Ever since Bruce Arians took over as head coach of the Arizona Cardinals no one inside the nest has backed away lofty expectations.
2016 is the most anticipated season in Cards’ history.
Nearly the entire core is back from a team which reached the NFC Championship and is still stinging from the beating they received by the Panthers that Sunday night in Charlotte.
The Cards’ deck, so-to-speak, is stacked.
“There’s a very good chance they’ll have the best collection of skill players in football,” SI.com Senior NFL Writer Peter King told Sports360AZ.com’s Brad Cesmat in a phone interview Monday morning. “They have so many talented players.”
King says, despite not having an elite tight end, the depth Arians has to work with is almost unfair. General manager Steve Keim has mixed the perfect blend of drafted and developed players, along with key additions via free-agency or trade. David Johnson was drafted, while Chris Johnson came via free-agency. The core wide receiver group (Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, John Brown) were all Cardinal picks.
Even the below-the-radar players offensively are keys pieces to the Bird Gang’s puzzle.
“When I talked to Carson Palmer [Sunday],” King said. “He would have talked for an hour about Jaron Brown. Nobody is thinking about Jaron Brown…but [Palmer] has so many offensive weapons.”
The biggest one-year upgrade from last summer to the present is in the backfield. David Johnson is a rising star who is just as big a threat receiving as he is rushing. Chris Johnson proved in 2015, when healthy, he can produce and Arizona is hoping Andre Ellington will return to his rookie form after struggling last season with injuries.
Of course, the Cards are not perfect and questions have surfaced, much like they did last August.
“I think their skill players on offense are terrific,” King said. “But believe me, the Arizona Cardinals aren’t the only one’s that are saying, ‘man, I hope out line hold up. I hope our line protects Carson and all that stuff.'”
The Bird Gang is hoping “all that stuff” figures itself out.
For Arians and the Cards it’s always been #AllOrNothing.