It was the best of seasons for the Arizona Cardinals, it was the worst of seasons for the Arizona Cardinals.
In that order, too.
After starting the year 4-0 and upsetting powerhouse teams like the Patriots and Seahawks many analysts had them pegged to win the division. Then Kolb got hurt, and things fell apart. They may not have been lighting things up on offense before Kolb’s injury, but you really started to appreciated the embattled quarterback when you saw what his replacements were able to do. Now to decode what went wrong, and how the Cardinals can fix this disastrous offense.
I’ve been told for years now that quarterback is the most important position in sports, even ahead of goalie and pitcher, and watching this Cardinals squad was enough to validate that statement. And then some. In his short run as the starting quarterback, before injury derailed his season, Kevin Kolb was efficient at best. He was taking a beating in the pocket, all the while doing just enough to win football games on the backs of his defense.
Following his injury, John Skelton took over and the little room left for regression at quarterback was found immediately. He wouldn’t win a single start, and eventually lost his job to Ryan Lindley. Lindley would fare no better, and after a roster spot was cleared by Kolbs going on IR they brought in Brian Hoyer. Who once again, fared no better. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if not a single one of these quarterbacks came back for next year. Ditching just about anyone who’s name isn’t Levi Brown from the starting offensive line wouldn’t be all that bad of an idea either. It literally, can’t get any worse next year so why not get experimental?
A result of the poor quarterbacking, anybody other than Andre Roberts saw a steep decline in production. Even Larry Fitzgerald, who has always found a way to stay productive despite awful quarterback play, saw his numbers dip to their lowest since his rookie season. It’s hard to evaluate any of these receivers, or at the very least speak negatively about their play or production with the quarterback carousel that occurred this season in the desert. Have to wonder though what the ceiling is for Andre Roberts if he could put up the numbers he did in only his third season with this rabble of quarterbacks. He set career highs with 759 yards and 5 TD’s, and was the one bright spot of the Cardinals offense all season.
The injury decimated, and seriously talent depraved running game of the Cardinals was exposed this season as the league’s worst. As such don’t expect Beanie Wells, or LaRod Stephens-Howling to be back next year. Beanie Wells never lived up to his draft day hype, and is almost always hurt. He kind of showed himself the door as well with his comments on “auditioning for 31 other teams”. Stephens-Howling, who was probably the Cards best back all season (not saying much really), apparently hasn’t heard from the Cardinals who are expected to let him hit free agency. The undersized back has value as a catching back, or change of pace runner but has serious limitations based on his size.
Both Whisenhunt, and GM Graves are gone. This offense is seriously lacking in every position other than receiver, and I expect the new regime to make sweeping changes across the board. They won’t be able to fix it in one offseason, but with a good draft, and a few savvy moves in free agency they could start moving in the right direction.