The Cardinals' do not lack talent and the rest of the NFL knows this.
Sometimes, when a team is struggling it's convenient to think that the problems are for lack of talent.
When mediocrity sets in, as it has with the Cardinals' players over the past two seasons, in the minds of the fans, it becomes very tempting to think that the players aren't as good as we thought they are.
Just look at the feeding frenzy the NFL had on the Cardinals' free agents last spring.
The fact is---many of the Cardinals' free agents from last year are flourishing on their new teams. Calais Campbell looks like the prize free agent of the 2017 class. Tony Jefferson and D.J. Swearinger have assumed leadership roles on Ravens and Redskins respectively.
Even TE Darren Fells has scored 3 TDs for the Lions...which is more TDs than any current Cardinals' TEs.
Curiously, this week the Cardinals tried to sign former TE prospect Hakeem Valles off the Lions' practice squad---the Lions countered by offering Valles the same money he would make at the minimum on the Cardinals' roster---and Valles accepted the offer to stay on Detroit's PS instead of being back on the Cardinals' 53 man roster.
Now that the Cardinals are mired in their second straight season of mediocrity, a number of fans have pointed the finger at GM Steve Keim.
The question then becomes---if Keim is such a poor evaluator of talent---then why are the Cardinals' free agents so heavily coveted by other teams?
Anyone watch LG Jonathan Cooper on the Cowboys yesterday? I honed on him and him alone for a quarter and I have to say he dominated the Falcons' good DTs. None of them got an ounce of push on him in the pass rush.
The problem for the Cowboys was LT Chaz Green who was filling in for injured LT Tyron Smith. Green gave up 5 sacks to Adrian Claiborne. I bet the Cowboys would have loved to have John Wetzel.
When I look at the depth that Steve Keim has crated on this current football team, even despite losing 9 players to free agency last spring, he has done a very good job of creating balance...and when he needed to fill in the gaps he signed CB Tramon Williams, P Andy Lee, LG Alex Boone, RG Earl Watford, QB Matt Barkley and he traded for RB Adrian Peterson.
While the Cardinals keep losing players to the IR...Keim's depth is being tested to the max...and look what the options are:
1. Good thing Keim signed QB Blaine Gabbert this spring, now that both Palmer and Stanton are injured.
2. With D.J. Humphries' injury, a rejuvenated Jared Veldheer switches back to LT and solid 6th man, John Wentzel takes over at RT. In the wings, Keim also has 5th round draft pick T Will Holden.
3. With S Tyvon Branch now injured, in comes 2nd round pick Budda Baker, who played well in his first expanded role on the defense versus the Seahawks. In the wings, keim also has 6th round pick Rudy Ford.
This Cardinals' team, even with the injuries, still has a strong core of talent.
The young players of the defensive line, Nkemdiche, Gunter, Pierre and Williams are starting to emerge as legit DTs.
Tramon Williams may have just turned in the best performance from a Cardinals' RCB over the past few years with his stellar play versus the Seahawks.
Haason Reddick garnered his first sack this week and added 3 QB pressures.
DE Chandler Jones is on track to be named to the All-Pro team.
If the defense can get on the same page and cohere---it could get the Cardinals on a roll.
Now it's time to get the WRs and TEs, most under-achieving units on the team to step up. As the Seahawks showed, teams are going to stack the box versus RB Adrian Peterson and dare the Cardinals to beat them in the air.
Larry Fitzgerald is still playing at an All-Pro level, production-wise.
John Brown is a major league WR talent.
J.J. Nelson has all-world speed and has legitimate home run ability.
Jaron Brown is tough as nails over the middle.
Jermaine Gresham and Troy Niklas are getting open and have been all year, if the QB can target them more often and if they can grow more confident.