All predictions have the Cardinals bringing up the rear in the division, even the St Louis Rams have gotten more attention with the addition of 1st round draft pick Tavon Austin, and most have said they will also beat the Cardinals two times this season.
In my opinion there are a few more moves that management can make to get the attention of the division foes. These moves will put the Cardinals in the talk of truly competing on offense and being able to match up on defense and stop the dynamic offenses in the division.
Here is a count down to the pieces that will make cardinals relevant in the division.
5. Short yard and Goal line rushing bruiser in Brandon Jacobs
This would be an excellent move to sure up the goal line offense and short yardage on third and forth downs. The current running back tandem has no beef; they are more like speedsters that can juke their way to a score.
But we all know that outside running with speed will not help in a tight division game or a playoff game. Jacobs would give this running game attitude and confidence that they can run through any defense. This element would give the Cardinals better percentage in scoring touchdowns on the goal line and not settling for to many field goals and keeping drives alive, which can turn into wins in a defensive minded division.
Jacobs would be highly motivated after his disappointing 2012 season with the San Francisco 49ers. Jacobs became expendable as the 49ers had many other running backs that could get the job done in short yardage, (mainly pro bowl running back Frank Gore) but Jacobs will be inching to put his pads into a defensive line and bull rush to a one yard touchdown. Would be cool to see his signature arm pump in the desert.
4. Sure up the Offensive line with Eric Winston
It is no secrete to the league that this team is in need of a rebuild on the front wall of the quarterback. In this situation it really does not matter what signal caller is behind the wall if the wall is blown down with no resistance. Eric Winston would sure up the front line with experience.
Winston is the best Tackle left on the free agent list and at this point his asking price would have to come down enough to make a short term deal. Winston has visited a few teams and has drawn interest from several others, and the asking price has been the issue as to why he has not sign.
The cardinals are in position cap wise to make a deal that won’t break the bank, and the need on the offensive line speaks for it’s self.
This addition will surely stop the team from having to move the offensive line around, learning several positions can take more time in training camp as oppose to one position per linemen.
Winston could sure up the right or left side, and he is good enough to be consistent and become a sure comfort to the quarterback. Winston also can help in the development of rookie first round pick Jonathan Cooper. He is stout enough to push back defensive linemen and move his feet quick enough to pick up outside blitzes. Any experience on this front line would be helpful.
3. A veteran Wide receiver in Brandon Lloyd
This move would give the Cardinals instant offensive fire power that would make the other teams in the division blink just a bit. This move will also push Michael Floyd and Andre Roberts to be better.
Learning a new offense for Lloyd would not be a problem because he learns a new offense every season it seems, but he is a savvy vet that will fit perfectly with Larry Fitzgerald. This would cause defenses to pick their poison as to whom they want to double, not only that, Lloyd is a good possession receiver and his hands are probably as good as any receiver in the league.
In a spread offense that is designed to get the ball down field, quarterback Carson Palmer would probably have the best receiving core in the division and cause some havoc to any defense. I believe a move like this can give the Cardinals that dynamic offense that will put up 30 points per game. This threat would cause the division opponents to not be so quick to over look the cardinals, home or on the road.
2. Rush the Passer with John Abraham
Rushing the passer is the most important element on the defensive end, no team can ever have enough pass rushers. John Abraham would bring more than just pass rushing, he would bring veteran leadership to the young players. Cardinals can follow their off season pattern of signing starters to a one year prove yourself deal, and that would work well for Abraham. This move would help the defense to stop any offense by applying pressure.
In the case of the NFC west division, pressure will be the key to slow down these young running quarterbacks. Abraham will give this defense instant credibility and will cause offenses to plan around the talent.
Patrick Peterson becoming a lock down corner will be one dynamic and pressure is key to his success and all of the secondary as well. This move will cause a buzz of attention to the team and perhaps someone would believe the Cardinals could compete in this division. The defense would be able to get opposing offenses off the field, and Abraham would be the next best thing, sense they did not make a move for Dwight Freeney.
1. Stuff the run with another Veteran Richard Seymour
The Cardinals had showed some interest in free agent Sedrick Ellis from the New Olean Saints, and were looking to push big Dan Williams to get motivated to get his weight down and become that dominant force inside of the defensive line. This move would give Williams some incentive to kick it in gear or be gone. Seymour is still a force against the run and would be another leader on the defense, and this move will surely cause some buzz around the league. I think this would make people say “look out for this Cardinal defense” even if it would be for one season.
Imagining Seymour in the middle of Calais Campbell and Darnell Dockett and John Abraham on the outside just brings goose bumps to my skin. Seymour can still clog up the middle and get after the running back. This would be a dynamic that would cause a lot of trouble to offenses to make them one dimensional.
Adding these players to an already good team would give the cardinals some attention, and cause the division opponents to see it’s not just a two or three team race in the NFC west, but it will be a defensive dog fight.