Arizona Cardinals 2013 Offseason Preview
2012 Season Recap
The Cardinals' season certainly started off with a bang, didn't it? There was the late red-zone stand that preserved a four-point win in the opener against Seattle. The following week against New England, the Arizona D stiffened again and escaped Foxboro with a two-point win. Two weeks later against Miami, the offense rallied the Cards to victory in overtime.
A month into the season, the Cardinals stood at an improbable 4-0, prompting more than a few to ask why they had harshly, but fairly, prejudged a team that has averaged six wins since Kurt Warner hung up his cleats. But once September turned into October, the Cardinals became -- to borrow a line from a man who once ran them -- who we thought they were: a team without an answer at quarterback.
That's not to say that they've been ignoring the question. It's just that answers continue to elude them. Last spring, Arizona was one of a few teams to host Peyton Manning for an official visit during his historic free agency tour; they were legitimately in the sweepstakes. The year before that, the Cardinals traded for Eagles backup Kevin Kolb. His battle to stay healthy waged on in '12; his training-table fate was sealed when tackle Levi Brown went down with a year-ending triceps tear in the preseason.
Once Kolb followed suit -- a rib injury against Buffalo pretty much ended his season in Week 6 -- there was no sparing the Cardinals from a nine-game losing streak, their longest since 1944. A 58-0 drubbing by a vengeful Seahawks team on Dec. 9 would go down as the worst of these defeats. Come New Years, Rod Graves was fired along with coach Ken Whisenhunt and most of his offensive staff. So the Cardinals ended with a bang, too.
Stat To Feel Good About
If It Ain't Broke ...
Keep throwing to Larry Fitzgerald. Sure, his 45.5 reception percentage last year ranks just seventh among receivers with at least 80 targets, but the six guys ahead of him caught balls from pretty much the same passer all season. (The Bears' Brandon Marshall, No. 3 on that list, only owes nine of his 118 catches to bird-dogging backup Jason Campbell.) Meanwhile, Fitzgerald went through four --
Must Fix It
It's puzzling that an organization recognized for
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What We'll Be Saying In July
By the summer, the Cardinals should look something like the Seahawks did last summer: a team with a strong defense and plenty of promising intrigue around a quarterback competition. Heck, we could be in for another offseason dominated by talk of a later-round draft choice overtaking a high-upside backup acquired in an expensive trade, with either NC State's Mike Glennon or Arkansas' Tyler Wilson playing the role of Russell Wilson to Kolb's Matt Flynn. We'll probably feel better about the Cardinals offensive line talent and move on to worrying about whether they'll mesh well together. We'll carp about the Cardinals' decision to stick with Beanie Wells, perhaps at the expense of drafting a more talented replacement later on in the draft. We'll engross ourselves in the saga of which of the Cardinals' young tight ends will fulfill the promise that Todd Heap never did. And, because we love picking nits, we'll fret over the lack of depth on the edge of the Cardinals' defensive line.
But most of all, we'll wonder whether Arians can work his magic for the second year in a row. Chuckstrong was the 2012 season's ultimate rally cry. It's hard to envision "Do More with Less" really holding a candle to that.