Every roster, even one supposedly weak like the Arizona Cardinals, can win in the NFL if the respective coaching staff plays to their strengths.
These aren’t Kliff Kingsbury’s Arizona Cardinals, and that should be a welcoming sigh of relief for the fanbase. Kingsbury was a college coach who wanted to control everything, as he was used to while at Texas Tech.
This entailed him to take a dual threat quarterback in Kyler Murray and attempting to mold him into an “Air Raid” passer, which achieved, at best, so-so results. With Jonathan Gannon and, for once, a real offensive coordinator in charge with Drew Petzing, the Cardinals won’t be forcing players into a system they feel would make for a poor fit.
So let’s take the offense, for example. Earlier in the week, I speculated a ball-control approach perhaps paying off for the Redbirds thanks to their deep offensive line, above-average pair of tight ends, and a dynamic back in James Conner. And now, Arizona Cardinals offensive coordinator Drew Petzing added the following in a recent press conference:
"“Finding the balance of the runs that he runs the best and matching that with our offensive line and play action game looks like will be really important for us as we approach the fall.” "- Drew Petzing
Translation: The Arizona Cardinals are going to run the football. A lot. We also know that whoever lines up at quarterback will be doing a lot of work under center, further indicating that the Cards will be running the ball often and taking that “old school approach.”
Source: Petzing: Offensive identity will mold around Cardinals’ skillsets by Wills Rice, ArizonaSports.com.
Arizona Cardinals can win if they see the strength in their roster
Shifting gears to defense, and we know where the Cardinals are weak: Defensive tackle, potentially defensive line, depending on which system they run, and corner. But the Cards have a lot of potential on the edge, with a pass rushing rotation that includes rookie B.J. Ojulari, Zaven Collins, plus second-year players Myjai Sanders and Cameron Thomas.
Linebacker is another strong suit, and even if the defensive line is weak, Kyzir White, Krys Barnes, Owen Pappoe, and perhaps even Isaiah Simmons if he lines up at the position can still converge. Arizona is also strong at safety with Jalen Thompson and Budda Baker, which could make it tough for opponents to go over the top.
The pass rush, however, jumps out at me the most. With a sound rotation, it would be easy for the Cards to keep fresh legs there and even at linebacker.
Further, if Kei’Trel Clark and Garrett Williams acclimate to the pro game sooner than later, then they too will see playing time at corner, giving the Cards yet another rotation of adequate players. So what’s the key takeaway here?
While the Arizona Cardinals don’t have many game-changers on defense sans Baker and Thompson, with potential playmakers in Collins and Simmons, they have plenty of rotational players in the mix. If the Redbirds can stay healthy and keep getting fresh legs onto the field defensively, then they have a chance to boast a better unit than many believe.