The Arizona Cardinals struggled on offense in 2017. There were numerous injuries to key contributors along every position group. Running back David Johnson was injured for the season before finishing the first game. His replacement, Adrian Peterson, played in five games before being lost for the season as well. Between a broken arm to starting quarterback Carson Palmer, and multiple offensive line configurations due to injuries, the Cardinals had broken wings before they had a chance to fly. Today we take a look at the offensive output in 2017.
No Room to Run
The Cardinals offense finished 22nd in the NFL in total yards. At 5,026 yards, Arizona averaged 314 yards a game in 2017. The lack of yards led to a lack of scoring as the Cardinals finished ranked 25th, with just 295 points. The injuries along the offensive line hurt the run game the most. As a unit, the Cardinals finished 30th in the league, with 1,386 yards and six rushing touchdowns. That is an average of 86.3 yards per game in addition to 3.4 yards per attempt. The team’s leading rusher was Peterson who finished with 448 yards on 129 carries and two touchdowns. The lack of a run game meant the offense relied on the air attack.
Lack of Protection
Even with his injury midway through the season, Palmer led the team in passing with 1,978 yards, nine touchdowns and seven interceptions. Palmer completed 61.4 percent of his passes. The passing game as a whole ranked 15th in the NFL with 3,640 yards. The makeshift offensive line surrendered 52 sacks on the year, third most in the NFL. The lack of protection led to just 21 passing touchdowns and a 5.6 yards per attempt average.
The saving grace for the offense was wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald. The future Hall of Fame receiver finished the year with 1,156 yards receiving on 109 catches and six touchdowns. Fitzgerald account for one-third of all receptions by Cardinals receivers. The next highest reception total was a tie between running back Andre Ellington and tight end Jermaine Gresham with 33. The Cardinals released Ellington released in November.
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As a whole, the numbers show a football team lucky to finish the season at 8-8. Were it not for a stingy defense over the final quarter of the season, it is possible the team would have finished in worse position. The offseason will need to bring major changes to the offense. The retirement of both Bruce Arians and Palmer means a major shakeup in coaching philosophy and personnel. Fitzgerald has been coy regarding his future with the team. The draft and free agency will be paramount for the future of the organization.