Arizona Cardinals Team Overview 2020
Cardinals Team Overview 2020
Michael Bidwill. The Cardinals are a family owned team since the 1930’s. Charles Bidwill bought the team first then his son Bill Bidwill, Michael’s father, first co-owned the team in 1960. Bill ran the Cardinals rather cheaply.
The Cardinals had one of the lowest salaries in the NFL for a long time. Bill finally started to spend more and the Cardinals started to make the playoffs more in the late 2000’s. Bill passed away and now Michael is the President and Chairman.
Michael represents the team at all meetings. Michael is very liked by the community. He brought a new stadium into down town phoenix and the stadium has sold out pretty much every single home game.
This is impressive because the Cardinals have not always been a really good team. He is credited for being really smart by Carson Palmer. Palmer called Michael the glue that holds the organization together.
People believe that he has hired the right GM that has really done a good job. We will see how smart Michael is in the next few years if the Cardinals start winning again. Michael has been known to want to win really badly according to people close to him in the organization.
Steve Keim. Keim has only been with the Cardinals organization since 1999. He has been a scout, in charge of player personnel and now the general manager since 2013.
Keim did a great job of turning the Cardinals around but struggled as his QB Carson Palmer struggled to play well and stay healthy. This led to drafting Josh Rosen at QB but he turned out to be a bust.
They then used the #1 pick on Kyler Murray and hired new head coach Kliff Kingsbury in 2019. The Cardinals were respectable last season but lacked a good defense and offensive consistency at times.
They have put together a lot of good pieces this offseason and he might have the team on the rise in 2020.
Side not is that Keim got a really bad DUI of .19 in 2018 on July 4th. Looks like Keim knows how to party but this resulted in a $200,000 fine and suspension of 5 games from the team.
Kliff Kingsbury. Kingsbury was briefly an NFL QB for a few teams in 3 seasons before going into coaching in 2008. He didn’t have much of a successful NFL career but his coaching career looks really good.
He began in 2012 to be the offensive coordinator for the Aggies of Texas A&M. Next year after that he left to be the Head Coach of his Alma Mater.
He didn’t have a winning record with the Red Raiders but he did have one of the best scoring offenses in college football. Texas Tech has usually never had a winning record either. He left Lubbock Texas in 2019 to be the head Coach of the Cardinals.
He was able to draft Kyler Murray who he wanted to have at Texas Tech but Murray chose Oklahoma over Kingsbury. The 2 paired up for the first time last season and it was a learning experience for both.
It looked really good at times but you could tell that something was missing. They added more talent as the year went on and things began to gel more. They have added even more talent in the 2020 offseason and are looking to explode into the playoffs.
Fantasy Outlook for Cardinals
QB: Kyler Murray
I think you have to love Murray’s potential in fantasy this season. I also think that he has really good value at being drafted around the end of the 5th or early 6th round. Murray was 7th in fantasy QB points last season and averaged around 19 points a game.
With a year under his belt and Kingsbury learning to change his offense to his personnel, I think it’s a no brainer that Murray will be a top 5 quarterback this season. I haven’t even mentioned Deandre Hopkins yet either.
I think the most exciting potential for Murray is that Kingsbury has been studying the Ravens offense this off season. Murray already had 540 yards rushing last season. I think that is Murray’s worst case scenario in 2020.
I also think Murray gets close to 30 passing touchdowns in 2020 too. I really like Murray to make the jump in his 2nd season. I don’t see any red flags. I only see tons of potential and a lot of hungry players around him to prove everybody wrong. You definitely want to draft Kyler Murray.
RB: Kenyan Drake
So the most concerning thing about Drake is the offensive line. The offensive line isn’t terrible but it isn’t consistently good in run blocking. The big upside is that if this offensive line blocks really well then Drake has a chance to break it for a big one.
Drake has had 50 yard touchdowns in each of his 4 seasons in the NFL. His homerun ability is what makes him a sexy draft pick. He had 123 carries in 8 games last season with the Cardinals and I wouldn’t double those numbers for 2020.
