Week 1: Arizona Cardinals Vs. Seattle Seahawks
- QuarterbackHead coach Ken Whisenhunt still had not made an official selection at the quarterback position, but he’s not making his choice from a position of strength. John Skelton and Kevin Kolb seem to have little to offer at this point and it seems likely that Skelton has the better chance to improve at this pointRussell Wilson did not have the pedigree of Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III, but he will be the Seahawks’ starting quarterback this season. The third-round draft pick beat out free agent Matt Flynn because of his poise, athleticism and accuracy.
- OffenseIf the Cardinals can get any kind of positive traction from the quarterback position, they have one of the best receivers in the game in Larry Fitzgerald. Tight end Todd Heap can go up and get it in third-down situations. Beanie Wells gives them solid production from the running back slot.The Seahawks should be able to take some of the pressure off of their rookie quarterback with the running game. Marshawn Lynch is coming off a 1,204-yard season and is ready to meet or exceed those numbers. Sidney Rice is the best receiver of an ordinary group.
- DefenseThe Cardinals have to look at their team and realize that the defense must carry the team. Defensive coordinator Ray Horton depends heavily on defensive end Calais Campbell to put pressure on the quarterback and he gets help from defensive tackle Darnell Dockett.Pete Carroll likes to think of himself as being smarter than other head coaches around the league. That’s debatable but he understands defense and the Seahawks showed steady improvement in that area last year. Defensive end Red Bryant seals the edge on the run while fellow defensive end Chris Clemons had another double-digit sack season.
- Special TeamsPatrick Peterson is 2012-speak for Devin Hester. Peterson is coming off a season in which he returned four punts for touchdowns. Like Hester, it seems Peterson can take it to the house any time he wants. LaRod Stephens-Howling is solid on kickoff returnsThe Seahawks were not overly effective on special teams in 2011, but they have two excellent special teamers in Leon Washington and Michael Robinson. Placekicker Steven Hauschka and punter Jon Ryan are a solid duo as well.
The checkmarks may be even, but you have to favor the Seahawks because the Cardinals are so moribund at the quarterback position. That sounds strange considering the Seahawks are going with a rookie third-rounder, but Wilson earned the spot because he can put the ball on the money. That’s what the position is all about.