It’s easy to count a team out that doesn’t look incredible on paper, and that’s what we’re seeing the Arizona Cardinals going through in 2023. The roster contains quite a few role players, rookies, and cast-offs, but by no means should we count out the Redbirds when training camp hasn’t even arrived.
It’s easy to sleep on a team like the Cardinals, but when you look deeper, this team doesn’t have a barren roster or no hope like many seem to think. But it’s just one of many reasons everyone seems to be sleeping on Arizona.
Why the NFL universe is sleeping on the Arizona Cardinals
1 - (Probably) no Kyler Murray to open the season
While the latest rumor is that quarterback Kyler Murray wants to be under center in Week 1, there is a better chance of him returning toward midseason. This opens a void at quarterback, where 36-year-old Colt McCoy is the obvious favorite to be the starter in September.
However, this doesn’t mean the Cardinals are doomed, as McCoy has shown he can play well as a spot starter. They also have a pair of mobile quarterbacks in Clayton Tune and Jeff Driskel, who would fit better into the type of offense the Cardinals are rumored to be running.
With a power back like James Conner and one of the deeper offensive line units in front of him, Arizona can eat up the clock often, throwing and taking risks when necessary with a ball control approach designed to keep possession away from their opponents.
2 - Overall lack of impact players outside Murray, Budda Baker
As mentioned earlier, the Arizona Cardinals roster doesn’t boast many game-changers. But what they do have is something that goes far beyond the cliche that all 32 teams have potential to have an excellent set of impact players.
Jalen Thompson is one of the league’s top safeties, yet he gets zero recognition, while Marco Wilson showed us last season that he can emerge as a legitimate CB1. Isaiah Simmons and Zaven Collins are former first round picks who have put up solid numbers in this league and if they excel at their new positions, the Cards just landed another pair of impact players.
Cameron Thomas and Myjai Sanders showed such potential in 2022, as did tight end Trey McBride. And you also can’t forget about Marquise Brown, who has 158 receptions, 1,717 yards, and nine touchdowns in his last 28 games, equating to 191 catches, 2,084 yards, and 11 touchdowns over 34 possible regular season contests.
3 - We know little about their respective schemes
There are a few reasons why I’m enamored with Jonathan Gannon. For one, his high-energy, ever-say-die approach is exactly what the Arizona Cardinals needed to succeed the often even-keel Kliff Kingsbury. But for another, it’s that he and his staff have been secretive over what their overall schemes would look like.
We live in an era in which when we want to know something, the information is readily available so we can write about it. But that’s not the case with Gannon, who’s been playing with everyone’s mind regarding what kind of system(s) he and his coordinators have planned for the Redbirds.
The likeliest case is that Gannon and offensive coordinator Drew Petzing will employ a run-first approach. But as it stands, we have little-to-no idea of what we will see from the offense or defense. And that aura of mystery, overall, makes it difficult for many to give their hot take on the Cards apart from the current mainstream assumption.
(Statistics provided by Pro-Football-Reference)