The St. Louis Rams’ Offseason: Checking In With The Arizona Cardinals

Scott Rovak-US PRESSWIRE

In case you missed it, the St. Louis Rams aren’t the only team in the NFC West. I began wondering what else was going on in the division, and I’ve got a few questions for the Arizona Cardinals…

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.

Managing Editor/Writer Jess Root [@senorjessroot] from Revenge of the Birds [@revengeofbirds] helped shed a little light on the Cardinals' draft, their offseason, and their future…


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.

The Cardinals got off to a hot start in 2012, going undefeated against respectable opponents through four games, only to win one game in their final twelve. What happened, and have the Cardinals done enough in the offseason to address those concerns?

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.

Tyrann Mathieu was one of the best players in all of College Football in 2011. If the off-field issues that made him a 3rd round selection in 2013 are behind him, did the Cardinals get a steal in the draft, and what should the Cardinals expect from him on the field in the upcoming season?

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.

In my humble opinion, the Cardinals drafted NINE very good players in April [recap here]. If you had to make a super early prognostication for the Cardinals' Rookie of the Year, who would win the award?

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.

The Cardinals are going to be a different team in 2013. What is - or has - Bruce Arians been doing differently, and what can he do to 'right the ship' in Arizona? Are fans excited about his signing, and how he's conducted business since taking the HC gig?

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 Cardinals will face the Rams - in St. Louis - in Week 1 of the 2013 season. What concerns you most about the Rams, and what do you feel the Cardinals can expose?

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.

The NFC West is the toughest division in football. The Cardinals won five games in 2012, but what are your expectations [in wins and losses] for the upcoming season? How do you see the divisional match-ups playing out?

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.

….I want to again thank Jess for his time and willingness to provide some great insight on the state of the Cardinals as they head into the upcoming season. The Rams won both games against Arizona last year, but it’s clear the Rams will be facing a different Cardinals team in 2013.
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