An In-Depth Look at the 2020 Arizona Cardinals – Power Ranking 18by Mason Thompson June 25, 2020
The Kyler Murray/Kliff Kingsbury experiment got off to a rocking start last year. Now in year two, Steve Keim decided to help Murray out by giving him the best receiver in the league, while also improving the offensive line. Keim also managed to add some pieces on defense as well. Arizona plays in potentially the toughest division in the league but could compete for a playoff spot.
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- Overall – 80.41 (18th)
- Offense – 81.83 (15th)
- Defense – 79.225 (21st)
- Coach and Culture – 80.5 (T-16th)
- Home Field Advantage – 78.5, T-22nd (4% Defense, 2% Overall)
Quarterbacks – 78.5, T-16th (36% Offense, 27% Overall)
Murray started all 16 games last year as a rookie, throwing for over 3,700 yards while tossing 20 touchdowns to 12 interceptions. He also added 544 yards rushing and four touchdowns as well. The offensive line severely hindered his play last year, so those stats were phenomenal while getting sacked a whopping 48 times. Murray has drawn Russell Wilson vibes and he showed some of that potential last year.
Brett Hundley returns as the backup. He threw 11 passes last year and if Murray goes down, the season is over. He went 3-6 as a starter in Green Bay during the 2017 season and threw more interceptions than touchdowns.
Running Backs – 81, 18th (4% Offense, 3% Overall)
The addition of Kenyan Drake midseason proved to be an excellent addition. With David Johnson suffering from a bundle of injuries and being phased out of the gameplan, Arizona decided to add Drake. In eight games, Drake totaled 643 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground. The duo of Drake and Chase Edmunds combined for almost 1,000 yards and 12 touchdowns while both averaged over five yards a carry. With Johnson out the door, Drake and Edmunds will be one of the most exciting one-two punches in the league.
Eno Benjamin was a steal in the seventh round out of Arizona State. Benjamin had his best season as a sophomore where he rushed for over 1,600 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns in 2018. Last year he only had a little over 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns instead. Benjamin also added 625 yards and four touchdowns through the air putting his total to almost 3,500 yards and 31 touchdowns during his career at Arizona State. With Drake playing on the franchise tag, Benjamin could be in line for a big role next yeah.
Pass Catchers – 96, 1st (17% Offense, 8% Overall)
The Cardinals take the top spot for pass catchers. Deandre Hopkins is the best receiver in the league today and comes to Arizona for just a second-round pick and Johnson. He posted 1,165 yards and seven touchdowns in Houston last year before Bill O’Brien shipped him off. Hopkins will team up with Larry Fitzgerald who caught 75 passes for 804 yards and four touchdowns last year. Fitzgerald is most likely in the last year of his career this year and is still putting up great numbers despite his age. Christian Kirk will line up in the slot again and he needs to stay healthy as he has missed seven games in his first two years. Kirk finished last year with 68 catches for 709 yards and three touchdowns.
Arizona selected Andy Isabella, Hakeem Butler, and KeeSean Johnson last year in the draft. Only Isabella and Johnson saw the field last year as Butler battled injuries all year. Isabella caught nine passes and a touchdown, while Johnson caught 21 passes and a touchdown. The two will start this year as the third and fourth receivers behind Hopkins, Fitzgerald, and Kirk. Butler could be on his way out of Arizona though. He was thought of as the red-zone threat in Arizona but with Hopkins now in, Butler isn’t really needed. There has been talk of Butler potentially being traded to a receiver-needy team for a late-round draft pick which would benefit both sides. Trent Sherfield rounds out the receiver chart after he caught four passes last year.
Kingsbury’s offense doesn’t really use tight ends as the position only saw 53 targets last year. Charles Clay led the position in targets but hasn’t been retained. Maxx Williams will take over as the lead tight end and had 15 catches for 202 yards and a touchdown last year. Dan Arnold was the red-zone threat last year as he only caught six passes but two of them were for touchdowns.
