The 5 Takeaways from the Coyotes introduction of

first_img The 5: Takeaways from the Coyotes’ introduction of Alex Meruelo Former Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson retires Based on the site’s projections, it will lead to a 10-6 record, which would see them finish one game behind Seattle in the division but earn the top Wild Card spot. Optimistic? Maybe.As a writer who uses stats to analyze a sport that’s tough to analyze with stats, I try to follow two rules: run the numbers unadulterated; and don’t be a slave to them. So I don’t mind saying that our projection system seems far too optimistic about a rebound performance from the 38-year-old Carson Palmer. That being said, last season’s Cardinals were not a bad team, just an average one held back in part by a terrible special-teams performance that is unlikely to be repeated.Palmer will not turn 38 until Dec. 27, but the point about his ability to bounce back from a down 2016 season is valid, at least to some extent. Because while the veteran did not post the kind of numbers he did in 2015, when he was named to the Pro Bowl and finished second in the MVP voting, he still managed to pass for 4,233 yards and 26 touchdowns in 15 games. He was intercepted 14 times, however, and his yards per attempt dropped to 7.1 from 8.7, which he accomplished in 2015.Palmer considered retirement in the offseason but chose to return for at least one more season, though the Cardinals have made it clear they would like to find a young quarterback to groom for the future. Derrick Hall satisfied with D-backs’ buying and selling Comments   Share   As long as Palmer does not take a significant step back, Arizona’s offense should again be among the NFL’s better units. The defense, which took some hits in free agency, still has talent, and a healthy Tyrann Mathieu should go a long way toward fixing some of that group’s ailments.As Schatz noted, a big part of what held Arizona back in 2016 was special teams, with missed field goals, bad snaps and poor return coverage all playing roles in tough losses. However, it is reasonable to think the Cardinals will be improved there mostly because of different personnel and better health, as well as a little bit more luck.center_img Though the Arizona Cardinals finished the 2016 season with a 7-8-1 record, they were still successful enough to post the second-best record in the NFC West.That means their 2017 slate will feature a second-place set of opponents, in addition to their NFC West foes and their scheduled run through the NFC East and AFC South.The weeks in which each opponent will be played are not yet known, nor can we really know for certain which will be the toughest teams on Arizona’s schedule. But as things stand right now, according to Football Outsiders’ Aaron Schatz on ESPN.com, they have the easiest 2017 slate in the NFC West and the 24th-most difficult set of opponents in the entire NFL. Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) talks with Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians during the second half of an NFL football game against the New England Patriots, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016, in Glendale, Ariz. The Patriots won 23-21. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri) Grace expects Greinke trade to have emotional impact Top Stories last_img read more