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PFT Preseason Power Rankings No. 29: Arizona Cardinals

Oatrick Peterson AP

In just a couple of seasons the NFC West has managed to go from being perpetually putrid to perhaps the best division in football. That reality will make the rebuilding job of the Arizona Cardinals under new head coach Bruce Arians and general manager Steve Keim that much more difficult.

The addition of Carson Palmer with bolstered depth and talent along the offensive line could help the Cardinals take a sizable step forward from their performance last year. The grouping of John Skelton, Kevin Kolb, Ryan Lindley and Brian Hoyer proved to be a horror show at quarterback for the Cardinals a year ago. The offensive line may have been even worse.

While the Cardinals have talented pieces, especially on defense, it will be a challenge to keep up with the rest of their division in 2013.

Strengths.

The Cardinals remain strong along the defensive line. Calais Campbell is one of the top 3-4 defensive ends in the game. Despite a slightly less productive season in the stat sheets Darnell Dockett remains a solid player and Dan Williams took a step forward at nose tackle.

The wide receiver position has potential to be a strength for the Cardinals as well. Though depth may be lacking, Larry Fitzgerald remains one of the best in the game despite a dip in numbers last season with poor quarterback play. Andre Roberts developed into a nice slot/secondary option and last year’s first round draft pick Michael Floyd finished the season strong eight catches for 166 yards and a touchdown in the season finale against San Francisco.

Linebacker will be a strength as well when Daryl Washington returns from a four-game suspension to start the season. The Cardinals brought back Karlos Dansby to team with Jasper Brinkley, Reggie Walker and second-round draft pick Kevin Minter inside with Sam Acho, Lorenzo Alexander and O’Brien Schofield fighting for playing time outside.

Weaknesses.

The Cardinals are talented at the running back position, but talent only goes so far. Rashard Mendenhall has had problems developing into a consistent threat during five seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Injuries and a team suspension brought his time with the Steelers to an end. Ryan Williams has also had season-ending injuries in each of his first two seasons with the team.

Arizona’s offensive line appears better equipped this season with the return of Levi Brown from injury and the addition of first-round pick Jonathan Cooper at guard. However, the Cardinals will have to prove they can be at least adequate up front this season for the team to take a legitimate leap forward.

The starting quarterback position should be stabilized with the addition of Palmer but the depth remains unproven. Lindley struggled in his opportunities last season. The Cardinals added Drew Stanton in free agency but he has only started four games in five seasons and hasn’t seen game action since 2010 with Detroit.

Changes.

Quarterback is the most noticeable change as Arizona brought in Palmer from Oakland to steady the ship. Also gone is running back Beanie Wells. The Cardinals signed former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall to fill his spot on the roster.

Arizona also parted with guard Adam Snyder a year after signing him to a five-year deal. He was released after the Cardinals selected Cooper in the draft.

Safety Adrian Wilson is now in New England after spending the first 12 years of his career in the desert. Arizona signed Yeremiah Bell and drafted LSU’s Tyrann Mathieu in the third round to bolster the safety position. Linebacker Lorenzo Alexander also joins the Cardinals after seven seasons with the Washington Redskins.

Camp battles.

Several positions should see legitimate competition in training camp for the Cardinals. Expect a battle between Nate Potter and Bobby Massie for the starting job at right tackle. Mendenhall could see a fight from Ryan Williams or rookies Stepfan Taylor and Andre Ellington.

On the defensive side of the ball, the linebacker positions seem to be completely up for grabs. With Washington facing a four-game suspension to start the year, Dansby, Brinkley and rookie Minter will battle for the middle linebacker spots while Alexander and Schofield will compete outside. Jerraud Powers and Antoine Cason will fight for the starting cornerback job opposite Patrick Peterson.

Prospects.

The play at the quarterback position and along the offensive line can’t get much worse than a season ago. Palmer should bring some stability to the group and be able to handle the position more competently than the revolving door of last year. Consistent play at quarterback should help Arizona’s offense find some footing and get Larry Fitzgerald productive once again.

New defensive coordinator Todd Bowles will try to keep a strong defensive unit headed in the right direction. Campbell, Williams and Dockett should continue to anchor the Cardinals’ defensive front but the back seven has some uncertainty in a few positions to work out.

If the offense can become somewhat competent the Cardinals have the chance to take strides forward this season. However, even if the Cardinals do improve it may not translate to the win column. With the strength of San Francisco, Seattle and St. Louis it seems unlikely Arizona will be able to claw out of the basement of the NFC West.

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34 Responses to “PFT Preseason Power Rankings No. 29: Arizona Cardinals”
  1. ColtsWinColtsWin!! says: Jul 10, 2013 3:07 PM

    Well, this is the first time I disagree on the Power Rankings so far. The Cardinals have an excellent defense in a tough division but, the 69ers are way overated, the SheHawks won’t be sneaking up on anyone this year and the Lambs are probably gonna finish first in that division (I know, the Rams? but trust me on this one, you heard it here first). So I would rank the Tardinals a lil bit higher than 29, but you go girl!!!!

