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Boldin, Dansby, Rolle, & Warner’s Impact on the ’10 Cards

It’s a subject that hasn’t been covered at Cardinals Gab for a while, but it seems to have become relevant again now that Arizona’s season has turned quite sour.  To be sure, the Cardinals lost a lot of talent when these four Pro Bowl caliber players left during the ’09 – ’10 off-season.  Warner retired, Dansby and Rolle departed as free agents, and Boldin was traded to Baltimore for draft picks.  Aside from Darnell Dockett and Larry Fitzgerald, a large part of the nucleus that lead the Cardinals to the Super Bowl in 2008 would no longer suit up on Sundays at UoP Stadium.

Obviously losing so much talent was always going to have a profound impact on the 2010 Cardinals, but exactly how profound and how it would translate to wins and losses couldn’t be guessed with precision.  Speculation ranged from ten wins and a sure division title to as few as three, four or five wins and utter embarrassment.  Unfortunately, getting close to eight wins seems like a pipe dream at this point in the season and those that predicted four or five wins seem much closer to the mark.

Now that the Cardinals stand at 3-6, it’s easy to say that Boldin, Warner, Dansby and Rolle have cost the Cardinals wins, which is probably right, especially in Warner’s case.  In order to get a clearer picture of just how much the Cardinals are missing with these four gone, let’s take a look at these players in terms of their production.  For Warner, obviously we can’t measure his current production, so we’ll take the numbers from his last year in Arizona, which wasn’t his best statistically.

Obviously, measuring these players’ production now does very little to actually determine how they would produce for the Cardinals this year.  They are playing on different teams, with different teammates, against different opponents.  It does determine, however, whether they are still strong and viable playmakers and important additions to their new teams.  As for Warner, his production will be compared to the Cardinals’ current quarterback play, which honestly just isn’t fair, but so be it.

Anquan Boldin’s Current Production in Baltimore:

  • 45 receptions, 75 targets, 596 yards, 13.2 average, 6 TDs, 38-yard long, 8 receptions of 20+ yards, 66.2 yards/game, 137 YAC, 32 first downs.

Clearly, Boldin is still a dynamic receiver that’s capable of putting up very impressive numbers.  His 137 YAC evidences that he’s as physical as ever and his 32 first downs proves that he’s still a great possession receiver that will run those gutty routes needed to move the sticks.  Anquan leads his team in receiving and he was voted a captain, which proves that he’s well respected and is a motivator for Baltimore.  Injury was often a problem for Boldin in Arizona, but so far so good for the Ravens on that front.  Joe Flacco is a very capable quarterback, but he’s not on Kurt Warner’s level.  That fact makes Boldin’s numbers in Baltimore all the more impressive considering he took a step down in terms of quarterback play and Baltimore’s running game isn’t quite what it was last year.  Steve Breaston has filled in admirably in Boldin’s absence, but it’s hard to argue that the Cardinals don’t miss Boldin, especially since Breaston has ironically missed a few games due to injury this season.

Karlos Dansby’s Production in Miami:

  • 68 total tackles, 53 solo, 1.0 sack, 4 tackles for a loss, 2 passes defended, 1 forced fumble

Dansby is once again having a fine season at linebacker.  He is second on the Dolphins in tackles and anchors the middle of the defense.  Karlos may still receive some criticism that he doesn’t make enough game changing plays, but he’s as consistent and rock solid as they come.  Dansby is strong enough to play the run in the middle of the field and fast enough to cover the sidelines as well.  In addition, he’s athletic enough to drop back into pass coverage when needed.  He brought all these attributes and veteran leadership to the Dolphins, though at a premium price.  Like Breaston, Paris Lenon has performed well above expectations in Dansby’s stead, but losing a player like Dansby hurts a defense.  Karlos was instrumental in molding the Cardinals into a winning franchise.  He did it with strong leadership on and off the field.

Antrell Rolle’s Production in New York:

  • 49 tackles, 42 solo, 2 passes defended, 1 INT

Rolle is tied for the team lead in tackles on the much improved Giants’ defense.  Back in September, speaking after a loss to the Colts, Rolle made headlines for openly criticizing his teammates by stating, “I saw some things that I wasn’t too fond of in [the Giants’] locker room.  I felt like there was no one that stepped up to the plate when the opportunity presented itself.”  The remarks caused a stir in the Giants’ organization, prompting head coach Tom Coughlin to call a meeting with Rolle.  After the initial firestorm died down, it provided the team with motivation to better themselves after a dismal start to the season.  The Giants now report that Rolle is a leader in the locker room and is well respected.  While Rolle’s interceptions may be down, he’s help solidify a defensive secondary that was absolutely terrible last year for the Giants.  I still contend that New York grossly overpaid for Rolle, but he has more than adequately filled a great need on their team.  When you have money to spend I guess that’s all that matters.

Kurt Warner’s 2009 Production Compared to Current QB Play:

  • 339/513, 66.1% completion, 3,753 yards, 7.3 average, 238.7 yards/game, 45-yard long completion, 26 TDs, 14 INTs, 2.7 INT %, 24 sacks, 93.2 passer rating

Without a doubt, Warner’s absence has been the most devastating to the Cardinals in 2010.  The numbers pretty much speak for themselves and there’s really no reason to believe he wouldn’t have been capable of putting forth a similar effort this year.  Compared to Derek Anderson and Max Hall’s production, there is no comparison.  Steve Breaston, Paris Lenon, and Kerry Rhodes have done a lot to lessen the impact of losing Boldin, Dansby, and Rolle.  There just isn’t a quarterback on the Cardinals’ roster that comes anywhere close to off setting the drop in production that Warner’s retirement caused.

Losing Warner, Boldin, Dansby, and Rolle all in the same off-season cost the Cardinals dearly.  It’s impossible to say where the Cardinals would be right now if they had these four back, but I’m confident that Arizona would not be 3-6.  Such speculation, though, is nonsense as it has no basis in reality.

The reality is that the quarterback situation doesn’t seem to have a short-term solution.  There are three ways to accomplish the task of finding a new quarterback.  One option, the most likely, is through the draft, but it would be a long process from selection, through development, to field ready starter.  As a result it would most likely mean multiple seasons of frustration and losses.  Option two is through free agency, which is the most unlikely because young franchise QBs don’t often pop up on the free agent market.  Why would they?

Finally, option three is through a trade, which is slightly more likely than a free agent signing, but not much.  It’s hard to imagine a trading partner giving up a young (hopefully) franchise quarterback.  In addition, the trade would almost certainly gash Arizona in terms of talent/draft picks.  In addition, the situation on both sides would have to be just right.  The Cardinals would need a trading partner that’s situated as Philadelphia is now, with two bona-fide starting QBs in Michael Vick and Kevin Kolb.  Obviously, the situation is rare and it would require the alignment of stars and planets to make such a trade work out for both sides.

One thing is certain: There’s no quick fix to Arizona’s current problems.  They are many and they are profound in impact.  Cardinals fans will just have to sit tight as their commitment to the franchise is tested.  Luckily, it’s something with which they have a lot of experience.

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