NFL

Why the Cardinals Won’t Win the Super Bowl

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Since Bruce Arians took over and a little before, the Arizona Cardinals have turned into one of those teams you can count on to be in the mix every single year.

Back in 2008, Arizona was a few minutes away from claiming their first ever Super Bowl championship before Ben Roethlisberger crushed the hearts of many in the desert on the final drive.

The following season Arizona lost in the divisional round of the playoffs and for the past two years, they’ve been knocking on the door, but they just haven’t been able to break through.

Will this be the year?

Well, it almost has to be because quarterback Carson Palmer isn’t getting any younger (almost 37 years old) and health issues have always been a concern of his.

Also, the way Palmer ended last season could be something to look out for as we head into the new season.

In the NFC Championship Game against the Carolina Panthers, Palmer was 23-of-40 for 235 yards, one touchdown, four interceptions and two lost fumbles.

Perhaps it was just one of those games?

We’ve seen big time quarterbacks such as Brett Favre and Peyton Manning bounce back from big game meltdowns.

On the other side of the ball, Arizona seemingly has improved what was already regarded as one of the best defensive units in the league.

Despite having a top-tier defense, there was one glaring weakness Arizona had to address, which was the pass rush. A season ago, Arizona ranked near the bottom half of the league with only 36 sacks.

Now, after trading for Chandler Jones, who registered 68 pressures last year (including the playoffs), 11 more than the Cardinals team-leading 57 pressures, you can expect instant improvement here.

Throw in the fact Jones is in a contract year and Cardinals fans may be in for a historical campaign from Jones.

“I’m more of a day-to-day kind of guy,” Jones stressed. “I’m not thinking about (the contract) at all. I’m here for however long I am here and I’m here to play and I am here to win. They brought me to hopefully go to Super Bowl 51 and so my biggest goal is to get better every day.”

Also, there’s no ceiling on the potential of rookie defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche.

Having said that, it’s difficult to rely on a rookie and with Jones being the only elite pass rusher, there’s still cause for concern. As we eluded to earlier, pass rush was a major problem for Arizona in 2015, which ended up costing them at the end.

If Jones turns out to be the only legitimate threat on the edge, teams will start sending two guys his way and in return, it’ll neglect any type of pass rush Arizona has to offer.

Sure, the Cardinals arguably have the best secondary in the NFL, but without a pass rush, they’re even liable to give up big plays here and there.

Mix in the fact that we still aren’t sure if we can trust Palmer in big game situations, it’s difficult to say Arizona will win the Super Bowl.

Yes, the talent is there and they will probably go far yet again, but expect for them to fall once more.


About Mark Gunnels

Mark Gunnels

Mark Gunnels is an NFL columnist for Football Insiders. He has several years of experience covering the NFL and NCAA football. He's the radio color commentator for Lincoln University football. Mark's work has been featured on Sports Illustrated, Fox Sports and Yard Barker.