Until proven otherwise, the Arizona Cardinals’ present is really not too great.
They went 5-11 in 2012, and while there is some excitement over new head coach Bruce Arians and some of the changes made to the roster, the Cards are still at the bottom looking up at a very difficult NFC West.
So perhaps that’s why, in an ESPN Insider piece about future power rankings, the Cardinals come in at 26th.
Using a scale that looks at a team’s roster, quarterback, draft, front office and coaching in relation to how things will be in 2016, Arizona comes in with a grade of 51.00 out of 100.
Roster: Most of the strength of this roster is on the defensive side of the ball. Age is a factor on the D-line, but there are impact playmakers on the back end, including Patrick Peterson, Daryl Washington and Tyrann Mathieu — if the latter two can stay out of trouble. On offense, their only dependable playmaker, Larry Fitzgerald, will be near the end of his great career. Unless Michael Floyd develops, it is hard to find another offensive player they can count on.
As for quarterback, it is noted that while Carson Palmer is an improvement over what the team has had over the last few years, it’s not likely he will be an upper echelon starter in 2016. And while the team has drafted well in recent years, they still have yet to find a long-term answer at the QB position.
But, the piece does say that the combination of Steve Keim as general manager and Arians as head coach is likely to lead to good things for the Red Birds.
Front office: Steve Keim takes the helm for the first time in 2013. My sense is that he is a nuts-and-bolts GM, who will concentrate on building a sound fundamental football team. My experience with Bruce Arians leads me to believe they will put together a wide-open, high-scoring offense.
Coaching: With Ken Whisenhunt out after six seasons, Arians now steps in. This is a good fit for him. He will build a running game in Arizona, and he’s already brought in Rashard Mendenhall and drafted Stepfan Taylor. Bruce will get after the players, but they’ll like playing for him. He still needs a quarterback, but if he’s given time he’ll turn that organization around. Just look at what he did in Indianapolis last season.
The Cardinals are the lowest-ranked team from the NFC West, as division rivals San Francisco (1st), Seattle (3rd) and St. Louis (T8) all rank higher.