In many ways and for many reasons, the Niners and the Cardinals are looking beyond this Sunday’s matchup. San Francisco has their eye on a deep playoff run powered by an all-time great D and a dangerous set of offensive weapons. Meanwhile, Arizona has been mired in a chaotic and mediocre season with a record well below even the most pessimistic prognostications. With that in mind, I asked Seth Cox from Revenge of the Birds about the future of the Cardinals and what needs to happen to make them contenders.
1. From an outsider’s POV, this season of football for the Cardinals has looked like an unmitigated disaster. Would you agree with that assessment? Why?
Yeah, a lot of it comes down to just poor planning and preparation. You have a young quarterback who you paid, and your investment in the offensive line is still… No one. Sure, you brought in veterans, but those guys are old and injury prone and expensive.
The Cardinals, in the Steve Keim era have drafted two offensive linemen in the top 62 picks of the NFL Draft. That is from 2013 on. On the other hand, they have drafted five inside linebackers, and used draft picks on seven wide receivers and tight ends in the first two rounds.
When you are counting on a plethora of older players to stay healthy with no young talent in place, you are asking for issues. Combine that with a coach who has a lot of question marks and a young quarterback who needs to continue to improve, and it was a disaster waiting to happen.
2. You find a copy of the Declaration of Independence underneath a Dogs Playing Poker poster at a garage sale that sells for a cool three-ish billion dollars at auction. You use your windfall to buy the Arizona Cardinals before the next league season starts. What would be your first steps in changing the direction of the franchise?
Bringing in a completely new scouting department, hiring a new GM and head coach who want to work in lockstep to see the vision through, and creating an environment of competing instead of one that is about feeling good.
I think the biggest thing that goes missed for the Cardinals is they have hired one outside GM since the move to Arizona, Buddy Ryan, in 1994. Sure, that didn’t work, but neither has continually hired from within and made no changes to a broken scouting department.
Also, while I have plenty of issues with Kliff, it is absurd to hire a coach and then limit his say in his own coaching staff and player personnel decisions. I get having lanes, but the vision should at least be shared, and it just has not been.
3. It’s been announced that Kyler Murray had successful ACL surgery, but he probably won’t be ready to play by the beginning of next season. He’s had high highs and low lows so far in Arizona. How do you feel about his future as the franchise quarterback?
See above. I think Kyler is an immensely talented player who needs a coach who wants to push him, but also a general manager that understands the importance of building an offensive line and creating easier opportunities for that quarterback.
I look at the 49ers and Chiefs as examples. I mean, the 49ers have been able to sustain through two quarterback injuries because they have a great offensive line, a great scheme, and a great running game. It creates a lot of opportunities for Purdy to be successful and takes a lot of the burden off of him. Three starters are draft picks, and one is a veteran who you traded a draft pick for who is maybe the best left tackle of his generation… after the Niners had a great left tackle, they drafted before that in Joe Staley.
Murray will now need to learn a new system (likely) while rehabbing and then coming in late into the season. This will give us a glimpse if he is about that life or not.
4. As of this morning, the Cardinals stand at the 4th overall pick in this year’s draft. What would you consider the biggest need for this team that could be best addressed with a high-end selection?
A good general manager?
I think if you add anyone along the defensive front, you are good, and if you draft an offensive lineman, you are good. Anything else sans cornerback in a trade-back is going to be tough to sell me on.
I would say my personal list goes:
Will Anderson Jr.
5. Given the letdown of this season, what are your hopes for next year? Obviously, much will change between now and September, but as we stand today with David Blough about to start in Week 18 of the 2022-23 season, what would set as a reasonable over/under for wins in 23-24?
There is way too much unknown, but I would say the over/under in wins would be 5.5 heading into the season.
Good luck and good health in the game and in your playoff run.