2014 NFL Season Preview- Arizona Cardinals
The Arizona Cardinals were able to double their win total from 2012 to go 10-6 in 2013 but failed to make the playoffs. The team had the league's best record for a team that missed the playoffs.
Defensively, the were phenomenal. The defensive line was the main reason they ranked as the top run defense in the league. Middle linebackers Daryl Washington and Karlos Dansby were considered the leagues best 3-4 middle linebacker tandem. Outside linebacker John Abraham proved he had more in the tank at age 35 and recorded 11.5 sacks on the year. Cornerback Patrick Peterson showed that he is more than a great punt returned. He proved to be one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL and was also used in different situations on offense as well.
The offensive line was the main issue on the team. Quarterback Carson Palmer struggled the first half of the year but rebounded in the second half to even his touchdown interception ratio. Rookie running back Andre Ellington proved to be the feature back of the offense while Stepfan Taylor showed to be a smart compliment to Ellington. The main concern lies with the offensive line. Rookie guard Jonathan Cooper played great in preseason until he broke his leg, tackle Eric Winston played average at best, and tackle Bradley Sowell proved to be a fighter at left tackle but might not be athletic enough to remain at the position.
The team has to establish a line that can compete with the powerhouse teams of the NFC West.
Cardinals 2013 Rankings
Opponent Passing yds
Opponent Rushing yds
NFL Rank- 13th
NFL Rank- 23rd
NFL Rank- 14th
NFL Rank- 1st
NFL Rank- 12th
NFL Rank- 6th
Head coach Bruce Arians went from being the first interim head coach to win coach of the year, to making the Arizona Cardinals relevant once again. With the right personnel changes, the team look to challenge the 49ers, Rams, and Seahawks.
The most notable from the offseason was the of linebacker Daryl Washington. Washington will be suspended for the entire 2014 season for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. Washington was suspended for the first four games of last season for violating the same policy.
Notable additions- WR/KR Ted Ginn Jr., LB Larry Foote, LB Ernie Sims
Notable departures- WR Andre Roberts, LB Karlos Dansby, SS Yeremiah Bell
Cardinals 2013 Highlights
2014 NFL Draft
The Cardinals held the 20th pick the draft and had many whole that needed filled. Most notably at left tackle, outside linebacker, and quarterback.
Bradley Sowell has proven to himself to the team but his skill set is better suited for the right tackle position. John Abraham will be 36 this season and he doesn't have any youth behind him or on the opposite linebacker spot that can apply the same force he can. Carson Palmer is 34 and in the last year of his contract and backups Drew Stanton and Ryan Lindley have yet to prove themselves.
After trading back with New Orleans, the team selected Washington State safety Deone Bucannon with the 27th pick. Bucannon was praised for his big hits as well as a great senior bowl performance. He was mainly criticized for his poor technique when dropping back into coverage.
The team also drafted Notre Dame tight end Troy Niklas in the second round and Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas in the fourth round. Niklas was considered the best blocking tight end coming out of college and hope to continue the tradition of great Notre Dame tight ends in the NFL. The big issue with him was he wasn't a great route runner and needs to improve on exploding out of breaks. Thomas was considered to be a great athlete and even was recruited as a tight end coming out of high school. He was considered a late round prospect primarily due to his inconsistency in college as well as the number of quarterbacks ranked ahead of him. Which makes it a surprise he was selected before guys like A.J. McCarran and Aaron Murray.
Deone Bucannon Highlights
What to Expect
The defense will be as dominant as the where last season. The main concern will be whether or not linebacker Kevin Mister can step and take the place of Daryl Washington in the defense. Deone Bohannon will team up with fellow safety Tyrann Mathieu to complete the already strong secondary. The defensive line will continue their dominance and Calais Campbell and Darnell Dockett should be considered as All-Pros
The addition of Troy Niklas to the offense give Carson Palmer an over the middle target to count on and open space for wide receivers Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd. Andre Ellington will be a force in the offense and Stepfan Taylor can be a good third down back.
With the weapons the offense now has, the Cardinals now can match their defense and make an impact in the NFC West. Although San Francisco and Seattle will likely still be the top dogs, Arizona definitely has the ability to grab the sixth wild card spot in the playoffs.
Best record they can hope for- 10-6