It has been a dream first three seasons for the Arizona Cardinals coaching staff and front office. Bruce Arians and Steve Keim seemed to have the golden touch, everything they did, every move they made, and every decision seemed to be the right one.
Then came 2016, where nothing would do, except a Super Bowl and that was, apparently, how this season would be judged.
Front Office and Scouts: C+
The offseason was a rough one for Steve Keim and his crew. If we are to focus solely on the results of 2016, that is all that matters for this discussion, you could convince me to go even lower with this grade.
Bringing in Tyvon Branch and Evan Mathis were hail mary’s that did not work out, but there is enough information on both of those players to know that injuries could be an issue. The Branch signing was especially troubling when you consider he was brought in with the idea of manning a role similar to Tyrann Mathieu’s, and we all know the history of Mathieu and injuries.
Then there is the 2016 draft, which has been one of, if not the worst in the NFL (again, this year).
Yet, his moves in the offseason to retain players were shrewd: The minimum for Tony Jefferson, getting Tyrann Mathieu extended with a team friendly deal, extending money to Larry Fitzgerald and Carson Palmer to make room for any players that needed to be added closer to the season. We’ll see how those extensions work out, but it was a shrewd and necessary move for this season.
Coaching Staff: C
Out game planned in at least two of the losses, New England and Buffalo, while errors and lack of adjustments hurt in the two other losses, the staff that seemed like it couldn’t lose last season has been struggling to regain that form.
You see flashes, dominant offensive/defensive performances against Tampa Bay and the New York Jets, but then you see panic moves and bone headed mistakes, against the Seahawks and Panthers from Coach Arians.
Is James Bettcher a good defensive coordinator? I still can’t figure that out, I think when his game plans work early, he is able to ride them, but when he gets exposed early, they usually struggle to figure it out in time to let the offense catch up, or get beat on one more drive.
It has been an interesting season to say the least, but it is one average half of a season for these guys, guys with a track record of success in Arizona.
A bump in the road was to be expected, the response in the second half will go a long way to help define who and what this team is moving forward.