Why 2021 is one of the most important seasons in Cardinals history

(Photo by Billy Hardiman-USA TODAY Sports) Kyler Murray
(Photo by Billy Hardiman-USA TODAY Sports) Kyler Murray /

The Arizona Cardinals are heading into a vital season that could determine how the franchise looks for the next decade.

Back in 2015, the Arizona Cardinals earned themselves a spot in the NFC Championship for the second time in a decade. The Cardinals were unable to come away with a win in that NFC title game, and unfortunately, that was the last time the franchise appeared in the playoffs.

Since then, Arizona has made two head coaching switches, used two top-10 draft picks to select a quarterback, and failed to end a season with a winning record.

If the Cardinals don’t find a way to get over the hump in 2021 and make the playoffs, then the 2022 offseason is probably going to feature some major changes.

Failure in 2021 could bring the Arizona Cardinals back to square one

Arizona is heading into their third season with Kliff Kingsbury as their head coach and Kyler Murray as their starting quarterback. If the 2021 campaign doesn’t result in the Cardinals earning a spot in the postseason, at least one of these two will likely be gone in 2022.

Kingsbury being given the boot seems like the most probable outcome if Arizona doesn’t make the playoffs next season. Heading out the door with him could be Cardinals general manager Steve Keim, who has been with the franchise since 1999.

Keim has been Arizona’s general manager since 2013, but ownership might want someone else to hire the franchise’s next head coach and construct the team’s roster.

Murray wouldn’t be completely off of the hook either if the Cardinals miss the playoffs next season. Questions about his future in Arizona would immediately begin to become more frequent and another year without a postseason berth might even cause the young quarterback to ramp up his efforts to play professional baseball one day.

If the Cardinals do end up hiring a new general manager in 2022, they would likely have to figure out a way to do a soft rebuild of the roster. Since Murray is still so young, gutting the entire roster probably wouldn’t be the best decision to make.

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However, all of these possible plans for the future could be put on hold if Arizona just makes the playoffs next season. The Cardinals are capable of making this happen, they just have to figure out a way to turn this goal into a reality.