NFL

Arizona Cardinals

Division: NFC WestGM: Steve KeimHead Coach: Bruce Arians
2012: 5-11 (4th in West)vs. division 1-5
Points15.6 (31st)
Yards263.1 (32nd)
Pass Yards187.8 (28th)
Rush Yards75.2 (32nd)

Cardinals turn to Arians, Palmer to help revive offence

Key Additions

HC B.Arians, QB C.Palmer,
DE J.Abraham, OT E.Winston,
CB A.Cason, S Y.Bell, LB K.Dansby
RB R.Mendenhall, LB J.Brinkley

Key Subtractions

FB S A.Wilson, QB K.Kolb,
RB B.Wells, S K.Rhodes,
RB L.Stephens-Howling

Four games into the 2012 season, football fans could not believe what they were seeing from the Arizona Cardinals. They were undefeated, including a 20-18 upset victory over the New England Patriots in Week 2.

Following the hot start, that had the Cardinals as surprise NFC West leaders, the wheels completely fell off as they slumped to a 5-11 finish, including nine losses in a row after their Week 4 overtime victory over the Miami Dolphins.

Head coach Ken Whisenhunt, who led the team to the 2008 NFC Championship, and general manager Rod Graves were both fired.

The new man in charge of the Cardinals is 2012 NFL coach of the year Bruce Arians, who earned a full-time gig in the league after spending last season as the interim head coach of the Indianapolis Colts and behind rookie quarterback Andrew Luck, leading them to an 11-5 record and a playoff berth.

Colts offensive co-ordinator Tom Moore also made the jump to the Cardinals with Arians, so there will be continuity in the coaching staff he used to effect instant change with his former team.

After 14 years in the Cardinals front office, Steve Keim has moved into the general manager position and has been charged with the task of tearing down and rebuilding the roster.

Looking for the stability and production at an important position that they didn’t get last season, the Cardinals traded for Oakland Raiders starting quarterback Carson Palmer, signing him to a new two year deal worth $16 million.

Last season with the Raiders, Palmer put up strong numbers but they didn’t translate into success for his team. In 15 games he threw for 4,018 yards as well as 22 touchdowns with 14 interceptions.

The Raiders however posted a 4-12 record, which is actually a game worse than the Cardinals were last season.

Arians has already worked with some of the league’s best pivots including the aforementioned Luck as well as Peyton Manning and Ben Roethlisberger from his time with the Pittsburgh Steelers, the hope is that he can find the same success with Palmer that was found with the other elite quarterbacks.

Over worked and overrun, it’s hard to know exactly how good the 2012 Cardinals defence was because with the inept offence they always had their backs against the wall and generally were always on the field.

The Cardinals will hope that new defensive co-ordinator Todd Bowles can spark a return to form of defensive end Darnell Dockett who struggled to 34 tackles and 1.5 sacks his lowest totals since his second year in the league.

Last seasons’ move to a 3-4 scheme hurt Dockett the most and the Cardinals will hope that getting out of that base defence will help him reverse the trend that has seen his sack numbers drop off since he picked up seven in 2009. (-TSN.ca)

Analysis: The Cardinals desperately needed to address their offensive line, which led them to take a guard with the seventh overall pick. While it may seem high for an interior lineman, Cooper is an elite prospect and will start immediately in Arizona... Minter is a hard-hitting linebacker that could see the field right away while Daryl Washington serves his four-game suspension... Mathieu was a first round talent, who fell due to his off-field issues. If he is focused, Mathieu could be an excellent value as a third round pick and might be the Cardinals' nickel corner this season. (-TSN.ca)

Round 1 7th overall Jonathan Cooper OG North Carolina
Round 2 45th overall Kevin Minter LB LSU
Round 3 69th overall Tyrann Mathieu CB LSU
Round 4 103rd overall Alex Okafor DE Texas
Round 4 116th overall Earl Watford G James Madison
Round 5 140th overall Stepfan Taylor RB Stanford
Round 6 174th overall Ryan Swope WR Texas A&M
Round 6 187th overall Andre Ellington RB Clemson
Round 7 219th overall D. C. Jefferson TE Rutgers

Will Fitzgerald return to his previously elite form?

There is no one in the Cardinals front office or in uniform that is more invested in the play of Carson Palmer than WR Fitzgerald.

His career numbers are a study in how important the quarterback that throws the pass is to the success of a player at the receiver position.

