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Arizona Cardinals have uphill battle to go from worst to first in NFC West

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NFL: Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

The slow build or rebuild of the Arizona Cardinals is in year two of what should have been a three-year rebuild. That’s what happens when you botch year one of the rebuild and now instead of competing for the playoffs this year, they are trying to get the right mix of talent to put around their franchise quarterback Kyler Murray.

Pro Football Focus talked about the teams who finished in last place in 2019 that could make the leap to first place in 2020.

The Arizona Cardinals finished in last in the NFC West so they going the contenders: Cardinals, Carolina Panthers, Cincinnati Bengals, Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars, Los Angeles Chargers, Miami Dolphins and Washington Redskins.

The Cardinals were right in the middle, as PFF ranked them in this order:

  1. Detroit Lions
  2. Jacksonville Jaguars
  3. Miami Dolphins
  4. Arizona Cardinals
  5. Los Angeles Chargers
  6. Carolina Panthers
  7. Washington Redskins
  8. Cincinnati Bengals

Here’s what PFF said:

It’s apparent that Kliff Kingsbury’s offensive scheme helped the Cardinals’ offense in his first season as the head coach. They ranked 13th in the NFL in expected points added per play just a year after finishing a comfortable last in the same measure. They still had a below-average offensive line and a lack of real playmakers at wide receiver and tight end, but they were able to overcome that through scheme and the first overall pick in the NFL draft, Kyler Murray.

The scary part is that Murray didn’t even play all that well. He ranked 25th among 32 qualifying quarterbacks in PFF grade this past season, but there were also times when the skill set that landed him as the first overall pick was on full display. There’s a chance that with a leap from Murray in his second season and the addition of a few more weapons surrounding the young signal-caller, this could be one of the better offensive teams in the entire league. If that happens and they can get improved play in coverage, the Cardinals could be dangerous in a competitive NFC West.

The Cardinals have two issues obviously; the first being that they lack a ton of talent on offense to surround Murray and their defense could best be described as a sieve. Two, they play in the best division in the NFL, with the NFC West being the representative in the last two Super Bowls.

So, could the Cardinals make a worst to first turnaround in the NFC West… yes.

Is it likely? Not quite yet.