Welcome back to another edition of ‘The Super Bowl Race In The Perspective Of Chase’, a close to daily NFL article previewing your favorite team’s season! The Arizona Cardinals have fallen off completely from what they were, and what they were supposed to be. The Cardinals were a young, aspiring team just a few years ago with a dynamic duo of Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins, and now they’re an aging injured team with many issues that is projected to be the worst team in football. With Kyler Murray out most of the season, will Arizona really have the worst record in football? Or will some of their young pieces emerge and make Arizona a surprising team? Here is everything you need to know about the Arizona Cardinals going into the 2023 season!
It has to be answered: Is it time for Arizona to move on from Kyler Murray?
It has been such a downhill spiral for the Cardinals over the past few seasons. In 2020, it was a 6-3 start chocked away in the back-half of the regular season. In 2021, it was an injured DeAndre Hopkins and an abysmal postseason performance. And in 2022, it was the third worst record in the game! And I think it all started with Kyler Murray, who just had the worst season of his career. It really looked like Kyler was going to have a good career when he for 24 touchdowns, just 10 interceptions and completed over 69% of his passes in 2021. But, a 66% completion rate, just 14 touchdowns and seven interceptions before a season ending ACL tear in 2022 has made some wonder, could the Cardinals replace Kyler Murray in the 2024 draft?
Before we get to that, we have to mention how other parts of the offense did. James Conner had another solid season with 782 yards and 7 touchdowns, and Eno Benjamin showed some signs in the rushing attack as well. Receiving wise, D-HOP recorded 64 receptions for 717 yards in just 12 games due to a six game suspension, and Marquise Brown had 67 receptions for 709 yards in just 12 games. Knowing that he’s been a 1,000 yard receiver before, I think Marquise Brown could have a very good season in 2023! And Zach Ertz even had over 400 yards before going down. Rondale Moore and Greg Dortch are two players you should also look out for, as they both had over 400 yards as the WR3 and WR4 in 2023. A bigger role may mean more success!
Defensively, J.J. Watt had a nice final season in the league recording 12.5 sacks and 25 QB hits, both marks that were high career high since 2018. Zaven Collins and Isaiah Simmons headlined the defense’s front seven outside of Watt, as they combined for 199 tackles. However, while Simmons is still good, I don’t think he’s quite developed into the linebacker Arizona was hoping he can be. In the secondary, Buda Baker continued a nice career, and Jalen Thompson had a nice season, as the two combined for 221 tackles and 15 passes defended. Overall, like the rest of the team, talent but no success!
Going into the offseason, people knew this team was falling apart. A.J. Green was no longer anywhere close to what he was, even in his first year in Arizona. D-HOP was regressing. Watt retired. Baker requested out. Kyler’s out until mid-season. Things were a mess in Arizona. So, they started to clean them up in the NFL draft. Arizona first dealt their third overall pick to Houston instead of picking Will Anderson for the 12th and 33rd picks, and a first and third rounder in 2024. Arizona then traded back up to number six, using that 12th overall pick, where they selected Paris Johnson.
And this was one of the smartest moves the Cardinals have made in a long time. Not only did the Cardinals get the best offensive lineman in the draft for the future, but they also got Houston’s first round pick from next year. And with the talent Houston has on the roster, that is looking like a top three pick. So there is a great possibility that the Cardinals have the first AND second overall picks next year! They turned one first round pick into two, both probably top ten. And if that’s not a good strategy to building for the future, I don’t know what is!
Outside of the draft though, Arizona didn’t do much. Obviously they released DeAndre Hopkins, who is now in Tennessee, which I’m okay with. But at the same time, I think Arizona should have been more active in trying to get a trade for him, bring in some value. They also released Rodney Hudson and extended Kelvin Beachum, showing their commitment into a younger offensive line. They signed Zach Pascal to add depth to the wide receiver core…and then that’s about it. But clearing cap space from good, but also older players who don’t fit in your timeline may actually be better for a rebuilding team than signing/trading for another young piece.
So, as of right now, it looks like Kyler will be out for almost the entirety of October. In his place will be Colt McCoy; I think that explains why this team is projected to be the worst in football. For me, with the Cardinals not contending whether McCoy is good or not, I think they should run their offense strictly through the passing attack. Conner is no longer need, and they don’t have any amazing, high potential running backs to go to. McCoy could possibly develop guys like Dortch and Moore, and that alongside a possible breakout year from Brown and Kyler has a lot to work with to keep his job once he returns.
And that is the main thing we have to talk about: should Arizona move on from Kyler? And it is a difficult answer. Because Kyler has had a decent career, and I wouldn’t put too much into his down year in 2022. At the same time, I think we know what Kyler is going to be. He is going to be a quarterback that can be good, but will never reach an MVP level or anything close to it like we’ve been expecting him to do for years now. When a quarterback has plateaued, but not a significantly high level, I think there are many reasons to be concerned!
And so, when I look at Caleb Williams, and how talented he is–his incredible deep ball, pocket presence, IQ, everything–I am more intrigued to see the Cardinals possibly move on to a potential MVP type player in the future. The contract is confusing, because Kyler is getting more guaranteed money than Lamar Jackson and Jalen Hurts (over 189 million). So that may be the only thing holding them back. However, if there’s a possible trade partner, or even not, as big of a Kyler fan as I am, I think it’s time to move on. It’s time to create a new culture and a new brand of football, and that includes moving on from Kyler. Unless he shows some crazy stuff next season, and assuming Arizona has the number one overall pick (from them or Houston), I would feel much more comfortable will Caleb Williams! I think Kyler’s time taking the snap in Arizona should be done after 2023!
Overall, this season, I would look out to see what you find in Kyler Murray, try to find progression from a very young and talented receiving core, and try to see if they can find a running back of the future. It is not going to be a pretty season for the Arizona Cardinals in 2023, but I think there is a lot to be excited about past that!
Prediction: The Cardinals finish with one of the worst records in football and select Caleb Williams! However, they see major progression from Dortch and Moore, who turn into two of the more promising young talents in the NFL!
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Twitter: Chase Coburn (@coolsportskid)
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