Last season the Arizona Cardinals attempted to build a house from the top down. They went out and spent big money to buy a nice, new roof but held it up with planks. Arizona didn’t get the foundation around Kevin Kolb that he needed. I’m one of the few that haven’t left Kolb for dead in the Arizona desert. While he will never be a top tier quarterback in the NFL, I know he’s far better than what he displayed in 2011.
The Cardinals offensive line was horrific, they lost rookie Ryan Williams early on, Beanie Wells is always nicked up, Kolb suffered through a hazy, concussion filled first season, and Larry Fitzgerald didn’t have the luxury of having a Robin to his Batman. The offense looks to fix those issues this season.
If Ryan Williams and Beanie Wells can remain healthy, they’ll be a hell of a 1-2 punch. Wells was averaging 5.4 yards a carry through the first three games of the 2011 season. It wasn’t until after he started having knee issues that there was a serious decline in his yards per carry. With Williams presumably back in the fold, these two players could spell each other and hopefully remain fresh. If the running game can keep the defense’s focus, then it’ll allow Kevin Kolb a larger margin for error and growth.
The Cardinals did address the offensive line which was the 5 million pound elephant in the offensive meeting room last year. Arizona’s offense is a domino away from being a pretty decent unit. The one domino that has to fall in order for the rest of the pieces to flow along with it, is the offensive line. I fully expected to see several players added to this line via free agency. Instead of going out and buying the foundation that the team was lacking last year, they decided to take their chances with a cheaper product. They acquired several interesting prospects through the draft. Honestly, I love the picks, especially at where they got them in the draft. Nate Potter and Bobby Massie should develop into starters in this league. Blake DeChristopher and Senio Kelemete are also two interesting guard prospects that will provide depth immediately. Arizona definitely added some talented players to their line but none of them give me the comfort of a proven veteran. If they don’t elevate their game to the NFL level rapidly, then they’ll provide no value over the weaknesses of 2011.
That brings us to reason of why they didn’t use a first round pick on an offensive lineman. Michael Floyd was too good to pass up. The Cardinals have one of the game’s best wide receivers in Larry Fitzgerald, yet they haven’t been able to utilize him since he became a household name during the Super Bowl run. I don’t care if Kevin Kolb or John Skelton is the quarterback, having two 6’3 wide receivers with exceptional hands and sharp routes will automatically improve the quarterback play. It’s exciting to think about the “what ifs” of this Arizona team. What if Williams & Wells can prove to stay healthy, what if they’re running behind a much improved offensive line due to the surprise play of a few of their draft picks, what if 6’5, Todd Heap has a little bit left in the tank and second year, 6’5, tight end Rob Housler was able to develop his raw talent through his first full NFL offseason. Can you imagine a clear minded Kolb behind an offensive line that gives him protection, with Ryan & Beanie behind him and four targets between the heights of 6’3 & 6’5. Sprinkle in a little Andre Roberts and Early Doucet and….
Okay, that’s a lot of “what ifs”. I have my concerns about the improved O-line play and the health of the running backs through 16 games. But, when it comes to the improved passing game, I think most of America will be surprised. The addition of Michael Floyd has multiple value. Not only did the team add a play maker that can win one on ones but he also brings more value to Larry Fitzgerald as a player. Teams won’t be able to shift the whole defensive focus to one side of the field. If a team decides to neglect Floyd, he will make them pay. That’s what Arizona has been missing. Floyd obviously makes Kolb a better quarterback. I compare Kolb’s situation in 2012 to Philip Rivers. Rivers is a talented quarterback that was made better buy playing with bigger targets for most of his career. Philip could throw it up to 6’5 guys like Antonio Gates, Vincent Jackson, Malcolm Floyd, etc. It may sound crazy but if Kolb could get improved line play, the addition of Floyd could see him displaying Rivers’ type numbers. Floyd also allows Andre Roberts and Early Doucet to slide back into a more natural role as the team’s third or fourth options. They’ll become better players because of it, much like Bryant Johnson and Steve Breaston when they played with Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin.
It’s not just Michael Floyd coming to town and handing out gifts. He will benefit as well. He’s just a rookie and still has aspects of his game that need to be polished up. For a guy of his size, he should do a lot more after the catch. Don’t get me wrong, if there’s a seam or an angle, he’ll attempt to get it and can accumulate yards after the catch this way but he’s not as physical as he should be. Floyd should be using his 6’3 220+ pound frame and punishing the 5’10 defensive backs. In college he didn’t excel in that phase. That’s alright though, because now he’ll be around one of the best player / coaches in the game today. Every year Fitzgerald is so giving of his time. He works with a ton of young receivers that are willing to work and to learn. Now, he’s got a guy in his own backyard that he will directly benefit from playing with. How hard do you think he’s going to work Floyd when he understands his personal potential and the potential of the team through his development? Numerous NFL wide receivers have raved about how much they’ve taken away from their limited time working with Larry. Michael Floyd has a valuable resource that he can go to each day. They have similar builds, both 6’3 and between 220-225 pounds. Similar styles, while nowhere close to Fitz, Floyd runs good routes and has solid hands.
The receiver position is one of the hardest positions to make an impact at immediately. Floyd has a lot of uncontrollable variables surrounding his success in 2012, like who will be his starting quarterback, if the running game will add value to the passing game, and if the offensive line can protect or open holes for either aspect. What he can control is his studying and working on his craft. He fell into a great situation when Arizona drafted him and despite the negatives of the offense, I feel he will be highly successful early.
Dr. Roto’s Fantasy Football Spin
All you Golden Domers out there, relax! Michael Floyd is going to be a very good NFL player. Unfortunately, that won’t be until 2014.
There are some monumental issues holding Floyd back from greatness. The first barrier in his way to success is the lack of a decent QB in Arizona. Here’s what we know about Kevin Kolb: makeup–good, knowledge of game–good, arm strength–lousy. If you can’t throw the ball deep in the NFL, you are not going to make it as a starting QB. Next, did I mention that the best WR in the NFL plays on the other side of the field? That’s right, Larry Fitzgerald is there and he is good. There is no way that Fitzgerald is going to be a decoy or not see close to 15 targets a game. Moreover, Coach Ken Wisenhunt cannot afford to have Fitzgerald sulking on the sidelines if he does not get the ball. Finally, the Cardinals do not want to be know as a passing first offense. The Cardinals want Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams to be central figures in their ball control offense. Williams, in particular, could be a terrific player if he is able to come back from injury.
So what does this all mean for Michael Floyd? It means that in a perfect world he will have a season much like Malcolm Floyd with the Chargers: a decent WR2 who catches about 800-900 yards and maybe 5-6 TD. On draft day, someone is going to think back to Floyd’s great days on TV when the Fighting Irish demolished Air Force. However, all you Fantasy owners will know better and realize that he is nothing more than a work in progress and a WR4 at best.
Jayson Braddock is an NFL Scout / NFL Writer & On-Air Personality. Jayson is also a football insider for the Dylan Gwinn show on 790 AM in Houston, TX - Listeners NOT in the Houston metropolitan area can hear Jayson on iheart radio or sports790.com. You can also catch Jayson on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio with Scott Engel and the morning crew every Thursday at 10:30am ET. You may email Jayson directly @ email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @JaysonBraddock