The 2016 Arizona Cardinals season didn’t pan out as many people expected as they limped towards the finishing line and finish in relative obscurity. But, in amongst all the disappointment, there were some positives. Honest.
When you hear constantly in the off-season that the Arizona Cardinals are “one of the main contenders for this season’s Lombardi Trophy” and words to that effect, you can’t help but be swept away by all the hype surrounding the franchise.
After the disappointment of 2015 and coming back with a side that, on paper looked to be even better than the one which faltered so badly in Carolina, who would bet against them going all the way? But, again, that never materialised and in the end, the Cardinals season resulted in very little to actually celebrate and look back on.
As expected, there were a lot of negatives for me to look at in this article but also some positives which I feel merit mentions – they’ll be in Part 2. Which will be after the negatives are done…and they’re starting right now.
Cardinals Not Living Up To Expectations
It doesn’t take a genius to see that the 2016 Arizona Cardinals didn’t deliver anything near the expectations that many in the NFL had bestowed upon them before the season began.
Whether they bought into their hype too much and took their eyes off the prize, thinking they had already won it or they just weren’t that good at all, it’s nothing short of a disappointment when a season that promised so much delivered so little.
So much potential but, as Bruce Arians once said (I think?) “Potential ain’t shit”.
Another Season-Ending Tyrann Mathieu Injury
Tyrann Mathieu is one of my favorite football players to watch, the fact he’s a Cardinal is even better – the fact he has us blocked on Twitter, I still like him…just not as much.
Anyway, everyone is aware how fantastic a player he is when he’s 100% healthy. But his 2016 season, which was disappointing, to say the least, was cut short once again after suffering another season-ending injury – this time a torn ACL in the other knee. The one that wasn’t torn a couple of seasons back.
The Cardinals gave the Honey Badger a multi-year extension in the season, hopefully, that doesn’t come back to bite them and Mathieu is able to once again hit the level we know he’s capable of.
Coming back from torn ACL’s in both knees though…
John Brown’s Health
More health concerns that blighted the 2016 Arizona Cardinals season as John Brown’s promising rookie season in 2015 got everyone excited about the Pittsburg State guys potential to be an integral part in the Cardinals offence.
But, after discovering a “sickle-cell” issue that caused problems like fatigue and other problems that hampered his ability to train and produce on the football field, Brown’s sophomore season was disappointing. Though he did have a legitimate reason for the return, so you can’t hold that against the guy.
It appears as though the issue may be “sorted” – to the extent where it will no longer affect his ability to play football – so here’s hoping that 2017 is a return to form for John Brown. The offence definitely missed him last year.
If you look back at the 2016 Arizona Cardinals season, special teams issues were evident throughout the year – whether that be bad snaps from rookie long-snappers no longer with the team, terrible punts from a punter kept for far too long when he was dreadful or a kicker that was inconsistent from short distances but money from long distances.
Post-season we saw Bruce Arians say it wasn’t the fault of Special Teams coach, Amos Jones and was instead down to individual players messing up and not doing their job. Given we don’t know who is meant to do what on any given play, this might be true.
Bruce obviously not in the business of throwing friends under the bus though…
The 2016 Draft Class
I have to remember that Robert Nkemdiche was one of my “Fave Five” for the Arizona Cardinals to draft in the 2016 NFL Draft so I was happy when his name was called at some ungodly hour at the tail-end of the first round. Sad to report that, since drafting him, he has done very little on the field and has so far looked like a wasted pick.
In saying that, we saw in 2016 that fellow first-round selection DJ Humphries did a lot better in his second year as he figured he had to work to get into the starting lineup. Hopefully, Nkemdiche has the same effect this off-season and comes into the 2017 NFL Season a much-improved player.
He wasn’t alone though. The 2016 Draft class for the Arizona Cardinals was hella disappointing. Brandon Williams, this year’s 3rd round pick, came into the season as a starter…but quickly looked out of his depth. Evan Boehm, Cole Toner both sat on the bench – though the former picked up snaps late on in the season as injuries hit the Offensive Line. Harlan Miller might have been the most impressive of the class…and he played in, like, 2 games right at the end of the season.
For a team supposedly contending in 2016, the lack of production from their rookie class was nothing short of disappointing.
Pardon my French, but Fuck Michael Floyd. Constant disappointment on the field, got into trouble with the law away from the field as he was found drunk behind the wheel of one of his many cars and then picked up a Superbowl ring with the New England Patriots and then was surprised when Arizona fans weren’t happy for him. You’re goddamn right we weren’t happy. Fuck that guy.
Picked up in the 1st round with the 13th overall pick, Floyd had shown flashes of his potential in the odd game here and there – whenever he could be arsed, I guess. I don’t like using the “bust” tag on someone but I genuinely think he was a monumental bust for the Cardinals. Thankfully others were able to produce whilst he was out getting drunk, not catching balls and then acting like we’re in the wrong for disliking him.
Seriously, fuck Michael Floyd.
THE POSITIVES (Yeah, there were some)
What a season young Baevid had for the Arizona Cardinals – winning the hearts of Cardinals fans worldwide for being awesome, records broken all over the place and then almost making it a whole season with 100+ yards from scrimmage in EVERY SINGLE GAME before some Ram injured him. Plus he scored a million touchdowns.
Cruelly overlooked for any of the major awards – not even Offensive Player of the Year despite easily being the best offensive player in the entire league this year. NFL awards are a load of bollocks anyway. At least he won numerous British Birdgang Awards. Way, way more prestigious.
Provided he doesn’t suffer any terrible injuries, we’re set at RB for many years thanks to the amazing David Johnson. Maybe next year he’ll get some respect…
The Markus Golden/Chandler Jones tandem
Trading the bust Jonathan Cooper and a 2nd round pick for Chandler Jones was a smart move by Steve Keim. Cardinals needed a pass rusher so they went out and got one…and then found out that Markus Golden was just as good.
The pair harassed and sacked quarterbacks throughout the season, both hitting double-digit sack totals. Went from having no good pass-rush threats on defence to a pair that were amongst the league’s best at getting to the quarterback. Brilliant.
With Chandler likely getting the ‘franchise tag’, the Cardinals defence will at least have him back for next year to once again terrorize quarterbacks. The tandem need a nickname; The Golden Jones? Hmm…
Fitz/CP3 Not Retiring
Not quite a 2016 season thing but, again, I was struggling for positives from this season so here’s one that’s kind of a thing. But we’ve spent the last few weeks wondering what the Cardinals would look like minus Carson Palmer and/or Larry Fitzgerald.
Thankfully we don’t have to worry about that. Well, at least not for the 2017 season. 2018 is another matter…but we’ll cross that bridge when it comes to it.
Storybook ending to their careers with a Lombardi Trophy coming to Arizona? If some famous beer brand did endings…
Cardinals coming to London!
Last but not least, the Arizona Cardinals are coming to London as part of the “London Games”, playing the Los Angeles Rams at Twickenham Stadium sometime in October. Hype.
Again, I’m using my discretion to call this a positive to the 2016 season – technically it was announced whilst the 2016 season was going on, so that’s a good enough reason for me to add it here. If you don’t like it, sue me.
Anyway, here’s hoping the game is part of a much better 2017 season for the Arizona Cardinals…