Arizona Cardinals 2017 Season Recap
Every team begins their season with a unique set of circumstances to their own roster, expectations, and realities. Some are enviable, others are challenging. Once in a while, there's a team that comes along where there's a sense that this is the last roundup, one final campaign in the sun to seek glory. That was the mantra of our next entry.
2017 Record: 8-8
2016 Record: 7-8-1
Win Differential: +0.5
What Happened: Even as the 2016 season concluded, the questions came quickly about their keystone personalities. Would QB Carson Palmer and WR Larry Fitzgerald play one more year? Will head coach Bruce Arians be back on the job after a health scare? All three opted to do so. So, with a top shelf defensive secondary and one of the league's best rushers in RB David Johnson, Arizona made one more go of it before the proverbial ride off into the sunset. The campaign would be an exercise in frustration, as injuries would compromise the Cardinals' season. Johnson, Palmer, OG Mike Iupati, and other key contributors were rendered to the role of spectator as Arizona trudged through 2017 to a somewhat disappointing 8-8 mark. Respectable given the circumstance, but still disappointing given the importance some in the organization gave this particular season. Change was on the way.
What To Expect: Despite some rosy optimism of a tranquil turnaround, there is a changing of the guard in Phoenix, make no mistake. Arians retired, paving the way for Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks to take the helm. Between the retirement of Palmer and the release of the other quarterbacks on the roster, Blaine Gabbert and Drew Stanton, the signal caller's position will see fresh faces with a plan for the future in mind. The Cards would sign Sam Bradford, whose contract expired with the Vikings, to a short term deal, while picking up the unanimous selection for Free Agent Bust of 2017 in Mike Glennon, late of the Chicago Bears. The key piece fell in place when the Cardinals selected Josh Rosen from the University of California Los Angeles. If one were allowed to speculate, the plan seems simple; Bradford will be the starter for 2018 (provided he stays healthy, which is always a question for him) and serve as an experienced backup in 2019, salary cap considerations remaining favorable since Bradford has a $20 million team option. Rosen will be handed the reins once he is ready, but it could be sooner if Bradford's injury history holds to form. Glennon will be under the veritable glass, only deployed if disaster strikes. One would think that in a division in the NFC West where the Seattle Seahawks are deteriorating, the San Francisco 49ers have the look of a team at least a year out from becoming a playoff contender, and the Los Angeles Rams are ripe for regression with a lot of new parts being introduced, that the Cardinals could steal the division in 2018. But that is a pipe dream at the present. Unless 8-8 takes the division, Arizona will need to wait for 2019 to legitimately make a run for a playoff spot. Sometimes, it's better to toil away in a season in the shadows before coming back into the spotlight for an extended stay. And that is what is in store for the Cards in 2018.