The Cardinals are looking for a bounce back season in 2017, but will a combination of fresh faces and aging veterans add up to a playoff appearance?
Arizona had their worst record since 2012 last season as Carson Palmer began to show his age, and they came up short in numerous close games.
With the loss of Calais Campbell, Tony Jefferson, Kevin Minter, and D.J. Swearinger, this defense will have a completely new look in 2017 after being one of the league’s best units over the past few seasons.
Bruce Arians and the rest of Arizona’s coaching staff have a tough job ahead of them this year incorporating plenty of young players, and it could cause them to take another dip down next season.
The NFL has seen a resurgence of talent at the running back position, and David Johnson is a big reason for that. Johnson finished a promising rookie season with over 1,000 yards from scrimmage in 2015, and he doubled up that total with over 2,100 yards from scrimmage in an MVP-caliber year in 2016.
Johnson’s skill set is incredibly dangerous as he can succeed running the ball both inside and outside, he can catch the ball out of the backfield, and he even did some damage lining up as a wide receiver last season.
If Johnson can get some better run blocking from his offensive line, he could be more efficient in the running game and explode for even more yards in 2017.
The previously mentioned losses on the defense will most likely shove two rookies into starting spots, and that doesn’t include Robert Nkemdiche who had an extremely limited role last season.
However, the Cardinals’ biggest weakness is the cornerback position opposite of Patrick Peterson.
NFL teams were happy to attack Arizona’s other CB’s last season in avoiding one of the league’s true shutdown corners.
Brandon Williams is set to be the other starting cornerback this season after he struggled mightily as a rookie last year.
The Colts and Cardinals are similar in that they will both be starting plenty of young players on defense in 2017.
Indianapolis will have a clear advantage at quarterback in their Week 2 matchup as they do in most games, but David Johnson will present plenty of problems for a Colts defense that ranked dead last against the run last season.
In case you missed it, here are our other scouting reports for the Colts’ 2017 opponents: