[Preview 2022] Arizona Cardinals: The New Western

[Preview 2022] Arizona Cardinals: The New Western

The 2022 season is approaching, so the writing of touchdownactu offers you to take stock of the strengths and weaknesses of the 32 franchises. You can find all the presentations by clicking on this link.

Since a defeat in Super Bowl XLIII, the Phoenix Red Birds have reached the playoffs only 4 times in 13 seasons! A sparrow in the desert? Yet there are grounds for hope in Arizona.

Last season: 11-6, loss in the 1st round of the playoffs

Movements in the off-season

Notable arrivals: Marquise Brown (WR), Nick Vigil (LB), Will Hernandez (OG), Cody Ford (OG), Trayvon Mullen (CB)
Re-signatures: Zach Ertz (TE), DJ Humphries (OT), Maxx Williams (TE), AJ Green (WR), James Conner (RB), Antonio Hamilton (CB), Colt McCoy (QB), Dennis Gardeck (OLB/ST), Andy Lee (P)
Draft: Trey McBride (TE), Cameron Thomas (DE), Myjai Sanders (Edge), Keaontay Ingram (RB), Lecitus Smith (OG), Christian Matthew (CB), Jesse Luketa (LB), Marquis Hayes (OG)
Notable losses: Chandler Jones (Edge), Christian Kirk (WR), Jordan Hicks (ILB), Devon Kennard (OLB)

The loss of Chandler Jones (Raiders) initially hurt in the 2022 offseason. Then came the argument with Kyler Murray and the absence of Rodney Hudson. Not enough to start the off-season calmly! The former Raiders finally joined the team just before training camp, before the one to whom he passes the ball gets a juicy extension: 230 million dollars over 5 years (160 guaranteed). For the rest, few movements, just retouching.

Already 10th in points scored per game, the Cardinals still want to score one touchdown more than the opponent. This is the rule in NFC West where the 4 teams were in the top 16 2021 in points per game! So, tight-ends and receivers were in the spotlight during the free-agency and then the draft. To continue their momentum and finally obtain letters of nobility, the Cardinals brought in Marquise Brown. Nicknamed Hollywood after the name of his hometown in Florida, playing with a new quarterback could allow him to reach a new level in 2022.

Trey McBride: talented and open-minded.

The strong points)

The continuity. For three seasons, Kyler Murray was lucky enough to be able to drive the same offense. It doesn’t seem like much but Daniel Jones, also drafted in 2019, will start his 4th season with the Giants with a 4th offensive coordinator! Football is above all a sport of execution, so to be able to progress within an identical system is an opportunity. As proof, the team has continued to progress: 5-10, 8-8 and 11-6. Quarterback, left tackle, manager and coach have all been extended, so that continuity could pay off.

Kyler Murray has a very sought-after quality in a quarterback: 3rd NFL in 2021 on deep throws! 28 times out of 60, Kyler Murray was able to find a receiver, for a total gain of 940 yards. This ability to make a “big play” can suddenly change the momentum of a match. The opposing defenses are forced to consider the depth against Kyler Murray and this has the direct consequence of freeing up space in the “box”: the Cardinals could therefore be the 10th ground attack in 2021! The sheriff of Bedford (30kms north of Dallas) allows the Cards to have a very complete attack. Above all, that he is well surrounded.

DeAndre Hopkins is a top 3 at his position with his precise lines, reliable hands and killer instinct. Concern: he is suspended for the first six games of the season! To compensate, the rapids Hollywood Brown, Rondale Moore and Andy Isabella are going to have to cause damage. If AJ Green is no longer at the level he was between 2011 and 2015, he remains a reliable option: 848 yards and 3 TDs in 2021. These receivers are supplemented with a duo of tight-ends specializing in reception. Zach Ertz has signed 7,000 yards and 43 touchdowns since his rookie season in 2013. He is joined by rookie Trey McBride and his childhood with LGBT flavor. With Colorado State in 2021, he produced 91 receptions for 1125 yards! Enough to add another target, in this attack while air assaults (Air Raid).

In charge of defense, Vance Joseph created his reputation by training defensive backs: from 2006 to 2015 with the 49ers, Texans and Bengals. No wonder then that the pair of safety is among the best. Budda Baker shows that size is not important and Jalen Thompson has had a superb progression: tackles, zone reading or one-on-one coverage, he has shown a lot of quality in 2021.

