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Arizona Cardinals

Updated Jun 5, 2013 - 11:24 am

ESPN scout: Cardinals get an 'A' for offseason work

Cardinals coach Bruce Arians watches as QB Carson Palmer practices during OTAs on Monday, June 3. (Adam Green/Arizona Sports)

The Arizona Cardinals were busy in the offseason, working hard to remake a roster that won just five games in 2012.

While we won't know exactly how they fared until the games start to count in September, the early returns are fairly positive.

In fact, Matt Williamson in an Insider piece for ESPN.com says the Cardinals earned an "A" for their efforts.

The Cardinals made a lot of good moves this offseason. Arizona's secondary is far different now than it was a year ago -- and in my opinion noticeably better, although what Rhodes brought to the table last season might be missed. That said, Patrick Peterson is on the verge of being a truly elite NFL cornerback.

What is most interesting to me about the Cardinals' offseason is their defensive front seven moves indicate that we are going to see far more 4-3 from this defense going forward -- an excellent idea considering their personnel.

Todd Bowles will be in charge of the defense, and he is instituting some changes. Among them are freeing up his defensive linemen to attack the quarterback, which is something they are most definitely excited about.

But of course, Cardinals fans are probably not too concerned about the defense, as it's the offense that has held the team back the last few seasons.

As Williamson puts it, the team should be alright there, too.

Bruce Arians historically likes to employ a lot of double tight end sets, but the personnel on offense right now isn't ideal for that formation. Instead, look for the Cardinals to use a very high percentage of 11 (1 RB/1 TE) personnel, even on early down-and-distance situations. While Arizona's receivers are more or less the same, the protection and quarterback are not.

Contrary to popular belief, the Cardinals are not that bad off at offensive tackle, with Levi Brown on the left side and the vastly improved Bobby Massie on the right. Guard was a huge problem for Arizona last season and they addressed that issue by landing an absolutely superb prospect in Jonathan Cooper and later drafting the athletic Earl Watford. Palmer needs a clean pocket, especially to go deep downfield as this new scheme will stress. Palmer should get more help in that area this year.

The writer also notes that the Cardinals have made sweeping changes at the running back position, and appear to be planning on letting Rashard Mendenhall, Ryan Williams, Stepfan Taylor and Andre Ellington battle for carries to see who emerges as a lead back.

At any rate, he finished with, "I love what Arizona has done this offseason."

So there ya go.

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