Football is back, baby! It’s Week 1 of the 2023 NFL season and the 0-0 Washington Commanders will be facing a 0-0 Cardinals team in Raljon.
At the moment, these appear to be two teams headed in different directions this season, with Washington bolstering its roster in an attempt to get back to the playoffs for the second time in Ron Rivera’s 4-year tenure. Meanwhile, the Cardinals seem to be dismantling their team, trading several players for picks, and looking to start the season either with journeyman Josh Dobbs or rookie Clayton Tune at quarterback. Is Arizona aiming for Caleb Williams in the 2024 draft? What does their future hold?
To learn more about these and other issues, I asked Seth Cox of Revenge of the Birds five questions about the state of the Cardinals and what to look for in this game.
1) From the outside looking in, it looks an awful lot like the Cardinals are tanking hard for the first pick in the 2024 draft. What’s the feeling among the fanbase regarding the 2023 season?
I think it is a combination of tanking and clearing the decks which is a form of tanking but more importantly was a much needed reset from the previous regime. While Kliff Kingsbury had a number of issues, the biggest culprit in where this team is right now was Steve Keim. Just look at his 2020 draft class. They are gone. Why? Well, because he was not good at his job and was chasing the ghost of Daryl Washington.
So, instead Monti Ossenfort comes in, eats the crap sandwich in front of him for 2023 and looks to make things better and more sustainable moving forward.
This is all a fallout from post 2016. The Cardinals went all-in and it didn’t work with Bruce Arians. Strung it along again in 2017 for one more ride with Arians and Carson Palmer, both left and in 2018, instead of completely resetting, they went back in and paid Sam Bradford a bunch of money, paid veterans a lot and kept the core that was 8-8 together without the coach and quarterback.
So now, you get the results seven years later.
Is it a tank? Maybe, but more than anything, it is a much needed reset of the roster, cap and organization.
2) What is Kyler Murray’s current status? Is he likely to play at all this year? Do you think he’s played his last game in a Cardinals’ uniform?
They plan on Kyler playing. He wants to play, he plans on being out there this year. I think if things are awful this year, he will be moved.
If the Cardinals end up winning some games with Kyler and are picking outside of the top five with their own pick, then they will continue on with Kyler and look to build around him.
It will be an interesting thing to watch.
3) Early national coverage of Jonathan Gannon’s coaching tenure in Arizona has raised some eyebrows around the league. It’s obviously still early, but what is the fan perception of him and expectation for him this year? How long do you think he has to turn things around?
Fans are excited because he actually cares and coaches. Kliff was laid back, was the type that believed everyone is an adult and should do their job.
Gannon wants to be involved and make sure the players are learning and are being given the chance to be successful, not expecting them to do the work on their own.
It is a nice departure. We will see if the corny stuff works or wears thin, but for now things are changing and it is part of a complete culture change within the building.
We will see if it works.
4) Many Washington fans, myself included, were surprised to see Isaiah Simmons traded to the Giants for almost nothing. Coming out of college, Simmons looked like he could be a very special player. What went wrong for Simmons in Arizona? Do you think he can re-establish his career?
I mean, he is a very good athlete. Not sure about the football part yet.
Here was the problem and something I talked about on the podcast as they were looking at drafting him and then after they drafted him.
It took him three years to start to really make an impact at Clemson and he was playing all over the place, he wasn’t playing a singular position.
So, how would that translate to the NFL where playing one position is hard, playing multiple positions is nearly impossible if you are not a football savant.
They tried him at an inside linebacker in the 3-4, and it was clear he had no idea what he was looking at.
So, they moved him around and he was just not quite good enough.
They wanted him to play safety this year and concentrate on one position, but it was going to be hard for him to get on the field at that position with Budda Baker and Jalen Thompson and if you read above about the culture change in the building, and understand that he blames all his short-comings on the previous regime (which was at least 50% true).
Accountability is a huge part of what this regime wants. He also was not in their long-term plans, so here we are.
I hope for Simmons sake this works out.
5) What are you expecting the final score of the game to be this week? DraftKings Sportsbook has the over/under set at 38. How many points do you expect to be scored overall?
I think the Commanders take this one, but I don’t think it is outrageous. The line is still seven as of Thursday afternoon, I think it is a cover and the under for the Commanders.
Commanders 24 - Cardinals 10
Thanks again to Seth for taking time out of his day to answer our questions about the Cardinals.
As of right now, Vegas has Washington as 7 point favorites over Atlanta. How would you bet?
This poll is closed
Washington wins by 8 or more points.
Washington wins by 7 or less points, or ties.
As of now, Vegas has the over/under for this game at 38 points. Which would you bet?
This poll is closed
39 or more points are scored.
38 or fewer points are scored.