It’s time to look ahead to the future now that the Cardinals season is practically over. Any glimmer of remaining hope was lost on Monday when Kyler Murray tore his ACL on Arizona’s first drive. Murray will now be out for the remainder of the 2022 season. Even though the season hasn’t gone as hoped, there are still moves and decisions to be made within the organization.
It’s a perplexing team to gauge; last season, they were an 11-6 playoff team and retained most of their key players. Splitting the difference between last year and this season, you can infer that the Cardinals are close to a middle-of-the-pack, .500-win team. Now that Kyler Murray is out for the season, Arizona can focus on improving the team for next season. Here are some critical decisions that will have to be made.
Determine Whether To Keep Kliff Kingsbury
The Cardinals front office will have to evaluate the pros and cons of keeping head coach Kliff Kingsbury. This team had playoff aspirations going into the season and has drastically underperformed with a 4-9 record. This season is already over in terms of trying to make the playoffs. This decision can likely wait until the season is over. However, Kingsbury is on thin ice. Will the Cardinals give him the remaining weeks of the season to see if he can end on a positive note? It’s one of the storylines for this team for the rest of the season.
Build Momentum For Next Season
The Cardinals’ remaining matchups this season are against the Broncos, Buccaneers, Falcons and 49ers. It will be imperative for this team to remain competitive in these remaining four games without Kyler Murray. Now that the playoffs are out of the question, the players won’t have much pressure on them. It will be a great chance to figure out their team identity over the next month and build momentum going into next year.
Evaluate Roster Talent
The coaches and front office can also use this as a time to evaluate roster talent. Players that typically wouldn’t play can get their shot at proving they belong on the team or deserve playing time.
Arizona can also get innovative in terms of play calling and putting players in different positions to see what works going into next season. For example, players like Zaven Collins and Isaiah Simmons are dynamic and can play multiple spots on defense. It would be a good chance for them to get creative and try different schemes.
Look Ahead To Offseason
At the trade deadline, the Cardinals remained put. Now this offseason, they will have more flexibility to make moves to improve both their roster and front office. While evaluating their roster talent in these remaining games, Arizona can also determine their positional strengths and weakness that need to be addressed this offseason, whether it’s through the draft, trade, or free agency. The Cardinals’ defense in particular has been underwhelming this season. They have some promising, young talent on that side of the ball but could use some more veteran leadership.
While the Cardinals are currently 4-9, there are still some positive takeaways to be optimistic about as a Cardinals fan. Kyler Murray should hopefully come back fully healthy at some point in the middle of next season. The wide-receiving tandem of DeAndre Hopkins and Marquise Brown is one of the best in the entire league. Young defensive pieces have shown flashes of potential. They will likely have a top-ten pick in the 2023 NFL Draft to fill a positional need.
Kyler Murray is out, but the remaining month is still crucial for the Cardinals and the front office to figure out how to proceed and gain momentum for next season.