The Arizona Cardinals did something in 2016 that we haven't seen them do since Bruce Arians came to the desert -- they shortened up their passing game. It became quite apparent about halfway through the season that the Cardinals had decided to employ more bubble screens, short passes to David Johnson, etc. to their passing attack.
The reason they started to use more short passes in their offensive game plan is because, frankly, the deep passing game was not as potent as it had been in the past. Why? Bruce Arians has a thought on that.
Arians on why Carson Palmer didn’t throw deep as successfully in ’16: "John Brown couldn’t run and Michael Floyd dropped about five."— Kent Somers (@kentsomers) June 7, 2017
To me, this is a very simplistic answer. Part of it is definitely due to these reasons (although it felt like Floyd dropped more than five and his routes were always questionable). Part of it is due to the plethora of injuries along the offensive line and the lack of time Palmer was afforded to throw the deep ball. The last part of it was Palmer just wasn't the same last year as he was in 2015. Whether it was because of fatigue (which Arians hopes to control by giving Palmer more rest throughout the season) or age, Palmer wasn't able to push the ball down the field the same way.
When it comes strictly to deep passes, it isn't as if the team didn't still have speed. J.J. Nelson is every bit of fast as John Brown is, although he doesn't have the same route running abilities or the hands. So to blame it all on Brown not being the same guy in 2016 seems disingenuous.
What do you think? Does this really boil down to the receivers not being in the same position last year that they had been prior, or is Arians simply protecting Palmer from criticism?