Being All They Can Be ……………….

Being All They Can Be

by tophatal

Well the first of the NFL teams have now began their preseason workouts with the preseason itself now less than a month away . The first of the franchises reporting just happens to be Arizona Cardinals reporting , with the team looking to redeem themselves after a lackluster season in 2011 . Having recorded an 8-8 mark last season in failing to qualify for the postseason . Head coach, Ken Whisenhunt will be under a great deal of pressure get this team heading in the right direction after a disappointing 2011 foray .


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Team owner , William “Bill” Bidwill and general manager Rod Graves have slowly sought to resurrect the fortunes of the Arizona Cardinals , after years sheer of mediocrity . The franchise in subsequent years upon the retirement of Kurt Warner , has struggled to find a suitable successor to the former league and Superbowl MVP . This season , Whisenhunt and his coaching staff will entrust the signal calling duties to Kevin Kolb . The former Philadelphia Eagles’ starter having signed a lucrative contract with the Cardinals , has yet to live up to or fulfill the obligations of that deal . Albeit, that Kolb’s backup John Skelton has a proven , and better track record as a Arizona Cardinals’ starter than the incumbent . This season , if Kevin Kolb is not able to perform up to par , then it is my belief that John Skelton will be installed as the permanent starter for this team .

Rod Graves , Ken Whisenhunt and team’s coaching staff were very judicious in 2012 NFL Draft and the choices that have been made over the years have proven to be fortuitous . The drafting of Michael Floyd , Jamell Fleming , Bobby Massie , Senio Kelemete` , Justin Bethel , Ryan Lindley and Nate Potter , are the pieces that the front office feels are complementary to meet the team’s needs , beyond that of their off-season acquisitions made via free agency . The Arizona Cardinals remains an efficient offense , with a potent receiving corps led by Larry Fitzgerald , Early Doucet , Andre Roberts and Chris ‘Beanie’ Wells makes for an explosive group of receivers . At the same time the team’s rushing offense should not be overlooked , with Wells leading the way for the team. However , as a resident within the NFC West , it should prove to be interesting to see whether or not the Cardinals can contend with a resurgent San Francisco 49 ers’ organization , a team intent on redeeming themselves after last season’s foray in the playoffs .

If anything , for Arizona Cardinals to be a success this season not only within the NFC West but the conference as a whole , then their play has to be at a heightened level and a great deal more competitive as well. Other combatants within the division are Seattle Seahawks , St Louis Rams and the Niners .

The struggles however , remain for the Cardinals , in terms of the team’s defense and the very fact that they remain one of the poorer defenses in the NFC as well as the NFL as a whole . Cardinals’ defensive coordinator Ray Horton has a great to do , in order to make this tier of players amongst , one of the better defensive units within the NFL . This much however , we do know , a great deal of the Arizona Cardinals’ success will be predicated upon the play of Kevin Kolb . As great as the claims were being made , that the player was one of the most sought after free agent quarterbacks in 2011 , I do believe that those claims were vastly overstated ! Kolb has struggled to gain the confidence of this Cardinals’ teammates and that has been pretty much indicative over the course of his NFL career . Offensive coordinator , Mike Miller and quarterbacks’ coach John McNulty will have to do their utmost in getting the very best out of Kevin Kolb as a quarterback . Based on the QB ratings (81.1) alone , Kolb would rank as the seventeenth best player at the position in the NFL over the course of last season , albeit that he only appeared in eight games for the beleaguered Arizona Cardinals . Throw out the QB ratings and simply concentrate on perhaps the one stat that is the most pertinent , and we can truly see Kolb’s worth as a quarterback in the NFL and more astutely within the NFC West in 2011 .

Defending NFC West champions , the San Francisco 49ers after the 13-3 season , which in essence , made believer s out of many , who longed for a return to the glory days of Jerry Rice , Steve Young and Joe Montana . This young and vibrant version of the team in 2011 left their fans clamoring for more . Perhaps no one person on that team of last season was more representative of that , than a rejuvenated Alex Smith . The Niners’ quarterback had the best season of his professional career , as he led this team with a great deal of authority . Now granted , during the off-season GM Trent Baalke , at the insistence of team CEO Jed York made overtures to Peyton Manning in seeking the four-time league MVP’s interest in signing with the organization . Manning , however , would parlay his worth by signing a lucrative multi-year deal with the Denver Broncos .

