The Arizona Cardinals started the 2012 season with a record of 4-0. Isn’t that incredible to think about? One of the worst teams in the league was undefeated a quarter of the way into it. Of course, pretty much everybody knew that the cream would rise to the top, but something got into the Cardinals for those first four games, showing fans what the team was capable of, if nothing else.
The Cardinals managed to beat the New England Patriots in that four game stretch, but those four games were really the highlight of their season. They had another revolving door at the quarterback position, and the offensive line was in a complete shambles. Ryan Williams and Chris Wells spent much of the season injured, and Michael Floyd didn’t make the impact as a rookie that many thought he would.
Here are the Cardinals’ top team needs, in no particular order.
Kevin Kolb was a bust of an acquisition, but he’s still the best option the Cardinals have. It’s clear that John Skelton is merely an upper level backup, and Ryan Lindley is a borderline NFL player at all. Bruce Arians and the Cardinals’ front office will undoubtedly be on the lookout for a new quarterback this offseason, and perhaps they will take one with their first pick in the draft.
2. Offensive Line
The Cardinals have got to figure this area of their team out if they want to win games in 2013. Levi Brown has battled injuries and inconsistencies, Bobby Massie was overwhelmed by the speed of the NFL, but he got better as the season went along. My guess is that Arizona will be comfortable going with Brown and Massie as their starting tackles next year if they need to, but the interior line needs help. Both guard positions need to be upgraded, as well as the Cardinals’ overall depth at all positions. I think they’ll make sure that happens this offseason.
3. Rush Linebacker
O’Brien Schofield and Sam Acho are good players to have in a rotation at the position, but they just didn’t get to the quarterback enough last year. According to Pro Football Focus, the duo was only able to get 53 total sacks, hits, and hurries on 591 attempts. That’s pretty sad. The Cardinals need someone who can help get it done more than 10 percent of the time, especially if they are playing from behind. Quentin Groves is a free agent but should be brought back.
4. Inside Linebacker
Daryl Washington is a stud, but the Cardinals need another guy who can help stop the run. That was easily one of their biggest areas of weakness last season, ranking 28th in the NFL in rushing yards allowed per game. That’s shocking to me considering the Cardinals have Calais Campbell and Darnell Dockett up front, as well as Dan Williams. Those are all pretty big name players. I think a good run stuffing inside linebacker and maybe some depth behind him could help.
5. Tight End
I like Rob Housler, but I think with Jeff King the Cardinals have a pretty average second option at the TE position. They could look to this year’s draft to get another solid TE option and upgrade their offensive weaponry even further.
6. Running Back
It’s time for the Cardinals to start thinking about live after Chris Wells. He simply cannot stay healthy. Neither can Ryan Williams, who has landed on IR in each of his first two NFL seasons coming out of Virginia Tech. Sad story — LaRod Stephens Howling led the Cardinals with 356 rushing yards last year. Yikes.
7. Additional Playmakers on Offense
The Cardinals simply need some more playmakers. Since letting Anquan Boldin go to the Ravens, they have not been the same offense at all. Obviously a good QB will help a ton with this, but Larry Fitzgerald has been doing it all by himself. Andre Roberts stepped up last year and actually almost matched/exceeded Fitz’s numbers.