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Don’t quit on the struggling Cardinals yet

It’s too early to throw the towel in on the 2011 Arizona Cardinals.

Three games is not enough time to really know how good or bad they may be, and even though the team has found ways to lose each of the last two games, chances are this team will have a say in the race (or stumble, really) towards the NFC West title.

However, it was tough to wake up Monday morning and feel good about the Arizona Cardinals.

To wit: While the team is just a couple plays away from being 3-0, they could just as easily be 0-3. And the schedule, thought to be marshmallow-soft in the early goings, is about to get a lot tougher.

And with a home date against the Giants, a road tilt with the Vikings and then games against the Steelers and Ravens, the Cardinals could easily find themselves 1-6 before hosting the Rams on November 6.

Once thought of as a game that could decide the division, it may very well be each team’s last chance to salvage a season on the verge of complete collapse.

But we’re not at that point, not yet anyway.

There is still time for the Cardinals to fix their problems, and that’s the good news. The bad news, though, is one of the issues has plagued this team for the better part of forever: the offensive line.

The line is not going to magically improve — if it even improves at all — simply because what you see is what you get. There is some talent, but for some reason it just hasn’t manifested into anything special.

So expect to see Kevin Kolb run for his life and hear “false start, number 75, offense” throughout the season, because the team isn’t going to find anyone better to play and doesn’t seem anxious to find a better coach than Russ Grimm.
However, even with their struggles the running backs have found some holes, meaning it’s not totally unlike the Maginot Line: not perfect, but far from completely ineffective.

Given that their greatest issue has been pass protection, it’s worth noting that some of what looks like poor blocking can easily be attributed to Kevin Kolb and his penchant for bailing on the pocket too soon.

That can be fixed. It should be fixed. It needs to be fixed.

The Cardinals’ new QB has just 10 NFL starts under his belt, with only three as a Cardinal. While you’d expect a 27-year-old to have better pocket presence, lack of starts be damned, it would be unfair to deliver a verdict on Kolb’s abilities until we see more of what he can or can’t do.

In all honesty the same can be said for the team’s secondary, which has been torched by opposing offenses and in the media.

But like Kolb, Patrick Peterson and A.J. Jefferson will improve, and as long as fans are patient they’ll ultimately like what they see.

And maybe that’s really how you have to look at the 2011 Arizona Cardinals. While flawed, there is enough talent to win an awful division, and as long as the team can scratch out a few wins over the next couple of months could be in line to make a late push. With so many young and inexperienced players you’d have to hope – and maybe even expect – gradual improvement throughout the course of the season.