YOOOAdrian’s 2010 NFL Preview- Arizona Cardinals
Kurt Warner is gone, and it’s Matt Leinart’s time. Maybe. Unless Leinart falters, head coach Ken Wisenhunt won’t be shy to throw Derek Anderson in at quarterback. While everyone in Arizona is worried about the quarterback position, no one is talking about one of the more underrated defenses in the NFL. If Arizona’s going to earn a 3rd consecutive NFC West Title, the defense will have to do the job.
Matt Leinart- 51/77 66.2% 435 yds 0 td 3 int 64.6 rat
It’s been a 5 year wait for Matt Leinart as he’s ridden the pine as Kurt Warner had a renaissance in Arizona leading the Cards to a Super Bowl appearance in 2008.
Leinart has a lot of critics, and deservedly so. He hasn’t shown much. He airmail balls because of bad footwork, floats passes instead of in a line and fumbles too much. To give Leinart some due, he looked pretty good in his only start last season against Tennessee. It was in mop-up duty that he’s not looked so great. Leinart is much more mobile than Warner, so there may be more bootlegs and movement of the pocket.
Others- Derek Anderson, John Skelton
Derek Anderson has starter experience. The former Pro-Bowler had his coming out party in 2007. Since then, it’s been a struggle. Anderson is humongous. At 6’6, Anderson is a big man with a strong arm. His accuracy needs to improve.
Skelton is a 5th round pick from Fordham.
Beanie Wells- 176 car 793 yds 4.5 avg 7 td 12 rec 143 yds
With Warner at the helm, Arizona wasn’t exactly adept at running the football. Last season, the team finished the league 28th in rushing. Now, with Warner gone, expect the Cardinals to run the ball more. For all of you fantasy football players out there, this means that Beanie is a huge sleeper heading into the season.
Wells is dynamic. He has 4.5 speed with the power to run people over. What may keep him off the field a bit is his pass protection and ball security.
Tim Hightower- 143 car 598 yds 4.2 avg 8 td 63 rec 428 yds
Hightower sees time on the field because of his pass blocking and pass catching ability. He ranked 2nd in the NFL in pass receptions as a running back.
Others- Jason Wright, LaRod Stephens-Howling, Nehemiah Broughton
Stephen-Howlings is a 5’7 waterbug who can scoot.
Wright is versatile.
Larry Fitzgerald- 97 rec 1,092 yds 11.3 avg 13 td
Fitzgerald became the 1st receiver in history to go for 1,000+ yards 3 consecutive years. Fitzgerald is big, strong and the best “go-get it” guy in football. His hands are exceptionally soft and strong.
In 2009, many teams used more 2-deep zones to keep Fitzgerald in check from going deep. This prompted Whisenhunt to use him more in motion and lining him up in different areas to cause mismatches.
Steven Breaston– 55 rec 712 yds 12.9 avg 3 td
Breaston will replace Anquan Boldin as the number 2 receiver. He’s a better deep threat than Boldin. He’s quicker, faster and better at adjusting his routes.
Early Doucet- 17 rec 214 yds 12.6 avg 1 td
Doucet plays like Boldin. He catches passes over the middle and possesses o.k. speed.
TE- Anthony Becht- 7 rec 61 yds 8.7 avg 1 td
Becht is a key to the team’s running game.
Others- Andre Roberts, Ben Patrick,
Roberts is a 3rd round pick from The Citadel.
Patrick is an all-around tight end and a good red-zone target.
LT- Levi Brown
Ken Whisenhunt is expecting Brown to become a star as he move from right tack to left tackle. He struggles against “up the field” rushers.
LG- Alan Faneca
Faneca reunites with Russ Grimm, his offensive line coach in Pittsburgh. He’ll help in the run game with his physicality.
C- Lyle Sendelein
Sendelein is an undrafted up-and-coming center. He’s limited athletically, but he doesn’t make many mistakes.
RG- Deuce Lutui
Lutui is a big boy coming off his best season. The team is a bit concerned with his weight gain.
RT- Jeremy Bridges
Bridges moves from left tackle to right tackle. He played well in place of Mike Gandy in a few contests.
LDE- Calais Campbell- 48 tck 7 sck 5 p def 1 ff
Campbell has rare size for a defensive lineman. At 6’8, Campbell is physically gifted with long arms. He maintains leverage very well.
