Now that Thanksgiving is over, it means that Christmas season is officially here. It’s time to get the decorations out of the attic, put up the lights, turn on your favorite holiday songs, and, if you’re a kid, start making your Christmas list.
But why let the kids have all the fun? The Cardinals are clearly a team in need, so I’ve taken the liberty of putting together a wish list for the rest of the season. (Which technically ends a few days after Christmas, but close enough.)
What should Cardinals fans be putting on their wish list for the team?
A Sack Title for Chandler Jones
This one’s more like a stocking stuffer. It’s an individual goal that wouldn’t mean much, but the Cardinals defense will take what it can get at this point. Right now, Jones sits at third overall in the league with 13.0 sacks, a half-sack behind Cameron Jordan of the Saints and 1.5 behind Shaquill Barrett of the Buccaneers. One big game like the 4 he had against the Giants would position him well to overtake both. He’ll have his work cut out for him though—of our final four opponents, the Steelers and Rams are among the least-sacked teams in the league, while the Browns and Seahawks are middle of the pack. Still, Jones has the talent to pull it off. But does the defense as a whole have the fight in them to help him get there?
Next Year’s Starting Running Back
Everyone has the friend or relative who’s always regifting things. That’s just like what the Cardinals are doing with the running back position—the three top candidates for next season’s starter—David Johnson, Chase Edmonds, and Kenyan Drake—are all currently on the roster. So at least the team won’t have to go shopping in the free agent market or at the draft. (Although Drake is a UFA—but you figure the Cardinals will have first crack at him.) Cardinals fans should be hoping for some clarity at the position in these next four games. Does DJ have anything left? Can Edmonds recapture his mid-season form before he got hurt? Can Drake hold onto the job and earn a new contract in the bargain? If one of these guys can clearly seize the starting gig, it would provide some clarity at what is a very muddled position right now. Kliff Kingsbury seems to like all three, but we can’t go into next season with a three-headed monster at RB.
Offensive Rookie of the Year for Kyler Murray
This isn’t looking too likely right now—Raiders RB Josh Jacobs is currently the strong favorite—but Kyler still has four games to get on the voters’ nice list. He’s clearly on their naughty list after the Rams game, but he has a chance for a revenge game in Week 17. He also gets one more shot at the Seahawks’ beatable secondary, although both upcoming AFC North foes boast strong pass defenses. However, Kyler proved twice against the 49ers that he can still put up good numbers against an elite defense. But even if he falls short of OROY, if he can pick up the pace a little bit he can still end the season with 4,000 passing yards, something only three other rookie QBs have accomplished. Cardinals fans would certainly settle for that under the tree.
At Least One More Win
What Cardinals fans want most right now is a win—we’ve lost 5 games in a row. I’d love to ask for two or even three more wins, but this is like when you know your parents can’t afford what you really want so you ask for something more attainable instead. The final four games are pretty tough—the Steelers are fighting for a playoff berth, and the Seahawks and Rams have already whooped us this season. So multiple wins might be asking for too much—a pony when you live in a two-bedroom apartment. But one win? The Browns home game in two weeks seems like it should be winnable. That win would be sweet for a number of reasons—a win for Kyler against Baker at all the storylines that would entail, a win against a former member of the Cardinals coaching staff in Freddie Kitchens, and it’s our final home game. But it would also ensure we finish last season with at least one more win than last season. That’s not much, but it’s something. Slow progress is still progress. And if we can steal another win or two? Icing on the cake. (Just hope it’s not a fruit cake.)
A New Defensive Coordinator… and General Manager?
This is that special present, the one that’s been under the tree for weeks that you’ve had your eye on. You just *know* it’s gonna be something good. You wake up on Christmas morning just itching to tear it open. But your parents make you wait to open it last. Finally, you get your hands on it, ripping off the bow and shredding the wrapping paper to find… a helmet? What the…? Then you realize: there’s still one more gift: the shiny new bicycle your parents wheel in from the garage.
This is exactly what it’s going to be like when the Cardinals fire Vance Joseph the Monday after Week 17. (And they will.) But that won’t feel like enough—there will be that sinking feeling of disappointment before everyone realizes there’s more to come. Santa Bidwill will take his time, but eventually he’ll realize that Keim needs to go. Then we can all experience that sweet freedom that comes with a sleek new bicy—I mean, general manager.
That’s my Cardinals Christmas wish list—just five items, I’m not too greedy. A sack title, clarity at RB, OROY for Kyler, another win or two, and a new DC and GM. That’s not too much, right?
How about the rest of you? What’s on your wish list for the final month or so of the season? (So no free agent or draft wishes.) What do you want to see from the Cardinals by the season’s end? Let us know in the comments!