As my mind often wanders in the lull of the NFL offseason, it took a stroll around the NFC West to see what else is going on. The St. Louis Rams - by all accounts - look to be much improved heading into the 2013 regular season, but it’s not as if the competition isn’t making strides. The Rams will play six of their 16 games against their NFC West foes, so it’s important to stay abreast of what’s going on with each of their divisional neighbors.
Up until about a month prior to the draft, many draft experts had the Cardinals looking at QB prospects like Geno Smith or Matt Barkley. Instead they opted for 11 year veteran Carson Palmer. Were you encouraged by this move, and did you still expect the Cardinals to address QB in the draft?
I did not expect the Cards to draft a QB. Bruce Arians made it clear that no one wowed him. General manager Steve Keim is of the belief that you should draft a QB every year, but having traded for Palmer and signing Drew Stanton, the need just wasn't there. I am fired up about Palmer. There are questions, but for the first time he will be on a team where the only headache is football.
Well, the 4-0 start was a combination of great defense and special teams play, plus getting just enough out of the quarterback (Kevin Kolb) and then timely, clutch plays. When Kolb went down, they no longer got enough from the position. From then on, the offense was just unwatchable. As for the offseason moves, it looks like the offense could be solid, but the defense could take a step back with Ray Horton leaving.
Yes, he will be a steal. He will be playing safety this year, but he will be used most likely as a nickel back. The team hopes that he can be the same type of playmaker he was in 2011.
Since their top pick was a guard, which doesn't have much in the way of stats, If I had to pick the flashy impact player, I would pick Mathieu. He will be in a position to make gamechanging plays.
Arians has fans drinking the Kool-Aid. They aren't saying win the division, but people are beginning to believe that competing is a real thing, and not just a pipe dream. What is or has he been doing differently? He has a larger coaching staff. He is installing an offense that is tried and true, and not hard to learn. In practice, he has two fields going -- one field for the first and second team, and the rest in the other field. This way, players get lots more reps and the coaches can see more of what the players can and can't do. It isn't something that most teams do for practice. He is not doing this whole QB competition garbage. He named Carson Palmer the starter and is sticking with him. His players love him and we'll see if things come together.
The addition of Tavon Austin finally gives them a downfield threat, which will open things up. The defense is tough, and what will worry fans the most is the pass rush, which nearly killed Kevin Kolb last season.
Whoo...this is a toughy. I really think that the Cards could be as bad as four wins and as good as 11, if absolutely everything goes their way. I think a successful year 1 would be 7-9 wins and being in the mix down the stretch for a playoff spot. As for matchups in the division, if the 7-9 wins happen, they have to go 3-3 at least in the NFC West.