Murray returns, offense catches on quickly: How Arizona Cardinals can shock the NFL

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) watches his teammates practice during minicamp at the
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) watches his teammates practice during minicamp at the / Rob Schumacher/The Republic / USA TODAY

The Arizona Cardinals have the odds stacked against them to the point that it’s not unheard of to see some analysts and hobbyists predicting a winless season.

“Shock the Valley.” No, not the Valley of the Sun, but the Ohio Valley. That was our adopted slogan back at my old high school entering the 2006 season. Between 2004 and 2005, we’d won just two games in 20 tries, so no one was giving us much of a chance in 2006. That said, you can see why it was an appropriate quip. 

I’d love to tell you the story ended well, but we only won another two games that year. Anyway, enough of me reliving my old high school days-it’s 2023, and the Arizona Cardinals kind of find themselves in a similar situation. 

Fortunately for the Cardinals, even with a seemingly meager roster, there’s a chance they can shock the NFL universe like a few teams have before them. How can it happen? Keep reading to find out. 

Arizona Cardinals can shock the NFL in 2023

First and foremost, the Cards need to roll with the hot hand in training camp. I don’t care if it’s Clayton Tune or David Blough. Whoever’s producing needs to line up under center in Week 1-most likely Tune or the aging Colt McCoy. 

The Cards need to let them manage the game, which means quick adaptation to the run-first offense. And this needs to go through the offensive line, not the running backs. 

Therefore, whether it’s Corey Clement, Keaontay Ingram, Ty’Son Williams or Emari Demercado spelling James Conner, the line needs to be opening holes for the backs. This means the system must work regardless who lines up behind Tune, McCoy, and ultimately, Kyler Murray. And speaking of which…

I’ve said numerous times that I love Clayton Tune and want nothing more than to see him take the reins from Day One and pull off his best impression of Brock Purdy. But the last thing the Cardinals need is for Murray’s giant contract to go to waste, so in a best-case scenario, the former first overall pick takes the field, puts on a dazzling display in the running and throwing departments, and entrenches himself as the guy for 2024 and beyond.

Michael and Marco Wilson are two of many young players who need to step into their roles and play them well. Paris Johnson, who fans have high expectations for, needs to be mauler starting in Week 1. 

Zaven Collins and Isaiah Simmons need to hit the ground running at their new positions, and someone on that defensive line MUST step up. Oh, and Monti Ossenfort, PAY Budda Baker and make sure he’s on the field in camp!

If all of the above occurs, then the Arizona Cardinals will be a better-than-believed football team in 2023. It’s really all about learning and adapting quickly, and this team, from what I’ve heard, has the intelligence and the athletic ability to do just that.