Wednesday, August 11, 2010
2010 Arizona Cardinals Preview
The Arizona Cardinals have had quite a busy off-season, to say the least. The original "good guy" of the NFL Kurt Warner (you aren’t the first, Tim Tebow) decided to call it quits after they got smacked in the playoffs by eventual SB Champions New Orleans, and disgruntled yet highly productive receiver Anquan Boldin was shipped off to The Ravens. For a team that was a play away from a Super Bowl victory just 2 seasons ago, the Cardinals are on the verge of a rebuilding period. Unless the young talent can produce right away.
With Warner retiring the offense is left in the hands of former Heisman Winner & 1st rounder Matt Leinart, who has a little experience as a starter earlier in his career. It's time to live up to that first round billing. Leinart's accuracy (or lack thereof) will make or break this once high powered passing attack. Expect a contrast to last season's 2nd most pass-heavy offense, a lot of running plays and a heavier load for young RBs Beanie Wells, and the scrappy Tim Hightower, . If Wells can stay healthy he should be a lock for 1,000 yards on the ground.
The WR core is still anchored by superstar Larry Fitzgerald. He'll be Leinart's favorite target in just about all situations. You can pencil him in for 100 catches, 1200 yeards and 10 TDs. Boldin's absence leaves the door open at #2 receiver for Steve Breaston and Early Doucet. Doucet plays similar to Boldin's style while Breaston is the faster receiver with more experience, and most likely giving him the edge in battle to start. TE's don't see much pass-catching action in the Cardinals offense, so there is no fantasy value here.
The Cardinals defense is not the strongest in the league, ranking 20th overall, but there are a few bright spots. Moving Darnell Dockett to DE opposite 3rd year sleeper Calais Campbell should put more pressure on opposing QB's. Arizona also added pass rusher extraordinaire LB Joey Porter, who despite his antics and loud mouth has all been productive. The secondary is decent with playmaker Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie patrolling one side of the field while the other side is a toss-up between a number of young DBs. SS Adrian Wilson is excellent in run support and ex-Jet Kerry Rhodes can cover a lot of ground over the top.
Despite the loss of Warner & Boldin, a soft schedule will keep the Arizona Cardinals in playoff contention. If Leinart can focus on football and complete 60% of his passes and keep defenses honest the Cardinals should be competitive again in 2010 before losing early in the playoffs, which could be counted as a success this season.