By virtue of Monti Ossenfort’s and Jonathan Gannon’s modus operandi (aka MOJO’s m.o.), 2023 has become a “prove it” year for the vast majority of the players who are currently on the Arizona Cardinals’ roster.
I mean —- let’s give credit where credit is due —- for a brand new and relatively young coaching staff —- this is an ideal m.o.
With yesterday’s signings of CB Rashard Fenton and DT Carlos Watkins, both of whom are expected to compete for prominent roles on JG’s defense, the Cardinals have signed 10 outside free agents and 19 free agents over all, 12 to 1-year deals and 7 to t 2-year deals.
JG says he really likes the players they have signed. He said, “they know why they are Arizona Cardinals” and “we have told them exactly what we expect of them and what their roles are.”
Perhaps the most impressive early strengths of the new GM and HC is their passion for communication —- with the owner —- with each other —- with the scouting department —-with the coaching staff —- and most of all —- with each and every player. This type of “aligned” and coordinated focus on communication is the ideal way to establish and maintain organizational expectations, short-term goals and long-term goals.
In the short-term, the personnel goal is to give all the players a one year opportunity to establish themselves as potential core players. That may include players who are signed beyond this season:
- QB Kyler Murray
- RB James Conner, Keaontay Ingram
- TE Zach Ertz, Trey McBride
- WR DeAndre Hopkins* (on trade market), Zach Pascal, Rondale Moore
- T Josh Jones, Kelvin Beachum
- G Will Hernandez, Dennis Daley, Marquis Hayes
- C Hjalte Froholdt, Lecitus Smith
- DT Manny Jones
- DE Cameron Thomas, Myjai Sanders, Victor Dimukeje
- LB isaiah Simmons** (decision coming on 5th year option), Zaven Colins, Kyzir White, Dennis Gardeck
- CB Marco Wilson
- S Budda Baker, Jalen Thompson
- K Matt Prater
Note: looking at this potential early 2024 roster, gives us a strong clue as to which positions MOJO are indenting to address in the 2023 NFL Draft: most notably at defensive tackle and cornerback.
This is 27 players —- a mere half of a 54 man roster. And there is a likelihood that some of the 27 players, if they don’t prove their worth to the coaches, will not be retained. There is also the likelihood that a number of the players on 1-year contracts will be re-signed by the team if they make the right kind of impact and impression.
If there ever was a “Prove It Plan” this one, artfully designed by Monti Ossenfort and Jonathan Gannon is the epitome.
This plan excites me. I am impressed with the under-the-radar quality of the free agents the Cardinals have signed. I believe these players will be hungry to achieve and highly motivated to make lasting impressions on the GM, coaches and teammates.
I would love to see JG open up legitimate training camp competitions at all of the positions. He doesn’t strike me as a coach who gives handouts. That’s why I am hoping for a legitimate LT competition between D.J. Humphries and Josh Jones. May the best player win. And I want to see the rookies have bona fide opportunities to earn prominent roles, either as starters, situational players or special team dynamos.
I love the level of communication that JG is manifesting. if he’s good to his word, and I believe he will be —- players will win job “the old-fashioned way” by “earning them.”
Those are my thoughts.
What are yours?