As Summer begins, so does OTA’s and eventually Training Camp will begin with all the NFL teams. As the Summer continues, I will give a season preview for every NFL team including predictions and some fantasy football information as well. I start with the NFC West and the Arizona Cardinals.
Arizona made a playoff appearance despite being down to their third-string quarterback. Now, Carson Palmer is back and hopefully healthy. The Cardinals will look to repeat last season, but they have some key pieces to replace.
1. Carson Palmer’s health. A healthy Palmer help lead the Cards to a 6-0 start last season with 11 touchdown passes. After his season-ending injury, Arizona limped to a 3-7 finish with Drew Stanton (who also was injured) and Ryan Lindley. Arizona lost their playoff game to the Panthers with Lindley throwing for 82 yards! With the talent around him, Palmer still can get it done, but will his body hold up? It will need to because Arizona does not have much backing him up.
2. What will the defense look like without Todd Bowles? Bowles left his coordinator post to become the head coach of the Jets earlier this off-season. They were an attacking type-defense in the 3-4 that liked to get pressure on the quarterback. I like the signing of LaMarr Woodley, if he is focused on proving people wrong about the bad year he had in Oakland. The loss of Antonio Cromartie concerns me because they struggled to stop the pass (29th in pass yards per game allowed).
3. Can the running game get going? Maybe the quarterbacks’ health could improve if the running game is halfway decent. Arizona was next to last in rush yards gained per game. Andre Ellington carried the ball almost 90 times more than in 2013, but only gained 8 more yards in 2014 than 2013! He had five games where he gained 45 yards or less! Maybe Arizona’s third-round pick David Johnson can push Ellington for the starting job and inject some life into this abysmal running attack. The offensive line was upgraded, in my opinion, with Mike Iupati coming over from the 49ers.
Michael Floyd– After an over 1,000 yard season in 2013, his numbers sharply decreased in 2014. I believe the inconsistent play at quarterback killed his season. Hopefully, with Palmer upright, Floyd can regain his 2013 form. Would not pick him before Round 6 probably, unless receivers go by the wayside in your fantasy draft.
Loved the D.J. Humphries pick, tackle has been an issue recently. Humphries, Veldheer, and Jonathan Cooper along with Mike Iupati could be a really solid nucleus on the offensive line. David Johnson, I believe will really push Andre Ellington to start at running back. Markus Golden can provide some depth at linebacker. Would like to have seen them get a cornerback.
Fearless Prediction: The Cardinals will have a 1,000 yard rusher this year.
Next Up: San Francisco 49ers