NFC WEST PROJECTIONS

49ers (13-3)

Division Winner, 1st round bye


Seahawks (11-5)

5th in NFC, wildcard berth


Cardinals (7-9)

Improved, but tough division


Rams (6-10)

Done in by difficult schedule

When Kurt Warner was throwing passes for the Cardinals, specifically the three full seasons he spent under centre in Arizona 2007-2009, Fitzgerald posted his three highest touchdown totals and two of his three highest yard totals.

Sixth in active receiving yards and 33rd on the all-time list, the 29-year-old looked as though he was on his way to a sure fire hall of fame career, but has posted a couple lackluster seasons and could use a big 2013 to get his stats and legacy back on track.

At his best, Palmer is a pocket passer with a rocket arm and if he can get the ball downfield to the veteran wideout they are going to be a very dangerous combination.

This season, expect to see Fitzgerald on the outside as well as in the slot and in motion in certain sets as Arians will throw as many looks as possible at opposing defences to give his pass and catch combination as many advantages as possible.

The rest of the Cardinals receiving core, Andre Roberts, Michael Floyd and Rob Housler will also play a huge part, if they are ineffective in the offence teams will key on Fitzgerald and he will find himself saddled with another down season. (-TSN.ca)

OFFENCE

DEFENCE

LT

L. Brown
N. Potter
J. Johnson-Webb

LG

J. Cooper
C. Rachal
S. Wedige

C

L. Sendlein
M. Gibson
A. Bice

RG

D. Colledge
S. Kelemete
E. Watford

RT

E. Winston
B. Massie
J. Caprioglio

WR1

L. Fitzgerald
K. Taylor
J. Dillard
J. Brown

TE

R. Housler
J. King
K. Sperry
A. Gottlieb

WR2

M. Floyd
A. Roberts
R. Gill
L. Byrd

QB

C. Palmer
D. Stanton
R. Lindley
C. TerBush

FB

J. Dray

RB

R. Mendenhall
R. Williams
S. Taylor
A. Ellington


Special Teams: K J. Feely, P D. Zastudil, KR J. Arenas, PR P. Peterson

Fantasy - By The Numbers

For all of QB Carson Palmer's flaws, his presence does give WR Larry Fitzgerald renewed fantasy hope. Stuck with subpar quarterbacks, Fitzgerald had 798 yards and a career-low four touchdowns last season

Get ready for the fantasy season with the latest from TSN.ca.
Rankings: QB | RB | WR | TE | DEF
Fantasy Schedules: AFC | NFC
2013 Auction Values: Cheat Sheet
Fantasy Depth Charts: AFC | NFC

Palmer has been averaging nearly 262 yards per game over the last three seasons (on pace for 4191 yards per 16 games), so if Palmer is going to maintain a similar level of production, Fitzgerald stands to benefit the most and return to his status as a top-tier receiver.

The running backs, Rashard Mendenhall and Ryan Williams, are both coming off injuries, so the edge goes to Mendenhall, who had run for more than 3,300 yards and 29 touchdowns in the three years prior to his injury-marred 2012 season.

Value could come from second-year WR Michael Floyd, a first-round pick who had 166 receiving yards in the regular season finale against San Francisco and is ready for a bigger role in his second season.

On defence, DE Calais Campbell and LB Daryl Washington are top performers and CB Patrick Peterson is a wildcard because of his contributions on special teams; he scored four touchdowns as a rookie in 2011 before teams learned to avoid him. (-Scott Cullen)


WK AGAINST DATE WK AGAINST DATE
1 @ Sun, Sep 8, 4:25pm et/1:25pm pt 10 vs Sun, Nov 10, 4:25pm et/1:25pm pt
2 vs Sun, Sep. 15, 4:05pm et/1:05pm pt 11 @ Sun, Nov 17, 1:00pm et/10:00am pt
3 @ Sun, Sep. 22, 1:00pm et/10:00am pt 12 vs Sun, Nov 24, 4:05pm et/1:05pm pt
4 @ Sun, Sep. 29, 1:00pm et/10:00am pt 13 @ Sun, Dec 1, 1:00pm et/10:00am pt
5 vs Sun, Oct. 6, 4:05pm et/1:05pm pt 14 vs Sun, Dec 8, 4:25pm et/1:25pm pt
6 @ Sun, Oct. 13, 4:25pm et/1:25pm pt 15 @ Sun, Dec 15, 1:00pm et/10:00am pt
7 vs Thu, Oct. 17, 8:25pm et/5:25pm pt 16 @ Sun, Dec 22, 4:05pm et/1:05pm pt
8 vs Sun, Oct. 27, 4:25pm et/1:25pm pt 17 vs Sun, Dec 29, 4:25pm et/1:25pm pt
9   BYE WEEK      



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