Before the 2019 season kicks off for the Arizona Cardinals at newly renamed State Farm Stadium, it’s wise for fans to enter the year with reasonable expeditions. It’s a safe bet to put your money on last year’s NFC West cellar-dwelling team as the first squad to be eliminated from the NFL playoffs. Improving on last season’s 3-13 record would be a moral victory, but three wins will be a reach for one of the league’s worst teams.
Reviewing the team’s offseason moves including its draft picks, free agent signings, and coaching changes, it’s difficult to reach any other conclusion than a long, losing season in the Arizona desert.
You hired who as the coach?
After a disastrous 2018, the Cardinals decided to replace head coach Steve Wilks. With so many choices at hand, the nod went to recently fired Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury. As the head man with the Red Raiders, Kingsbury compiled a 35-40 record. During his tenure in Lubbock, Kingsbury’s teams never placed about 87th in FBS defensive rankings. The San Antonio native’s lone claim to fame was having coached budding superstars Patrick Mahomes and Baker Mayfield during their college careers.
In addition to Kingsbury, who comes to the NFL with less than stellar track record, the Cardinals hired former Broncos head coach Vance Joseph as defensive coordinator. The Broncos ranked 19th in defense in 2018. Enough said.
Niners and Hawks, and Rams, oh my!
The NFC West is a tough division from top to bottom. The Rams, Niners, and the Seahawks are at least five, if not six, losses right there. If undersized rookie quarterback Kyler Murray can walk away unharmed after two games with Seattle, it will be nothing short of a miracle. Jadeveon Clowney, a scary addition to the Seahawks, will be out to prove his worth, and QB sacks will be foremost on his mind.
The only possible wins for Arizona will be in games against the Bengals (away) and in the opener with the Detroit Lions making their way to the desert. Former Cardinals coach Bruce Arians will look to put a hurting on his former team when the Cardinals visit Tampa Bay.
Kyler Murray, run for your life
In 2018, the Cardinals offensive line gave up 52 sacks. If the front five repeats that performance, not only will rookie QB Kyler Murray wind up on the injured list, the next man standing rule might include players from the Arena Football League.
The office line lacks any elite players. While the team added JR Sweezy and Marcus Gilbert to the front five, the Cardinals will have to hope running back David Johnson can reignite the running game and save Murray from scrambling for his life on every down.
The mighty have fallen
Patrick Peterson, one of the best defensive backs to come into the NFL in the past decade, starts off the season suspended for six games. Given Peterson is the anchor on what is otherwise a shaky secondary, the first third of the season will be a feast for opponent’s wide receivers. The secondary issue is emblematic of the team’s pending defensive woes. Not even former ASU star Terrell Suggs presence will help what likely will be a scoring feast for opponents.
Peterson’s replacement is second-year man Byron Murphy, who has the advantage of being a local Phoenix guy but has yet to make a tackle in his NFL career.