The Arizona Cardinals finished much better than they started the 2011 season. After a horrendous 1-6 start, the Cards finished 7-2 in their last nine games to finish at 8-8 and in second place in the NFC West after defeating the Seattle Seahawks 23-20 in OT on Sunday. Although they missed the playoffs, I’ll take it. It is a three-game improvement over 2010. Clearly, it could have been much better but it also could have been much worse.
The Cards played their final game like they had many of their other games over the past month or so, close to the vest and ending in overtime. It was their fourth overtime game and win of the season. They finally learned how to win the close ones rather than lose them. With early close losses to the same Seahawks, Washington Redskins, New York Giants, and Baltimore Ravens, it appeared this was going to be a season wasted. A season finding themselves as one of the NFL’s worst. Instead they end up as one of the best non-playoff teams. Not exactly what any of us wanted, but after that start, I’ll take it.
The Cards will have some decisions to make in the off-season when it comes to handling the draft and which positions to make a priority. One position I can bet the farm they will practically ignore until training camp is the quarterback position. No, they will not be releasing Kevin Kolb. I realize that is much to many people’s chagrin, but get used to him in a Cards uniform. He’s not going anywhere soon. I do expect an open competition in training camp with John Skelton though, although the Cards might not come out and admit there is one.
The priorities should be a second receiver, offensive line, and depth at cornerback. That’s just my opinion, however they are all positions I believe of need going into next season. At the very least they should be positions of attention.
So, for now, the Cards like every other non-playoff team will be going through a period of evaluation. There is a lot to evaluate but most likely not a lot of tinkering to do.