2012 Team Previews: Arizona Cardinals

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Arizona Cardinals (previously known as the Phoenix Cardinals, St. Louis Cardinals, Chicago Cardinals, Card-Pitt, and Morgan Athletic Club)

  • 2011 Record: 8-8 (2nd in NFC West)
  • 2011 Point Differential: -36 (21st out of 32)
  • 2011 Strength of Schedule (per PFR’s SRS system): 0.0 (t-16)
  • 2011 Adjusted Net Yards per Pass Attempt (offense): 4.9 (t-22)
  • 2011 Adjusted Net Yards per Pass Attempt (defense): 5.8 (t-15)
  • 2011 Adjusted Pythagorean Record (accounting for Strength of Schedule): 7.0-9.0 (21st)
  • 2010 Adjusted Pythagorean Record: 3.3-12.7 (31st)

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And now a story I call…Korn on the Kolb

Kevin knelt down to examine the earth at his feet. “The land, she gives us nothing,” he whispered mournfully while choking back tears and stabbing a pig with a twelve-inch Bowie knife. The vast corn fields that Kevin had been brought from back east to grow to record heights instead lingered down around his ankles. “It’s not even a little bit fair,” Kevin thought to himself bitterly. “This drought has curtailed corn production all ’round this great country. Besides, I hardly think it’s my fault that I keep getting concussed – these John Deere combines are not pleasant to run into!” Trying to take out some of his anger, he angrily ripped out a stalk of corn and tried to throw it at a large silo he liked to call Larry. Unfortunately, he decided to throw the stalk off his back foot and it flew ten feet over Larry’s head.

Just then, Kevin saw his employer Ken walking toward him. “Look, Ken, I know this looks bad right now,” he said, “but don’t you worry, we’ll get this crop turned around and we’ll be getting the super ribbon at the county fair yet. You’ll see!”

“I’m not so sure about that,” Ken said with a wisened look on his face. “You know, I’m thinking of replacing you for this job with your understudy John.”

“John?!” Kevin yelled incredulously. “JOHN?!?! I mean, I understood when I got replaced back east by that other farmer – I can’t possibly generate the level of excitement about corn as that guy can. But John is terrible! When I was out nursing my threshing injuries last year, his production was worse than mine – and that’s saying something!”

“I know,” Ken responded with a blank stare. “But, for reasons that are completely unrelated to job performance, the rest of the fieldhands responded better to John; he’s got the heart of a corn champion. Frankly, if I wasn’t paying you sixty times more than him, I would have already made the switch. And I still might. Maybe.”

“Please, please Ken! I’m begging you, just one more chance!” Kevin pleaded earnestly. He was about to continue when a stiff breeze approaching seven miles per hour arose out of the southwest. “Oh no, not these tornado winds again!!!” Kevin shouted fearfully while trying to run for cover. But it was too late, as he was knocked to the ground and forced to sit out the next six weeks with wind-related injuries.

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Random thoughts…

Two of the more underappreciated players in the league reside on the Cardinals defense: safety Adrian Wilson and defensive end Darnell Dockett…The Cardinals went from being one of the worst defenses in the league in 2010 to above average in 2011, and while rookie cornerback Patrick Peterson got much of the press, the defensive resurgence was due more to a bounce-back year from Wilson (possibly the most active safety in the league not named Polamalu) and continued excellence from Dockett (one of the best pass-rushing 3-4 ends in the league)…Peterson actually had struggled quite a bit his first year, though we should definitely deliver the caveats that this is basically true of all rookie cornerbacks and Peterson was given Darrelle Revis-type responsibilities from day one. He’ll be much better in his second year…What Peterson was great at from day one was punt returning, something he did a grand total of 27 times in his entire career at LSU. But, yes, let’s continue to refer to Les Miles as a master of strategy…One statistic that is likely to rebound in the Cardinals’ favor this year is turnover differential. Last year, they were -13. If they rebound closer to average this year, that should be worth a win purely on its own …

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Outlook

Bill James is credited with coming up with the “Plexiglass Principle,” which states that teams that improve dramatically in one season tend to decline the next year and vice versa. Football Outsiders hammers this point home constantly under the guise of “regression to the mean.” Hence, the very poor projection for the Cardinals this year. For, if you remember way back to a time called 2010, the Cardinals were really freaking terrible. True, much of this was related to reasons named “Derek Anderson,” “Max Hall,” and “Richard Bartel.” But what reason is there to get excited about the current Cardinal quarterbacks? Kevin Kolb, playing with much, much more talent in Philadelphia in 2010, posted well below league average numbers. John Skelton is Tim Tebow without the hype, running ability, or arm strength. If those two repeat their mediocre ANY/A figures from last season, the Cardinals certainly have as good a shot at the division title as anyone (spoiler alert: we’re projecting San Francisco to fall back down to earth this year). But that seems rather unlikely. Over/under on which week Larry Fitzgerald starts bawling about being rejected by Peyton Manning this offseason: Week 5. I’ll take the under.

2012 projected point differential: 269.8-377.0

2012 average projection: 5.0-11.0 (4th in NFC West)

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