Brady Podloski | May 20th, 2020
The Arizona Cardinals are a young team that improved each game last year. With second-year quarterback Kyler Murray entering the season with an arsenal of weapons, the offense could be one of the best in the league. While it doesn’t seem bold in hindsight, the boldest move of the last offseason was drafting Murray first overall in the 2019 draft, despite drafting Josh Rosen in the 2018 draft. After just one year of play, Murray has shown unique qualities that can make him a viable part of the franchise moving forward. To this point, this is an article about five bold predictions for the Cardinals for the 2020 season.
Make sure to check out all of our other team bold predictions here.
The Cardinals make the playoffs
How bold is this prediction? Not that bold, especially when you consider the progression of Murray, the addition of DeAndre Hopkins, and the defensive improvement. The Cardinals also have an easier schedule (relative to the rest of their division), in which I have them winning 10 games this season. Strength of schedule aside, a young offense and good head coach should be enough to assist the defense which may be average this year. It isn’t going to be the defense that wins the Cardinals games though, it’ll be the offense. With the additional playoff spot, fans should expect the Cardinals to make the playoffs.
The Cardinals will have a top-five offense
This prediction is that the Cardinals will not just be a top-five passing offense but will have a top-five overall offense. They have the dynamic weapons to do it, with Hopkins, Kenyan Drake, Larry Fitzgerald, Christian Kirk, Andy Isabella, and KeeSean Johnson. Murray will have multiple options each play, in throwing or running the ball. Additionally, Murray is a threat in the run game himself, with his vision, elusiveness, speed, and sliding ability. The weapons and coaching to be a top-five offense are all there, there are two barriers, injuries (which are unpredictable), and the offensive line. If the offensive line is average, it’ll allow all these dynamic playmakers to flourish in the offense.
Rookie Josh Jones is a starter by week one
I think D.J. Humphries sticks at left tackle, and Jones will become the starting right tackle. Realistically, Jones would be better suited to sit behind Marcus Gilbert to acclimate to the NFL. However, I think in the Cardinals scheme, Jones is better suited to starting in the system over Gilbert due to his speed and mobility. Jones is a considerably better athlete and more dominant in space than Gilbert. As well, Jones just has more talent than swing tackle, Justin Murray, so he should really be the only option to start at right tackle. Cardinals fans should be excited about Jones, as he can make the offensive line average, and with Murray’s mobility and Kliff Kingsbury‘s play calling, average is good enough.
Isaiah Simmons wins Defensive Rookie of the Year
The defensive rookie of the year is typically a statistics-driven award, where a defensive player has to show versatility and multiple stat lines. If Simmons can have 100+ tackles (high probability), two to four interceptions (medium probability), and three to five sacks (medium probability), he’ll be a contender. Simmons has the talent to change the chemistry of the defense. He’s the modern version of a defensive weapon who can line up in multiple positions. Basically, with his talent and his ability to change the defense, it will put him in prime positions to rack up stats and be there for big stops. The game I’m looking forward to is when the Cardinals play the Niners in week 16 when he should be the one to cover George Kittle.
The Cardinals’ defense will no longer get destroyed by the tight ends
If you heard that the Cardinals were terrible against tight ends last year, you heard correctly. In simple terms, the team was historically bad defending the tight end position. The Cardinals gave up the most yards and touchdowns by a significant margin. They gave up 1148 yards and 16 touchdowns. The primary reason the defense will be better is the addition of Simmons, who should be drastically better than Haason Reddick. Last year Reddick played 16 games, allowing 78.8% completion against the pass. He was also responsible for giving up seven touchdowns in coverage. Additionally, the progression of second-year safety Jalen Thompson will alleviate the pressure felt by the linebackers in coverage.
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