Arizona Cardinals are well ahead of schedule following Year 1 of overhaul

The Arizona Cardinals entered the 2023 season with nobody giving them much hope, but they ended the year proving they are well ahead of schedule.
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) throws a pass against the Seattle Seahawks during the
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) throws a pass against the Seattle Seahawks during the / Michael Chow/The Republic / USA TODAY

After the Arizona Cardinals started the season 1-8, the contingent of the NFL universe claiming the team was tanking were collectively singing the quote, “We told you so.” But starting in Week 10, the Cards got quarterback Kyler Murray back and they fully developed their identity on offense and laid the foundation. 

It wasn’t perfect, but the Redbirds are collectively a better football team than they were when they first took the field in September. They also improved from Week 10 to Week 18, and “Big Red” made it more than interesting for the final eight quarters of the season when they took it to the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 17, and they would have beaten Seattle had Matt Prater not gotten a case of the “yips”. 

And they did so by playing to their respective strengths, producing positive results predominantly on the ground and short passes with the occasional deep throw. This time last year, the Cardinals ended the season with no identity and no hope whatsoever - we knew the former regime was about to go and the head coaching job was one of the least attractive if not the least attractive job in the NFL.

Arizona Cardinals find themselves ahead of schedule going into offseason

We learned that Kyler Murray was indeed the team’s franchise quarterback going into next season and most likely beyond 2024. The Cardinals also found a pair of young pass-catchers in tight end Trey McBride and receiver Michael Wilson - the latter of whom redeemed himself throughout the last two weeks of the season. 

That said, Arizona Cardinals general manager Monti Ossenfort still has a lot of work to do. The Cardinals need another tackle, especially after D.J. Humphries going down with a torn ACL. It’s clear he needs to improve the rushing defense, and the cornerback room remains devoid of respectable talent. 

While Wilson has shown us he can be a solid receiver in this league, he didn’t prove he’s a WR1, and the Cards must find someone with the potential to step into the role. But, if he can find free agents who fit the system and the team persona, and if he enjoys another solid draft, then perhaps the Redbirds will remain ahead of schedule and give the Red Sea at least eight wins in 2024. Arizona may have finished 4-13, but the vibe going into the offseason is completely different.