Soul Searching in the Desert
It is being said all around the league, although the Arizona Cardinals had some highly impressive outings in 2020, they still have yet to define who they really are in the Kyler/Kingsbury era. One might say they are still a work in progress. That being said, it looks like some things are really coming together. Just because a project isn’t finished, doesn’t mean it isn’t looking good.
So far, in 2020, the Cardinals are holding onto a winning record of 6-5. Deandre Hopkins is meeting (sometimes exceeding) expectations. His chemistry with 2nd year pro Kyler Murray can be electric. Safety Budda Baker has been explosive under what appears to be a solid defensive unit led by Defensive Coordinator Vance Joseph. The 2020 Cardinals are generating all kinds of excitement in the Phoenix Valley. Nevertheless, they still show a need for improvement.
First off, the head coach/quarterback duo still have some maturing to do. 2nd year pro QB Kyler Murray needs to work on his accuracy and decision making, while Head Coach Kliff Kingsbury continues to make questionable play calls. Let’s not forget about the fact that they are the most penalized team in the NFL. Additionally, the loss of Chandler Jones and Corey Peters was a huge blow, one that may have a large impact on their playoff hopes. The good news is, it is looking like GM Steve Keim’s infamous “do-over” might actually work out in the long run.
In 2018, the Cardinals went into rebuild mode when Head Coach Bruce Arians “retired.” Immediately following that announcement, veteran QB Carson Palmer called it a career. The Cardinals named Panthers Defensive Coordinator Steve Wilks as their new Head Coach, and was allowed to select his own staff. It all turned out to be a complete disaster.
The Cardinals went 3-13. The decision was made to fire Steve Wilks, along with almost all of his staff. The era was over before it even began. Fans were outraged. The decision was perceived as a demonstration of utter incompetence by Keim. Fans were even more outraged when they learned he was going to keep his job and get another shot at building a new era.
The Good news is, Keim might have done it right this time. You can’t criticize him too harshly for drafting a franchise QB, swooping Deandre Hopkins, and taking a chance on a head coach who might be an elite offensive play designer. Still, fans should probably be a bit more patient. With all the young talent, this is not a “now or never” situation.
Overall, the Cardinals are in a fairly new era and still have building to do. However, they seem to be building upwards. In other words, the project is coming along. They might be safe from the god awful cycle that most underachieving teams get stuck in for years- build it, burn it, repeat. They should be an interesting team to follow in the upcoming years.
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