I think Drake gets to around 215 carries in 2020. Drake also has pretty good hands and he caught 28 passes in 8 games. I think he definitely has a chance to get to 60 catches in 2020. He could get to 70 but I don’t think so.
Kingsbury is kind of like Sean Payton and Kyle Shanahan and that he has a script and player usage for each game that he likes to follow. If Chase Edmonds is healthy for most of this season then Edmonds will be used quite a bit. They also drafted a running back in the 7th round but he has lots of potential too.
I don’t think this is anything to concern you about Drake’s 2020 performance. Drake is one of the most confident NFL players out of every position. He believes in his ability and it shows.
My projections are 215 carries for 5.0 yards per carry for 1,075 rushing yards, 60 catches for 475 yards receiving and 14 total touchdowns. This will be good enough for around 270 points in half PPR leagues.
I like Drake to flirt with being a top 5 running back in 2020. I think worst case he finishes as 10th best running back. He is currently being drafted around the early 3rd round or late 2nd round. I think that would be an absolute steal of a pick.
RB: Chase Edmonds
I’m not sure about Edmonds in 2020. He was injured for most of the 2019 season. Kingsbury really liked using him too. Edmonds is being drafted around the 13th round in mock drafts. The only enticing thing about Edmonds is that I learned that in an air raid offense, which Kingsbury sometimes runs, they use 20 personnel.
This means 2 running backs, 0 tight ends and 3 wide receivers. I don’t think Kingsbury did this a ton last last year and he actually transitioned to 11 or 12 personnel more which favors tight ends.
However, Kingsbury does want to blend in some of the Ravens offense from 2019 into his 2020 scheme. This could feature both Drake and Edmonds in the game at the same time. With all of this being said, I am not going to draft Edmonds.
If Drake gets hurt then Edmonds is for sure your top priority in picking up off of the waiver wires. I would still monitor early on in the first couple games to see Edmonds usage. He might be worth picking up.
WR: Deandre Hopkins
Everyone is super quick to jump all over Hopkins. I think there is a good reason to do so too. I am still on the fence of whether or not he will light the league up.
This offense has a lot of weapons and Kyler only threw for 20 passing touchdowns too. Kingsbury also likes to spread the ball around.
I don’t think Hopkins will have monster numbers in 2020. Hopkins’ average draft position is around 10th overall. If you have read a lot of my posts then you know by now that I never take wide receivers in the 1st or 2nd round.
Same goes for Hopkins. I think his best case scenario would be 12 touchdowns, 100 catches for 1,100 yards. That will be good for around 220 fantasy points.
You can easily get a running back who will get around 270 fantasy points at 10th overall. Wide receivers are not worth spending high draft picks on.
WR: Christian Kirk/Larry Fitzgerald
Kirk was somewhat of a disappointment in 2019. He had a lot of drops and didn’t capitalize off of his promising rookie season. I think there are too many weapons around Kyler Murray that Kirk’s upside is very limited.
I don’t think Murray is quite there yet as a pure passer either. I only see Kirk’s best case scenario being 80 catches for 850 yards receiving and 7 touchdowns.
That will be good for around 30th best wide receiver in fantasy. I don’t love that value at around the 8th round which is where Kirk is being mock drafted at. There are better options.
Larry Fitz, I think this might be his last season. I think he gets around the same stats as Kirk. Somewhere around 800 yards receiving and 6 touchdowns. Fitz is being drafted around the 15th round. I actually like taking Fitz around this time.
He would be a great 4th or 5th string option to have when you think the Cardinals will be in shootouts.
Cardinals 2020 Offensive Preview
Kliff Kingsbury. Kingsbury is also the head coach. Kingsbury brought a really unique style of offense to the NFL in 2019. Kingsbury came from the school of the air raid offense.
This offense focuses on 10 personnel which means 1 running back, 4 receivers and 0 tight ends a majority of the offensive plays. This is actually not an accurate depiction of what Kingsbury actually runs.
