The NFL is the only league where you can go from worst to first -- or first to worst -- in a heartbeat.
There are several reasons why this happens so often. Teams that go from first to worst have injury problems, poor quarterback play, and instability on the offensive line. Teams that go from worst to first usually are healthy, have excellent quarterback play, and have stability on the offensive line. The Los Angeles Rams are a great example of this. The Rams have a bright young coach in Sean McVay, a quickly improving quarterback in Jared Goff and very few major injuries. The Rams have had a good defense for years, but now it doesn't have to win games. L.A. has become one of the more potent offenses because of an excellent run game, and a reliable offensive line. The move to acquire left tackle Andrew Whitworth has been among the best in the NFL. All of these are ingredients to having a Super Bowl-caliber team, which believe it or not, the Rams have in 2017.
This should also give Cardinals fans reason to believe in a potential quick turnaround for their team.
Arizona has dealt with a ridiculous number of injuries, including two at quarterback, its starting left tackle, one of its best pass rushers, and arguably its best player in David Johnson. Yet, despite this, the Cardinals are 6-8. It's not a good record by any means, but a lot of teams would be 2-12 with these issues.
I don't believe the Cardinals are that far away from returning to a championship level. Assuming Johnson is healthy in 2018, the Cardinals have a player that wins a couple of games basically by himself. Larry Fitzgerald can still play, and it will be up to him as to whether he wants to. Arizona also has some of the best defensive players in the league in Chandler Jones and Patrick Peterson. These are cornerstone players that are already in place that many teams even with better records than the Cardinals don't possess. Arizona also has key role players, Corey Peters for example, that are difference makers yet may not wow the casual fan.
There are also some major questions that will need to be answered this offseason. How will the coaching staff look in 2018? There has been much speculation about this, but it's foolish to guess at this point. Who will be the Cardinals starting quarterback in 2018? If Carson Palmer returns, will Arizona draft a quarterback to be his eventual successor? Will the Cardinals look to acquire another veteran QB via trade or free agency?
If Fitzgerald returns, he will need some help. Ricky Seals-Jones looks like the tight end of the future for the Cardinals, but they will need to get some receivers to compliment him and Fitz. The Rams are yet again the example of how you can get better quickly at the receiver position, and not necessarily through the draft.
The Cardinals will have some decisions to make about the offensive line, and have not been afraid in the past to sign big-name free agents. A healthy D.J. Humphries is a great place to start given how much promise he showed in limited action this season.
The bottom line, is while this may be a lost season for the Cardinals, all hope is not lost. Based on the talent on the roster, I don't believe they're that far away from returning to the playoffs.