Time to Panic? Can the Arizona Cardinals salvage their 2022 season?
Can the Arizona Cardinals win their next two games against their division foes in order to salvage their season and get back in contention?
After another heartbreaking loss, it’s evident that the Cardinals have some things that needs to improve in order for the team to get back on track. After falling 31-21 to the NFC West leading Seahawks, the Cardinals are now 3-6 on the season.
And while all hope is not lost just yet, the Cardinals have a golden opportunity to save their season and hopefully try to earn a spot in the playoffs. They are currently in last place in the division and their next two games are against divisional foes with the outcome likely to determine the fate of this team moving forward.
In order for the Cardinals to avoid possibly missing the postseason they must fix their deficiencies on both sides of the ball. It all starts at the top with Kliff Kingsbury. His play calling has been predictable all season as he has been outcoached for the most part.
Diversifying the play calling would be a good idea while Kingsbury has to get on the same page as Kyler Murray. Having struggled so far this season, Murray has to find his rhythm and find a way to carry the team.
He got the huge contract and with that comes big expectations so he has to be the catalyst. Even though Murray is the franchise cornerstone and is expected to play well every game, he can’t do it alone and he hasn’t had much help either.
Injuries, inconsistency has plagued the Arizona Cardinals
The offensive line has been ravaged by injuries as Murray is the sixth-most sacked quarterback in the NFL. Another concern is their lack of a running game. The Arizona Cardinals running back corps are not an atrocious group as they are in the middle of the pack as they are 14th in rushing yards per game but James Conner, Eno Benjamin and Keontay Ingram has to do better in order to balance the offense.
Also plaguing this team are the notoriously slow starts to games. In each of their games so far the Cardinals couldn’t not find their rhythm until late in the second half while trailing from behind. They only average 1.8 points in the 1st quarter of games and it would be beneficial if they could find the end zone early and allow Murray to find his rhythm and allow Kingsbury to give the running backs more opportunities which will open up the passing game.
The defense appears to have that “bend but don’t break” mentality as the Cardinals have forced a decent amount of turnovers but are the 29th ranked team in total yards allowed. They also have had trouble getting to opposing quarterbacks as the Cardinals only have 16 sacks on the year so far.
Outside of J.J. Watt and Zach Allen the Cardinals don’t have any pass rushers who strike fear in opposing offensive coordinators. Vance Joseph must find ways to get others involved to try and disrupt the QB.
Zaven Collins and Isaiah Simmons have made enormous strides with their development and are finally emerging as leaders on the defense. But they haven’t received much help from their secondary as the defense has allowed a total of 2,281 yards through the air which is the third-most allowed in the NFL.
The Cardinals have also allowed the third-most passing TD’s as Joseph must quickly figure out how to adjust as they will have their hands full with Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp. In their first matchup against the Rams the Cardinals secondary held Kupp in check as he only had four catches for 44 yards.
The Cardinals secondary can’t afford to allow Kupp to get loose for big plays or it will be a long day and the beginning of the end for them. Joseph may assign Byron Murphy Jr. to keep up with Kupp and also have Simmons or Budda Baker shadow him and assist in coverage due to Kupp’s ability to turn short gains into huge ones.
If the Arizona Cardinals can somehow win the next two games against their divisional opponents, they will the be able to turn the focus on making the playoffs and getting healthy. If they lose, things could get ugly as Kingbury’s job could be in question and Murray’s mammoth contract won’t be justified, as many believe the Cardinals overpaid for his services and don’t consider him to be an elite quarterback. Hopefully Kingsbury can figure things out and get this team back on the right track.
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