Monday, August 17, 2009
2009 NFL PREVIEW- Arizona Cardinals
2008 RECORD: 9-7
(1st in NFC West)
HEAD COACH: Ken Whisenhunt
Key Additions: CB Bryant McFadden (FA/Steelers) RB Jason Wright (FA/Browns) RB Dan Kreider (FA/Rams)
Key Losses: RB Edgerrin James (FA) RB J.J. Arrington (FA/Broncos) CB Eric Green (FA/Dolphins) DE Antonio Smith (FA/Texans) RB Terrelle Smith (FA/Lions) LB Monty Beisel (FA/Chiefs) CB Roderick Hood (FA)
Offense: Kurt Warner returns after rediscovering his magic touch from the days in St. Louis and the "greatest show on turf".
Warner led the NFC in passing in 2008 and was third overall in the league posting a 96.9 QB rating after throwing for 4,583 yards and 30 touchdowns with just 14 interceptions.
His wide receivers include Larry Fitzgerald, who was healthy in 2008 and had a monster season, grabbing 96 catches for 1,431 yards and 12 touchdowns. Anquan Boldin made 89 catches for 1,038 yards and 11 TDs while Steve Breaston hauled in 77 passes for 1,006 yards and three touchdowns.
Having three 1,000-yard receivers in the same season on your team is a rare feat, but the Cardinals pulled it off last season and if healthy again in '09, they could do it again. The Tight Ends are Leonard Pope and Ben Patrick. Neither caught many passes last year and their primary function is to block.
The running backs include Tim Hightower and Chris "Beanie" Wells (top draft pick from Ohio State) and fullbacks Dan Kreider and Tim Castille.
Hightower takes over for the departed Edgerrin James after rushing for 399 yards and scoring 10 touchdowns last season. Wells will get his chance to show what he can do as well.
The offensive line is a good one with Lyle Sendlein at center, Reggie Wells and Deuce Lutui at guard and tackles Mike Gandy and Levi Brown.
Defense: The defense was average at best in 2008, with the exception of the playoff win against Carolina, when they intercepted six passes in the game.
The Cardinals finished 19th overall in the NFL, allowing 332 yards per game with 110 yards allowed on the ground and 222 through the air on a game-by-game basis.
Head Coach Ken Whisenhunt knows the defense has to step up and be more consistent if the Cardinals want to have the success they had in the post-season when they made their run.
Bryan Robinson and Bertrand Berry are the Defensive Ends and the Nose Tackle is Darnell Dockett in the Cardinals' 3-4 scheme.
The linebackers are Gerald Hayes and Karlos Dansby on the inside and the outside linebackers will be Chike Okeafor and Cody Brown.
The secondary has Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Bryant McFadden at the corners and Adrian Wilson and Antrel Rolle at safety.
The Cardinals picked off just 13 passes with Rodgers-Cromartie leading the team with four, including a 99-yard touchdown return of a pick. Meanwhile, McFadden comes over from Pittsburgh and will bring a winning attitude with him after the Super Bowl victory over the Cardinals.
The Cards gave up too many points in '08, as they allowed 426 total points which placed them 28th in the league.
OUTLOOK: If the Cardinals get better defense this season and Warner can work his magic again, watch out!
That will be the key for the team, consistency on defense and at quarterback.
Warner has shown a penchant for getting injured and he is 38 years old entering this season. If he does go down, Matt Leinart (who was the starter in season's past) will step in.
Fitzgerald, Boldin and Breaston will be the mainstays for the offense in 2009 as the air show will continue in the desert.
What needs to improve for Arizona is the running game, which ranked dead last in the NFL in '08 by averaging just 74 yards a game. If the Cardinals do not want to be predictable, that has to improve.
The best way to defense Arizona is simply to put a lot of pressure on the quarterback by blitzing often to throw Warner off his rhythm. That's why it is pertinent for the Cards to re-establish a running game to go with their air attack, which ranked number-two in the league.
Shootout type style teams rarely succeed in the NFL and Arizona really was that type of team last season. It took a near miracle run in the post-season to make the Super Bowl and somehow they solved the Steelers' defense in the final eight minutes of the game and nearly pulled off a huge upset.
That was then and this is now.
Look for Arizona to go 10-6 and make the playoffs again. Only this time other teams will be waiting for them and there will not be any surprises by the Birds come playoff time.
Week 1- vs. San Francisco (Sept. 13)
Week 2- at Jacksonville (Sept. 20)
Week 3- vs. Indianapolis (Sept. 27)
Week 4- BYE WEEK
Week 5- vs. Houston (Oct. 11)
Week 6- at Seattle (Oct. 18)
Week 7- at NY Giants (Oct. 25)
Week 8- vs. Carolina (Nov. 1)
Week 9- at Chicago (Nov. 8)
Week 10- vs. Seattle (Nov. 15)
Week 11- at St. Louis (Nov. 22)
Week 12- at Tennessee (Nov. 29)
Week 13- vs. Minnesota (Dec. 6)
Week 14- at San Francisco (Dec. 14)
Week 15- at Detroit (Dec. 20)
Week 16- vs. St. Louis (Dec. 27)
Week 17- vs. Green Bay (Jan. 3)