2019 NFL Power Rankings:
No. 28 Arizona Cardinals
Look up "clown show" in the dictionary and the photo from the 2018 Cardinals' picture day serves as the example. After taking the NFL's Rooney Rule to the next level by actually hiring a black head coach in Steve Wilks, Arizona fired the man after a lone season in which he went 3-13. Coincidentally, Wilks wound up as the scapegoat for the team's failures. Tell me how someone's supposed to turn a franchise with a beat-up offensive line, a one-legged quarterback whose better at robbing organizations than playing the position and a defense void of any notable names outside of Chandler Jones and Patrick Peterson around in one year? Bill Belichick wouldn't have guided that putrid-ass roster to seven wins. With Wilks out, Arizona began its rebuild with Kliff Kingsbury, a 40-year-old offensive "guru" who joined the franchise following a wildly mediocre tenure at Texas Tech, where he posted a 35-40 record. Some may get Kingsbury confused with league golden boy Sean Mcvay (who I love), so we understand the reasoning behind the hiring. If you've bumped elbows with Sean, you're bound for the Hall of Fame.
Cardinals GM Steve Keim didn't exaggerate when he used the coveted term "generational talent" to describe quarterback Kyler Murray. Despite the endless questions about Murray's size, the system he played in and whether or not he'd be committed to football, the rookie field general is all of that and more. The Heisman Trophy winner maneuvers around the pocket, evading sacks and creating magic akin to Pro Bowl signal-caller Russell Wilson. He makes quick decision and understands how to adjust the offense pre-snap. He's insanely accurate and understands when to take pop off his throws. And the Allen, Texas native possesses a cannon strapped to his right shoulder that can dial it up a country mile. Kingsbury desperately wanted his hands on Murray as a high schooler, recruiting the signal-caller during his stints at Texas A&M and Tech. I have my reservations on Kingsbury, but he turned Patrick Mahomes into a first-round pick (even though you can't coach those tools). Guess he has what it takes to bring the best out of Murray
Unlike last year, Arizona enters 2019 with weapons on the offensive side of the ball. The offensive line is much healthier than last year. Versatile tailback David Johnson returns with a clean bill of health and should take plenty of pressure off Murray with his abilities as a receiver. The team also is stacked at the wide receiver position, boasting Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald, the incredibly talented Christian Kirk and 2018 FBS leader in receiving yards, Andy Isabella, whose 4.3-speed and versatility should pay dividends early. In an uptempo offense like the Cardinals', Murray has more than enough weapons to run away with the league's Offensive MVP Award.
Offensive Players to Watch: Kyler Murray, Christian Kirk, Andy Isabella, Ricky Seals-Jones
Defensive Players to Watch: Jordan Hicks, Haason Reddick, Budda Baker
Verdict: I’m from the great state of Texas, where Murray boasted a perfect 42-0 record in the state’s highest classification. It’s not that I think the Cardinals are good enough to finish the season at .500. The defense is better but still has a host of issues, including Patrick Peterson’s six-game suspension. It’s that I believe in Murray magic. Somehow, someway, he will find a way to help Arizona to a 5-11 record.