Arizona Cardinals culture change was on full display through four weeks

Arizona Cardinals head coach Jonathan Gannon and general manager Monti Ossenfort knew they needed to change the culture surrounding the woebegone franchise.
Arizona Cardinals v San Francisco 49ers
Arizona Cardinals v San Francisco 49ers / Ezra Shaw/GettyImages

Throughout the Kliff Kingsbury era, the Arizona Cardinals pulled off their fair share of gutsy performances and victories. In 2020, they upset the Seattle Seahawks in dramatic fashion, and no one will forget the “Hail Murray” anytime soon. 

Last year, they rallied from a 20-0 halftime deficit to defeat the Las Vegas Raiders, and these are just what we can name off the bat. However, not only were such outings few and far in between, the Redbirds folded every time the inevitable injury bug struck

And that’s what separates the 2023 Cardinals from those we saw in the Kingsbury Era, at least in the early going. Sure, 35-16 looks ugly on the surface, but those who didn’t watch the game didn’t see the rally that started before halftime and carried into the third quarter that brought the Cards to within five points of the Niners, including a 99-yard touchdown drive. 

During the Kingsbury era, you could often chalk up an L in the win-loss category if anyone other than Kyler Murray lined up under center. Colt McCoy gave the Cards a few wins, but following the Cardinals 27-17 win over the Los Angeles Rams last season, the aging quarterback never again played a decent game, and there were even times in 2022 when he looked awful. 

Ditto for the likes of Trace McSorley and David Blough, despite the latter showing moxie at times. But in the NFL, moxie and poise will only take you so far, and it was evident when the Cards finished 4-13 in what was mostly a season of uninspiring football. 

Arizona Cardinals culture change is evident through four weeks

Overall, the 2022 Cardinals were a dysfunctional unit, a continuation of the lackluster team we saw throughout the second half of 2021. Often, when the Cards lost, they were depleted and they were unwatchable, and that isn’t the case with Jonathan Gannon’s crew. 

While the Cardinals would be a much better team with Kyler Murray and Budda Baker on the field, along with at least halfway decent role players on the defensive line, they are at least playing inspiring football regardless of who ends up in the starting unit. And that’s a testament to Gannon, Monti Ossenfort, and the staff they put together. 

You could put a defense full of third-stringers and fringe talent on the field, and from what I have seen so far, they would still find a way to keep your attention for at least a significant portion of the game. That’s who the Arizona Cardinals are these days, despite the 1-3 record. 

No, the Cardinals aren’t a good football team in 2023. But they are a fun team who will make it worth your time and money to watch on Sundays, and you can’t help but think their best days aren’t far off.


Source: Cardinals still show progress despite lopsided loss to 49ers by Tyler Drake, Arizona Sports