QB, RB Questions Define Cardinals in 2013
In terms of raw talent, there’s no question that Larry Fitzgerald is one of the top 10 wide receivers in the NFL (and that may be putting it modestly). So too do the Arizona defensive and special teams units have the capacity to rank among the elite in the NFC, if not the league as a whole.
Arizona brought in fresh faces to upgrade the QB and RB positions during the offseason. The 2013 NFL Draft was a mixed bag of offensive linemen, defensive depth and skill players. But as the Cardinals stare up at the NFC Champion San Francisco 49ers, dangerous Seattle Seahawks and improved St. Louis Rams, the question must be asked – is it enough to truly compete?
Arizona Cardinals: 2012 NFL ranks
Team record: 5-11 (4th in NFC West)
Total offense rank: 32nd (28th pass, 32nd rush)
Total defense rank: 12th (5th pass, 28th rush)
2013 Arizona Cardinals: offensive preview
Carson Palmer threw for 4,000 yards in the Oakland Raiders offense in 2012, proving he can put up gaudy stats with modest WR talent. He will certainly have more to work with looking at Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, Andre Roberts at TE Rob Housler. But the defenses are altogether better in the NFC West than they were in the AFC West; will this added degree of difficulty hinder Palmer’s adjustment to life in the desert?
Rashard Mendenhall is the fresh face at RB for Arizona, but his inability to stay on the field is rivaled only by that of his teammate, Ryan Williams. A lack of consistency at running back led to a woeful 2012 season, and a true hierarchy must be established. If Mendenhall cannot stay healthy, the team may look to rookie RBs Stepfan Taylor and Andre Ellington to make an immediate impact.
2013 Arizona Cardinals: defensive preview
The Cardinals started a surprising 4-0 in 2012 before losing 11 of their last 12 games. This start (and subsequent collapse) can be directly attributed to Arizona’s stout defense, which performed admirably through the first half of the season before breaking down as too much weight was placed on its shoulders.
Still, Arizona’s base 3-4 defense is strong against the pass, and Patrick Peterson is a star at both CB and kick/punt returner for the Cardinals. A pair of rookies, Tyrann Mathieu and Alex Okafor, may be asked to lend support early and often in 2013, to add coverage depth and added pass rush (respectively). Calais Campbell and Darnell Dockett are strong veteran players at each defensive end position.
2013 Arizona Cardinals: a tough schedule ahead
The Cardinals don’t benefit from a particularly kind out-of-division schedule, one which includes the New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Bucs, Atlanta Falcons, Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts. Winning home division games will be critical, as trips to San Francisco and Seattle are daunting.
Four of the first six games on the Cardinals’ schedule are on the road (at St. Louis, New Orleans, Tampa Bay and San Francisco); escaping this portion of the schedule with a 3-3 record is paramount to achieving relevance in the 2013 NFC West. If the Cardinals can’t manage that heading into a 3-game homestand against the Seahawks, Falcons and Texans, it could end up being a terribly long season.
- What happened to the NFC West? (daddyice.mlblogs.com)
- Arizona Cardinals rookies Tyrann Mathieu, others get new haircuts (revengeofthebirds.com)
- Arizona Cardinals: How Their Tough Schedule Plays Out (raisingzona.com)