Arizona Cardinals 2023 Preview: The Arizona Cardinals find themselves at a crossroads entering the regular 2023 NFL season. After a dismal 4-13 record in 2022, the team underwent significant changes, including the hiring of new head coach Jonathan Gannon and general manager Monti Ossenfort. However, their most significant challenge is the absence of star quarterback Kyler Murray, recovering from a torn ACL suffered in December.
With several key veterans departing and a roster in need of significant improvements, the Cardinals are bracing for a rebuilding campaign in this football season 2023. In this article, we explore the team’s offseason changes, the impact of Murray’s injury, evaluations of both offense and defense, the outlook for key players, and the prospects of the 2024 draft holding potential solutions for Arizona’s future.
The Gannon-Ossenfort Era
The Arizona Cardinals decided to hit the reset button after a disappointing 2022 season. Kliff Kingsbury and Steve Keim, the former head coach and general manager, respectively, were replaced by Jonathan Gannon and Monti Ossenfort. The new leadership will aim to reshape the roster, but this is expected to be a time-consuming process. With Kyler Murray sidelined due to his ACL injury, the team faces the challenge of establishing a new identity during this rebuilding phase.
Arizona Cardinals 2023 Preview: Departure of Key Veterans
As part of the rebuilding process, the Cardinals allowed several key veterans to leave during the offseason. The departures of DeAndre Hopkins, J.J. Watt, and Rodney Hudson were significant blows to the team. Hopkins was released, Watt announced his retirement, and Hudson also retired, leaving the Cardinals with notable voids to fill on both sides of the ball. Additionally, defensive lineman Zach Allen and cornerback Byron Murphy Jr. left in free agency, further depleting the team’s depth.
Murray’s Absence in Offense
The Cardinals’ offense faces a challenging start to the season with Kyler Murray‘s anticipated absence. Colt McCoy is likely to step in as the starter, leading an offense that will miss the playmaking ability of DeAndre Hopkins, who was cut in the offseason. Paris Johnson Jr., the team’s first-round draft pick, will be a key addition to the offensive line, providing protection for the quarterbacks and opening up the running game. However, the team’s overall offensive potential is uncertain, given the absence of key veterans and the need for young players to step up.
With the departure of Hopkins, the Cardinals’ receiving corps will need to adapt to new roles. Rondale Moore is expected to take on a more significant role, showcasing his speed and versatility as a key playmaker. The team will also rely on veteran A.J. Green to provide leadership and stability in the receiving group.
The running back position will feature James Conner as the primary ball carrier, who showed flashes of brilliance last season. Additionally, Chase Edmonds is expected to contribute both in the running and passing game, providing valuable depth in the backfield.
Budda Baker in Defense
Arizona’s defense relies heavily on Budda Baker, the standout safety who requested a trade but showed up to the team’s minicamp without participating. While Baker remains a vital piece of the defense, there is a lack of impact players surrounding him. The departure of J.J. Watt and Zach Allen leaves the Cardinals with a significant pass rush void, and the secondary will miss cornerback Byron Murphy Jr.’s consistency.
The team will rely on young defenders like Myjai Sanders, Cameron Thomas, and Zaven Collins to step up and fill the gaps. However, the Cardinals’ lack of pass rush and coverage options could be a significant weakness, making it challenging to contain opposing offenses.
The addition of veteran linebacker Kyzir White, who followed Gannon from Philadelphia, provides valuable experience and leadership to the linebacker corps. The Cardinals will hope that White’s familiarity with Gannon’s defensive system will help the unit improve and find its footing in the rebuilding process.
Key Players to Watch
Amidst the rebuilding phase, several key players will be crucial to the Cardinals’ progress. Wide receiver Rondale Moore, a dynamic playmaker with breakaway speed, has the potential to elevate the offense in Hopkins’ absence. His ability to stretch the field and create separation will be a significant asset for Colt McCoy or any other quarterback leading the team.
On defense, linebacker Zaven Collins, the Cardinals’ first-round draft pick in 2021, will be expected to take on a more prominent role. Collins showed glimpses of his playmaking ability last season, and the Cardinals hope he can take the next step in his development to become a cornerstone of the defense.
Additionally, Budda Baker’s performance will be under scrutiny as he remains the team’s most impactful defensive player. His leadership and ability to create turnovers will be vital for a defense that lacks star power in other areas.
The 2024 Draft
Arizona Cardinals 2023 Preview: With a focus on rebuilding, the Arizona Cardinals are setting their sights on the 2024 NFL Draft. The team holds two first-round picks, including the potentially high-valued pick from the Houston Texans, which could even be the first overall selection. The Cardinals are likely to use this draft to acquire blue-chip players and build a foundation for the future. While the current season may be challenging, the team’s outlook beyond 2023 appears promising with the potential for significant draft capital.
The 2024 draft could provide the Cardinals with the opportunity to select a franchise quarterback if they are dissatisfied with the development of current quarterbacks on the roster. The team’s fortunes could change drastically with a top draft pick, potentially securing a franchise-altering talent to lead the team for years to come.
The Arizona Cardinals face significant challenges as they enter the 2023 NFL season. With a new coaching staff, a roster in need of rebuilding, and star quarterback Kyler Murray recovering from injury, the team’s outlook appears uncertain. However, the focus on acquiring valuable draft capital for 2024 offers hope for the future. While this season may be a rebuilding campaign, the Cardinals are positioning themselves to build a competitive team through the upcoming draft. The 2024 draft will be crucial for the team’s long-term success, and fans will look forward to seeing how the young players develop and the potential impact of the high draft picks.