The Arizona Cardinals had a terrible 2012 season, finishing up the year with a 5-11 record.
Arizona’s offense was one of the worst in the league, finishing 28th in passing yards per game and 32nd in rushing yards per game. Kevin Kolb, John Skelton, and Ryan Lindley all had chances to prove themselves as quality starting NFL quarterbacks, and all three failed miserably.
This offseason, the Cardinals brought in Carson Palmer from the Oakland Raiders to be their starting QB and run new head coach Bruce Arians’ offense. The team also signed defensive end John Abraham, running back Rashard Mendenhall and offensive tackle Eric Winston.
Arizona let running back Beanie Wells and safety Adrian Wilson walk away in free agency.
With a new head coach and starting quarterback, expectations are high for the Cardinals heading into the 2013 season. Here is their 2013 season preview.
Carson Palmer is an immediate upgrade over any quarterback the Cardinals threw out there last season. In Oakland last year, Palmer threw for more than 4,000 yards and 22 touchdowns. Kolb Skelton, and Lindley combined to throw for 3,400 yards and 11 touchdowns last year.
No one is happier than Larry Fitzgerald to have Carson Palmer on the team. Fitzgerald is arguably the best receiver in the league, yet had an awful season for his standards last year because his quarterbacks couldn’t get him the ball. Fitzgerald caught 71 passes for 798 yards last season, but look for those numbers to sky-rocket with Palmer at the helm.
Rumors have surfaced that the Cardinals may try to use cornerback Patrick Peterson on offense this season. Peterson is an elite athlete, and if he can catch the ball, could be a deadly weapon.
Arizona finished dead last in the league in rushing yards last year. They didn’t have a single back that rushed for more than 370 yards. When healthy, Rashard Mendenhall has been a productive NFL running back. Mendenhall has rushed for at least 925 yards in his last three injury free seasons.
The Cardinals offensive line was horrific last year, and the team spent their first round pick this year on offensive guard Jonathan Cooper. Cooper should step in and contribute immediately, and help solidify Arizona’s line. Put it this way – the Cardinals offensive line can’t play much worse in 2013 than it did in 2012.
The Cardinals quietly had one of the NFL’s best defenses last season.
The only player from last year’s defense that won’t be with the team in 2013 is safety
Darryl Washington has developed into one of the best inside linebackers in the league. Calais Campbell and Darnell Dockett form one of the best defensive end combos in the NFL, and nose tackle Dan Williams has looked impressive thus far in training camp.
Patrick Peterson, Antoine Cason, Rashad Johnson, and Yeremiah Bell make up the secondary, and played extremely well last season. The Cardinals defense ranked 5th in the league is pass yards against last year, and their secondary is deeper now than it was in 2012. The additions of Javier Arenas, Jerraud Powers, and Tyrann Mathieu give the Cardinals one of the deepest secondaries in the NFL.
This young Cardinals defense was very good last year, and they have the chance to be even better this year.
2013 Prediction: 8-8
The addition of Carson Palmer helps this team out immensely, and Arizona’s offense goes from being one of the worst in the league to one of the league’s best. Add that potent offense to a solid Cardinals’ defense and you are looking at a very underrated team. If it wasn’t for such a difficult schedule, the Cardinals could be a 10-win team.
Wins: @St. Louis, Detroit, @Tampa Bay, Carolina, Seattle, @Jacksonville, @Philadelphia, @Tennessee
Loses: @New Orleans, @San Francisco, Atlanta, Houston, Indianapolis, St. Louis, @Seattle, San Francisco