The situation may be just as dire for this season’s version of the Arizona Cardinals as it was for the dreaded 2018 squad.
While we should have saw it coming, things finally hit rock-bottom for the Arizona Cardinals on Monday night. Those of us who were clinging to the hope that “Big Red” would go on a winning streak and miraculously sneak into the playoffs were knocked back into reality. How bad has it become for the Cards after their 27-13 loss to a mediocre band of New England Patriots?
Actually, this year’s version of the Redbirds may be just as bad as the team was back in 2018. That forgettable group was led by the ill-equipped Steve Wilks, a candidate who was quite possibly the front office’s sixth or seventh choice for a new head coach that offseason. Despite having a more-talented roster, the current group of Cardinals may be just as hard to watch as the squad that Wilks presided over four years ago.
As Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman pointed out during Monday’s telecast, Arizona is just one year removed from an NFL-best 10-2 record. Unfortunately, head coach Kliff Kingsbury’s crew began to go downhill from there. For those fans who aren’t aware of how dire the situation has become, the Cards have won just five times in 19 tries since then.
It’s easy to lay the blame on Kingsbury, and the 43-year-old certainly deserves a good bit of it. At the same time, there are other culprits as well. One person in particular has held his position since 2013, and has just one postseason victory to show for it.
That individual happens to be Steve Keim, Arizona’s much-maligned general manager who appears to possess the best job-security in the NFL. It was Keim who had to settle on Wilks back in ’18, after he failed to convince any of the top-notch head-coaching options to come to the desert. Owner Michael Bidwill’s best buddy also hired Kingsbury, an offensive “guru” who compiled a losing record (35-40) as the head man at Texas Tech University.
Another albatross around the neck of the Cardinals is Kyler Murray, the pint-sized quarterback who Keim wasted the first-overall pick of the 2019 draft on. Make no mistake, the 25-year-old signal-caller will fully recover from the non-contact knee injury he suffered against the Patriots. However, do the Cards have much of a future with a “me-first” passer who’s the farthest thing from a leader there is?
Arizona Cardinals painted themselves into a corner during the offseason
Bidwill and Keim made a huge blunder back in July when they were strong-armed into signing Murray to a $230.5 million contract. That deal is shaping up to be the worst allocation of funds in the history of the Cardinals franchise. By the way, the more-accomplished Lamar Jackson (three playoff appearances) has not yet received a contract-extension from the Baltimore Ravens.
So where does Arizona go from here? The dead salary-cap money that would result from trading Murray makes it almost impossible for the organization to rid themselves of that mistake. It’s sickening to think that the Cards could’ve used the top selection in ’19 on Nick Bosa, a football player through and through who would’ve been a stalwart on the team’s defense for years to come.
If Bidwill is serious about contending, the word “buyout” must come into the equation. Forget the new agreements you came to with both Keim and Kingsbury back in March. Put the monetary concerns aside, and replace both men with competent football minds who’ve tasted success in the National Football League.
Names like Sean Payton and Jim Harbaugh come to mind. The football is in Bidwill’s court. Let’s erase both the 2018 and 2022 campaigns from our memory for good, and hope that the owner will do whatever it takes to make the Arizona Cardinals a winner going forward.
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