There have been a lot of changes over the last 12 months for our next team in focus, the Arizona Cardinals. Their star RB was injured early on in 2017 and two big faces of the franchise have left the building for the start of the 2018 season.
Tom Donlan (@BritishBirdgang), is a UK fan of his beloved Cardinals and digests what happened last season with a view to how this season is likely to pan out in our latest ‘State of the Franchise’ series.
For the members of the Birdgang, this one is for you …
Last Season’s Reflections
When it comes to the 2017 Arizona Cardinals, the fact that the franchise was able to post an 8-8 record with injuries to David Johnson and Carson Palmer is somewhat remarkable and a credit to the Bruce Arians-led coaching staff.
Certainly it could have been a lot worse and, with the need then for a Quarterback of the Future, perhaps losing some of those late-season games that meant nothing for winning may have put them in a much better position to address that need in the 2018 NFL Draft.
As it turned out, they were able to move about in the Draft and secure a future at the position. So what do I know?
Missing the playoffs is always disappointing but, after losing David Johnson in Week 1 and then seeing the team smashed by the Rams at Twickenham, it was one of those seasons that you wished would be over immediately instead of having to suffer through any more of it.
Changes during the off-season
Perhaps the biggest change of the off-season was the hiring of former Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks, who joined the franchise following the retirement of Bruce Arians immediately following the conclusion of the 2017 NFL season.
The new head coach brought with him new offensive and defensive coordinators as well, with former Head Coach Mike McCoy coming in on the offensive side and one of Wilks’ assistants in Carolina, Al Holcomb taking over from the NYG-bound James Bettcher at defensive coordinator. New schemes all around.
Not only that but, after Carson Palmer also retired and both Drew Stanton and Matt Barkley’s contracts both lapsed, the Quarterback room in Tempe, Arizona was left bare. So the off-season has seen the additions of veteran Sam Bradford and Mike Glennon amongst others to help a depleted roster take shape under new leadership.
The NFL Draft …
Perhaps the 2018 NFL Draft brought the biggest sigh of relief imaginable from everyone connected to the franchise as – for the first time since the Matt Leinart debacle – the Cardinals addressed the Quarterback situation in the first round of the NFL Draft by selecting UCLA QB Josh Rosen with their first selection in the draft. Finally, a future to look forward to that doesn’t involve another teams’ cast-off!!!
Rosen wasn’t the only addition in the 2018 NFL Draft – indeed, the selection of Arizona native Christian Kirk in the 2nd round also brought with it much adulation from the Cardinals’ fanbase – but he most certainly highlighted what has been a rather promising off-season for the franchise and with it, some optimism for the future of the team.
Predictions for the new season
Now I’d hate to sound like a broken record, but it seems as though the Arizona Cardinals’ 2018 NFL season success hinges on the availability of Sam Bradford; there is no doubting his ability, but can he stay healthy and on the field? With a reinforced offensive line, you’d certainly hope he’ll last a bit longer than his predecessor did but you never know in the NFL – one bad hit and his season could be over in an instant.
There’s the prospect of seeing rookie Josh Rosen should Bradford go down at any point this season, but it seems like the Cardinals are willing to wait it out and are adamant that Bradford will be the starter as long as he is able to play. Disappointing news to some, but I’m happy enough with Bradford being our guy for now.
As far as the season goes, it’s hard to say at the moment. Vegas clearly aren’t feeling the Cardinals this season – they currently have one of the biggest odds against totals in the whole league, and even Madden 19 isn’t going to be rating them too highly either – so signs point to it being a bit of a struggle ahead.
A Tough Run?
Not to mention being in a tough division doesn’t help matters – the new darlings of the NFL media, LA Rams are apparently the team to beat (but here’s hoping all those combustible elements on their roster combine to beat themselves at some point) and there’s a growing belief in the Jimmy Garoppolo-led Niners (again, I don’t see the hype, but clearly I’m biased) and then there’s the Seahawks.
I don’t think the Cardinals will be that bad in 2018. Playoffs seem a bit of a stretch, so I’ll sit on the fence and go for an 8-8 record. Could they shock the world and win a Superbowl though? I wouldn’t put it past the team…but it’s perhaps not that likely.
Editor Notes: Cardinals fans, let us know your thoughts and tell us whether you agree with Tom’s reflections and predictions. Leave a comment or contact us via social media below: