and some key questions there are entering the 2015 season.
The biggest question will always be about Carson Palmer and whether he returns healthy. He is ahead of schedule after his ACL surgery, but as Urban noted, there is a difference between being on the field and playing. Palmer might not get much work until training camp.
But there are three other questions that loom large this offseason discussed in the podcast
Can Logan Thomas take the next step in his development?
With Palmer and Drew Stanton recovering from knee injuries, Thomas will get a ton of reps in the offseason. I suggested recently this year is about seeing whether Thomas can at least show enough for the team can trust him to be the backup in 2016 because Stanton will be a free agent after this season. He has the physical tools and has had some limited success on the field. Can he build on that this offseason?
Can Larry Fitzgerald be Larry Fitzgerald in 2015?
Bruce Arians challenged Fitzgerald when he became the head coach. He made Fitzgerald play multiple positions. He made him run option routes, where he and the quarterback had to be on the same page, reacting to what they see at the line of scrimmage.
The consensus was among those in the podcast is that he won't be a 100-catch guy or even a huge producer like he was in his prime. However, 1000 yard is very reachable. At the same time, Fitz playing well fires up the team and the fans. His production is essential for the team and the offense.
What will a healthy Fitz do in 2015? That's what we want to see.
How much and how well will the Cardinals run the ball?
Arizona clearly has made it a priority to run the ball better. They added Mike Iupati and A.Q Shipley. The team is rumored to be in the mix for Adrian Peterson. They will probably draft a running back.
The question is this -- will Bruce Arians call more running plays? He loves to throw the ball and loves to take deep shots.
But the challenge is this -- when the Cardinals have one or two yards to get for a first down, will the Cardinals be able to look at the defense and say "we're going to run it to the left side, try and stop us"? They now are built to be able to do that, at least on the left side of the offensive line.
The guys on the podcast suggest Arizona will continue to be a pass-first team, but the ability to pick up first downs in short yardage situations should be a new wrinkle.