Arizona Cardinals 2019 Season Preview
By Ryan Adverderada
Special to Pro Football Guru
Steve Keim had one hell of a 2018. The Arizona Cardinals’ general manager got in legal trouble before training camp, then watched his rookie quarterback and first-time head coach struggle to a three-win season. The bright side was the first overall selection in the 2019 draft. Keim cut his losses after 2018, firing Steve Wilks and trading Josh Rosen. It’s a new year and a new look for the Cardinals in 2019. Kliff Kingsbury is now the head man. The role of new franchise quarterback is being played by Kyler Murray. Arizona hopes the changes are enough to turn their fortunes around.
Offense: The Cardinals have upgraded across the board on offense. Kingsbury brings an explosive air attack from Texas Tech. Fittingly, the Cardinals added wide receiver and tight end depth, drafting four players in total at those positions. Arizona gets another season from Larry Fitzgerald, something the team desperately needed. The wide receiver room is young, but extremely talented. Early camp reports point to the Cardinals using “10” (1 RB, 0 FB/TE, 4 WR) personnel. Last season, running back David Johnson spent more time avoiding defenders in the backfield than bursting through running lanes. Arizona signed guard J.R. Sweezy from division rival Seattle. He’s joined on the right side by fellow newcomer Marcus Gilbert, obtained via trade from the Steelers. If healthy, the Cardinals line is solid, at least on paper.
Defense: Arizona returns to a 3-4 front. Terrell Suggs signed as a free agent, playing bookend to Chandler Jones. Criminally underrated, Jones has averaged 11 sacks a season over his seven-year career. Jordan Hicks is the starter at inside linebacker after coming over from the Eagles in free agency. He is joined by third-year player Haason Reddick. The linebacker group is the best Arizona has had in recent memory. The back end is patrolled by safety Budda Baker. Patrick Peterson is suspended for the team’s first six games, so Arizona hopes rookie Byron Murphy and veterans Robert Alford and Tramaine Brock, can hold the line until he returns. Vance Joseph intends to attack on defense. Expect a return to a stifling defense, something missing in 2018.
Special Teams: Andy Lee and Zane Gonzalez return as punter and kicker, respectively. The coverage units were solid in 2018. Trent Sherfield was a star in coverage. Receivers Christian Kirk and Pharoh Cooper are the favorites to return kicks, but running back T.J. Logan could be a real option.
Prediction: Arizona promises to be an exciting team in 2019. On paper, the team has added talent all along the roster. If they can escape serious injuries, the Cardinals will improve drastically from last season. It will come down to the effectiveness of both lines. Arizona could finish anywhere between five to 10 wins. Typically, the truth is found in the middle. Don’t be surprised if Kyler Murray wins Offensive Rookie of the Year honors. The offense is set up for him to succeed, but time will tell if an Air-Raid style offense can win football games in the NFL.
Win-Loss Record: 6-10 (4th Place, NFC West)