Behind Enemy Lines: Seahawks/Cardinals Pt 1

In Part One of our preseason look at the Seahawks and Cardinals, Doug Farrar of NorthwestFootball.net asks Amberly Dressler of AZRedReport.com the first five of ten questions about the Cardinals. Can Kurt Warner have another miracle season, is there a plan to change the offense, and how will the team deal with the loss of both co-ordinators?

Doug Farrar: Since losing offensive coordinator Todd Haley to the Chiefs, the Cardinals have apparently promoted Russ Grimm to "running game coordinator" and Mike Miller to "passing game coordinator". Since head coach Ken Whisenhunt has earned a reputation as a builder of offenses in his own right, how important was Haley to the team's success last season, and who's really in charge of the offense now?

Amberly Dressler: Todd Haley's contributions will be missed this season. He is extremely intelligent, a great play-caller and gets players to work from him. Larry Fitzgerald has said that it's fun to play for a guy like Haley because he wears his heart on his sleeve. Haley throws defenses out of whack with his trickery plays and gets the opposition to think the Cardinals will pass, when they are really going to run.

Ken Whisenhunt is cut from a similar cloth. He trusted Haley with the play-calling duties in late 2007, which freed up Whisenhunt to focus on the big picture. Whisenhunt would like to develop the coaches within the organization but for now it's Whisenhunt's offense. He plans to groom Mike Miller into a play-caller but Whisenhunt likely won't hand over the duties this season.

DF: In 2008, the Cards probably ran more shotgun sets than any other team, and Kurt Warner responded incredibly well to the quick-twitch offense. Will the new regime continue that speed, or will Whisenhunt's preference for power running take precedence? And how do you think Warner will fare this season? Is Matt Leinart ready to start and win if called upon?

AD: The Cardinals need to make some changes to give their running backs a better chance at doing their jobs. Less shotgun and more Power-I formations could be the answer. But the Cardinals won't completely re-invent the wheel for a late first round rookie running back who doesn't really make sense in the Cardinals offense quite yet. The Cardinals bread and butter is their receiving game and the shotgun position works for Warner.

If Warner stays injury free he should be able to keep Arizona in the top half of the league. Leinart's career depends on him being able to step in at the tip of a hat. The Cardinals will use the shotgun less if Leinart is on the field. As with any unproven quarterback, running the ball will be key to not turning the ball over.

DF: With Edgerrin James out of the picture, the workload would seem to be split between Tim Hightower and first-round draft pick Beanie Wells. Is there any indication as to who will get the lion's share of the workload, and is there a contingency plan in place if Wells' injury history continues?

AD: Tim Hightower will likely be the starter come opening day as Wells eases into the NFL. But Wells is the future of the Cardinals ground game. The tandem will be interesting to watch, as they aren't the ideal running mates. If Wells goes down, Hightower will remain the starter with Jason Wright picking up the extra slack. But the Cardinals are adamant that Wells is more durable than his rap sheet.

DF: Anquan Boldin's unhappiness with his current contract is well-known. How much interest do the Cards really have in trading him, and do you see a return to prominence with Boldin, Larry Fitzgerald and Steve Breaston ready to go?

AD: The Cardinals want Boldin to return and play out the final two years of his contract. On the other hand, the Cardinals would accept a jackpot deal if it came along. With the Boldin, Fitzgerald and Breaston trio in tact, the Cardinals feature the best receiving unit in the league. Arizona would like to rely more on the ground game but will pass all day to bring home the "W's."

DF: The offensive line has been a project of Russ Grimm's for several years. Are they ready to take on the responsibility of a power running game, or are the best served with the three-step drops that got the Cards to the Super Bowl last season?

AD: Overall, the Cardinals offensive line is more developed and more consistent. But the reason behind the low sack count and high passing yards is the three-step drops that don't have Warner frolicking around in the backfield. With Larry Fitzgerald down the stretch, he can throw to him whether he is covered or not. If Fitzgerald doesn't get the ball, neither does the opposition's secondary. Grimm got a high pass production out of his offensive line but there needs to be changes concerning run protection.

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