The Cards ranked 32nd in the NFL in total offense a season ago, and there has been a big shake up in the coaching and personnel departments this offseason. Will this have any impact in the Cards’ NFL odds this season? While I doubt a playoff run is in order, I do think the Cards could be a dark-horse NFL pick this season in the right games.
It was a sad year offensively for the Cards. They got no help at the QB position from either Kevin Kolb or John Skelton, which led them to be ranked 28th in the NFL in passing yards, at only 187 per game. The biggest reason for them ranking last in total offense a season ago was the running game. It also ranked dead last in the NFL at only 75 yards per game. No running back was healthy or consistent for the Cardinals a season ago. They also gave up a ton of sacks and tackle for losses, which I will get into in a minute.
Obviously their defense shined at times last season, but they have done a lot of overhauling on offense this summer, and I really like the direction they are heading on that side of the football, even though they probably aren’t ready to compete in the division.
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The Cards brought in Bruce Arians as the head coach this offseason, and I really like the hire. This team was in need to a coach like Arians, and I also like the parts he has brought along with him. Carson Palmer is likely a temporary solution, but a pretty good temporary one at QB. If he can keep from turning the ball over and manage the game correctly, that is already a huge step in the right direction.
Along with the incumbent, Ryan Williams (as long as he stays healthy) the Cards brought in Rashard Mendenhall to help with the running back duties. Mendenhall was hurt last season along with Williams, but in three straight seasons before that, Mendenhall missed just one game. As long as both of those guys are available, I like the direction once again.
That leaves probably the biggest issue, which hurt both the running and passing game last season, and that’s their offensive line. Arizona gave up a combined 58 sacks last season. They drafted two guards in the 1st and 4th rounds, but if the line is not REALLY improved from a season ago, the same issues might haunt Palmer and the other skill players on this offense.
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I love a good effort in football, especially during the summer, and there is no doubt that the Cards are aggressively trying to not relive their 5-11 SU season from 2012. Offensively they have done almost everything anyone could have asked of them to improve that side of the ball. There are still plenty of questions pertaining to Palmer and the offensive line, but this team has an infinite amount of upside on offense compared to last season. I see much room for improvement and growth, but a good grade is definitely warranted here.
My grade: B-
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