Behind Enemy Lines: Arizona/Seattle, Part II

Seahawks.net's Doug Farrar and AZRedReport.com's Amberly Richardson take another crack at breaking down what the NFC West has in store. Amberly is up to bat, answering Doug's questions in Part II of an exclusive four-part series. What's the deal with veteran Kurt Warner? How is Arizona's receiving corps shaking up? Will the Cardinals O-line give Matt Hasselbeck a run for his money & much more...

Click here for Part I

Doug Farrar: The Cardinals have an interesting either/or conundrum at quarterback- there's veteran Kurt Warner, who took most of the snaps last season, and third-year man Matt Leinart, who has not yet lived up to his great promise. Is it wise for the team to invest their time in a 37-year old quarterback when they're not exactly Super Bowl contenders, or is Warner the best option in this offense no matter what?

Amberly Richardson: Warner stepped up big for the Cardinals last year when Leinart went down, but his time left in the league is running out. While Warner's experience is priceless to the development of Leinart, he's not their starting guy. Coach Ken Whisenhunt has made no qualms about Leinart being the Cardinals starter going forward.

Arizona liked the progress Leinart was making before he was injured in week five, and Whisenhunt is a big believer that players shouldn't lose their starting job due to injury. It's going to take some pretty poor performances from Leinart to lose his position atop the depth chart.

The Cardinals need a franchise quarterback. They still think Leinart is their man, and all involved want to see Leinart succeed. Yes, he has yet to prove himself, but his offensive line has made vast improvements- plus Leinart has two superstars down the stretch. That can only make him look good.

DF: There's been a lot of talk about Leinart's extracurricular activities. Do you think his focus has been compromised, or have the stories been overblown? If they haven't, is Leinart the next in a line of quarterbacks -- from Bobby Layne to Joe Namath to Ken Stabler -- who can win championships with no recollection of where they were the night before?

AR: I think the whole situation got out of hand. Leinart got "caught" for partaking in 24-year-old like behavior. Whether it's his new 25-year-old status or the bad press that surrounded the pictures he understands that it's time to step up. Arizona has all of its eggs in one basket with Leinart, but general manager Rod Graves & Co. won't stand for their "face of the franchise" having blackouts whether it's in-season or not.

The only part of this story that is somewhat disturbing is that I've heard the "it's all business once the season starts" line before from Leinart. He was partying in Las Vegas celebrating his entrance into the league when the press caught up with him.

DF: The receiver corps has changed a bit -- though Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin are still the main men, rumor has it that Fitzgerald's four-year, $40 million contract has Boldin looking elsewhere unless he receives similar compensation. Third receiver Bryant Johnson split for San Francisco, and the team drafted LSU's Early Doucet in the third round. Do you think the Cards will get Boldin signed long-term, and what role will Doucet play?

AR: The Cardinals do not have the cash to negotiate with Boldin at this point. Boldin's agent seems to be saying that he holds the cards by having Boldin not show up to "voluntary" team workouts and such, but the Cardinals absolutely will not release him for a trade. Rumors or rather leaks have been popping up everywhere, but Boldin has given his word that he has not spoken with anybody about a trade. He's not interested in leaving Arizona. As one of the Cardinals core players, they'll make sure he doesn't.

Karlos Dansby's franchise tag should indicate that the Cardinals mean business in terms of locking in their own. Boldin's contract is good through 2010 and averages just under $4 million a year. When the time is right, likely next offseason, the Cardinals will take care of Boldin.

The Cardinals will miss Johnson's size and speed, but they won't grieve his inability to focus under pressure. Doucet will compete for the Johnson's old spot against Steve Breaston who cornered the market on returns last season. Doucet plays similarly to Boldin, he has a very good chance of earning the No. 3 receiver over Breaston.

DF: Arizona's offensive line saw a bit of an uptick after some truly horrible performances in the Dennis Green era. Where is the potential on the line going forward, and where are the weaknesses?

AR: When coach Whisenhunt started there was no offensive line. He made a bold statement by using the fifth overall pick on OT Levi Brown who came in and made an immediate impact. The line allowed just 24 sacks last season, good for eighth best in the league. The line needs to stay healthy and continue on the successes and consistency of 2007.

The line still has some depth concerns, but Arizona picked up a number of undrafted free agents to compete at camp, as well as their seventh-round choice Brandon Keith.

DF: The team's contract squabbles with Fitzgerald prevented them from being aggressive in free agency. Where are the Cardinals weakest, and who could step up to solve those problems?

The Cardinals defensive front seven needed some help with Calvin Pace and Darryl Blackstock hitting the road. They got Pace's replacement in Travis LaBoy, as well as a plethora of help with draftees and undrafted free agents.

Click here for Part I


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