May 11, 2012; Tempe, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Michael Floyd during rookie mini camp at the Cardinals practice facility. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE

2012 NFL Preview: Arizona Cardinals

Our preview of the NFL has finally reached the NFC West, and I’ve decided to start with the Arizona Cardinals. Last season, the Cardinals looked like they might have a shot at one of the draft’s top QBs when they started 1-6, but then they hot really hot and finished the year at 8-8.

On a programming note, at the conclusion of the NFC West, we’re going to be done with our team by team previews “for the most part.” We will have completed just over two thirds of the NFL teams. The problem is that getting people who cover the remaining teams to assist me is becoming troublesome. Many are on vacation resting up before the season starts.

I could put these together myself, but my knowledge of team’s outside the division isn’t strong enough for me to do them justice. I’d prefer to skip them instead of generating sub-par previews for my loyal readers. I’ll keep trying, and I’ll post them if any come in, but I’m not expecting too many.

Helping me out this time around is  Scott Allen from Raising Zona.

Biggest Team Need Heading Into Offseason:  OL and WR help

Key Free Agents Retained:  LB Clark Haggans, DE Vonnie Holliday, WR Early Doucet, K Jay Feely, P Dave Zastudil, CB Greg Toler, RB LaRod Stephens-Howling

Key Player Additions: OL Adam Snyder, CB William Gay

Key Players Leaving: OL Deuce Lutui, CB Richard Marshall

Quick Thoughts on Draft:  Cardinals scored a home run with WR Michael Floyd.  All picks have a legitimate chance to make the team.  Floyd has great leaping ability and will be a great number two on other side of field from Larry Fitzgerald.  They also got a steal in the fourth round with OL Bobby Massie.

Quick Thoughts on 2012 schedule:  Much tougher than 2011.  They will not be able to start 1-6 and finish 8-8 like they did last season with the 2012 schedule.  Tough road games against New England, New York Jets, and Minnesota.  Not to mention divisional rivals San Francisco and Seattle.

Most Interesting Roster Battle:  QB.  Unsettled with Kevin Kolb and John Skelton.  Although coach Ken Whisenhunt has not named a starter and won’t do so until training camp, he has made it publicly known he would like Kolb to take the reins and get the starters role.  He has said though he will have no reservations starting Skelton if he ends up being the better QB.

Biggest Strength Heading Into 2012:  With the drafting of Floyd and re-signing of Doucet who will get yet one more chance to prove himself, WR is strong again.  On defense the LB core no doubt is the strongest, especially in the middle with Daryl Washington and Sam Acho.

Biggest Weakness Heading Into 2012:  OL – still unknown what the acquisition of Snyder will do for them in addition to the re-siging of Levi Brown, who I sill hold a big question mark over.  Massie could be great over time.

Biggest Question Still To Be Answered:  Who will win the quarterback position and can Kolb and/or Skelton throw them the ball accurately.  The other big question is will RB Ryan Williams make a full return from his preseason ACL injury last year, an injury that took him out before he even played his first ever regular season game.

2012 Prediction:  9-7, 2nd in NFC West, Wild-Card team

I have a tough time seeing the Cardinals as an improved team. Their offensive line and QB situations are dicey, and if without having 2 things set, the Cards just wont get as much as they should from their great receivers. Thats why the Michael Floyd was a head scratcher of a pick. He’s a great talent, but the Cards already had great receivers and they needed help in a lot of other areas.

The defense is similar. There’s talent there, especially at LB. But without the DL to go along with it, the LBs wont be as productive as the could be. Basically my problem is just roster construction philosophy. I believe you always start with the lines, and those are units that the Cardinal front office has neglected in favor for less essential areas.

I’m really not trying to be a Seahawk homer here, just give an honest assessment of their roster how I see it. I’m sure the Cardinal fans will roast me for this, and that’s ok. It what I expect from our rivals from Scottsdale.

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Tags: Arizona Cardinals Cardinals Kevin Kolb Michael Floyd

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  • Hawkman

    Good points on your assessment. I don’t think it was being a homer. You should read so-called Featured reporter Vince Frank on BR , now there is true blue Uninformed HOMER masquerading as a reporter!

