Entering this season, the Arizona Cardinals were 34-14 under head coach Bruce Arians. Arians is set to return as head coach in 2017.
For the Arizona Cardinals, the 2016 season will be hard to forget. No matter how hard you try.
It was the year they disappointed so many, and failed to fill the expectations thrown on them before the season even began.
When the 2017 season rolls around in early September, many things will have changed. Larry Fitzgerald and Carson Palmer may not be with the team if they decide to retire. If that’s the case, a new quarterback will take the reigns from Palmer (who’s been here since 2013), and their position for their best receiver will be vacant.
Going into this off-season, the Cardinals will have 18 players who are unrestricted free agents. They can either bring them back, or let them walk to another team. Among that group of 18 are guys like Calais Campbell, Chandler Jones, DJ Swearinger, Tony Jefferson, and Frostee Rucker.
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The defensive unit will look considerably different next season if they fail to bring all of them back. And if Palmer and Fitz elect for retirement, the Cards will lose two crucial players on offense.
While there may be a lot of uncertainty heading into next season, one thing will remain the same: Bruce Arians will be the Cardinals head coach, as it was reported on Thursday.
Arians became the Cardinals head coach in 2013 after one year with the Indianapolis Colts. Arians was Indianapolis’ offensive coordinator, but took over as the interim head coach after Chuck Pagano was diagnosed with leukemia.
In his first season in Arizona, the Cardinals finished 10-6 and barely missed the playoffs. It was clear something special was in the making in Arians’ first year, especially after the Cards went 5-11 the year before under Ken Whisenhunt.
In the next two seasons under Arians, the Cardinals became one of the best teams in the NFC. They compiled a 24-8 record with back-to-back playoff appearances, making it as far as the NFC Championship game last season.
The ’16 season was a major disappointment, but it was nothing worth considering dismissing Arians for it. The future seems bright with BA, even after this rough season.
While the uncertainties begin to pile up, their steady leader will remain at the helm for the next season, something Cards fans should not take for granted.