With most down seasons comes a reboot, even if in the case of the Arizona Cardinals the team has a great defence and top running back in place, a mini reboot will be required. After making the Championship game in 2015, the Cardinals have fallen away from the playoff race in 2016 and find themselves again behind the Seattle Seahawks.
So what of the big 3 in Arizona? Bruce Arians who initiated the teams resurgence, his quarterback Carson Palmer who after looking like an MVP in 2015 seems a shadow of his former self, and ageless legend Larry Fitzgerald who is – at the time of writing – 6 receptions from moving into 3rd all-time behind Tony Gonzalez and Jerry Rice.
Arians has worried us all by being admitted to hospital twice this season, thankfully returning to the game quickly on each occasion. The hospitalizations were for different reasons, the first during pre-season where there were concerns about a kidney stone. The second after the Cardinals loss to the Vikings when he complained of chest pains during the night. All tests came back positive but it is concerning for the coach, his family and the team. Everyone at NFLGirlUK.com wishes Arians well in the future.
With Larry Fitzgerald within touching distance of 3rd place in all time receptions there remains only one blot on his career – the lack of ring. If he were to stay on for the 2017 season the team must be competitive. Should the Cardinals make it to the play offs this is his forte, in January 2016 against Green Bay he became the fastest player to reach 10 playoff touchdowns, taking on 8 games. He is without a doubt one of the finest players to have played and it’s been a real privilege to watch.
It’s been a bit of a nightmare year for Carson Palmer starting with Jared Valdeer and for part of the season, Mike Iupati getting injured. He finds himself the 3rd most sacked quarterback in the league (33) and it is now starting to affect his play with Palmer expecting the pass rush prior to going through his reads. Having finished the 2010 season with the Bengals 4-10 Palmer requested a trade away from the team which was denied and Palmer subsequently retired, he would sit out the entire 2011 season before coming back half way through the season to be traded to the Oakland Raiders. Palmer was quoted in that time as saying he had enough money in the bank and would only play for the love of the game. Although nothing similar has come about since, it shows that Palmer is not afraid to leave the game should the circumstances be deemed not in his favour.
The success of the Arizona Cardinals in the current phase the franchise is in revolves around the coach, its quarterback and its star wide receiver. Yes, David Johnson is having a major breakout this season, and the defence is excellent led by stars Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu. However Arians, Palmer and Fitzgerald represent the soul of the team and to replace them would be a major shift in philosophy for the whole organisation.
If Arians was forced to call it a day through ill health, would Palmer want to spend what is left of a good career learning a new playbook? With new coaches come new quarterbacks. If Palmer hung up his cleats would Fitzgerald want to stick around and help bed in a rookie? What each of them wants to achieve may not be possible in the immediate future, they may feel their best opportunity passed them by in 2015.
The fates of the 3 are linked, and with them the future of the team.