He did run 10 personnel the most out of any NFL team last season but noticed that he had more success running 11 and 12 personnel later in the season. 11 and 12 personnel meant that Kingsbury started to run more 1 and 2 tight end personnel formations. Kingsbury said he started doing this to help with blocking and matchups.
This is the really underrated aspect of Kingsbury. He isn’t stubborn in his play calling and it showed while he was at Texas Tech. His first year at Texas Tech Kingsbury threw a lot. Then the next 2 seasons he ran the ball a lot with Deandre Washington.
After those seasons he had Patrick Mahomes and threw the ball a ton. Kingsbury admitted that the offense didn’t do well last season in the beginning because he would always throw the ball when the Cardinals were behind in the game.
This happened a lot because the Cardinals had a bad defense. So Kingsbury decided to not abandon the run early in games and this helped the offense. Kingsbury also noted that a lot of good NFL teams have a healthy running game and good defense.
Kingsbury also noted that he believes the Cardinals found an offensive identity late in the season with using 11 or 12 personnel and running the ball more. So this all points to Kingsbury using a tight end and running the ball a good amount of the time.
The last really interesting thing to mention is that Kingsbury said that he is drawing inspiration from what the Ravens did with Lamar Jackson in 2019. Now, none of these 2020 schemes will look exactly like what he ran in 2019 with the Cardinals or what the Ravens did with Lamar in 2019.
Kingsbury is too smart to create a 2020 offense that is that similar. Kingsbury will do it with his own twist and formation alignments. This is the brilliance that Kingsbury has already shown in college and with the Cardinals last season.
Also, even when he ran the ball a lot at Texas Tech, Kingsbury still had more passing plays called then running attempts. So at the end of the day, Kingsbury is just doing what he needs to do to keep a healthy running game going so that he can set up all of his passing plays.
This is what every offense wants to do but very few coaches can accomplish it consistently. I think Kingsbury is super talented and I think this offense bursts into the top 10 in scoring this season.
Cardinals 2020 Defensive Preview
Vance Joseph. Joseph hasn’t really had any defensive talent the past 4 seasons so it is kind of hard to judge how good of a defensive mind he is. He did have a pretty talented squad in 2017 with the Broncos but while that team was 3rd in the amount of yards per game, they were 22nd in points allowed.
This might have been due to a horrific offense. The Cardinals are trying to get him some talent but this defense still has a long way to go. However, this needs to be a year that Joseph shows that he can put a respectable defense out there and keep the Cardinals in games. This was the biggest problem for this team in 2019.
Joseph was a longtime defensive backs coach in the NFL until 2016 when he got the DC job with the Dolphins. Then he became the head coach with the Broncos for 2 seasons before getting canned. Now he has been the DC of the Red Birds since 2019.
A telling note is that both Kingsbury and Joseph are one of the first in the building and last to leave at night. I’m sure this is common around the league but it doesn’t happen everywhere. These guys care.
I know Joseph cares and Budda Baker, the Cardinals starting safety, said that it was mainly on the players last season. Cornerback Patrick Peterson confirmed this by saying that there was a lack of communication.
There were also a ton of great things mentioned by the players at the end of December. Jordan Hicks and Patrick Peterson. Both said that they feel like year 2 is going to be much better and that Joseph hasn’t lost the locker room.
They also said that they believe that the last month of the season set a standard to what will be for the 2020 defense. I feel very hopeful for this Cardinals defense in 2020. They could improve significantly middle of this upcoming season.
So hopefully continuity and accountability in year 2 under Joseph will be what this defense needs. Let’s take a look at the players.
The defensive line is anchored by the new free agent Jordan Phillips. Phillips had a break out season with Buffalo tallying 9 sacks and 13 tackles for loss.
Joseph has worked with him before and so has the Cardinals D-line coach. Joseph believes that Phillips can be even better this year. The next 2 D-linemen in this 3-4 defense is Zach Allen and Corey Peters.
