The Cardinals’ season will go as well as quarterback Carson Palmer’s health.
Where have you heard that narrative before? 2014, perhaps?
Well, keeping Palmer healthy has to be the No. 1 goal for head coach Bruce Arians and Co. this season. And it’s something Arizona Sports’ Craig Grialou recently broke down:
"Carson Palmer is 37. He’ll turn 38 in December. And while he’s under contract for next season and his head coach believes he can play a handful more years after that, Palmer won’t make it to 2018 or beyond if he endures another season like 2016."
Chief among the concerns is Arizona’s offensive line. Palmer was sacked 40 times last year — fifth highest in the NFL. That number might be well absorbed by a younger quarterback, but not someone like Palmer.
Additionally, Grialou pointed out the various combinations the Cardinals had to use up front and how this could be precarious in 2017:
"Injuries hit the offensive line hard last season, perhaps one of the bigger reasons why—that and special teams—the Cardinals went from 13 wins, an NFC West division title and appearance in the conference championship game to seven wins and no postseason appearance. The Cardinals started 10 different players along the offensive line in 2016."
When things like this happen, one can understand how the Cardinals dropped from being an NFC West powerhouse to a sub-.500 team in just one year with relatively little turnover.
Thankfully for Palmer, Arizona still has a wide window open.
For right now, though. And if the Cardinals want to get back on track, they better hope the aging veteran can maintain his abilities under center and not on the sideline.