Trending: A look at the Cardinals at the season’s midway point
The Cardinals’ bye week coming eight games into the season offers a great chance not only for a much-needed break, but also some pretty simple statistical analysis.
Want to project a player’s season? Just double their stats.
With that nugget out in the open, we can admit not a lot of math skill went into this story, which takes a look at some projections — both good and bad — and tries to determine which are likely to persist as well as those that are likely to fall off (or improve).
Projection: 312 attempts, 1,410 yards, 16 TDs; 70 receptions, 814 yards, 0 TDs
In terms of rushing attempts, chances are Johnson’s total will finish a little below the projected number. Last season, just one player — Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson — topped the 300-carry mark, as he finished with 327. The next closest was Tampa Bay’s Doug Martin, who had 288. In terms of rushing yards, Johnson will find it difficult to reach that projected number as his offensive line has become decimated by injury and he faces tougher defenses, though he’s proven to be pretty good no matter who is blocking or trying to stop him. Johnson figures to see an uptick in his receiving numbers with a leaky offensive line forcing the ball to be thrown more quickly, and his final totals should reflect that.
Projection: 58 total tackles, 12 sacks, 8 tackles for loss
Golden has been quite good for the Cardinals in his second season, though he has slowed down a bit of late. After collecting six sacks in his first five games, Golden has now gone three games without one, which makes you wonder if his current pace is sustainable. A high-motor and effort player, Golden figures to have his ups and his downs as he continues to develop as a pass rusher, and should finish with double-digit sacks. Twelve, however, may be a bit of a stretch.
Projection: 354 completions in 564 attempts, 4,136 yards, 20 touchdowns, 12 interceptions, 48 sacks
Palmer’s numbers are a bit off because he missed one game, though when you look at the projections he seems to still be on pace for a solid season. His overall numbers should be a bit better if only because the second half of his season should feature eight games instead of seven, though losing left tackle Jared Veldheer to injury will not help his cause. Palmer seemed to find his rhythm some in the Week 8 loss to Carolina, throwing three touchdown passes and looking pretty sharp. Should that continue, his final touchdown total should be higher, and his interception total a bit lower than the projection. As for the sacks, the numbers are a bit skewed after an eight-sack day in Carolina, and would crush the 41 times the veteran was brought down in 2013.
Projection: 112 total tackles, 2 sacks, 4 passes defensed, 4 forced fumbles, 4 fumble recoveries
Jefferson has been great for the Cardinals this season, stepping into a larger role and showing that he can do more than just help in run support. He has helped the defense limit some elite tight ends, and has proven to be a valuable member of the secondary. His final numbers are not likely to be too far off of the projected total, especially if Tyrann Mathieu misses significant time with his shoulder injury.
Projection: 112 receptions, 1,008 yards, 10 TDs
Save for a rare drop early in the loss to Carolina, Fitzgerald has been quite good this season, though it’s a different kind of good than before. Should his pace hold, his reception total would be a career high, though his yards per catch average would be a career low. He would also reach double-digit touchdowns for the first time since 2013. Depending on how Arizona’s offense evolves going forward, Fitzgerald is not likely to see fewer passes go his way, though the Cardinals would certainly like to get him the ball in spots that would allow him to gain some yards after the catch. Assuming he stays healthy, Fitzgerald should top the 100-catch mark once again and may approach the projected number, though his yards should increase. The touchdown total is about right.
Projection: 48 total tackles, 10 sacks, 4 tackles for loss, 4 forced fumbles, 4 fumble recoveries
Jones was brought in to be an elite pass rusher, and for the most part he has been exactly that. Using his speed, length and athleticism, the former New England Patriot has been a terror for opposing offenses, and a difficult guy to block. He has at least one sack in five of the team’s eight games, though has just one over the last four. His overall projection seems to be about right, though he’s perfectly capable of producing a stretch of games that allows him to surpass it.
Projection: 30 receptions, 428 yards, 4 TDs
Of all the projections that are likely to fall short, this one ranks at the top. Slowly but surely, Nelson has carved out a key role within the offense, and after an 8-catch, 79-yard, 2-TD performance in Carolina has been declared a starting receiver. Now, his hold on the job is anything but secure, as more proven options in Michael Floyd and John Brown are still around, though if Nelson stays healthy there is little reason to think he will not continue to be a big part of what the Cardinals do, and the more he is out there the better rapport he should build with Palmer. Nelson will not catch eight passes every game, but he should crush the projections, at least in terms of receptions and yards. Touchdowns may be a bit tough to come by.
Projection: 38 receptions, 414 yards, 6 TDs
Few players have been more disappointing than Floyd, who in a contract year was expected to be as good as he’s ever been. The Cardinals have tried to get him the ball — he’s been targeted with 44 passes — but his catch rate of 40 percent is easily the lowest on the team, and makes him the only receiving target who has caught fewer than half of the passes sent his way. Some of the throws were off target, yes, and others leave him needing to make a tough catch in traffic, but he’s shown an ability to make those plays in the past and this season has also struggled with drops. Arians believes Floyd is in for a strong second half, though it’s fair to wonder if that will be possible as his role has been diminished. Floyd will probably surpass his projections — at least in catches and yards — though will fall considerably short of where people expected him to be when the season began.