The Arizona Cardinals have a new regime, likely roster turnover, and a quarterback who may not be ready to begin the 2023 season.
Stranger things have happened in recent NFL history. In 2020, the Cincinnati Bengals finished 4-11-1, yet they found themselves in the Super Bowl just one year later. In 2022, the Bengals proved 2021 was no fluke, and once again made a deep playoff run.
Ironically enough, the Philadelphia Eagles were also 4-11-1 in 2020, only to earn a playoff berth the following season, and a Super Bowl appearance in 2022. So to think the Arizona Cardinals could be the next team to turn it around isn’t as farfetched as it sounds.
The Arizona Cardinals could definitely return to the playoffs in 2023
Unlike most teams picking toward the top of the 2023 NFL Draft, the Cardinals at least have a quarterback in Kyler Murray who can remain the face of the franchise for years to come. While they may need to sign someone as a stand-in for a few games in 2023, Murray is a remarkable talent who finally has the benefit of coaches tailoring an offense around him.
Whether the Redbirds trade DeAndre Hopkins remains a mystery, but the Cards will at least have Marquise Brown, tight end Trey McBride, and perhaps even Greg Dortch back in the lineup. This isn’t a spectacular group and they would be far better off with Hopkins, but each of the aforementioned names exceeded expectations in 2022 under unstable circumstances.
The Cards need work at running back and at offensive line. But if they sign a solid RB2, perhaps someone like D’Ernest Johnson, then RB1 James Conner will have an adequate back to split carries with. The Cards should also have D.J. Humphries and Josh Jones back, and perhaps even Kelvin Beachum and Will Hernandez.
If the Cards can keep the linemen listed above, then they will look better than expected up front. Add in someone like Ethan Pocic? Then the Redbirds could be set if they stay healthy.
What about defense?
There are some obvious holes to fill, but if they retain Zach Allen, then the Cardinals have already moved in the right direction. It’s also intriguing that they have a young core that I’ve talked about time and again on this page, with Isaiah Simmons and Zaven Collins at linebacker (Simmons also plays in the secondary), plus Marco Wilson, Budda Baker, and Jalen Thompson as the primary defensive backs.
If the Cards land a pass rusher like Will Anderson Jr. in the NFL Draft, plus another cornerback via the draft or free agency, then this defense may project better than many analysts believe. Add in a solid free agent to plug in the middle and re-sign depth players like Ben Niemann, Antonio Hamilton, and even Byron Murphy Jr., and the Cards are looking pretty good on paper.
So can they make the turnaround happen? At this point, I don’t see why they can’t. The Cards, with Murray at quarterback plus talented, young names on defense, are more than a cut above the NFL’s lower-echelon teams. While I won’t be disappointed if they don’t turn it around because of the potential roster makeover, I also won’t be surprised if they snuck into the playoffs.
Source: Recent NFL history suggests that Cardinals, like Eagles, can have quick turnaround by Bob McManaman
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