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The Steve Wilks era didn’t last long in the desert. The former Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator’s stay in Glendale amounted to just one season which ties Buddy Ryan for the franchise’s shortest stint. GM Steve Keim went out and lured Kliff Kingsbury from the collegiate ranks and named him the 42 nd coach in Arizona Cardinals history this past offseason. Known for running some excellent offensive attacks throughout his stay in Lubbock as the overseer of the Texas Tech Red Raiders football program, things look to be changing for the Redbirds on the offensive side of the ball; especially with No. 1 draft pick Kyler Murray running the show. As exciting the offense is likely to be after being nothing short of a laughing stock a season ago, the defense likely won’t be ready to contend with arguably the toughest division currently assembled in the NFC.
A quick glance at the Cardinals offensive output tells all you need to know as to why upper management immediately pulled the plug on last year’s coaching staff. Arizona ranked No. 32 overall, No. 32 passing the football, No. 32 rushing the football and No. 32 at putting points on the scoreboard. In case you’re not in the know, there are only 32 teams in the National Football League. With that, the 2018-19 Arizona Cardinals ranked dead last in every pertinent offensive stat category! The addition of Murray under center along with pass catching rookies Hakeem Butler and Andy Isabella will be extreme shots into the arm of an attack sorely needing playmakers. Larry Fitzgerald, David Johnson and Christian Kirk will provide the veteran presences needed to make it all work. If ever there was an offense that could make a meteoric jump in the rankings, it’s the 2019-20 Cardinals! It’s pretty safe to assume the under won’t be cashing at a 9-7 clip at online sportsbooks this season.
As bad the offense was, the defense also lent a major hand in the team only logging three wins with it giving up nearly 27.0 points per game and being an absolute sieve against the run. Daily fantasy footballers routinely targeted the Cardinals run defense with it giving up a whopping 154.9 yards per game and 4.9 yards per carry; both outputs ranked amongst the worst in the league. The only good news on this side of the ball was that Arizona’s pass defense ranked amongst the league’s elite in allowing just 203.9 yards per game ( No. 4 ) at 6.4 yards per attempt ( No. 6 ). But did the opposition even try to pass considering how easy it was to run? Regardless, Budda Baker and Patrick Peterson – although not until Week 7 due to suspension – are back in the secondary. Joining the defense this season will be the ageless Terrell Suggs with upper management hoping he can help mold this young group into a defensive force down the road.
The Cardinals scored 14 or less points in nine of their 16 played games a season ago. It would come as quite the surprise if that occurred once again in 2019-20 as stockpiled Kingsbury’s unit looks to be on that side of the ball. He overlooked some tremendous offenses throughout his stay in Lubbock, and will hope his career averages as a coach/coordinator of 550 yards and 42.0 points translate to the NFL’s style of play. None of it will matter unless the revamped offensive line comes together and the retooled defense finds ways to come up with a number of stops. Not much is expected of Arizona from a divisional or playoffs standpoint considering it’s the owner of a 5-game season win total at top rated sportsbooks, but at least it will be much more fun to watch than the lethargic group that took to the gridiron last season.