Alex Smith may well choose to use that slight in showing Jim Harbaugh that the front office’s overlooking his contributions will not go unnoticed . The player has seen “ his stock “ rise within the NFL , albeit the financial rewards are not on par with the “elite “ at the position or at the upper echelons of the NFL in terms of a salary . Smith however , for the moment is being handsomely rewarded by the San Francisco 49ers but undoubtedly he will seek to prove to Jim Harbaugh , Trent Baalke and Jed York , that he is an invaluable asset . As a free agent 2015 , the seven-year veteran and number one overall pick from 2005 knows that the expectations for this young team at its core , the window of opportunity is now here . They can either choose to break through or simply sit back , remain complacent or as they have been doing for the past few years , just being inept , until they laid sway to their opponents in 2011 .

At $7.5 million a year , I truly believe that Pete Carroll is being overpaid as the head coach of the Seattle Seahawks . Team owner , Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen undoubtedly believes in hype over substance . Otherwise , why would he hire a coach who departed from USC (Trojans) under a cloud of suspicion and with his integrity not being fully in-tact ? Questions that remain answered , and ones which Pete Carroll , has chosen not to answer as it relates to the sullied football program of the USC Trojans . Not that Carroll’s successor Lane Kiffin has actually improved the situation with his own missteps , having succeeded Carroll .

If there is one thing abundantly clear and which was on display as it relates to this team , and it is that the Seahawks are vastly overrated , and that as an NFL coach , Pete Carroll still has a great deal to learn in spite of his success at the collegiate level . Not that his successes during his previous tenures within the NFL were a resounding success to begin with. If anything , abject mediocrity with Pete Carroll appears to “ be the norm” in terms of his coaching ability within the ranks of the NFL . Yeah baby , the NFL has long chosen to overpay for “mediocre coaching talent “ in the NFL , and it will continue to be that way for years to come .

Draft picks asides , upon perusing this Seahawks’ roster , there is little to suggest that the team will be a major factor within the NFC , much less within the division itself once their regular season schedule gets underway . The franchise ranked in the lower echelons in a number of meaningful statistics ( 23rd points scored per game , 28th in total offense , 22nd in passing yds[194.1 per game] and 21st in rushing [109.1 yds per game] that you simply know that this season Carroll and his coaching staff will need a major miracle , if they are to overcome many of their regular season opponents . And where the Seahawks are the most vulnerable , just happens to be defensively where in 2011 they allowed an ever of 332.2 yards per game in total defense , which ranked third highest within the NFC . . So much for the Seattle Seahawks and their ambitions for the upcoming season, if only there were as good as some actually believe them to be . But that is a story for another day ! .

The departure of Jeff Fisher though something of a tragedy , indicated to me more than anything else how much of an asshole , Tennessee Titans’ owner Bud Adams just happens to be as an NFL franchisee ! Clueless , dumb and perhaps more than anything else , he thought to undermine his head coach , alienating him amongst the players but even more asinine was Adams’ choosing to side with a piece of fecal matter like Vince Young ! . The player , himself , not long with the Tennessee Titans will undoubtedly live out his professional career as a journeyman backup quarterback around the NFL . Think , Rodney Peete but with the IQ of a mentally challenged individual !

Jeff Fisher , having departed that hell hole known as the Tennessee Titans has landed on his feet but he now has a tough season ahead of him as he embarks on his first year with the St Louis Rams , as that franchise’s head coach , with a new coaching staff in tow . This franchise has been beset by problems with their being ever-growing uncertainty as whether or not Sam Bradford is indeed the quarterback to take the team to the next level . Fisher is an astute head coach who has the respect of his peers and the vast majority of players around the league . Herein , lies the caveat to this all , winning and respect go hand-in-hand but what gives the fans the greatest pleasure is to see their teams winning on a consistent basis while remaining a perennial contender . As of late that clearly has not been the case for the St Louis Rams , as team owner ….. Stanley Kroenke and the front office yearn for the days when the franchise was known as “ The Greatest Show on Turf “ were laying waste to the entire NFL .

