The 2018 Arizona Cardinals minimized their potential this past season, by ending with a league low 3-13 record. Last off-season, Arizona’s front office made an extremely bold move, by trading up from the 15th overall pick to the 10th overall pick with the Oakland Raiders. They’re plan was to draft they’re quarterback of the future, being Josh Rosen. The Cardinals front office knew that making this decision was risky, and could set them back years in the process of being an elite-caliber football team, if Rosen doesn’t succeed. Things didn’t go as planned for Josh’s rookie season, so the team decided to part ways with head coach Steve Wilks. After a disappointing rookie year, Rosen is primed for a breakout sophomore season with a new coaching staff, and an opportunity for a great off season.
New Offensive Scheme:
With new Head Coach Kliff Kingsbury, the Cardinals offense is bound to be better than last year’s substandard offense. Kliff Kingsbury is known for being an offensive mastermind at the college level, and also has been known for being a “quarterback guru”. In November, Kliff was asked to come to LA, and help Sean McVay and the Rams offense as an offensive assistant. Kliff Kingsbury runs a Andy Reid-esque offense. It is an offense with lots of vertical plays and a zone-run. Mostly out of the gun, Kingsbury’s offense will need a quarterback that can make all the throws. Rosen was well known for his ability to make all the throws coming out of college last year, so Rosen has a chance to fair well in this offense. Assuming Josh’s relationship with his new coach is a good one, this could be a match made in heaven. On the negative side of things, Rosen’s best talent is being able to be under-center and manage an offense well from there. He is very mechanically-sound, and has shown to be at his best under center. Kingsbury would need to make him a better quarterback from the gun to maximize his potential in his new offense. Along with Rosen, the Cardinals will need some more pieces on offense, starting with the offensive line. Without an offensive line, the offense simply won’t work. Steve Keim will need to get to work this off-season to fill these holes.
New Defensive Scheme:
After Kliff Kingsbury was hired, he went and hired Vance Joseph, former HC of the Denver Broncos (2017-18), as his new DC. Although Vance Joseph has a good defensive coordinator track record, he runs a different defense than the Cardinals Defensive roster is molded for. In 2018, the Cardinals ran a 4-3 base scheme under former head coach Steve Wilks, so the front 7 will have some personnel changes this off-season. One big change, is Chandler Jones, star defensive end, does not fit well into the new 3-4 scheme that Vance Joseph will bring with him. He may be a player to watch out for on this off-seasons’ trade block. The Cardinals could fill multiple holes by trading him away, and it may be a smart investment for the team’s future. Some 3-4 edge rushers, and 3-4 defensive end’s will be needed, because right now there are no real 3-4 edge rushers on the roster. This position isn’t one to worry about though, there are plenty of options in the draft, as well as in free agency. It seems as if inside linebacker is the only position in the box (defensive line and linebackers) that will remain the same in 2019. Haason Reddick, and Gerald Hodges will likely remain on the team next year, and lead this young defense. Ultimately, with one of the worst defenses in 2018, expect Vance Joseph’s new scheme to bring many roster changes… and expect a VERY different 2019 Cardinals defensive unit.
The Cardinals are looking to make a splash in free agency with an 8th highest amount of salary cap being just over 55 million. Of course, before they start obtaining players in March, they will need to make decisions on whether to retain players from the 2018 team that are set to be free agents this year. Some big names of Cardinals set to hit the market this off-season, are Larry Fitzgerald, Mike Iupati, and Tre Boston. The Cardinals should retain Larry Fitzgerald to a 1-year deal, because he likely won’t want a longer one,(Fitzgerald is 36 years old.) Rosen had a rough year, but he had a good connection with Fitzgerald, and that is something he should be able to lean on heading into his second season. With a new coaching staff, Arizona will need to sign many players in free agency this coming off-season. Some of the top players that Arizona should target in free agency are…
- Jadeveon Clowney: 26 years old – 3-4 OLB
- Dee Ford: 28 years old – 3-4 OLB
- Landon Collins: 25 years old – SS
- Preston Smith: 26 years old – 3-4 OLB
- Trent Brown: 26 years old – OT
- Rodger Saffold: 31 years old – OG
- Henry Anderson: 28 years old – 3-4 DE
- Adam Humphries: 26 years old – 3WR
(*Note: Players on this list still can be retained by their teams. None of these players are guaranteed to hit Free Agency.*)
Whenever an organization holds the first overall pick in the upcoming draft, it is always known as very crucial off=season. Not only were the Cardinals the worst team in the NFL last season, but now in the off-season, they have the most pressure on them to get things on the right track for the 2019 season. With a rebooted coaching staff, the Cardinals will make some scheme changes on both sides of the ball, and ultimately rebuild around quarterback Josh Rosen.
Simply put, only two players are worthy of being the first overall pick in the 2019 NFL draft. Nick Bosa, and Quinnen Williams. Nick Bosa will be a standout player in any scheme he ends up in, but if it’s the Base 3-4 that Vance Joseph (New Cardinals defensive coordinator) runs, Bosa will likely need to put on at least 20 pounds. Either way, Bosa will still be a solid starter and it might work out great. The problem is, by risking the most crucial point of the most crucial off-season, on a possible scheme mis-match, could be a waste of Bosa’s talents and, even worse, a waste of the first overall pick. This is why it doesn’t make sense to take Bosa with the first overall pick (for the Cardinals). I think the most probable pick here is Quinnen Williams. Quinnen Williams has shown the ability to completely dominate all of his opponents while playing at Alabama. Not only that, but Quinnen Williams will serve as a good fit in Vance Joseph’s defensive scheme. Williams would likely play a 3-4 defensive for the Cardinals if they picked him here, but he is flexible enough where he can play nose guard as well if they needed him to. Quinnen Williams is a scheme fit for the Cardinals, and an every down defensive lineman. If the Cardinals Decide these two guys aren’t the way to go with the first pick, they will likely trade down a few spots with a quarterback-needy team (Giants, Jaguars, Dolphins, etc.), and collect a bunch of picks this year, and probably for a year or two after this year. This is something rebuilding franchises often do, because they want to be able to gather more talent in a quick amount of time, so that they can build the young team that they want to coach/run. Some players they may target if they trade down a few spots are….
- Jonah Williams————————————————— OT——- U of Alabama— #73
- Jawan Taylor—————————————————– OT——- U of Florida— #65
- DK Metcalf——————————————————- WR——— Ole Miss— #14
- Josh Allen————————————————- 3-4 OLB——- U of Kentucky— #41
- Jachai Polite————————————————– 3-4 OLB——- U of Florida— #99
Arizona is in a very good position for this year’s draft. They have the advantage of being on the clock for 4 months, and going through every situation, making sure that they make the right decision. With 7 picks in this years draft, and a great opportunity for more picks, (If Arizona decides to Trade down), Fans should be extremely excited for what’s to come to Phoenix this April.
Final Answer: How Good Can the Cardinals Actually Be Next Season?
Bottom line is that the Cardinals are in the second year of a rebuild, so it’d be surprising if they had a positive record next season. With lots of pieces needed, and holes to be filled, the Cardinals are not a good team right now. However, this off-season can change that. If Steve Keim has a great free agency, and a great draft, the Cardinals can be a 9-7 wildcard team. But with a rookie coach and a soon-to-be new roster, the Cardinals have a way to go.
Record Prediction: I believe the Arizona Cardinals will go anywhere from 5-11 to 7-9 next season. 7-9 or better will be a success in my book.
Playoffs?: No. This is not a playoff caliber team…..yet.