At fourth in my NFC West power rankings are the Cardinals. Okay, now before I get hounded by the Cardinals fans on this one, let me explain my reasoning. The Cardinals are basically going into year 3 of a rebuilding process. Kyler Murray and Kliff Kingsbury have shown flashes of brilliance, but their inconsistency has been their downfall as the Murray and DeAndre Hopkins duo faded down the stretch.
The wide receiving corps for Arizona is solely Hopkins. Hall of famer Larry Fitzgerald is on retirement watch, and Andy Isabella along with Christian Kirk have disappointed big time. With only $9 million in cap space, some longtime players may be looking for a new team. Tight end Dan Arnold had a breakout year, catching the most touchdowns (4) by a TE since Johnny McWilliams did it in 1998. I’d love to see him back as he’s the most productive player at the position I’ve seen in my 17 years of being a fan of this team.
Will Chandler Jones be back? The Cardinals actually finished 10th in sacks without him after he went down for the season. Surprises like Dennis Gardeck and the late bloom of Haason Reddick made this defensive unit so much fun to watch. I commend Vance Joseph for vastly improving the defense this year, jumping from 28th in 2019 all the way up to 12th this past year. There were undoubtedly frustrating moments with Patrick Peterson and Dre Kirkpatrick, and I expect Peterson to walk once Free Agency begins.
Finally, the red birds end up ranked 4th because of the sheer talent in the division around them. Yes, Seattle won the division but looked lost against LA in the wild card round. San Francisco is going to have everyone healthy come the start of next year, and of course all know George Kittle will continue his reign of terror against this team as all tight ends do.
The way they can change this ranking is improving their secondary and coverage skills amongst linebackers. Isaiah Simmons cannot be kept on the sidelines this year. It’ll be a crime if that happens. Additionally the running game outside of Murray needs to vastly improve as well, and with offensive line Sean Kugler randomly getting promoted to run game coordinator it’ll be quite something to watch. Kingsbury’s refusal to delegate and hire an offensive coordinator is frustrating. This team’s success relies on the skills Steve Keim possesses as the offseason goes forward.