2010 Arizona Cardinals Season Preview

The offseason has not been kind to the Arizona Cardinals. Throughout various points of the 2010 summer, the defending NFC West champs lost four of their top eight players from the '09 roster, making the outlook in the 2010 Arizona Cardinals Team Preview not too bright.

The most noticeable absence from the team will be quarterback, Kurt Warner. After an extremely successful two-year stretch, Warner decided to join the rest of the Arizona retirement community and hang up his cleats for good. Despite head coach, Ken Whisenhunt's pleas, and the groveling of the rest of management, the future hall-of-fame quarterback elected to pass on $11.5 million next season.

Aside from Warner, the Cardinals also lost Antrel Rolle, Karlos Dansby and Anquan Boldin. For better or for worse, the voids left behind by the aforementioned players will be filled by Kerry Rhodes, Daryl Washington, Steve Breaston and Early Doucet.

Stepping into the almost impossible-to-fill shoes of Warner will be former Heisman Trophy-winner and No. 10 overall pick, Matt Leinart. The USC standout, to date, has had a very unimpressive NFL career, but has spent four years on the bench learning from one of the game's greats. Further, he will be stepping into an offense that has ranked 11th or better in scoring in each of the past three seasons.

Under Warner's guidance, Arizona averaged 605 pass attempts per season. You can expect that number to drastically decrease with the loss of Boldin and the new insertion of Leinart into the starting lineup. If nothing else, look for Whisenhunt to drastically cut down on the throwing attempts of his new quarterback, and put a lot more faith into running back, Beanie Wells.

On the defensive end, the team signed outside linebacker, Joey Porter, hoping to add a bit of firepower that wasn't particularly efficient last year. The team also added nose tackle, Dan Williams, in the first round of the draft, and inside linebacker, Daryl Washington, in the second. The Cardinals also signed Alan Faneca to a one-year deal hoping that the former Pro-Bowler can provide some assistance to the at-times poor run-blocking that they had in 2009.

All in all, the 2010 Arizona Cardinals Season will most likely be an indicator of Whisenhunt's ability to do more with less. On the bright side, though, in the always-weak NFC West, the Cardinals can count on being the second best team in the division despite all of their troubles.

2010 Arizona Cardinals Coaching Staff & ChangesKen Whisenhunt in his three seasons with the Arizona Cardinals has won two divisision titles, a NFC conference championship and tabbed one Super Bowl appearance. His success warranted a contract extension through 2013. Whisenut has an overall record of 31-23 in Arizona and boasts a 4-2 post-season record. He took over play-calling duties last season and will once again take on that role in 2010, having control of the offensive system in conjunction with offensive line coach Russ Grimm, who acts as the coordinator for the offense up in the booth on game days.

Defensive coordinator Bill Davis will have several new starters to implement in his 3-4 base scheme and will have to develop cohesion and unity amongst the personnel. The Cardinal defense surrendered 90 points in the team's two playoff games last season. On the whole however, Whisenhut has his team in line to repeat as the NFC West Champions, and the pre-season favorite to do so.2010 Arizona Cardinals Key Free Agency Acquisitions & LossesAcquistions
QB - Derek Anderson from Cleveland Browns
G - Alan Faneca from New York Jets
LB - Joey Porter from Miami Dolphins
S - Kerry Rhodes traded from New York Jets
K - Jay Feely from New York Jets

LB - Karlos Dansby to Miami Dolphins
S - Antrel Rolle to New York Giants
QB - Kurt Warner to Retirement
WR - Anquan Boldin traded to Baltimore Ravens
CB - Bryant McFadden traded to Pittsburgh Steelers
K - Neil Rackers to Houston Texans
WR - Jerheme Urban to Kansas City Chiefs2010 Arizona Cardinals NFL DraftRound 1: Pick 26 - DT, Dan Williams (Tennessee)
Round 2: Pick 47 - LB, Daryl Washington (Texas Christian)
Round 3: Pick 88 - WR, Andre Roberts (Citadel)
Round 4: Pick 130 - DE, O'Brien Scofield (Wisconsin)
Round 5: Pick 155 - QB, John Skelton (Fordham)
Round 6: Pick 201 - DB, Jorrick Calvin (Troy)
Round 7: Pick 233 - TE, Jim Dray (Stanford)
2010 Arizona Cardinals QuarterbacksNo doubt the biggest problem for the Cardinals, offensively, will be making the adjustment from having Warner to having Leinart as their starting quarterback. Despite his college success, Leinart lacks many of the fundamental skills that are necessary for a successful professional career. He doesn't move well inside the pocket, doesn't have great arm strength and isn't particularly athletic. Frankly, nobody will be shocked if by the season's end new backup, Derek Anderson, is the new starter for the team.

