Head Coach: Bruce Arians
2012 Record: 5-11-0 (4th in NFC West)
New Players: RB Rashard Mendenhall; QB Carson Palmer; QB Drew Stanton; LB Lorenzo Alexander; CB Javier Arenas; S Yeremiah Bell; CB Antoine Cason; LB Karlos Dansby.
Gone Elsewhere: QB Kevin Kolb; RB Beanie Wells; RB LaRod Stephens-Howling; QB Jon Skelton; S Adrian Wilson.
Offense: The Cardinals will have a totally revamped look this season as both quarterbacks from 2012 are gone. Likewise, the primary ball carriers from the past few seasons are both gone, giving the running game a totally new look.
Veteran QB Carson Palmer comes over from the Oakland Raiders after passing for 4,018 yards with 22
|New Head Coach Bruce Arians|
The running game, which averaged a paltry 75 yards a game and finished dead last in the league last season, will look to former Steelers' back Rashard Mendenhall (182 yards rushing in only six games played) as the primary ball carrier, provided he is one hundred percent healthy. Ryan Williams and William Powell will back up.
The wide receiving unit still has Larry Fitzgerald leading the way after a sub-par year in 2012 in which he caught just 71 passes for 798 yards and only four touchdowns. Andre Roberts (64, 759, five TD), Michael Floyd (45, 562, two TD) and rookie Ryan Swope (Texas A&M) are the other targets in the passing game. The tight end is Rob Housler, who had 45 receptions for 417 yards last year.
The offensive line was awful last season, evidenced by the weak running game and the fact that Cardinals' quarterbacks were sacked 58 times. The center is Lyle Sendlein, the tackles are Bobby Massie and Levi Brown, the guards are rookie draft pick Jonathan Cooper (North Carolina) and Daryn Colledge.
Defense: The Cardinals weren't bad on defense in 2012, ranking 12th overall (5th against pass and 28th against the run) giving up 338 yards per game.
Three of their first four draft picks were defensive players, including a pair of LSU players in linebacker Kevin Minter and cornerback Tyrann Mathieu.
The secondary, one of the better ones around the NFL, picked off 22 passes in 2012 and is led by the dynamic Patrick Peterson, who is also an excellent kick returner.
Peterson plays a corner spot and had seven interceptions while Jerraud Powers will man the other corner spot. The safties are Yeremiah Bell and Rashad Johnson, who picked off two passes last year. Veteran Antoine Cason and Mathieu will be in the mix this year and Jamell Fleming and Jonathon Amaya add depth.
OUTLOOK: New Head Coach Bruce Arians gets his chance after leading the Indianapolis Colts to a surprising playoff spot last season filling in for Chuck Pagano, who was going through cancer treatments.
There are many questions facing this team that got off to a good start (4-0) last year, then lost 11 of 12 games and finished in last place in the very strong NFC West division.
Can Carson Palmer recapture some of his past magic and combine with Larry Fitzgerald to give the team the deep threat it so sorely lacked in 2012?
How about Rashard Mendenhall coming back from injuries in Pittsburgh a year ago?
Can the offensive line protect the QB and open the holes for the running backs to flourish?
Too many big questions to answer and if even one of those scenarios doesn't play out, it could be a very long season in the desert once again.
It looks like 3-13 may be the mark for the Cardinals this season, which would signal bad news for the team. But then again, this is the NFL and one-year turnarounds are possible... just not this year for the Cardinals.
Sept. 8- at St. Louis
Sept. 15- vs. Detroit
Sept. 22- at New Orleans
Sept. 29- at Tampa Bay
Oct. 6- vs. Carolina
Oct. 13- at San Francisco
Oct. 17- vs. Seattle
Oct. 27- vs. Atlanta
Nov. 3- BYE WEEK
Nov. 10- vs. Houston
Nov. 17- at Jacksonville
Nov. 24- vs. Indianapolis
Dec. 1- at Philadelphia
Dec. 8- vs. St. Louis
Dec. 15- at Tennessee
Dec. 22- at Seattle
Dec. 29- vs. San Francisco