In the old days of 2006, my old high school football coach was in Year 1 of rebuilding a downtrodden program. He didn’t want to measure success by wins and losses that year, given the magnitude of the task ahead. The same thing should hold true for the 2023 Arizona Cardinals: Don’t measure this season’s success purely on wins and losses - worry about player and system development.
Even if head coach Jonathan Gannon and the Cards finished Year 1 of what should be a multi-year development project as the worst team in football, it doesn’t mean the season was a wash. Not if the Cards are collectively better as a unit in Week 18 than they were in Week 1, which happens to take place this Sunday.
Therefore, the time has come to identify three crucial keys that will make for a successful season in 2023. They must establish an identity and identify playmakers on both sides of the ball, and figure out their quarterback situation sooner than later.
Keys for the Arizona Cardinals to enjoy a successful season
1 - Establish an identity on offense and defense
We know what the Arizona Cardinals want to establish on offense and defense. Offensively, it will be a variation of “Martyball,” made famous by legendary NFL head coach Marty Schottenheimer.
The ruse is simple: Primarily run the football, pick up as much yardage as you can, and throw if you need to. With James Conner and Keaontay Ingram manning the backfield, the Cards can establish this by the season’s end.
And while they need to eventually forge a committee in the backfield, it’s all about becoming known as a bruising football team. Their offensive line should also hold for 2023, with youngsters like Paris Johnson up front. The Cards also boast plenty of serviceable players in their respective primes like Will Hernandez and D.J. Humphries.
On defense, Arizona must establish the pass rush if they roll out the 3-4 base this weekend. And with a sound rotation at EDGE, the Cards can accomplish this even if players like BJ Ojulari need to get acclimated and Myjai Sanders is starting the year on injured reserve. If they make opposing quarterbacks uncomfortable, it will lead to quite a few turnovers.