Offseason Playbook: Cardinals

A look at Arizona's philosophy, team needs and a key free-agent move

Originally Published: March 3, 2013
By Gary Horton and Field Yates | ESPN Insider
Larry Fitzgerald Brace Hemmelgarn/USA TODAY SportsThe Cardinals need to find Larry Fitzgerald some help this offseason.

In a new offseason series, Insider takes an in-depth look at NFL teams before free agency begins March 12. What is each team's philosophy on offense and defense, biggest needs and one player who could make for an ideal signing in free agency?

Team philosophies

Offense -- New head coach Bruce Arians has a huge rebuilding job ahead of him to fix this offense, but it won't be done in one offseason. With veteran Tom Moore on board as assistant head coach, this will be a very creative offense with innovative schemes and plays. He is a pass-first coach and he will use a lot of movement and motion, with a likely base package of three wide receivers, one tight end and one back -- but we will also see more two tight end sets, and they will be a bigger part of this offense in the run game. Early on we will see wide runs and stretch plays with play-action coming off it, but the Cardinals will not throw the ball a lot to their backs.

Arians needs to add a hybrid tight end to this offense who can attack the middle of the field, and the wide receivers will run a lot of deep crossing routes and take more vertical shots than you might think. We will also see bunch formations. Sight adjustment will be a part of this passing game if the players can handle it, and Arians will call the plays; he is an aggressive playcaller. They may not have elite talent, but this will be a smart offense. We could also see cornerback Patrick Peterson in some wildcat packages.

Gary Horton spent 10 years in the NFL as a scout and another 10 years at the college level as an assistant coach and recruiter. He is the founder and most seasoned member of the Scouts Inc. staff, and his extensive experience at all levels of football make him an excellent talent evaluator.
Field Yates has previous experience interning with the New England Patriots on both their coaching and scouting staffs. A graduate of Wesleyan University (CT), he is a regular contributor to ESPN Boston's Patriots coverage and ESPN Insider.