Peters has been on the team for awhile now and he is an average NFL D-lineman. Peters adds a couple of splash plays here and there.
Allen was a 3rd round pick out of Boston College in 2019. He was injured after 4 games so they are hopeful on him in year 2. The 2 other names that are exciting Joseph is a 2nd round rookie out of Utah, Leki Fotu and 4th round rookie out of LSU, Rashard Lawrence.
Joseph is excited about Fotu because he believes he can play all 3 D-line positions. He says this because although Fotu is a giant human, he moves really well because of his rugby background.
Lawrence is exciting because he was a 3 year defensive captain at LSU and that is super impressive because he wasn’t even close to being the best player on any of those 3 defenses.
That shows you a lot about what kind of energy he will bring to this team that lacked toughness in stopping the run and toughness in general. I think if you are a Cardinals fan then you have to be very hopeful for these interior defensive lineman. It should be a huge upgrade from what they had last year.
The linebackers are pretty much all the same except for their new prized possession, 1st round pick Isaiah Simmons. Joseph said that he wants Isaiah to play all over the field like he did in Clemson.
However, he did say that Isaiah will start at outside linebacker. Joseph also said that they will use Isaiah to his strengths depending on the down and distance. What this all means is that they feel like Simmons can rush the passer and also cover pretty much any slot receiver or tight end.
I think outside linebacker is the perfect spot for him to be in. Opposite of Simmons will be Chandler Jones. Jones is probably the best player on the defense unless Patrick Peterson returns to form.
But even then, Jones is probably still the best player. Jones has been well over double digit sacks for the last 5 seasons. He is an absolute monster. He forces a ton of forced fumbles as well. He also has a ton of tackles for loss.
He is arguably the best pass rusher in the NFL. His play has been overshadowed by being on a really bad Cardinals team. The inside linebackers are Jordan Hicks and free agent signing De’Vondre Campbell.
Campbell is relatively young with this being his 5th season in the NFL. He came over from the Falcons. He had a really impressive season in 2019 because he forced fumbles, had 2 interceptions and a couple sacks.
Campbell also had over a 100 tackles. I still am not entirely sold on Campbell. I don’t ever remember watching him or hearing his name last season when I watched the Falcons. I am curious to see how legit he really is.
Hicks came over from Philadelphia in 2019. Even though he led the Cardinals in tackles in 2019, he missed a lot of tackles in general.
Hicks had similar stats to Campbell last season. Hicks is most known for being a leader on this defense and most middle linebackers feel that sense of pride anyways.
This middle linebacker group should be a little above average in 2020. The backups to all 4 of these positions are Devon Kennard, Hassan Reddick and 6th round rookie Evan Weaver. This is really good depth for this linebacking crew.
Reddick was a former 1st round linebacker but hasn’t lived up to his hype. He is still a serviceable linebacker for sure.
Kennard came over from the Lions and he has had 2 straight seasons with 7 sacks. He will be crucial in passing downs to help generate more sacks in 2020. Weaver will be a rookie but Joseph has already spoken about him so he should make the team and potentially see some time.
Front 7 Conclusion
Overall, I really like this front 7. I don’t think it has a ton potential. I see it really developing as the season goes along. I think the run defense and sack numbers improve drastically from where they were in 2019.
Now lets look at the secondary. This group is led by Patrick Peterson. Peterson hasn’t been lights out like he used to be but he is still a top cornerback in the NFL.
He turns 30 this season but there have been plenty of great corners in the NFL that have played really well in their 30’s. I like Peterson to have a great year in 2020. The corner opposite of him will be Byron Murphy.
Murphy was a 2nd round pick out of Washington in the 2019 draft. He didn’t do to well in the beginning of the season but he played a little better later in the season. Peterson believes that Murphy will play better in 2020.
This horrible passing defense needs him to be better. The other cornerbacks are Robert Alford and a bunch of unproven players.