2010 Arizona Cardinals Quarterback Depth Chart
QB - Matt Leinart
QB - Derek Anderson2010 Arizona Cardinals Running BacksDespite a 225-pound frame, Wells has proven to be most dangerous when he can get to the outside. The second-year pro out of Ohio State has a lateral agility and burst that third-down back, Tim Hightower, lacks. Last year he averaged 5.3 yards per carry in single back sets, and a mere 3.1 yards per carry on two-back sets.

Projected 2010 Arizona Cardinals Running Back Depth Chart
RB - Chris "Beanie" Wells
RB - Tim Hightower2010 Arizona Cardinals Wide ReceiversThe team's other big offensive loss was their second best receiver, Boldin. Boldin gave Arizona an immediate inside presence that they never seem to get from their tight end collection. Breaston and Doucet will no-doubt assume the majority of Boldin's responsibilities, but it remains unknown how effective they'll be in do so. Still, with arguably the best receiver in the NFL in Larry Fitzgerald, Doucet and Breaston should have ample opportunities to exploit their defensive matchups.

While they are generally useless as it applies to in-the-seams catching, the Cardinals' tight end core is made up of very good blockers. As such, expect an improved running game for the 2010 Arizona Cardinals behind Wells.

Projected 2010 Arizona Cardinals Wide Receiver Depth Chart
WR - Larry Fitzgerald
WR - Steve Breaston
- Edward Gant
WR - Early Doucet

Projected 2010 Arizona Cardinals Tight End Depth Chart
TE - Ben Patrick
TE - Anthony Becht2010 Arizona Cardinals Offensive LineIt will also be interesting to see how the offensive line situation impacts the team in 2010. Warner was extremely underrated in being able to get the ball out with defenders in his face, Leinart is not nearly as skilled. Mike Gandy and Levi Brown both did poor jobs protecting their quarterback last season, and as a result, Gandy is gone and Brown was shifted over to left tackle for the upcoming season. Further, because of how inconsistent Jeremy Bridges has been for pass protection, third-year pro, Brandon Keith, will most likely have a clear shot at the right tackle job. If not Keith, then veteran, Reggie Wells, may also be a solid fit for the right tackle position.

Projected 2010 Arizona Cardinals Starting Offensive Line
LT - Levi Brown
LG - Alan Faneca
C - Lyle Sendlein
RG - Deuce Lutui
RT - Brandon Keith2010 Arizona Cardinals Defensive LineDespite not having any stand-out pass-rushers, the Cardinals still managed to put up 43 sacks last season (sixth in the league). A lot of the credit for this should go to defensive coordinator, Bill Davis, for creating a 3-4 scheme built around 4-3 techniques. It was through this well constructed defense that defensive ends Darnell Dockett and Calais Campbell flourished as one-gap penetrators. The two finished the season tied for a team-leading, seven sacks apiece.

Projected 2010 Arizona Cardinals Starting Defensive Line
DE - Darnell Dockett
NT - Dan Williams
DE - Calais Campbell2010 Arizona Cardinals LinebackersArizona is no-doubt also hoping that veteran, Joey Porter, and second-year pro, Cody Brown, provide further stability to the defense. Porter, at this point in his career, is best suited to play in a rotation. Brown, an athletic second-round pick who sat out his entire '09 rookie season with a wrist injury, will be key to the 2010 Arizona Cardinals success on this end of the ball.

Projected 2010 Arizona Cardinals Starting Linebackers
OLB - Clark Haggans
- Gerald Hayes
ILB - Daryl Washington
OLB - Joey Porter
2010 Arizona Cardinals SecondaryStrong safety, Adrian Wilson, will continue to provide his linebacker-like power game all the while trying to improve on his coverage skills. Rhodes, the team's new addition, will also try to bring some sense of balance all the while attempting to prove his best days aren't behind him. The loss of Rolle, however, will be huge for the team because of his ability to slide from free safety to the slot. As a result, Arizona will now have to have Mike Adams defend the slot.

It will also be interesting to see how fourth-round pick, Greg Toler, will do with the team. As a rookie, Toler got limited playing time, but with the new openings with the team, expect him to play a more prominent role with the defense. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie also remains a great option at corner who can play full-time man-coverage on an opposing team's best receiver without needing help.

Projected 2010 Arizona Cardinals Starting Seconday
CB - Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
CB - Greg Toler
SS - Adrian Wilson
FS - Kerry Rhodes

2010 Arizona Cardinals Preview