Schedule: @SF, WAS, DET, @CAR, @NYJ, @DAL, SEA, BYE, MIA, BUF, @SEA, @NE, LAR, @NYG, PHI, SF, @LAR
Additions: WR DeAndre Hopkins (Trade), DL Jordan Phillips (FA), EDGE Devon Kennard (FA), LB De’Vondre Campbell (FA), OL Kelvin Beachum (FA), CB Dre Kirkpatrick (FA), LB Isaiah Simmons (Draft), DL Leki Fotu (Draft)
Losses: RB David Johnson (Trade), DL Rodney Gunter (FA), DL Zach Kerr (FA), WR Damiere Byrd (FA), PR/KR Pharoh Cooper (FA), OL A.Q. Shipley (FA), EDGE Cassius Marsh (FA), LB Joe Walker (FA), OL Marcus Gilbert (Opt-out)
I’m surprised the Cardinals haven’t been getting more hype this offseason. After the Hopkins trade, it felt like they would be the annual media darlings, but the Bucs and Broncos have passed them since. Honestly, I’m disappointed. Now, I only get to piss of the 12 Cardinals fans with this prediction.
Out of the three teams I mentioned, Arizona feels the farthest away from contention. Most of that is because of the defense, which was awful in virtually every metric last season. Chandler Jones can’t do it all himself, though the sack master gives an honest attempt.
Arizona beefed up the defense a little this offseason, but nothing earth-shattering. Jordan Phillips has precisely one year of meaningful production. Devon Kennard and De’Vondre Campbell are good, not great additions. Dre Kirkpatrick isn’t someone you want starting at corner in 2020. Isaiah Simmons has unbelievable potential, but DC Vance Joseph could struggle to properly deploy the rookie. There’s always the chance he ends up as an awkward tweener. The Cardinals have other big-name players like Patrick Peterson, Budda Baker, and Jordan Hicks, but I have still have my doubts about this unit.
Offensively, Arizona could be ready for takeoff. Kyler Murray is so talented that he was drafted first overall at 5′ 10″. While that might not sound significant, remember this is the NFL we’re talking about. Guys like Paxton Lynch are first-rounders for no other reason than they’re tall. Murray proved just how great he is as a rookie, and year two could bring a big statistical jump.
The biggest reason, of course, is DeAndre Hopkins. I still haven’t fully gotten over how stupid that trade was, but Nuk is a Cardinal now, no matter how wrong it feels. If Murray throws the ball anywhere near him, his new star receiver is coming down with it.
Another big addition for the offense is Kenyan Drake. Traded midway through 2019, this will be his first full season in Arizona. Considering his incredible play down the stretch last year, he could be in for a huge year. Or, that could’ve been an outlier. Back in Miami, Drake was never able to earn the coaches’ trust, so his flashes there were brief and infrequent. This is his first chance to prove he can be a legit workhorse stud.
The other flashy, yet unproven guy to watch is coach Kliff Kingsbury. Like many, I hated the hire at the time. But, the failed Texas Tech head coach impressed in year one. Maybe he’s just a better fit for the NFL than college. However, the expectations were nonexistent last year, so let’s see how he does with the public eye on him.
Besides Kingsbury’s inexperience, the offensive success will come down to the play of the line. Expect a similar group to the below-average one last year. Given the uninspiring defense, any disappointment from the line will virtually guarantee they miss the playoffs again.
Outside of the brutal NFC West, the schedule is cake. Arizona draws the NFC East and AFC East as well as the Panthers and Lions. If they get some unexpected contributions, that’s a good path to the postseason. I think they’re too young, though. 2021 is when we’ll have to start looking out for the Cardinals.
What’s your record prediction for the Cardinals? What did I get right or wrong? Sound off in the comments.