As we all wait for the start of the NFL season, will the Arizona Cardinals be contenders or pretenders?
What we do know is close to half of the Cardinals roster has been filled with new talent. So there has been a huge housecleaning this year by new GM Steve Keim and staff. We also know there is a new head coach in town in Bruce Arians and a new veteran quarterback at the helm in Carson Palmer.
We also see (on paper) that there is much better depth up and down the roster than we have had in recent years. At almost every position there seems to be someone who could be a solid contributor. Highlighted at the running back position, as the Cards are now five deep at the position currently.
With 10 linemen on the offensive line, the Cardinals appear to have more depth as well up front. They are currently two deep at both tackle spots. Scratch that, with the recent acquisition of tackle Bradley Sowell they are now 3 deep at the tackle position. However, I just don’t see them having 5 tackles on the active roster. So something has got to give at the position.
There also appears to be better depth at the quarterback position. Yes I said it, at the quarterback position. Backing up Palmer, Drew Stanton looks to be a solid backup in case Palmer were to go down. Although I am not sure what to make of Ryan Lindley, he did look pretty solid in preseason. Lindley is definitely a wild card in all this, hopefully we will not need to go three deep this year to find out. Perhaps assistant head coach Tom Moore and Arians will do some good for him this year.
On The defensive side of the ball is where the strength of this roster has been for the last couple of years. But will it continue? With added depth at cornerback, both the inside and outside linebacker positions and upfront on the defensive line, there is no reason why we cannot expect anything different from them this year.
With the elite veteran pass rusher in (OLB) John Abraham and one of the better inside linebackers in Karlos Dansby back in the fold, on paper this should only elevate the already solid unit. Furthermore, with the additions of cornerbacks Jaraud Powers and Antoine Cason to help out Patrick Peterson on the back side, the Cards should be in very solid hands again this year with some solid veteran leadership at the position.
There are also some rookies in the fold this year (on defense) that will keep us all on the edge of our seats in safety/cornerback Tyrann Mathieu and inside linebacker Kevin Minter, which both are out of LSU. Outside linebacker Alex Okafor out of Texas, is another guy that we need to keep our eyes on. Will these rookies on defense be contributors in some capacity this year? We will soon find out.
Other rookie players on the offensive side of the ball that we will be keeping our eyes on will be running backs Stepfan Taylor out of Stanford and Andre Ellington out of Clemson. How will they fit in to the fold? Someone we will not get to see this year unfortunately is top draft pick (left guard) Jonathan Cooper because of a broken leg. How bad will the offensive line miss his services up front? Unfortunately we will not really get to find out until next year if Cooper is the real deal; however he sure appears to be.
Finally, how will all this come together this year? Will the Arizona Cardinals be contenders or pretenders? On paper, they appear to have a much improved roster than in recent memory. Yes I said it, in recent memory.
To me their roster appears to be improved from even their Super Bowl run a few years ago. However that doesn’t mean they will be contenders this years. There are so many things (unknowns) that will have to play out before we know they could be contenders.
For instance, how long will it take for them to gain chemistry or working as one as a whole on both sides of the ball? Will Carson Palmer be the answer at the helm? Will the offensive line be much improved? How will new defensive coordinator Todd Bowles and his scheme fit in with this year’s roster? Will the defense continue their success they have had for the last two years?
As you can see, there are so many questions and so many unknowns still to be answered. Yes it does appear they have the talent on their current roster to be a contender. However, realistically it will take time for all this new talent on the roster to gel, to gain chemistry.
Additionally, the Cardinals appear to be in the toughest division in the national football league (NFC West). With the likes of the San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks and even the St Louis Rams, this division appears to be brutal.
In my opinion, this year the Cardinals will more than likely be closer to pretenders than contenders. However, it does not mean (stated previously) they do not have the talent. It only means that there are too many unknowns this year to be answered. We just do not know how all this will play out.
However, stay tuned. In my opinion the Cardinals with all the new talent acquired this offseason will soon start coming on strong and become contenders. How long will all this take is anyone’s guess at this point?
In my opinion, the NFC West better not over look the Redbirds this year or they will be in trouble.