Cornerbacks are a big concern if Murphy doesn’t pan out and just in general because they don’t have a nickel back. Alford didn’t look good at all and I’m sure he will get a shot at nickel back but who knows. Maybe they put Isaiah Simmons in the slot at times.
The safeties on this team are Budda Baker, Jalen Thompson and I am sure Isaiah Simmons sees some time here too. Baker leads this safety group and played a lot better in 2019 then he did in years past. He was a high draft pick in 2017.
Baker makes a lot of tackles but I don’t know how effective he is in the passing game. My hunch is that he isn’t that good because he hasn’t recorded an interception yet and only had 6 passes defended in 2019.
Thompson was a 5th round supplemental draft pick in 2019. He played well at times last season but he is definitely going to be a huge piece for this secondary in 2020. The back ups will be Isaiah Simmons and Kentrell Brice.
Brice has limited play too but he made some plays with Tampa Bay last season. Overall, this secondary has a lot of uncertainties. Vance Joseph is supposed to be a great defensive backs coach but he has his work cut out for him with this group.
The front 7 has a lot of optimism but this season is all about improving the poor secondary that was on the team in 2019. I don’t think they have a 2nd cover guy outside of Patrick Peterson. I think the next best cover guy will be the rookie Isaiah Simmons.
This is a problem. There is a lack of cornerback ability on this team. They will have to rely heavily on the defensive front and blitzing to help with defending the pass. Overall, I like what Steve Keim has done in free agency and the draft.
I think this defense has potential to be a middle of the road defense but I still see them giving up points. I think they finish within the 15 to 20 range in terms of points allowed in 2020.
Fun Facts About Coaches:
There isn’t anybody on the coaching staff worth noting.
Contract Year Players:
CB: Patrick Peterson
WR: Larry Fitzgerald
RB: Kenyan Drake
LB: De’Vondre Campbell
OL: J.R. Sweezy
DL: Corey Peters
S: Budda Baker
Cardinals Offensive Line Preview
This offensive line isn’t as bad as the fans, last year’s stats or the pundits make it out to be. Kyler Murray was responsible for around 20 sacks last year according to Pro Football Focus. A lot of the time I don’t like using Pro Football Focus for metrics but I trust them in knowing if a QB is responsible for holding the ball too long or if there was an open receiver.
So the pass blocking is actually a strength of this offensive line. They bring back every starter from last season except the center but they have a good game plan for him. The running game didn’t do well early on but later in the season when Kingsbury committed to the run, it got a lot better.
Kenyan Drake averaged 5.2 yards per carry the last 8 games of the season. That is a high yards per carry because Drake is a special talent so the run blocking consistency is not a strength of this offensive line.
However, It shouldn’t drop off much from last year. In fact, I think it should get a little better. I would give this O-line a ranking somewhere between 16 and 20. The best player on the O-line is left tackle DJ Humphries.
The guards on this team return from last season too in Justin Pugh and JR Sweezy. Both are very serviceable NFL guards. The center is Mason Cole. The fans and scouts say that there shouldn’t be any drop off between him and last years starter.
He started 16 games for the Cardinals in 2018 so he isn’t inexperienced. The right tackle will be either 3rd round rookie Josh Jones or Justin Murray. Murray played all of last season and didn’t do that good of a job.
Jones had a really good scouting grade coming out of college but fell to the 3rd round. Not sure why he fell to the 3rd round but he has a lot of potential. The right tackle position is definitely something to keep an eye on.
This O-line also has great depth at tackle with Kelvin Beachum. Beachum is a longtime NFL Vet and can definitely step in and help if someone gets injured. They also have NFL experience backing up the Guards in Max Garcia.
In terms of fantasy football, this isn’t a line you should worry about too much. I don’t think it will hinder any of the players in scoring you fantasy points.
Kingsbury learned how to get the most out of this offense midway through the season in 2019. I think he is learning what works in the NFL and will have this O-line and offense operating at more efficient levels at the start of the season.