Cardinals general manager Steve Keim has done an amazing job stocking his roster with top-level talent at most positions. The Cardinals were a sexy pick as the NFC favorite to make it to Super Bowl LI last season because of this fact. As we know, Arizona was about as impressive as a wet noodle in 2016, despite featuring a dynamic defense and the best all-around offensive weapon in football, David Johnson.
Languishing to a 7-8-1 record, despite scoring 56 points more than their opponents on the season, the Cardinals underachieved their way out of the playoffs.
Fast forward a year, and things are pretty much status quo. Arizona still has a defense that should continue to rank among the best in the NFL, especially with the additions of Haason Reddick and Budda Baker. It also features an offense that, on paper, should be hard for all but the top defenses in the league to keep in check.
But Carson Palmer — a guy who fell off quite a bit last year, who at least thought about retiring after the season and who is now 37 years of age — still has no viable backup. Drew Stanton is a career 53-percent passer who has thrown five more interceptions than touchdowns in the 33 career games he’s participated in as a pro. And we know Blaine Gabbert isn’t the answer.
Even scarier for Cardinals fans is the fact that the team didn’t really do much to upgrade its offensive line, which struggled mightily to protect quarterbacks (41 sacks allowed) last year.
If Palmer can return to the form that saw him lead the Cardinals to a 13-3 record in 2015, then Arizona might live up to its 2016 preseason expectations this year. If he continues to regress or is injured, then the Cardinals will be lucky to match their win totals from last year.