NT- Dan Williams- ROOKIE
Williams fell to the 26th spot in the NFL Draft. I don’t think he’ll start at first, but he’ll get the majority of the snaps. As a player, Williams is wide bodied and capable of occupying two blockers.
RDE- Darnell Dockett- 51 tck 7 sck 1 int 2 p def
Dockett is one of the more underrated players in football. He simply causes havoc in the backfield. Dockett is an athletic freak. He’s strong enough to overwhelm offensive lineman with the bull rush, and quick enough to get past them with his 1st step.
Others- Gabe Watson, Bryan Robinson, Alan Branch
Watson is entering his 5th season and has yet to be a sevicable starter.
Branch moved from tackle to end.
LOLB- Clark Haggans- 74 tck 5 sck 1 p def 2 ff
Haggans is a veteran who was probably the most consistent linebacker for the Cardinals last season.
LILB- Gerald Hayes- 62 tck 1 ff
Hayes is a “blue collar” player. He’s a hard hitter and solid run stuffer.
RILB- Paris Lenon- 43 tck 1 p def
This spot is up for grabs with the departure of Karlos Dansby. Lenon has been an off and on starter throughout his career.
ROLB- Joey Porter- 41 tck 9 sck 1 p def 1 ff
Porter enters the season 2nd in active career sacks at 92. Jason Taylor is 1st. Porter doesn’t have the explosiveness he used to, but he can still win one on one matchups.
Others- Daryl Washington, Monty Beisel, Cody Brown
Washington is a 2nd round pick from TCU and looks to be the eventual replacement for Karlos Dansby. I expect him to start before season’s end.
Beisel is veteran who could be plugged in anywhere at the 4 linebacking spots.
Brown is an 09 2nd round pick who will eventually replace Haggans or Porter at an outside linebacking spot.
LCB- Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie- 50 tck 6 int 25 p def 3 ff
You want to look at an athlete, look no further than Rodgers-Cromartie. He has 4.3 speed and natural skills for an effective corner. He has long arms and can take out most receiver. There are downsides. He takes a bit too many risks, and he isn’t the best tackler.
RCB- Greg Toler- 11 tck 1 int 2 p def
Bryant McFadden came in and didn’t replace Rod Hood like the team hoped. Toler gets his opportunity. He’s a more physical corner.
CB- Michael Adams- 40 tck 1 int 4 p def
Adams is undersized, but feisty.
FS- Kerry Rhodes- 63 tck 2 int 13 p def
Rhodes comes over to Arizona to take over for Antrell Rolle after 5 solid seasons with the Jets. He’s back with secondary coach Donnie Henderson who was Rhodes Defensive Coordinator in New York.
SS- Adrian Wilson- 74 tck 5 int 13 p def 2 sck 1 ff
Wilson is one of 10 players in NFL history with 20 career sacks and interceptions. He is one of the best “in the box” safeties in the game. He is a sure tackler and a superb blitzer.
Others- Trumaine McBride, Jorrick Calvin, Rashad Johnson
McBride and rookie Calvin provide depth at corner.
Johnson had a disappointing rookie season at safety.
PK- Jay Feely- 30/36 55 lg
Feely replaces Rackers as the field goal kicker.
P- Ben Graham- 86 punts 47.0 avg 42 in 20 64 lg
Graham tied an NFL record with 42 punts inside the 20 yard line.
KR- Lerod Stephens-Howling- 52 ret 24.2 avg 1 td 99 lg
Stephens-Howling is small, quick and tough to find and tackle.
PR- Andre Roberts- ROOKIE
With Breaston now a starter, it looks like Roberts will be returning punts.
2010 PREDICTION- 9-7
San Francisco is the trendy pick of the offseason to win the division, but do not discount the Cardinals. There may be no Kurt Warner, but this defense is extremely underrated and overlooked. I believe Beanie Wells takes big strides as Arizona will focus more on running the football. Even with Matt Leinart at quarterback, there is too much talent on this team to overlook them.
Offensive MVP- Larry Fitzgerald
Defensive MVP- Adrian Wilson
Breakthrough- Steve Breaston
Overrated- Joey Porter
Underrated- Darnell Dockett