Team: Arizona Cardinals
Record: 9-7 Home: 6-2 Away: 4-4 Division: 6-0
Coaching Staff – B-
Ken Whisenhunt continues to make strides in his second year on the job, but is still very much an unknown commodity. His coaching staff is young and somewhat inexperienced, but are a hard working, hungry group. Unlike some members of the media, I see no assistant in this staff that looks to have head coaching credentials at this stage.
Offensive Line – C-
Former number one selection Levi Brown has been a disappointment. He doesn't finish and his footwork needs refinement. Let's end the discussion with one final comment; you don't draft right tackles with the fifth pick in the draft gentlemen! The remainder of the starting group was inconsistent and penalty prone.
Wide Receivers / Tight End – A-
The tight end unit has been plagued by injuries and inconsistencies all season with none of the three separating themselves from the pack as either blockers or pass catching threats. That being said, as a group not club in the league can match with the trio of Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin and second year pro Steve Breaston. Fitzgerald is in my opinion among the top three receivers in the game.
Running Backs – C-
It appears that Edgerrin James has reached the end of the line after a long and illustrious career and although rookie Tim Hightower has played well in certain situations, he has a ways to go before I would consider him a true threat. JJ Arrington, a very productive college player at the U. of California, is undersized and pretty much a "JAG" (just a guy) in the professional ranks. Overall I see the position as unreliable as a group and desperately in need of a long-term solution.
Quarterback – A-
I have to admit, I thought Kurt Warner was done five seasons ago with the Rams, but the future Hall of Fame player is a perfect fit in the Cardinals offensive system of play. He's accurate underneath, distributes the ball effectively and although his movement in the pocket is suspect, he gets the ball out quickly. I would throw the towel in just yet, but I'm not a big fan of Matt Leinart.
Defensive Line – B
I was really impressed with the way this defensive line got after people. Darnell Dockett is in my opinion one of the very best inside players in the game today. Travis LaBoy a former Titan has quickness and impressed my with his edge rushing skills. Overall I have to believe it is the best Cardinals interior front have seen in quite some time.
Linebackers – B
The Cardinals have some very impressive people who can run, pressure from the outside, run to the football and force turnovers. Karlos Dansby, Gerald Hayes, and Chike Okeafor were productive football player who played hard in each game viewed.Secondary –B-
Adrian Wilson is the leader of this group and one of the very best safeties in the professional game. His teammate at the free safety position Antrel Rolle, did not have the necessary speed to play effectively out on a wing, but his intelligence, ball skills and playing instincts are a plus inside. Rookie number one draft selection, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has come on late in the season, but struggles in the running game to get off blocks and get people off their feet.
Special Teams – C-
Neil Rackers and punter Ben Graham have been steady, but are in my mind just adequate when compared with the top punters and place kickers in the game. Coverage teams have consistently lost the field position battles.
Injury Factor – B-
The Cardinals as a team have not lost a single starting player to injured reserve in the season and with the exception of losing Anquan Boldin for a period of time have been relatively injury free.
Team Offensive MVP – Kurt Warner is the runaway choice, with Larry Fitzgerald a very distant second.
Team Defensive MVP – Adrian Wilson, is the leader of this defensive unit and sets the tempo for the rest of the defensive unit on game day.
Top Rookie – Tim Hightower has struggled as of late, but 10 touchdowns in rookie season isn't a bad way to start a professional career.
Top Free Agent – Back up linebacker Victor Hobson and punter Ben Graham are the only free agent additions who have made any impact in 2008. Karlos Dansby, is a must to re-sign at the conclusion of the season.
Team Strength – Both the receiving and linebacking corps have been outstanding throughout the entire season.
Team Weakness – The running game has not gotten on track all season.
Final Word – Cardinals could surprise and defeat the Falcons in round one, based primarily on the clubs overall play at the University of Phoenix Stadium, but the club has struggled down the stretch and will need to play.