  • marketyourcity

    WOW…how did you ever get to a key board….im wondering how old you are and how much football you really know….I will tell you based on this article you are recycling stuff you googled!…a real perspective gives note to the recent upgrade of the whole division,  AZ defense is NO JOKE!..the offense has more weapons than anyone else in the division….your post draft comments…HORRIBLE..Floyd is the great distraction away from Fitz, Heap and Williams/Wells…i do not want to continue to school you in fear of getting your parents taking away your internet rights or losing the little journalism flex you have…PEACE from a non homer

  • jreynolds32

    Thank you for the writeup but I think you underestimated the strength of the team. The Cardinals will be a top ten defense, along side the Seahawks. Calais Campbell, Dan Williams and Darnell Docket is as formidable starting 3-4 line as their is. I would say the weakness is the LB’s because Acho, and Schofield need to prove themselves for an entire season. Only Washington is a known commodity and may prove to be the second best LB in the division this season. The secondary is the defenses greatest strength with great depth, athleticism and youth. And while the age at safety is concerning, Adrian Wilson is still a top flight safety.The offense is loaded with weapons but does have a sub-par line and question marks at QB.
    I think both AZ and Seattle will have parallel seasons, great defenses sand spotty offensive play.
     

  • Keith_12thMR

     @jreynolds32 I didn’t catch every Arizona game last season (only watched 12 I think) but in the ones I watched it really seemed like Docket’s level of play had declined from past seasons.  Perhaps he rebounds this season, but my predictions above included a continued slide in his skills.
     
    As for Campbell, I think he’s a complete stud. I’d love to have him in Seattle, which should tell you how much I like him as a football player. My problem with him is that he seems mis-cast in his roll with the Cardinals. He just doesn’t fit the 5-tech DE position that he’s playing. I’ve always felt he was better suited for a 4-3 defense. 
     
    I also get what you’re saying about the LBs needing to prove it over a full season, but their talent and athleticism is unquestionable. probably the 2nd best collection of LBs in the division behind SF, with the ability to surpass that group as people develop. That’s why I listed them as the strength of the defense, because to me, it’s the best unit on the entire Cards team besides the receivers.

  • Keith_12thMR

    2 comments from AZ fans and neither commented on my obvious jab at them by saying the team was from Scottsdale. The Cardinals plan their games in Glendale, not Scottsdale. Scottsdale is on the other side of Phoenix, and is the more ritzy part of town. Its like someone saying the Seahawks were from Bellevue. 
     
    My career took my took to AZ for 5 years (been back in the NW for more than that now), and messing up the city that the AZ teams played in was always a fun way to annoy the locals. 

  • jreynolds32

    Darnell wasn’t flashy last year but he was still a factor and received a positive rating from PFF in both run defense and in pressure created. With the attention Calais is going to get and hopefully improved LB play Darnell should have another good season.
    Calais is a dominate player and would probably thrive in a 4-3, but since he has improved his rush defense skills he is only behind Justin Smith as the 2nd best 3-4 DE in the league. But yeah, he would be a complete monster in a 4-3. Mario Williams-esk IMO.
    I still think you are generous with our LBs. Paris Lenon isn’t exatly a spring chicken and Stewart Bradley is looking like a bad signing. (Moral of the story, avoid Philly players…).
    I think the NFC West will collectively have the best defense in the NFL. The Niners will continue to be good and the Seahawks and Cardinals look like they are both top 10 defensive teams. It’s sad that the only legit QB prospect plays for the Rams.
    I am also curious who will have the better pass defense between the Cardinals and the Seahawks. There is a ton of talent between these two teams in the secondary. I hope we collectively demolish the NFC North next year.
    
     

  • Keith_12thMR

     @jreynolds32 good points! love the discussion. The best division in the NFL in terms of defense would be the AFC North in my opinion, with the NFC West in 2nd. This is mostly because of the Rams, and because even Cleveland last season had a good defense even though the team was horrid as a whole. SF/Sea/AZ will line up pretty equally against Pit/Bal/Cin in terms of defensive talent this season.