There seems to be a mantra going around for the Cardinals these days, but what most don’t see is that it’s been the same mantra from the 2015 season. While I was watching the Emmy nominated series All-or-Nothing from 2015, I noticed similar parallels.
That year seemed to be the focus on the ‘ending’ of Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald, as it is now. Could this be the year where Carson and Larry ride off into the sunset? Could the Cardinals take a step into the right direction, or is this another 9-7 year? Anything below playoffs seems to be a disappointment, right?
No one knows if Larry and Carson would come back for the 2018 season, and the only one under contract for 2018 is Carson. I mean, logically, would either player come back unless they had their sights on a Super Bowl run? That’s the thing, no one except for Carson nor Larry completely knows, except for them.
There are some boxes that need to be checked for the Cardinals to win the Super Bowl for the first time, and I’ll go through them.
1. Confidence is key
The Cardinals decided to not attack the corner opposite Patrick Peterson, which personifies what I thought they were doing last season. Stick to your guns, and have confidence in the guys you have, until they prove you wrong (Mike Jenkins and Marcus Cooper last year). This year, the Cardinals have placed their chips into Justin Bethel, Brandon Williams, and most recently, Ronald Zamort and Tramon Williams. Can Justin Bethel really take the necessary steps in becoming a full-fledged corner for the Cardinals? Is this just another year for Brandon Williams to develop his craft? Does this mean Ronald Zamort may have had a chance to crack the number two job next season? The Cardinals won’t win a Super Bowl until either Bethel, Brandon, or Tramon take that big step forward. That means being confident through mistakes.
2. Substitution through and through
I think in some ways that the Cardinals were prepared for Calais Campbell to leave, and that all starts with the line depth. Me personally, I think that’s why Robert Nkemdiche was drafted. Yes, I hear the outcry of fans yelling “but we are plugging holes with a lot of lineman!”. Negative Nancy, it seems that maybe the position is best fit for Nkemdiche who plowed through Joe Looney of Dallas like he was a Christmas day shopper and I wanted that toy oh so badly. Is this proclamations for a Super Bowl or what? Nkemdiche doesn’t just have to seize the job left vacant by Campbell, he needs to dominate each opponent week after week, and being the ‘man’ on the line. Shoring up running lanes and eating up double teams is what made Campbell who he is. Nkemdiche needs to exceed that. Maybe pro-bowl?
3. Seamless transitions
Yes, the Cardinals offensive line needs to possibly get better for the Cardinals to have a chance, that’s not the only thing. It’s about being average at best. Trust me, I know that some fans have their doubts, and I’ve heard it time after time; put Drew Stanton/whoever the hot QB is over Carson Palmer, but if Carson has time, he realistically can make those very difficult throws. The 2015 Carson Palmer was excellent, as he was constantly throwing his receivers open, and was very good at climbing the pocket. That dipped last year with a crapshoot offensive line, and so I preach patience with our QB, no need to feel sad about him piloting a 10-6 or 11-5 record, it probably still gets us into the playoffs (most likely). 3 ½: The offensive line was what I began with, and honestly, it needs to also hold up for Carson. If Carson struggles, the o-line begins its descent into ‘if only he had time’, and if the line struggles it goes the same way. The transition of Jared Veldheer and D.J. Humphries needs to go well. Not in the pro-bowl category, but more along the lines of being just average. No need for Humphries to be a bookend left tackle, he just needs to keep the pocket clean for a majority of the game. A couple hurries, no biggie. A sack every 4 or 5 games, I can live with that. But if the Cards want to win a Super Bowl, it’s all about keeping Palmer clean.
Seriously, this is a recipe of winning a Super Bowl, and I’m not being facetious. There is no pretending that parts of the Cardinals key pieces can’t miss extended time if they are serious contenders. Sadly, I’m sorry for saying this, but if Tyrann Mathieu misses more then 5-6 weeks, they may not have a chance. Here’s a list of guys who CAN’T miss extended time: Carson Palmer, David Johnson, Tyrann Mathieu, and Chandler Jones. Maybe Patrick Peterson, D.J. Humphries, and Markus Golden could be added to it, but I believe that there is a contingency plan set in place. With Justin Bethel, Tramon Williams, and Brandon Williams able to fill in for short periods of time. And let’s not forget that Tyrann is a slot corner with Budda Baker able to take over the Badger at slot while the Badger maybe goes outside. As for Humphries, I think John Wetzel is capable. I don’t like to admit it, but Drew Stanton could not run the team as more than just a game manager. Unless Gabbert is the real deal, then Carson couldn’t stay injured for an extended amount of time. And I believe in the Markus Golden train, but is he better than the oft-doubled Chandler Jones? Time will tell if he is a ‘Dwight Freeney to his Robert Mathis’.
That’s easier than it sounds, as David Johnson was in the MVP conversation, and could honestly be there again. He just needs to put up the same numbers. It’s very possible if he hits his target of 1000-1000. We aren’t talking about winning the MVP award, but he does need to put up those kinds of numbers. Why is this important for the Cardinals to win the Super Bowl? Because realistically, the Cardinals are depending heavily on a David Johnson, and he needs to carry the lion share. If it were Carson putting up the numbers of 2015 and Johnson still had 1000-1000, then that would mean the Cardinals would most certainly be a very potent offense. Just think about it. You don’t get two high scoring offensive pieces, and still miss the playoffs.
All scenarios considered, this isn’t a fool-proof plan to win a Super Bowl, but it’s the 5 key components to make a run while Carson and Larry are still around. Didn’t agree with the points? Sorry. Just like the guys from the cable company on South Park, I would love to hear your complaints. In any case, Go Cards!