The 2013 season was the start of something really good for the Arizona Cardinals. The arrow is now pointing up for this franchise and that is thanks in large part to some coaching changes that were made. Bruce Arians was brought in to be the head coach and he in turn brought in Todd Bowles to be the defensive coordinator. The Cardinals finished the season with a 10 – 6 record and just missed the playoffs.
Carson Palmer brought some stability to the quarterback position but he still showed himself to be a double agent. There were some times where he made some throws that made anyone watching scratch their head. Statistically, he had a decent year. He threw for 4,274 yards and 24 touchdowns. The bad part is that he threw 22 interceptions. Regardless, Palmer was an upgrade and his arm strength is a good match for Arians’ vertical passing offense.
Andre Ellington was an exciting addition to the running game. He brought explosiveness to the position and averaged 5.5 yards per carry. Only Michael Floyd had a longer play from scrimmage in 2013. Floyd had a 91 yard catch whereas Ellington had an 80 yard run. Floyd progressed very well last year as he secured his first 1,000 yard season in just his second year in the NFL. Larry Fitzgerald seemed to become the possession receiver while Floyd is the deep threat.
The strong point of this team was surely their defense. They were without Daryl Washington for the first four games but once he returned, the tandem of Washington and Karlos Dansby proved to be one of the best. The Cardinals defense has some elite players in this league. Dansby earned some consideration for the Defensive Player of the Year. Tyrann Mathieu had a stellar rookie season and benefited from having Patrick Peterson as his mentor. Peterson is looked at as one of the guys that can challenge Richard Sherman for the best corner back title. Calais Campbell and John Abraham also played well.
The Cardinals had an interesting year. They reeled off two winning streaks this season. The first one was a four game streak that included a 40 – 11 win over the Colts. Their second win streak was of the three game variety and that included a win over the Seahawks in Seattle. The Cardinals were the only team to beat the Seahawks at home over the last two years. Furthermore, three of their six losses came to the San Francisco 49ers and Seahawks. These are two teams that are already installed as favorites for the Super Bowl.
They finished the year with the top rated run defense only giving up 84.4 yards per game. Their passing defense gave up 233 yards per game which was 14th in the NFL. As for the offense, they finished 13th in passing yards per game.
One has to wonder what would the Cardinals have been able to do if they made the playoffs. A last second loss to the 49ers put them out of the tournament but they were one of the hottest teams going down the stretch. The future is definitely bright for Cardinals. They will get Jonathan Cooper back from injury. He is their 2013 first round pick and was one of the best offensive lineman when he came out of North Carolina. They could be the third team to make it to the playoffs from the NFC West division.
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