When the Arizona Cardinals 2015 season ended in the NFC Championship Game in the embarrassing loss to the Carolina Panthers, there was one reality that came from it.
The Arizona Cardinals and their staff needed to put more around Carson Palmer to take the weight off of Palmer leading the team.
Palmer had just finished his greatest professional season, maybe the greatest by a quarterback who is not headed to Canton and the Hall of Fame.
Yet, when push came to shove, the wheels came off with the team being a dominant offense with a good defense.
You see, the Cardinals 2015 defense was top in yards per game, with a very balanced sixth in rushing yards per game and eighth in passing yards per game against. They finished seventh in points per game allowed. It was a good, bordering on great defense, yet it wasn’t enough.
The thought was simply, make the defense special, the offense was already special and fell short, but great defenses can carry good (Seattle’s 2013) or limited (Denver’s 2015) offenses to the promised land.
That 2013 Seattle defense was first in yards allowed and first, by a wide margin, in points allowed.
The 2015 Denver defense was first in yards allowed and fourth in points allowed.
The 2013 Cardinals offense could at least as good as the 2013 Seahawks without any changes, and had to be better than the 2015 Broncos barring a major meltdown of Palmer, so improve the defense.
Well, the defense didn’t improve, in fact, it got markedly worse.
The Arizona Cardinals 2016 defense finished second in yards allowed, which is good, but 14th in points allowed... Which is decidedly average.
If the Cardinals wanted to be better in 2016 the change didn’t need to come from Palmer and company on offense, it had to be the defense.
Instead, the points allowed regressed and the team went from 13-3 to the decidedly average 7-8-1.
A good offense with an average defense made the Cardinals a very average team in 2016, let’s hope that changes in 2017.