  2. youarejealousof6rings says: Jul 10, 2013 3:07 PM

    Still thinking about Super Bowl XLIII, Cards fans?

    LOLOLOL!

  3. paulitik74 says: Jul 10, 2013 3:09 PM

    I don’t know. The Cards D was pretty good last year. I think they will surprise some people with a somewhat more consistent QB, and we saw what Arians did as a coach in Indy last year. I think they have a shot at the NFC West. San Fran and Seattle are getting seriously overhyped.

  4. ctiggs says: Jul 10, 2013 3:10 PM

    Niner fan here, hate to say it but the Cards are not that bad, they finally have a “somewhat” serviceable QB.

  5. winkeroni says: Jul 10, 2013 3:11 PM

    I don’t think the Cardinals will be that bad. They have a plus Special teams, the potential to have a plus defense, and if Palmer can throw the ball in the general direction of Fitzgerald they should have at least a mediocre offense.

  6. tokyosandb1aster says: Jul 10, 2013 3:19 PM

    Woo hooo! My Packers are no worse than 28th! Crossing my fingers and toesies!

  7. hehateme2 says: Jul 10, 2013 3:19 PM

    The jets should have already been listed. What are you guys thinking?

  8. bobbob1eye says: Jul 10, 2013 3:25 PM

    I was in Vegas a couple of weeks ago and the over/under on the cards was 5 wins. I put $50 on the over.

  9. themackstrong says: Jul 10, 2013 3:31 PM

    I watch this team play a few times per year. They have a top 10 defense and with Levi Brown being hurt and a bunch of other offensive lineman it really gave their running backs and QB’s no chance to stay on the field last year. Their 1st round selection and Floyd from last year should step up to get pressure off Fitz. I think they are between 16-20.

  10. dennyg2 says: Jul 10, 2013 3:31 PM

    Last time I checked Carson Palmer was their QB. I rest my case.

  11. patriots123456 says: Jul 10, 2013 3:35 PM

    It shouldn’t really matter to the fans where your team is rated.

    What matters is where they finish.

    I think the Cardinals have improved and hope they do well this year.

  12. cardsfann1 says: Jul 10, 2013 3:42 PM

    I’m the biggest Cardinals fan out there and I’m not saying that we are a top 10 team and all but 29? I don’t think so… Browns, Jets, Chargers, Bills, and Eagles should be ranked lower than the Cards… Just based on team talent alone going into the season…

  13. dirtysouthniner says: Jul 10, 2013 3:44 PM

    The whole nfc west will be tuff.. the cards are no exeption.. They were 4-0 last year I believe when kolb got hurt.

  14. truths4all says: Jul 10, 2013 3:45 PM

    If a QB had bad stats, but finished a season with 3 or 4 so-so games and then missed all of the following season, would you cite that as a reason for optimism with his return? Of course not. And yet you do that with Levi Brown who as horrible during the last season he played. The reason he was graded out as being so-so or OK by Whisenhunt standards was the right side was so weak, every defense pounded it and got to the QB or running back before Brown’s left side rusher could. Brown has shown he is an OK run blocker but a horrible pass blocker. His feet are too slow. His reaction time is too slow. That is why he was good for 5 or more false starts per game. His technique was poor as speed rushers ran by him and power rushers ran him over. Unless he has lost weight and gotten massive dosages of HGH, Brown will remain too slow, too weak, and too porous to defend and protect Palmer. If the Cards are to improve to where they can contend, Brown will either have to be moved to guard or benched. Once BA does that, and deals with the blocking breakdowns from the un-athletic Colledge and Sendlein, only then will we be able to see how potent and dangerous this offense can be. A great QB can rise above and inspire a marginal offensive line, as shown by Kurt Warner, Tome Brady, and Drew Brees. But average and decent QBs such as Kolb and Skelton just cannot overcome a horrible offensive line. BTW, the Cards offensive was not only horrible in pass blocking, they could not run block as shown in the terrible rushing yardage produced last season. And you are quick to blame the QBs and not the running backs who had nowhere to run.

    The Cards D will be fine. The Cards offense is another matter and it depends on the offensive line.

  15. brutalron says: Jul 10, 2013 3:51 PM

    The biggest loss here is Ray Horton. He had that D playing at a very high level last year. That was all the while having little offense to speak of.

    Even with their strong defensive personal, the defense will regress without Horton calling and coaching the D.

  16. rocketcrab says: Jul 10, 2013 3:54 PM

    patriots123456 says: Jul 10, 2013 3:35 PM

    It shouldn’t really matter to the fans where your team is rated.

    What matters is where they finish.

    I think the Cardinals have improved and hope they do well this year.
    ________________________________

    Me too, even if Bill Bidwell did jerk my hometown of Baltimore around in 1987. Gotta root for the underdogs………well, sometimes!

  17. xaviermw says: Jul 10, 2013 4:00 PM

    This comment section is just striking out left and right.

