With a new stadium under construction in suburban Glendale (it's set to open in 2006) and a proven winner in charge, the Cardinals believe they may finally field a competitive team. They have visions of playing in front of fans actually rooting for the home team, cheering a prolific offense as it launches yet another scoring drive.
"By the end of this year I expect our stadium to be full," McCown says. "The only way you're going to get people to come out on those hot days is to put a product out there that's worth watching--and to win. We plan to do both." --M.S.
PLAYER ON THE RISE
> While Wendell Bryant, the 12th pick in the 2002 draft, languishes on the bench, DARNELL DOCKETT has a chance to establish himself at defensive end. A third-round pick out of Florida State, the 6'4", 301-pound rookie quickly was named a starter. "To turn a program around," new coach Dennis Green says, "you have to play the guys you draft."
ENEMY LINES An opposing scout's view
The first thing that jumps out at you is their lack of a pass rush. If you can't get to the passer in this league, you're in trouble, and last year the only way they could generate heat was to blitz Raynoch Thompson off the outside.... I like their linebackers, especially Ron McKinnon--he's a tough guy who plays at a good tempo. They're playing Gerald Hayes over the tight end, but he should be back beyond the line of scrimmage.... Denny Green can coach quarterbacks, and I can see Josh McCown emerging as a big-time player. He's a good decision-maker with a smooth delivery and a really good arm.... The offensive line is big and strong and can block in the running game, but it has trouble with mobility. Once Leonard Davis gets his hands on a defender, that guy's in trouble. But Davis still isn't playing like a top five pick.... With the injury to Marcel Shipp, the thought of Emmitt Smith trying to carry the rushing load is scary.... The receivers lack speed. As good as Anquan Boldin was last year, he caught a lot of passes when they were way behind. If a defense focuses on shutting him down, he can't run away and get open.
" Denny Green can coach quarterbacks; I can see McCown emerging as a big-time player."
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP with 2003 statistics
2003 RECORD: 4-12
NFL RANK (rush/pass/total):