Carson Palmer (37) returned to Arizona for one final season, and Larry Fitzgerald (34) did, too. One last hurrah in hopes of making a run to the postseason. Two years ago, they were in the NFC title game!
But star running back David Johnson got hurt in the opener. Banged up his wrist. He could be out for 12 weeks, or basically, until December.
If we’re dealing in reality, their season will be over by then. All hope is lost for the Cardinals. Johnson was the offense; in 2016 he rushed for 1,239 yards and caught 80 passes (2nd most targeted on the team). Palmer is a statue in the pocket, and teams don’t have to respect the running game with Johnson gone. And let’s not act like the line is responsible for Johnson’s dominance – last season, he forced more missed tackles than any back in the NFL.
Bottom line: Arizona’s season is over in week one. Maybe they win 5-6 games because they play the 49ers and Rams twice, they should beat the Andrew Luck-less Colts this week, and who knows what will happen vs the likes of Houston and Jacksonville.
The front office won’t ponder this, but fans certainly will: If Arizona wants to find its new QB and quickly rebuild, there are two viable options: 1) Throw all the money at Kirk Cousins, knowing competition will be fierce; 2) Tank for a QB in the very good 2018 NFL draft.
I’m aware that tanking is not in the DNA of Bruce Arians (or any coach for that matter). It would be an impossible sell to the team. But the cold, hard truth is that the Cardinals are a business, and the quicker you can rebuild a contender, the better the business will be.
This is not to suggest that the Cardinals begin benching starters beginning in Week 2. But the front office must have a Plan B if things go south quickly, and they’re 2-5 in October heading into the bye week. Toss Blaine Gabbert or Drew Stanton out there for Palmer and start to spin the season into a Fitzgerald retirement tour. Commence tanking, dangle players as trade bait in a move to acquire draft picks.
The offensive line needs work, but the defense is relatively young and there’s talent throughout (but the front three could use an upgrade). I count four valuable contributors on the offense who are free agents in 2018, and four on defense as well.