  18. seatownballers says: Jul 10, 2013 4:01 PM

    Colts and bumblebee fans talking trash about the nfc west? Get real. Your team’s glory days are gone. Like how the Colts and steelers each lost their last superbowl appearances. The west is now the best. We understand you hate watching the nfc west every post season, so you run your mouth off out of fear. Respect isn’t given its earned.

  19. tokyosandb1aster says: Jul 10, 2013 4:02 PM

    patriots123456 says:
    Jul 10, 2013 3:35 PM
    It shouldn’t really matter to the fans where your team is rated.

    What matters is where they finish.

    I think the Cardinals have improved and hope they do well this year.
    ——————-
    Whoa – where a team FINISHES is what matters. Give me a second. Trying to wrap my head around this.

    Hey, about your thoughts about the Cards improving, hoping they do well – don’t you know it’s where a team FINISHES that matters.

  20. eatitfanboy says: Jul 10, 2013 4:08 PM

    So they basically draft a guard and anyone thinks their own line problems are solved? That line was historically bad last year.

    Even if the line is slightly better, they didn’t exactly sign the most mobile of QBs to play behind it.

    I don’t share other’s optimism for this team’s chances.

  21. bobbob1eye says: Jul 10, 2013 4:47 PM

    Wow there is nothing but thumbs down hate on this thread no matter what the opinion was…

  22. souldogdave says: Jul 10, 2013 5:06 PM

    they are bad, but there are more than 3 teams that are worse.

  23. kylexitron says: Jul 10, 2013 5:12 PM

    My perspective on the cardinals is a bit skewed so I’ll reserve my opinion for now; the last time I saw them in person, we were having a party in the stands in Seattle with our 38-0 halftime lead and they didn’t really look like a professional football team.

  24. bookymdano says: Jul 10, 2013 5:36 PM

    You don’t rank a team poorly because they play in a tough division. This team has more pieces in place than the Jets, Bills and Eagles. Oh, wait a minute. Those are all in the east. My bad.

  25. delusionalcardsfan says: Jul 10, 2013 6:15 PM

    29? LOL Lets go big red!!!

  26. EJ says: Jul 10, 2013 7:25 PM

    Carson Palmer will have a career year this season, bringing back his swagger. Not only will Palmer make fans happier, but he will bring Larry Fitzgerald(Its so hard not to root for this guy) to a level he hasn’t been at in a while. The Cardinals Offensive line will give Palmer the time he needs to be successful and provide the team with a good running game.

    Bring back that same strong Defense from last season and we will be seeing Arizona seated in a wild-card spot in the playoffs.

  27. kvanhorn87 says: Jul 10, 2013 7:56 PM

    The Eagles have more talent than the Cards. Their defense stinks for sure. The biggest reason: the Cards division could be best in football. The NFC East seems to split a lot more games amongst themselves than they should. So Cards will have a worse record even if team is better.

  28. jwilliamsspf says: Jul 10, 2013 9:42 PM

    The Jets are…better than the Cardinals?

    Ummm…wait a second…is this a joke?

    Can someone explain to me the area that the Jets are better than the Cardinals in? O-Line? Is that all?

  29. ranger40 says: Jul 10, 2013 9:54 PM

    rocketcrab says:
    Jul 10, 2013 3:54 PM

    Me too, even if Bill Bidwell did jerk my hometown of Baltimore around in 1987. Gotta root for the underdogs………well, sometimes!

    Maybe he jerked you all around because you couldn’t spell his name….. It is BidWILL. Go Cards!

  30. jimmyjames65 says: Jul 11, 2013 1:06 AM

    Colts and bumblebee fans talking trash about the nfc west? Get real. Your team’s glory days are gone. Like how the Colts and steelers each lost their last superbowl appearances. The west is now the best. We understand you hate watching the nfc west every post season, so you run your mouth off out of fear. Respect isn’t given its earned. The Colts and Steelers suck. And always have. Now show some respect. The NFC West is supposed to be scary?

  31. jimmyjames65 says: Jul 11, 2013 1:08 AM

    Come to think of it. Your owners can’t keep up with Ray either.

  32. Joemontanaflacco says: Jul 11, 2013 9:42 AM

    I can certainly understand that the addition of former Steeler Rashard Mendenhall would drag a team down, but when you have an entire team of Steelers it makes no sense why Pittsburgh (as opposed to Arizona) isn’t at least in the bottom four. Heck, the Cardinals should have beaten the Steelers in the SB and they are a much better team now, while the Steelers are clearly a team in ruins. This is just crazy. I’m sure PFT will come to its senses and rank Pittsburgh No. 28, right?

  33. censormynameandmycomments says: Jul 11, 2013 7:07 PM

    The NFC West had one down year (2010). That doesn’t make them “perpetually putrid.” The division has represented the NFC in 3 of the last 8 Super Bowls.

  34. wilsonwillbreaku says: Jul 13, 2013 2:32 PM

    Cards fans don’t like 29? Double that # and that’s what you lost by in Seattle fools! Your offense was HISTORICALLY bad. Be happy you are not 32 on this list.

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