Story By Jordan Spurgeon
The Cardinals finish the season 8-8 after starting 6-3. There are many reasons why fans and players alike are upset about missing the playoffs. But this is the start of a winning culture that has nowhere to go but up. They’ll have to start with a few offseason moves and schematic tweaks in order to improve the team and become a perennial playoff contender.
Address The Offensive Line
This was one of the question marks heading into 2020. The issue never faded, it was just covered up by the icing that was Kyler Murray running around and DeAndre Hopkins making miraculous catches. While sacks were down this year, the running game struggled for most of the season, not due to a lack of talent at the ground position. With a pick inside the top-20, the Cardinals will want to think about drafting more offensive line help, particularly at the tackle position.
Win Games They’re Supposed To Win
The Cardinals had six bad losses this year, two of those were against winning teams in the Dolphins and then the Rams in Week 17. Four came against opponents under .500, the Lions, Panthers, Patriots, and 49ers. The organization needs to identify who is at fault for those performances and make the coinciding decisions to address that issue.
Kyler Murray Needs To Take Next Step
Yes, Murray is the reason this team finished at .500. He carried a roster that wasn’t ready to win. But he has to improve his game in multiple facets. His interceptions (12) stayed the same from year one to year two. He also only threw for six more touchdowns (26) and slightly over 100 more yards (3,971).
This comes while being sacked 23 fewer times than in his rookie campaign. For the Cardinals to be a threat in the NFC West, Murray will need to be more than just a flash in the pan that is either scorching hot or blizzard cold.
Understand And Utilize The Available Talent
One of the greatest mysteries early on with the Cardinals in 2020 was why they weren’t playing their top draft pick Isaiah Simmons in more packages. The coaching staff cited a lack of readiness, but in limited opportunities he jumped off the screen. In 15 games played (seven starts), Simmons finished with 51 combined tackles, one interception, and two sacks. His skill-set is versatile and the coaching staff needs to put him in the best position to succeed if they want to maximize his talent to help them win. This goes for other young players like Andy Isabella, Chase Edmonds, Haason Reddick, and more.
These questions and more will loom large for the Cardinals throughout the next seven months. An 8-8 finish isn’t ideal but it was eye opening for the players, coaches, fans, and community. The building blocks are there so 2021 will be a make or break year for this team.