After going 34-14 from 2013-15, the Arizona Cardinals fell off the proverbial cliff last season, finishing 7-8-1 and missing the playoffs.
What the heck happened?
“Just consistency,” Cardinals linebacker Markus Golden said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “It’s a team sport. At the end of the day, you can’t blame it on one person. It’s not boxing. It’s a team sport. I could have did better. Everybody on the team would say they could have did better to help us have a better record than what we did last year.”
Brandon Tierney, for one, knew something was wrong with the Cardinals after their 33-18 Week 3 loss in Buffalo. At the time, though, Golden didn’t sense underlying issues.
“Me, I’m the wrong guy to ask if I sensed it because I could be down 30-0 and I’m still believing I could win,” he said. “I feel like we was inconsistent: lot of ups and downs, didn’t stay and do exactly what we felt we could have did the whole year, but after that, man, all we got to do is keep working, and I feel like we’ll bounce back this year.”
The Cardinals will need a bounce-back year from Carson Palmer, who went from 35 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in 2015 to 26 touchdowns and 14 interceptions in 2016. Now on an offseason pitch count, the 37-year-old Palmer hopes to lead Arizona back to the postseason for the third time in four years.
“Carson, he looks great,” Golden said. “When he’s out there, he looks real good. He’s always working, man. There ain’t never a time where I look at him and he’s not working. That’s the type of leader you want. He’s a guy I’d follow anywhere. He’s been looking good all through camp, and he looks just like he always looked – like Carson, a leader out there, he always knows what to do. He even helped me out on defense (to read quarterbacks better). So he’s just being himself out there, leading us. We’re blessed to be able to have him as our leader and our quarterback.”
Looking ahead, Palmer and the Cardinals don’t just want to win the NFC West. They want to play for – and win – the Super Bowl.
“The way we bring it every day, we all feel like we can compete with anybody in the league (and make) it to the playoffs and make it to the Super Bowl,” Golden said. “If you don’t believe that, you shouldn’t be playing this game.”
The Cardinals open the season with back-to-back road games against the Lions and Colts on Sept. 10 and 17, respectively. Kickoff for both games is at 1 p.m. ET.