Tim Yotter: It's clear the Cardinals' passing game is far superior to its running game, but looking at the stats, Tim Hightower is averaging fewer yards per carry than Edgerrin James. Do they even try to establish the run anymore, and was the switch to Hightower the right move?
Amberly Richardson: The Cardinals know they need to put it in gear in regards to the run game. The company line is that in order to be effective in the post-season, the Cardinals will need to pick it up on the ground. In any given game, the Cardinals typically move the chains with Tim Hightower in the first quarter or so, but abandon the run once it sees trouble. The exception is goal situations where Hightower has thrived all season.
Hightower has run into some problems as of late. He hasn't seen an average of 5 yards since his first-ever start. In week nine, Hightower took over for Edgerrin James and made the Cardinals look genius. Hightower started appearing on the scouting reports and teams took notice. He's been sharing some of his duties with sophomore player J.J. Arrington who has a bit of a resurrection in his young but disappointing career.
Hightower has scored three touchdowns in the past five games, an impressive total. But the Cardinals will need someone to compliment him in the future. Arrington would be the ideal candidate, but the draft could be implanted as well.
As far as the decision to bench James, the verdict is still out. He had a solid showing last week against the Rams, but has been inconsistent. There have been two games since he lost his starting job that he didn't see even one carry.
Tim Yotter: The two superstars are obviously wide receivers Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald. Do you think the organization will be able to keep them together long-term? And if you had to choose, which one do you think is better?
As for the million dollar questions, I could flip a coin and be happy with either decision. But if I were fielding an All-League team, I would want Fitzgerald on it. He makes the ball his own in any situation. Fitzgerald always wants the ball and isn't afraid to claim rights to the pigskin.
Tim Yotter: How much longer do you think Kurt Warner will play, and do you believe he's a lock to return to Arizona next year? Where does Matt Leinart fit into the equation, if at all?
Amberly Richardson: Logistically, Leinart is still the future of the franchise. But he probably doesn't feel that way wearing a baseball hat and headset week in and week out. There's been several times, where I, personally, hoped the Cardinals would let Leinart go in and play. But he hasn't gone in since week two against the Miami Dolphins.
Warner wants to stay in the desert. He wants to finish his career in Arizona. Warner still thinks he has a lot of football left in his arm, and he wants the respect that a post-season appearance demands. All in all, the Cardinals will likely sign him on for two more years.
Nobody would blame Leinart if he asked for a trade. He's been the pillar of what the Cardinals want from him on the sidelines. He was as dedicated and focused as he's ever been leading up to the season. Leinart let's his teammates know what is up on the field. He quarterbacked from the sidelines. The Cardinals couldn't ask more of the guy they passed over for the season.
Tim Yotter: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie seems to be coming on strong for a rookie cornerback, but what has been the key to the Cardinals defense, which appears to be pretty well rounded?
Amberly Richardson: The Cardinals have a lot of playmakers on the defensive side of the ball. Adrian Wilson leads the secondary and can be asked to do multiple assignments. He can come in and stop the run; he can sack and do his job as the last line of defense. Wilson is a special player. Lining up at free safety, for the first time, is Antrel Rolle who is second on the team in tackles (behind Karlos Dansby). He's adjusted to his new roll extremely well.
In the front-seven, Karlos Dansby is a machine week in and week out. The Cardinals boast more depth on defense than ever. Arizona built up its defense and it's working, period.
Tim Yotter: It's hard to get a good gauge on this team because of the division they play in. How good do you think the Cardinals can be when it comes playoff time, or is this just a team that has beaten mostly bad teams because of their schedule?
Amberly Richardson: The Cardinals are the Rodney Dangerfield of the league. If they win, the other team beat themselves. If they lose, it's the same old Cardinals. Sure, the division is the worst in the league, but if they put their tools to work they can hang in the postseason.
Here is an example: Arizona had an embarrassing loss to the New York Jets, 56-35, but Warner was vintage. After being shutout in the first half, with 34 unanswered points, Warner got James involved for a pair of touchdowns, Hightower with one, Boldin with another and Jerheme Urban to cap the 35 points. It was an ugly loss, but Warner avoided complete embarrassment.
Arizona almost took care of the New York Giants, with just an eight-point difference.
Amberly Richardson is the publisher of AZRedReport.com and Tim Yotter is the publisher of VikingUpdate.com.