Welcome to “Pretty Much Screwed,” our definitive guide to the upcoming NFL season. This team-by-team preview details why your favorite franchise might have to start looking forward to next year — and highlights at least one reason for you to be hopeful. Today: we take a look at the Arizona Cardinals.
Perhaps no team harbors more secrets at this point in training camp than The Buzzsaw That Is The Arizona Cardinals. New head coach. Near complete new set of quarterbacks. New Jonathan Cooper (newly-signed rookie offensive lineman, pictured below on toy guitar). New Larry Fitzgerald. Wait, what?
We say new Larry Fitzgerald because The Sticky-Fingered-One is coming off the worst season of his career (71 receptions, 798 yards, 4 TDs), and it was mostly due to QB Kevin Kolb going down with an early injury. Now he’ll have Palmer throwing to him, and Palmer can throw. Also, there’ll be gratuitous Michael Floyd (14 catches, 213 yards in final two games last season) and Andre Roberts-fu (64 catches, 759 yards, 5 TD last season).
But … no running game (Rashard Mendenhall? Stepfan Taylor?), and that includes the QB position. It’s a good bet that The Buzzsaw won’t be using the run option, because Palmer has the maneuverability of Quint’s boat in the final 15 minutes of “Jaws.” And it’s an understatement to say that there are doubts about an offensive line that surrendered 58 sacks last season. (Blueprints of the Maginot Line found in Cardinals trash can.) Will the OL be improved? It would be hard not to be. But I can’t see it being improved enough to make a difference in this armor-plated division.
Defense? The Cardinals’ two starting safeties last season, Kerry Rhodes and Adrian Wilson, are gone — replaced by Yeremiah Bell and Rashad Johnson. The former hardly played in 2012, the latter is 34 years old. And their best linebacker, Daryl Washington (9 sacks last season) was suspended for the first four games of this season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy — and for an NFL player to get busted for PEDs, he really has to work at it. Washington also has a pending domestic abuse case, which should go to trial in October.
And the Cardinals lost their defensive coordinator, Ray Horton, to the Browns. Wait, the Browns? Serenity Now!
Some reasons you might not be screwed:
• The cardinal is the most fierce of all North American birds weighing less than 12 grams.
• Palmer threw for more 4,000 yards last season with the Raiders.
• Darnell Dockett owns a tiger.
My pet tiger his name is "buddy" I'm gonna bring him to a practice in training camp atleast "one day" he's handsome! pic.twitter.com/XiFHvzr7PC
— DARNELL DOCKETT (@ddockett) July 23, 2013
• Bruce Arians, their new head coach, led the Colts to the playoffs in 2012. The Colts.
• Just installed at their Glendale, AZ, training camp location …
— Arizona Cardinals (@AZCardinals) July 29, 2013
Totally justified. I have a feeling that Cardinals fans will need to drink. A lot.
Actual season prediction: 7-9, last in NFC West. It wasn’t that long ago that a 7-9 record could win this division. Now, the 49ers and Seahawks are at 6/1 and 9/1 odds, respectively, to make the Super Bowl, and the Rams are also strong. Sadly, the most that the Cardinals can hope for is that Dockett is not eventually mauled by his pet tiger.