I understand that they’re important. I do.
It’s just that every year, I only get really wrapped
up in the Draft. The off-season is really for the GM and the owner. Starting
in July, we get close to the time that exists for the fans. The time when
Sunday means something. I also understand that I used the word “God” in
the title of this article, so every Sunday is Super Sunday. But they mean more
from September through February. And anyone that doesn’t understand this
concept probably isn’t reading this right now.
I had a bracket. I watched pitchers and catchers report.
I woke up one day and realized, “Holy crap! The NHL is on! And it’s playoff
time!” I put $20 on the Lakers. That was a mistake. I even watched the
World Cup. And how, somebody please tell me how does a team win a game
that ends in a 0-0 tie? I still haven’t figured that one out.
But that’s all behind us now. Training Camp starts at the
end of the month. The players will be wearing pads and hitting each other.
Football is coming soon to a Sunday near you.
Following that train of thought, here are some key story
lines as we start thinking about Training Camp…
Warner vs. Leinart: Notice that I’m assuming
Leinart claims the #2 job. I make this assumption because I think we can all
agree that the Bidwells aren’t going to pay Matt $10 million in guaranteed money
to back-up the guy that holds the clipboard.
I’m seriously wondering, given all the buzz around
Arizona’s first round pick, if he can take the #1 job away from Kurt Warner.
I’m not saying it’s going to happen, but this is Dennis Green we’re
talking about. He’d put Vinny Testaverde’s grandfather behind center if he
though Pappy Testverde was the best person to run his system.
Guards: The tackles and center are pretty well
set. They’re not All-Pros by any stretch of the imagination, but they also
don’t have quality players challenging them for their positions. At guard, the
Cardinals have, essentially, two rookies (Elton Brown and Deuce Lutui) trying to
unseat two veterans (Jeremy Bridges and Reggie Wells). Can they do it? Most
teams will take youth, guile, and enthusiasm over age and experience. But,
Tight End: You have Leonard Pope, a rookie, and a
bunch of former undrafted free agents. I’ll admit it’s kind of like Alien vs.
Predator (whoever wins, we lose), but it’ll be interesting to see if Pope (a
huge target at 6’7”) emerges and brings respectability to the position as far as
the Cardinals are concerned. Then again, with a team that has Boldin,
Fitzgerald, Johnson, and Edge, there might not be enough receptions to go
Defensive Tackles: The Cardinals are decidedly soft
up the middle on offense and defense. In a division with Seattle, San
Francisco, and suddenly smash-mouth St. Louis, that’s a problem. During the
off-season, we brought in Kendrick Clancy and drafted Gabe Watson. Can they
step up? The season might just depend on it.
Defensive Back: Antrel Rolle had little or no
chance to prove himself last season. Can he live up to his billing as the most
talented player regardless of position from last year’s draft? That’s what we
need to find out. Was Adrian Wilson a one year wonder? Can Robert Griffith
hold up? What about that… other guy… the one that’s not Ty Law? If anyone can
test these guys, it’s the receivers on this roster.
Defense: In general. Clancy Pendergast has done an
exceptional job coaching a bunch of guys you haven’t heard of into a top-15
offense. However, that’s a top-15 offense statistically, and we all know about
statistics and the damn lies. His group doesn’t need to be a dominant unit,
they just need to keep the opponent out of the end zone. If they rank in the
bottom third of the league and give up fewer points, it’s a net win. It’s their
third year in the system. Time to put it together, get the other team off the
field, and let this explosive offense go to work.