David Johnson was a soccer machine in 2016.

The Arizona Cardinals operating again has been overvalued all offseason after racking up greater than 2,one hundred yards from scrimmage and 20 complete touchdowns in his sophomore marketing campaign. For fantasy house owners, he is anticipated to be one of many prime gamers in 2017. He is nearly as good of a receiver as he’s a rusher.

Associated – Arians: ‘I do not assume there’s a ceiling’ for David Johnson

Nevertheless, whereas Johnson was placing on his present final yr, the remainder of the workforce wasn’t so scorching.

The Cardinals entered the 2016 season with Tremendous Bowl hopes after an NFC West title and a thirteen-three report the yr earlier than, however have been met with disappointment, ending outdoors the playoffs with a 7-eight-1 report – the primary dropping season of Arians’ tenure.

Arizona is way from able to roll over and begin a rebuild with the likes of Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald nonetheless main the roster and looking for a championship. However simply as Johnson’s dominance wasn’t sufficient by itself to place Arizona within the win column final yr, it will not be sufficient in 2017.

This workforce is nicely outfitted to be a championship contender if it performs to its potential, however every place group must do its half.

Offensive line

The Cardinals have been smoked with accidents throughout their offensive line in 2016, which made Johnson’s efficiency all of the extra spectacular however killed the offense’s hopes of discovering consistency. Having a wholesome line – notably with regards to guard Mike Iupati and tackles Jared Veldheer and D.J. Humphries – would go a great distance towards serving to the offense return to the highest.

Veldheer and Humphries are additionally set to swap sides. As a primary-spherical decide in 2015, Humphries is predicted to have the talents to tackle prime cross-rushers, whereas the veteran Veldheer ought to be extra snug on the correct aspect.

Defensive position

Two gamers have to step up their video games for Arizona’s D-line to succeed: Chandler Jones and Robert Nkemdiche.

Jones performed properly final yr, racking up eleven sacks and 4 pressured fumbles, however he did not take over video games like friends Khalil Mack and Von Miller. And they need to be thought-about his friends, after Jones signed a 5-yr, $eighty two-million deal.

Nkemdiche did not make an influence as a rookie following his first-spherical draft choice, enjoying in simply 5 recreation and making just one deal with. He wants to start out enjoying like a primary-rounder.

Linebackers

That is in all probability Arizona’s strongest crew after including versatile athlete Haason Reddick within the first spherical. With security-turned-linebacker Deone Bucannon offering lockdown protection, Markus Golden getting strain off the sting, and Karlos Dansby offering veteran knowledge within the center, this might be an elite linebacking corps.

Receivers

Fitzgerald cannot be trusted to hold the group anymore. John Brown and J.J. Nelson have confirmed to be very quick, however their route-operating and arms must be extra constant.

Whether or not it’s third-spherical decide Chad Williams, speedster Brittan Golden, operating again-flip-receiver Andre Ellington, or another person, the group must have multiple dependable veteran and a pair of speedsters.

Defensive backs

It is a gifted however skinny unit operating Arizona’s “No Fly Zone.” Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu can cleared the path with security Antoine Bethea, rookie Budda Baker, and sophomore Brandon Williams following – however they should keep wholesome, or issues will get ugly.

Quarterback

On the finish of the day, the destiny of the Cardinals’ season rests on Palmer’s shoulders. The staff did not draft a successor for his or her 37-yr-previous area basic as he contemplated retirement this winter.

Palmer’s arm power is a significant factor, because the Cardinals run a vertical offense with many receivers who can take the highest off a protection. He acquired caught dashing to push the ball downfield because the Cardinals trailed in video games final season, and it did not work out.

An improved offensive line and, in fact, Johnson’s creating skills ought to assist Palmer tremendously, however it is going to take a full staff effort to get the staff a W on a weekly foundation.

(Photographs courtesy: Motion Photographs)