The Arizona Cardinals season has finally come to a close. It was by far one of the most disappointing in the teams history. Coming in as a trendy Super Bowl favorite, and now they exit with a top 15 draft pick. The talent was there all season. The numbers look like a playoff team, but the numbers lied and the talent could never come together.
That leaves the Cardinals with an offseason of figuring things out. They have to shore up the offensive line. They need to find players for the secondary. The Cardinals have a number of positions that need to be looked at, and a number of players that need new contracts.
But before we go too far into 2017, let’s quickly recap the Cardinals statistical 2016 season.
The Cardinals finished 2016 7-8-1. If the Cardinals avoid a few special teams blunders, or costly penalties, the Cardinals are in the playoffs and the season is different.
The Cardinals lacked the big play all season long, but as an offensive unit they scored 422 points, which was eighth in the league. Thanks in large part to the final three games of 2016, the Cardinals gave up 40 sacks on the season, but were on pace for 46 prior to the Saints game.
The Cardinals coughed the ball up on 28 occasions, a lot at the most inopportune times in games. The team picked up 368 total first downs, and converted on 87 of 214 third down tries, a 40% conversion rate.
Offensively the Cardinals compiled 5868 yards from scrimmage, 1732 of those on the ground and 4136 through the air. (Number factors in sacks)
Carson Palmer finished the season with 4233 yards, 26 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions. His runningback, David Johnson, finished with 1239 yards, 16 touchdowns, setting franchise records along the way. Had it not been for a scary leg injury on Sunday, Johnson could have been the only player in NFL history to record 100 yards from scrimmage in all 16 regular season games.
The receiving corps struggled in 2016. Larry Fitzgerald was the only player over 1000 yards. He finished his season at 1023 yards, and six touchdowns. David Johnson was the Cardinals #2 receiver statistically, racking up 879 yards through the air, to pair with four touchdowns. He had twenty between rush and receiving scores.
JJ Nelson actually tied Larry Fitzgerald for the team lead in touchdowns, at six a piece.
Defensively the Cardinals were okay all season. The Cardinals allowed 362 points all season, which was good for 14th in the NFL. The offense did not help their cause, giving opponents short fields due to turnovers, or the special teams giving up big plays on a regular basis. One positive was the Cardinals 48 sacks. Only the Panthers had more sacks on the season (50).
The Defense forced 28 turnovers, 14 picks and 14 fumbles. They forced 21 total fumbles which was tops in the NFL. They surrendered 293 total first downs. They held opponents to 85/219 on third down attempts, a conversion rate of 38%.
Offenses accumulated 4883 total yards on us, 1518 on the ground, and only 3365 through the air. The unit held opponents to 41 total scores on the year.
Tony Jefferson lead the defense with 96 tackles, with Deone Bucannon behind him at 91. Both players finished 2016 on IR.
The Cardinals had their first duo of double digit sack players since 1984. In fact, this was only the third time the Cardinals have had two double digit sack players. (1983,1984) Chandler Jones finished with 11 sacks while Markus Golden outdid him by 1.5 sacks, finishing at 12.5.
The Cardinals forced 14 interceptions, with Marcus Cooper leading the way with 4. He was able to return one for a touchdown, with Bethel performing the same thing in the season finale.
To finish the season, the Cardinals were 4-1-1 against NFC West opponents. Any other year that means you’re the Division champion, but struggles on the road and on the East Coast, lead to the Cardinals sitting at home in January.
There’s plenty to look forward to next season. But for now, the team rests. Steve Keim and Bruce Arians begin the work to build the roster for a Super Bowl run in 2017. And ROTB will keep you busy with all the what if scenarios for the upcoming Free Agency and Draft.