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.

Quarterbacks

 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. 

(Matt Leinart)

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.

 GRADE- 7

Running Backs

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.

Beanie Wells Beanie Wells #26 of the Arizona Cardinals runs against Hunter Hillenmeyer #92 of the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on November 8, 2009 in Chicago, Illinois. The Cardinals defeated the Bears 41-21.

(Beanie Wells)

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.

GRADE- 7.25

 Receivers

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.

(Larry Fitzgerald)

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.

GRADE- 8.75

Offensive Line

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.

(Lyle Sendelein)

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.

GRADE- 7.75

 Defensive Line

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.

(Darnell Dockett)

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.

GRADE- 8

Linebackers

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.

(Gerald Hayes)

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.

GRADE- 7

Secondary

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.

(Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie)

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.

GRADE- 9

Special Teams

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.

GRADE- 7.25

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

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