Arizona Cardinals have more talent on 2023 roster than most people think
By Jim Koch
Several players on the Arizona Cardinals roster will make the team worth watching when the 2023 campaign gets underway next fall.
Many NFL observers are predicting gloom and doom for the Arizona Cardinals in 2023. There are those who are convinced that the squad will be just as bad, or even worse, than the group of Redbirds that stumbled to an ugly 4-13 record last year.
Sure, there are reasons to agree with Arizona's large legion of detractors. For one thing, unproven head coach Jonathan Gannon has assembled an inexperienced and unimpressive crew of assistants. It's also not ideal that starting quarterback Kyler Murray is recovering from a torn ACL that is expected to keep him sidelined for a significant number of games.
One has to wonder, however, if the young and athletic Murray is healing faster than expected. It's hard to believe that the Cards are really willing to roll with uninspiring passers like Colt McCoy or David Blough for a huge chunk of the '23 campaign. Is it possible that the front office is OK with that unremarkable duo because it has learned that Murray will miss only a miniscule number of matchups?
It goes without saying that the Cardinals look much more formidable when Murray is in the lineup. Suddenly, the scoring attack resembles a unit that could pose a problem for opposing defenses. Good things could lie ahead if newly-appointed offensive coordinator Drew Petzing can get the best out of a group that undoubtedly looks impressive on paper.
An underrated Arizona Cardinals squad could be much better than advertised in 2023
In the 12 contests (10 starts) that he appeared in last fall, wideout Marquise "Hollywood" Brown showed how effective he can be. The 5 foot 9,180 pound speedster hauled in 67 passes for 709 yards and three touchdowns for Arizona. Those numbers could improve dramatically next season in what is scheduled to be a contract-year for the 25-year-old Brown.
Back in 2021, running back James Conner totaled 1,127 yards from scrimmage and 18 total scores for the Cards. Last year, the 6 foot 1, 233 pound battering ram amassed 782 rushing yards, 300 receiving yards and eight touchdowns in just 13 starts for "Big Red". Conner, a two-time Pro Bowler, would be a perfect candidate for the "run-first" attack that Petzing reportedly wants to unleash during his first year in the desert.
Like Murray, three-time Pro Bowler Zach Ertz will also be returning from a knee injury that cost him seven games in 2022. Even at 32 years of age, the 6 foot 5, 250 pound Ertz remains one of the best pass-catching tight ends in the league.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Cardinals still possess one of the most dynamic safeties in professional football. Budda Baker, a 5 foot 10,195 pounder, is fresh off of the fifth Pro Bowl campaign of his NFL career. Youthful defenders such as Isaiah Simmons, Jalen Thompson and Zaven Collins are chock-full of superstar potential.
The lack of respect for the talent-level on the Arizona roster is running rampant. A boatload of cynics could be in for quite a surprise, especially if Murray makes a quick return to the playing field. Keep your heads up Cards enthusiasts, things are not nearly as bad with the club as many would lead you to believe.
(Statistics provided by Pro Football Reference)