Offensive Line – 76, T-20th (24% Offense, 12% Overall)
The offensive line surrendered 50 sacks last year which can’t happen again. Murray was charged at fault for 23 of those sacks though per PFF. D.J. Humphries finally seemed to put it all together last year as he stayed healthy. Humphries, Justin Pugh, and J.R Sweezy played all 16 games last year and showed improvement throughout the season. A.Q. Shipley is now out the door, opening the center spot up for Mason Cole to finally take it over. Marcus Gilbert returns after a torn ACL suffered before the year last year and will battle with third-round pick, Josh Jones for the right tackle slot. Jones was a steal in the third round and it won’t take long for him to start at right tackle.
Justin Murray started all 16 games at right tackle last year and wasn’t a complete liability and will provide the Cardinals with a solid swing tackle if one of the two starters were to get hurt. Joshua Miles and Lamont Gaillard look to improve upon their rookie seasons.
Run Defense – 78.5, 22nd (6% Defense, 2% Overall)
Arizona ranked 23rd in run defense last year and beefed up the interior of their defensive line by adding Jordan Phillips, Leki Fotu, and Rashard Lawrence during the offseason. Corey Peters is the main nose tackle and run defender as the veteran of the defensive line. Fotu and Lawrence are run-stuffing defenders that could take over once Peters is phased out. Zach Allen only played in four games last year, leading to Jonathan Bullard having 5.5 tackles for loss last year. Michael Dogbe is another young player that will factor into the rotation as well.
Jordan Hicks led the Cardinals in tackles and interceptions last year and will be a big factor again this year, as well as Devondre Campbell who the team brought over from Atlanta in free agency.
Pass Rush – 82, T-13th (21% Defense, 10% Overall)
Arizona finished with 40 sacks last year, almost half of them coming from Chandler Jones who had 19. First-round pick, Isaiah Simmons will likely take over as the second pass rusher now, while Allen needs to stay healthy to get the production he saw in college. Phillips had 9.5 sacks last year in Buffalo on the interior and will look to improve this year in Arizona. Devon Kennard was added from Detroit following two straight seven-sack seasons.
Linebackers – 78.5, 19th (15% Defense, 4% Overall)
Hicks was a pleasant surprise for Arizona last year as he led the team in tackles and interceptions after coming over from Philadelphia. Campbell is a solid add from Atlanta and will add to the coverage unit as well. Simmons plays all over the field and will factor in as a middle linebacker as well as he was a tackling machine in college.
Haason Reddick could be on his way out as he hasn’t lived up after being a first-round selection. Evan Weaver was selected in the sixth round and was a tackling machine at California. He was named the Pac-12 defensive player of the year last year following a 181 tackle season and should provide great depth on special teams.
Secondary – 79, 20th (26% Defense, 17% Overall)
Arizona’s secondary was awful last year as they surrendered the most touchdowns and highest passer rating against opposing quarterbacks. Patrick Peterson returns for another year and Byron Murphy looks to improve upon his rookie season where he had ten pass deflections and an interception. Behind those two though, the Cardinals don’t have much depth at cornerback. Robert Alford provides the most depth. Kevin Peterson and Chris Jones return from last year.
Budda Baker is one of the most underrated players in the league and he showed that once again last year. He played more as a box safety and had 147 tackles and 9.5 tackles for loss to go along with six pass deflections. Jalen Thompson starts opposite of Baker and he had 57 tackles, three pass deflections, and an interception last year. Thompson was selected in the supplemental draft and overtook the spot from Deionte Thompson who only had 18 tackles last year.
Coach and Culture – 80.5, T-16th (19% Offense, 28% Defense, 15% Overall)
Kingsbury’s offensive scheme was a major question mark heading into last year. It didn’t really take the league by storm like many thought it would. With Hopkins as well as an abundance of other receivers at Murray’s disposal, the offense looks to take the next step. Arizona ranks tied for 14th in offensive coach and culture.
Arizona’s defense ranked 28th last year but Keim added players in the first two levels of the defense with Phillips, Simmons, and Campbell being added during the offseason. The cornerback room needs to be helped out as Peterson isn’t going to be able to play forever and there isn’t a solid option behind him and Murphy at the position. The Cardinals rank 20th in defensive coach and culture.
The Cardinals are being hyped up as a team that could make a deep playoff run because of their offense with the addition of Hopkins. The defense led by Vance Joseph still has some holes but is improved. The offensive line needs to show that their improvement is continuing for Arizona to be a playoff contender.
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