The Arizona Cardinals are going nowhere this year and in 2023, we may see a new head coach, a new general manager, and perhaps even a new quarterback.
The Arizona Cardinals are 4-8 and there is hardly a chance for them to reach the playoffs unless they run the table and hope a lot of teams lose. So it would make more sense for the group to make some adjustments, play the youth, and see what kind of pieces they have for next season.
Kyler Murray still has a chance to prove he can be the team’s long-term answer at quarterback. And though I hate to admit it, Kliff Kingsbury has five weeks to prove he can be the coach of this franchise in 2023.
So what can the Arizona Cardinals do to get the most out of the last five games of 2022? Here are five things that stand out the most.
1 – Play Kyler Murray with reckless abandon
I’ll root for any quarterback who is under six feet tall. But Kyler Murray started falling out of my good graces during the 2022 offseason after I spent three seasons making excuse after excuse for him. Here’s the short list.
- 2019 – He’s a rookie.
- 2020 – He played hurt.
- 2021 – Kliff Kingsbury historically collapses.
Once 2022 rolled around and Murray initially scrubbed his social media accounts before signing an undeserving extension, he has done nothing but act like a privileged high school kid since. I finally admitted how wrong I was about the quarterback.
But Murray is just 25, and he can turn things around in silencing critics through on-field performances and by simply shrugging off any fresh criticism like a true professional. He has five weeks to drive this point home.
It also wouldn’t hurt if he showed more traits of a field general. Something he also hasn’t done in his four seasons with the team.
2 – Experiment with new gameplans, playcalling
Head coach Kliff Kingsbury has got to realize what he’s been doing over the first 12 weeks of the season hasn’t worked. So between Weeks 14 and 18, it’s high time that he admits his mistakes and starts calling smarter games.
He must identify what hasn’t worked, virtually everything, and scrap it. Play to Murray’s strengths, and both coach and quarterback might see an improvement in their respective crafts. If that’s the case, then, as much as fans would hate to say it, Kliff might just get one final mulligan.
3 – Play the Youth
The Arizona Cardinals need to see what they have in their current draft class. While the likes of Trey McBride, Cam Thomas, and Myjai Sanders have not performed up to scratch, they also found themselves playing behind veterans early. It’s time to give them a chance, and that means playing them for the majority of the snaps.
Keaontay Ingram is another player I’d like to see get some reps at running back, and Lecitus Smith, needs to see extensive time at guard. Perhaps they can all win starting roles next season, and yes, even McBride, as there is a chance Zach Ertz’s injury carries into 2023.
4 – Keep Isaiah Simmons and Zaven Collins in the middle
Isaiah Simmons was one player on the Arizona Cardinals that I was ready and willing to toss into the discard pile. After he struggled to hold onto his starting job earlier this season, I was a huge proponent to trade him while he still had value.
However, Simmons has been serviceable, notching 60 tackles, three sacks, two forced fumbles, and even a pick six. Zaven Collins has also been on the breakout trail, notching 74 combined tackles, including seven behind the line, plus his own pick six. Let’s play these two exclusively at inside linebacker and see what kind of damage they can evoke.
5 – Discard the oldies
J.J. Watt is an exception here, but most of the oldies need to be kicked to the curb. We know James Conner is nothing more than a role player, but we don’t know what the Arizona Cardinals have in Ingram. We know Markus Golden is finished, so as I mentioned, why not play the rooks?
Rodney Hudson is also done, so play Billy Price and see if he can gain an early jump as the starting center. Knowing Kingsbury, this probably won’t happen, as it’s more than possible he will believe playing the vets will best help him save his job.
Problem is, he went 4-8 with the vets, so why not play the kids? Even if you run the table in reverse and finish 4-13, you can at least make an argument that the younger players improved, and that those improvements could set a solid foundation for 2023.
(Statistics provided by Pro-Football-Reference)
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