The weak spots)

In 2021, The Cardinals were the 4th most penalized team! Being more disciplined is essential, whether on the offensive line or in defense. 990 yards lost following penalties: a considerable figure in this game of gaining ground!

Putting the pressure on: 22nd in the NFL with 62 hurries in 2021. The loss of Chandler Jones can only aggravate this weakness. The attendants are decent but no more players (Markus Golden and Dennis Gardeck) and youngsters (Myjai Sanders, Cameron Thomas and Victor Dimukeje). Is this sufficient? JJ Watt has been named Defensive Player of the Year three times. But at 33, his numerous injuries make his contribution in 2022 uncertain. This is why Arizona will still use the blitz a lot in 2022: 33.6% of defensive plays in 2021, 4th NFL! A relatively profitable tactic (11th defense in yards conceded) but which says use of additional players to put pressure, means fewer players to help cover!

Like every season since the end of prime of Patrick Peterson, the weak point of the defense of the Cardinals is the position of cornerback. In 2019, Byron Murphy was a very interesting young player and his 2021 season gives hope, after a difficult start. He will mostly play inside the pitch. On the outside, a pair that scares no one except Cardinals fans: Marco Wilson (7 touchdowns and 6 penalties conceded in ’21) and Antonio Hamilton (until then mainly used on the special team). The passing of Jeff Gladney adds despair to the sadness in this post. Desperate, the Cards bet on Trayvon Mullen, recovered from the Raiders: a decent player but struggling to stay healthy.

To defend their fort in the air, the Cardinals seem ill-equipped against the Rams’ outlaw attack.

The offensive line is far from giving all the guarantees. During the 2022 offseason, Arizona therefore focused its efforts on Guard positions: draft of Lecitus Smith and Marquis Hayes and signings of Will Hernandez and Cody Ford. The latter, in check in Buffalo, has some automatisms with a quarterback who was his teammate at the University of Oklahoma.

X Factor: Kyler Murray (QB)

Kyler Murray needs to show progress in the most important area: where a quarterback is able to make a difference when the score is tight. Especially when it matters most: only 5 touchdowns thrown in the last 5 games in 2021. Record: 4 losses. No touchdown launched either during the reverse in the 1st round of the playoffs!

His 2022 offseason is marked by the dispute to obtain a new contract. Also by attitudes that do not seem worthy of a “face of the franchise”, such as his lack of seriousness for the preparation of matches.

” This makes me laugh ! I broke all records with my high school, I was voted the best college player, I was chosen number 1 in the draft and I was voted offensive rookie of the year. Do you think we can accomplish that without taking this game seriously? Without working hard? “, declared Kyler Murray in a press conference.

But will he be decisive when it matters most? The end of matches are like these duels in front of the saloon and in 2021, the sheriff was in difficulty: 27th in points scored in the 4th quarter! Will it do better in 2022?

He will be helped in this heavy task by a player he knows well.

Player to watch: Hollywood Brown (WR)

While everyone was waiting for the selection of a defender with their choice of the 1st round of the 2022 draft, this one was traded to Baltimore for receiver Marquise Brown. Very precise in his lines, he finished the 2021 season as the 8th NFL receiver in road win rate (stat measuring the ability to stand out). He also offers the advantage of already having some automatisms with his quarterback: the two played together in 2018 with the University of Oklahoma. What to make it ready right away?

“The wind is blowing in Arizona, a state in America in which Larry shingles…”

As Mc Solaar sang, times change and the Cardinals have lost the go to guy Larry Fitzgerald. Is Hollywood Brown the future? the RedSea supporters hope he is already present.

The audio preview of the podcast


Chiefs, @Raiders, Rams, @Panthers, Eagles, @Seahawks, Saints, @Vikings, Seahawks, @Rams, 49ers (Mexico City), Chargers, BYE, Patriots, @Broncos, Buccaneers, @Falcons, @49ers

In summary

The division remains difficult with the defending champions. Crossing the teams of AFC West will not be easy either. The attack could take off and it must, because the defense is correct but not dominant. But no excuses, the Cardinals have the potential and they need to show it by being better at the crucial moments.

Prediction: 10-7, 2nd in NFC West, playoffs

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