Skip to main content

Has 'all or nothing' window closed for Cardinals?

The Arizona Cardinals spent the 2016 offseason enjoying life as football's crossover star, basking in the attention from Amazon Prime Video's documentary hit while ostensibly prying open a multi-year Super Bowl window with a loaded roster.

Now Bruce Arians' team is in danger of discovering that the answer to All or Nothing is the latter.

When the Cardinals reached the NFC Championship Game in January of 2016, they could point to the promise of an MVP candidate at quarterback, the league's deepest wide receiver corps and a talented defense led by a trio of All Pro-caliber standouts.

Fourteen months later, the shifting strengths and weaknesses of the roster inspire a natural inclination to question whether they might have already missed their window.

An offense built to win through the air saw Carson Palmer regress while the wide receivers behind Larry Fitzgerald faceplanted. The league's most dynamic attack in 2015 is now borderline one-dimensional, overly reliant upon David Johnson's sublime playmaking ability.

A defense that overcompensated for the disappointing offense last season just lost a breakout star at safety (Tony Jefferson) and one of the most disruptive defensive linemen in football (Calais Campbell) to free agency. Perhaps just as troublesome, Tyrann Mathieu has shown few signs of recapturing the pre-injury form that propelled him into the Defensive Player of the Year discussion prior to his late-season ACL tear in 2015.

In other words, the margin for error enjoyed throughout that encouraging 2015 season has all but disappeared.

To pull off a bounce-back campaign in 2017, Arians must find a way to accomplish the following: adequately protect Palmer behind an overmatched offensive line; fix Mathieu and deep threat John Brown; rebuild a back-breaking special teams unit; find a reliable cornerback opposite Patrick Peterson; and ensure that the team's last two first-round draft picks -- offensive tackle D.J. Humphries and defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche -- emerge as productive starters rather than liabilities verging on dreaded bust status.

That's not even including question marks such as identifying a replacement for the pocket-crashing Campbell or the ability of undersized J.J. Nelson to adequately replace Michael Floyd in the wide receiver rotation.

Over the past decade, this organization has pulled off an incredible transition from NFL laughingstock to a picture of stability under Arians and GM Steve Keim.

Can the Cardinals live up to that "all or nothing" philosophy for one more season before the declining duo of Palmer and Fitzgerald walk offinto the sunset? It's a tall order with a roster reeling from the aftershock of attrition.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content