First quarter report cards: Arizona Cardinals offense - 2023

The early season has provided clarity on the strengths and weaknesses in the Arizona Cardinals offense.
Cincinnati Bengals v Arizona Cardinals
Cincinnati Bengals v Arizona Cardinals / Norm Hall/GettyImages
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Zach Ertz
Arizona Cardinals v San Francisco 49ers / Ezra Shaw/GettyImages

Tight end

The tight end group has been the most disappointing unit on offense through the first five weeks of the NFL season. Zach Ertz is being paid to play like a top 10 tight end, but he has only been okay at best. Trey McBride was expected to take a step forward this season, and while an optimistic picture can be painted the rest of season, it is hard not to say that his production is disappointing.

This is almost certainly Zach Ertz’s last season in the desert and also his last chance to prove himself as a number one tight end. It is only fair to note that he is coming off an ACL tear and he has a respectable 22 receptions, but he also only has accumulated 146 receiving yards and is on pace for under 500 yards on the season. One has to imagine that his next stop, if he decides to continue his playing career, will be as a complementary tight end instead of a starter.

Zach Ertz’s mediocre play this season makes Trey McBride’s lack of playing time an even bigger storyline. McBride has only played more than half the snaps once this season and last week against the Bengals was only in on a third of the offensive snaps.

It is reasonable to assume that McBride could be taking a backseat simply because the Cardinals want to show off Ertz to prospective trade partners. Another possible reason, and what seems more likely, is that Ertz is still the better tight end, at least according to the Arizona Cardinals decision makers.

Nobody sees these players more than the coaching staff and if their decision is to stand by Ertz then there is a strong possibility it is because they believe he gives them a better chance to win. Regardless of the real reason, this is not the end of the world for McBride’s career as a Cardinal. Still, it is something worth noting.

Overall, this unit does not inspire a lot of excitement despite their highest drafted player of the 2022 NFL draft being a part of it. Expect tight end to be a position of need that the Arizona Cardinals will address in the offseason, either through free agency or the draft.

  • Grade: D-