Following Super Bowl LI and the ending to the 2016 NFL season, the Arizona Cardinals can look forward to the future and what it will take
The Arizona Cardinals can finally put the season behind them with it officially ending after Super Bowl LI. 2016 did not go as planned for Arizona after they had high hopes and were predicted to play in this past Sundays Super Bowl. Now its time to look forward to 2017, and what it will take to get to where the Cardinals believe they belong. Super Bowl LII.
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The Cardinals finished out the 2016 season ranked in the top 10 in Offense and Defense, ending it on a good note, finishing their season with 2 wins and a final record of 7-8-1. Arizona played like it was a playoff team, but didn’t execute like one. If they want to make a run in 2017 they need to improve in some areas, and keep some things the way they are.
- Special teams needs to improve
The Cardinals could have had a winning record and probably the playoffs if it weren’t for special teams mistakes. One of the biggest issues in 2016 was field goals. In week 1 Catanzaro missed a game winning field goal in a loss against the Patriots, a chip shot in week 7 in a tie against the Seahawks, and 2 extra points and a field goal in a loss against the Dolphins in week 14.
Catanzaro finished the season with 7 missed field goals and 4 missed extra points. For the Cardinals to make a run in 2017 they need to be consistent on special teams and execute the snap, hold and kick. Going into 2017 don’t be surprised if there is changed made to that side of the football.
- Palmer, Johnson and Fitzgerald
David Johnson, Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald need to play lights out. In 2016 Fitzgerald and Johnson were outstanding, Palmer on the other hand was not what we saw in 2015 when he took the Cardinals to the NFC championship. Palmer still finished the season passing for 4,233 yards, 26 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. In 2017 Palmer needs to return to his 2015 form and ride that into the playoffs.
Johnson and Fitzgerald finished the season ranked at the top. Fitzgerald led the league in receptions at 107 and Johnson finished 2nd in rushing touchdowns with 16. To make a run in 2017 the Palmer, Johnson and Fitzgerald trio need to all compliment each other.
- Consistent Defense
The Cardinals were one of the best teams defensively in 2016 ranking in the top 10. The defense played lights out in some games, but in others looked out of sync. Defensively the only issue was being consistent and executing. The talent is there no doubt, take a look at week 17 against the Rams. The defense exploded for 7 sacks and 2 interceptions, one that was returned for a touchdown.
One big thing heading into 2017 is the number of valuable defensive free agents to be. Such as D.J. Swearinger, Tony Jefferson, Calais Campbell, Chandler Jones and Kevin Minter. A huge key in transitioning the defense from 2016 to 2017 will be re-signing a hand full of those players, or finding talent to replace it.