Back in the preseason we all exclaimed it was nice to see that the Arizona Cardinals once again had a “real” NFL quarterback. In the end, I think the majority of people would still say that despite 22 interceptions from Carson Palmer in 2013. Palmer finished with 24 touchdown passes and threw for 4,274 yards, becoming the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for at least 4,000 yards for three different teams in one season.
Palmer’s quarterback rating finished at 83.9. He completed 63.3 percent of his passes. His longest pass was 91 yards and he was sacked 41 times. Cards quarterbacks were sacked 58 times in 2012 and only threw for 3,383 yards on 11 touchdowns and 21 interceptions. Kevin Kolb actually finished with a higher rating at 86.1 in his very short stint in 2012. Overall though for 2013, I think it is safe to say Palmer will be around for at least another year while the Cards search for a franchise quarterback, one that hopefully gets mentored by Palmer.
From a running game standpoint, 2013 also was a much better year than 2012. Rashard Mendenhall and Andre Ellington combined for 1,339 yards and 11 rushing touchdowns. Despite each working through some injuries, they combined to be better than the top five rushers for the Cards in 2012. Another safe bet Mendenhall will get another contract in the off-season as he was playing this season on a one-year deal. Mendenhall finished with 687 yards on 217 carries, a 3.2 yard average. Ellington finished with 657 yards on just 118 carries, a 5.5 yard average. Ellington also finished tied for fourth on the team in receptions with 39. His 39 receptions were good for 371 yards and a touchdown. He accounted for 1,028 yards of offense. That is very impressive for a sixth-round rookie. Clearly the steal of the 2013 draft class.
As for the wide receivers and tight ends, Larry Fitzgerald only had 82 receptions for 954 yards but he had 10 touchdowns, a six-touchdown improvement from his four in 2012. He had 13 more receptions for 156 more yards in 2013. Michael Floyd also greatly improved. He proved in 2013 he could catch pretty much anything. He had 45 receptions for 562 yards and two touchdowns in 2012. In 2013, he finished with 65 receptions for 1,041 yards and five touchdowns. Andre Roberts regressed from 64 receptions in 2012 to just 43 in 2013. He did have a huge touchdown catch in week 17 against the San Francisco 49ers. It was only his second touchdown of the season. Rob Housler certainly had his share of bad drops in 2013 but still finished with 39 receptions. However he had just one touchdown. Other tight ends fared a little better in the end zone. Jim Dray had two touchdowns and Jake Ballard had two. It will be interesting to see how they move forward with Housler.
Overall, the Cards had 329 first downs in 2013, up from 246 in 2012. So, the Cards moved they put some pieces in the offense the knew how to move the ball. The offensive line played much better despite a preseason injury to rookie guard Jonathan Cooper. They will get him back for the 2014 season. I would expect even more improvement from the Cards offensive line next season. The defense may have been the star of the Cards in 2013 but the offense definitely shined at times in 2013 giving us reason to believe more great things are to come in 2014.