Despite the promising rookie year that quarterback Kyler Murray had and the dramatic improvement of the offense overall from 2018, the Arizona Cardinals probably weren’t initially on most people’s radars for going anywhere in 2020. This is probably due in part to being stuck in the NFC West. All three other teams there had a winning record in 2019. That changed a bit with the blockbuster trade that shook the off-season – DeAndre Hopkins to the Cardinals.
Now things are a bit different, and expectations are a bit higher. However, they still seem to be slightly overshadowed by some of their divisional opponents. A few sources have started to rank them as a possible top ten offense. But overall, they are still getting slept on.
Arizona Cardinals Offense Should Not Be Slept on
Top Tier Wide Receiver Corps
This offense was already looking fairly solid last year even before Hopkins joined the team. Nothing special, but certainly enough to keep the team in most games. Murray certainly helped with that; despite starting right out of the gate for a team that was not playoff-ready and being undersized for the quarterback position, he played mostly quite well. He’ll need to be careful to not be too reliant on his legs to avoid injury. But even if that weren’t a factor, he’s a solid passer.
And in 2020, he’ll have a quite deep receiving depth chart to throw to. Obviously there’s DeAndre Hopkins, who’s one of the top three receivers in the league. That alone makes things easier for Murray in his second year. But you still have other major contributors. There’s Larry Fitzgerald, who’s on the tail-end of his career; but not having to be the #1 option anymore might actually help him out a bit. There’s also Christian Kirk, who had 709 yards and three touchdowns last year, even with missing three games; he would end up being one of the very best #3 wide receivers in the entire league.
But then further down the depth chart, you still have the likes of Andy Isabella, who had rather limited snaps but still showed promise and brought in an 88-yard touchdown. Then there’s KeeSean Johnson, who may not be anything special but still a solid role player. We also still have yet to see where Hakeem Butler will fit in this since he missed his entire rookie season due to injury. And although Trent Sherfield’s chances of making the final roster may be low because we’ve already mentioned six receivers who will likely be above him, he’s still a solid backup too. All of this is a lot of depth. It shows that even if there are injuries, this Arizona Cardinals offense should not completely implode.
Don’t Forget the Running Game
One thing about the Hopkins trade is that even among those who took notice of the excellent starting trio they have at receiver now, the quite solid running back group has kind of been forgotten. But they’ve got Kenyan Drake, who finally had his breakout “half-season” with the Cardinals after getting traded from the Miami Dolphins (funny how that works), and had 643 yards and eight touchdowns in eight games. He also had three 100-yard games and a four-touchdown game. He’s only on a one-year deal right now. Still, looks to be a good starter for them at halfback for at least this year.
But there’s also Chase Edmonds, a solid backup who in his one start before they traded for Drake had 126 yards and three touchdowns. If anything happens to Drake or if they just want to put a solid change-of-pace runner out there sometimes, Edmonds is a good backup to have.
The one thing that they’re somewhat lacking in is a clear starting tight end. That’s ultimately probably okay because they haven’t exactly made tight end a priority. They can simply use a lot of four-wideout sets if necessary. However, there is one semi-interesting name on that roster: Dylan Cantrell. A former wide receiver who switched to tight end recently, he’d been considered a potential breakout candidate last year for the Los Angeles Chargers before getting injured and missing the entire year. If he can stay healthy and outplay the likes of Maxx Williams and Dan Arnold on the depth chart (not a tall order), that could be potentially one more interesting weapon for them.
Regardless, this is ultimately an offense that should be able to shred defenses to pieces both with the pass and the run. They’ll have one of the best wide receiver trios around with solid backups, and a solid running back starter. Not to mention quarterback Murray’s own running ability, which is only going to make them even more difficult to defend.
Of course, there is still the question mark of whether the defense will be able to do its part to help the Cardinals win games. That might be part of why their win-loss projections haven’t shot hugely upward. And again, it also doesn’t help that they’re stuck in the NFC West. All three of the other teams are also quite playoff-capable. But the Cardinals have the foundation on offense to get something going. They shouldn’t be slept on in that regard. Because this offense will be difficult to stop.
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