The Rams’ team of 2001 went on to obliterate a number of NFL statistics that many thought could not be possibly surpassed . As we now know many of those records have subsequently fallen the NFL has now become more than a pass-happy form and brand of football being played to entertain the masses . Does anyone play defense anymore , within the NFL (No Fun League ) ?

From my own perspective, if Sam Bradford is not back to full strength , then his inability to lead this team will greatly impact the franchise . As Bradford goes , then so does this team , and it will be incumbent upon the young quarterback to prove to management and his teammates that he is back to his very best . In his rookie season (2010) , we saw the reasons why Bradford was made the number one overall pick from the NFL Draft of that year . The young quarterback showed a great deal of composure and leadership skills , not often seen in a rookie . That being said , 2011 and the history books were rewritten , as Cam Newton exploded unto the NFL arena . And I seriously doubt that we will see Newton’s exploits being matched during this season , by the likes of either Andrew Luck , Robert Griffin III , Ryan Tannehill or by any of the other quarterbacks taken in this year’s NFL Draft who may become a starter in their rookie season ! .


By clicking on a frame you can view that picture in its newly formatted size .


Picture gallery for your perusal .

As a fan of the NFL , what if anything , are you most looking forward to witnessing this upcoming season ? And which rookie player do you believe will have the biggest impact in 2012 ? Of the points raised within this piece , simply leave a comment as to what you believe to be pertinent .


Picture and slideshow details below .

(1) TEMPE, AZ – JUNE 13: Wide receiver Michael Floyd (15) of the Arizona Cardinals practices in the mini-camp at the team’s training center facility on June 13, 2012 in Tempe, Arizona. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images ….

TEMPE, AZ – JUNE 13: Tight end Todd Heap (86) of the Arizona Cardinals practices in the mini-camp at the team’s training center facility on June 13, 2012 in Tempe, Arizona. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images …

(3) TEMPE, AZ – JUNE 13: Quarterback Kevin Kolb (4) of the Arizona Cardinals stands with Ryan Lindley (14) as they practice in the mini-camp at the team’s training center facility on June 13, 2012 in Tempe, Arizona. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images …

(4) TEMPE, AZ – JUNE 13: Quarterback John Skelton (19) of the Arizona Cardinals throws a pass as he practices in the mini-camp at the team’s training center facility on June 13, 2012 in Tempe, Arizona. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images ……

(5) Quarterback Kevin Kolb (4) of the Arizona Cardinals talks with head coach Ken Whisenhunt after defeating the Dallas Cowboys in the NFL game at the University of Phoenix Stadium on December 4, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the Cowboys 19-13 in overtime . Getty Images North America/ Christian Petersen ….

(6) San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith (11) passes in front of quarterback Colin Kaepernick , left, and Scott Tolzien , second from left, during NFL football practice in Santa Clara, Calif., Tuesday, May 29, 2012. AP Photo/Paul Sakuma ….

(7) San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith prepares to pass as coach Jim Harbaugh watches during NFL football practice in Santa Clara, Calif., Wednesday, May 23, 2012. AP Photo/Paul Sakuma

(8) Former Tennessee Titans’ head coach , Jeff Fisher , and Vince Young are seen here at the funeral service of Steve McNair , the former Tennessee Titans’ quarterback , who Young called a “mentor ” and ” father-figure” . Unfortunately , none of the traits that McNair is said to have possessed rubbed off on his protege` Vince Young . The relationship between Young and the Titans’ head coach became fractured , leading to Fisher’s departure from the franchise after his authority was over-ridden by the imbecilic attitude of the team owner Kenneth “Bud” Adams , who sided with the player . Not long after , Young , himself would be waived by the Tennessee Titans . In 2011 the player was a backup to Michael Vick of the Philadelphia Eagles . He was not re-signed by the team but was subsequently picked up as an understudy for Ryan Fitzpatrick of the Buffalo Bills . Associated Press / George Clark …..



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