Fourteen months later, the shifting strengths and weaknesses of the roster inspire a natural inclination to question whether they might have already missed their window.
A defense that overcompensated for the disappointing offense last season just lost a breakout star at safety (Tony Jefferson) and one of the most disruptive defensive linemen in football (Calais Campbell) to free agency. Perhaps just as troublesome, Tyrann Mathieu has shown few signs of recapturing the pre-injury form that propelled him into the Defensive Player of the Year discussion prior to his late-season ACL tear in 2015.
In other words, the margin for error enjoyed throughout that encouraging 2015 season has all but disappeared.
To pull off a bounce-back campaign in 2017, Arians must find a way to accomplish the following: adequately protect Palmer behind an overmatched offensive line; fix Mathieu and deep threat John Brown; rebuild a back-breaking special teams unit; find a reliable cornerback opposite Patrick Peterson; and ensure that the team's last two first-round draft picks -- offensive tackle D.J. Humphries and defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche -- emerge as productive starters rather than liabilities verging on dreaded bust status.
Over the past decade, this organization has pulled off an incredible transition from NFL laughingstock to a picture of stability under Arians and GM Steve Keim.