The wide receiver corps of the Arizona Cardinals was a strength heading into the 2016 season but that’s no longer the case
What a difference a year has made for the Arizona Cardinals. The 2015 offense was a scoring machine, ranked first overall in the NFL. Despite an improved running game, the passing attack was the main catalyst for the number-one ranking.
Although the same offensive personnel returned this season, there’s been a huge drop-off in production. The team hasn’t done a whole lot of damage through the air compared to past seasons. The long ball, a staple of any offense run by Bruce Arians, has been almost non-existent.
Some of the problems can be blamed on quarterback Carson Palmer. Injuries to the offensive have also hurt, Palmer has had very little time to take his customary seven-step drops. The biggest culprit, however, has been a lack of production from the club’s wideouts.
Outsiders may point to Michael Floyd’s DUI arrest as the reason he was released. If they took a closer look they’d see that the former first-round pick just hasn’t been producing. He was on pace for the worst production of his career, through 13 games.
John Brown was considered quite a find by general manager Steve Keim. He caught 113 balls for 1699 yards and 12 touchdowns during the 2014 and 2015 seasons. Unfortunately, a mysterious sickle cell condition has hampered the speedster, and he has scored just once this year.
Jaron Brown has shown potential during his first four seasons in Arizona, but the coaching staff has used him sparingly. Before suffering a season-ending knee injury in week seven, he had just 11 receptions. He has already been signed to a contract extension, so hopefully he’ll assume a bigger role in 2017.
Larry Fitzgerald has 91 catches for 892 yards and five scores so far this season. Those are good numbers on paper, but in reality, he has gone over 100 yards in a game just once, and hasn’t scored since week 5.
More from Raising Zona
- Arizona Cardinals: Could Eric Bieniemy come to the desert?
- Would Jonathan Gannon be a good fit for the Arizona Cardinals?
- Arizona Cardinals: Budda Baker right in his take regarding the next coach
- Arizona Cardinals: 3 reasons new coach should want to work with Murray
- Arizona Cardinals special teams could be completely revamped in 2023
J.J Nelson started slow in 2016, dropping some catchable passes early on, but lately he’s been on fire, scoring three times in the last two games. Floyd’s release, coupled with John Brown’s condition, should open the door for Nelson to be a big contributor going forward.
The receiving corps may look much different in 2017. Fitzgerald signed an extension last August, but his return could depend on who the signal-caller is next fall. There’s not much point for him to keep playing if management decides to rebuild with a young quarterback.
Jaron Brown and Nelson will be back, but John Brown’s future is a question mark. At this point it appears that Keim may have to find reinforcements for the position. Whether they come through the draft free agency, or both, will be decided during an extremely interesting offseason.