Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Yes, Cardinals can talk Super Bowl
By Mike Sando
The Arizona Cardinals have an extra week to prepare for their next opponent, the Pittsburgh Steelers.
They have more than three years to prepare for an opportunity to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl, which is returning to University of Phoenix Stadium following the 2014 season. The game is scheduled for February 2015.
The Cardinals' Super Bowl appearance following the 2008 season fell one year after the New York Giants beat the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium.
My easier-said-than-done five-step plan for the Cardinals to play the Super Bowl in their home stadium:
- Draft and develop elite outside pass-rushers. This might require investing a first-round draft choice in the position. Missing on 2009 second-rounder Cody Brown set back the team.
- Commit to a defensive philosophy. Ray Horton is the third defensive coordinator to work under coach Ken Whisenhunt in Arizona.
- Target an offensive left tackle in the draft. They might need to get one for the right side, too. The Cardinals have preferred veteran offensive linemen, sometimes with positive results. They need to improve at tackle for the future, though.
- Remake the safety position. Adrian Wilson turns 32 Wednesday and will be 35 when the Super Bowl returns to Arizona. The Cardinals will have to think about the future at this position, with an eye toward improving their pass coverage. Improving the pass-rush will go a long ways in that area, too.
- Keep fingers crossed on Kevin Kolb. Whisenhunt has, to an extent, bet his future in Arizona on the team's new quarterback. The coach's own contract runs through the 2013 season, with a team option for 2014.
That last one is the key variable for Arizona. The offseason storyline for Kolb and other players -- imagine what they'll do with a full offseason of preparation -- is predictable and possibly accurate, too.