Unless you win, every season for an NFL fan is looked back upon with… If that didn't happen, they had a chance.
For the Arizona Cardinals and a number of other teams, the one thing that you would want to change about their season is the injuries sustained.
I talked about this last week, that the likely 7-9 finish would be even more cruel with the reality that the top teams in the NFC would be guided by Nick Foles, Case Keenum and Jared Goff. The old standbys of Drew Brees, Matt Ryan and Cam Newton licking their chops at the idea of taking on one of these teams in a do-or-die winner take all type of matchup.
If the Cardinals were healthy with Carson Palmer, David Johnson and the newly renovated defense, you had to like their chances.
Alas, that's not the way the NFL works. The Cardinals may have missed their best chance to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl since 2014, when they had maybe their best defense and a offense that won games with Drew Stanton at the helm. Yet, much like 2014, an injury to Palmer sucked the life out of any realistic shot.
Yet, the change that really should be made, one that I'll lament was how the Cardinals built their offensive line.
Were Jared Veldheer and Mike Iupati upgrades? Absolutely, both are unequivocally better than the players who manned the left tackle position in 2013 and the left guard position in 2014 for the Cardinals.
However, the signings never made complete sense.
Both Veldheer and Iupati were beat up and came discounted relative to their position, and we can now see why.
Veldheer was an absolute monster in 2014 for the Cardinals, but his play and health have declined each year since.
Meanwhile, Iupati was let go by a bad 49ers team with nothing in the pipeline to replace them.
For ten years worth of contracts the Cardinals gave out, they received one season of joint play and success from their two huge signings, 2015.
From there, it's been a struggle to stay healthy and effective.
Meanwhile, the rest of the offensive line has been in flux the entire time. Lyle Sendlein was the center for that 2015 OL, right guard was Jonathan Cooper to Ted Larsen and the right tackle was Bobby Massie.
That all changed in 2016, with only an aged Veldheer and more hobbled Iupati returning, the offensive line was different.
Then in 2017, it was different again.
The Cardinals had one season of what you could call success along the offensive line, 2015, and changed out 3/5 of that group. Then in 2017, they changed out 3/5 of the group again moving D.J. Humphries to left tackle and Jared Veldheer to right tackle with only Shipley and Iupati remaining intact.
The most important part of offensive line play is continuity… Something the Cardinals have chosen to change to start every year in the Bruce Arians era.
We've seen the results.
If I could change one thing this season for the Arizona Cardinals, it would be to give the team some continuity along the offensive line heading into 2018.
Yet, it looks like it will be at least a new offensive line in 3/5 of the positions for a sixth straight season.
Let's hope that stops after this year.