An immediate chemistry between Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald will mean good things in Arizona.
The Arizona Cardinals brought in offensive guru Bruce Arians to mend an offense slowly stripped of its potency since losing Kurt Warner (retirement) and Anquan Boldin (trade). Veteran wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald’s Hall of Fame career could be beginning to wind down. It’s time for the Cardinals to come together in a hurry.
Bruce Arians’ reward for stepping in for Chuck Pagano and leading the Indianapolis Colts to the playoffs is being named the head coach the Arizona Cardinals. Being sent to the NFL’s answer to Alcatraz may work out for Arians in the long run, where he will be given some time to put his prints on the team. Arians proved he is one of the better motivators in the NFL.
The drop off between Andrew Luck to Carson Palmer isn’t that significant in terms of overall production. The ten-year veteran finished fourth in the AFC with 4,018 passing yards to go with 22 touchdowns and 14 interceptions, his lowest totals in four seasons.
The Cardinals were last in the NFL in total rushing yards. Their team total of 1,204 yards was bested by ten running backs last season. Arians brought in former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall, who played under him when he was the offensive coordinator in Pittsburgh. Mendenhall is fairly young, but his durability is a huge concern. The same applies to injury-plagued backup Ryan Williams — who has missed most of the last two seasons with knee and shoulder injuries.
If it were not for the carousel of quarterbacks, the receiving corps may have had a better season than their numbers indicated. Perennial Pro Bowler Larry Fitzgerald suffered through his worst season since his rookie campaign. Fitz caught 71 balls for 798 yards and 4 touchdowns. Andre Roberts (64/759/5) and Michael Floyd 45/462/2) had decent seasons and should get better with a consistent arm under center. Second-year tight end Rob Housler played well and should hold down the starting spot going into the regular season.
The offensive line gave up more sacks than any unit in the league (58). They need to jell in a hurry if the brittle Palmer is going to survive the season. Improving on the 3.4 yards per carry average would be a great start.
The Cardinals pass defense has to catch up with the run defense — which finished 5th in the NFL. Calais Campbell is the best player on the defensive line, but veteran Darnell Dockett remains effective. For the first month, they will have to survive without Daryl Washington — who is serving a four-game suspension — due to violating the league’s substance abuse policy. The secondary will have a new look after safeties Kerry Rhodes and Adrian Wilson were released at the end of last season. Patrick Peterson is the face of the defense and should continue to develop into one of the best all-around players in the NFL. Rookie Tyrann Mathieu will prove to be a steal after being selected in the third round.
The Cardinals are a team looking to rebuild while trying to stay competitive. It looks as if Larry Fitzgerald has bought in to the process. Arizona. Bruce Arians has a good start with the defense. If Carson Palmer can stay healthy the Cardinals could come close to doubling last season’s win total.