The Final Consensus: Cardinals trickle down with season-ending loss in LA
A season full of intrigue and high hopes for the Arizona Cardinals under first-year head coach Kliff Kingsbury and Kyler Murray came to an end with a 31-24 loss to the Los Angeles Rams last Sunday. With that loss, the Cardinals hit the offseason with their second-straight double-digit loss season, finishing up 5-10-1.
The season featured the first three-game winning streak for Arizona since the 2015 season and a gritty road win in Seattle over a Seahawks team that came into the game as the top seed in the NFC Playoff picture.
The loss also knocked the Cardinals down just a hair in the final power rankings for the season.
Here’s a quick rundown of what some of the leading national rankings are saying about the Cardinals and where they stand after the 2019 regular season.
Note: Two outlets — Pro Football Talk and The Big Lead — which were tracked all season long, did not compile end-of-year power rankings.
High Ranking: 21 (USA Today, Bleacher Report)
Low Ranking: 26 (NFL.com)
End of Season Average Ranking: 23.3 (Down from 22.7 in Week 17)
This Week: 25
Comment: Most notable 2010s event: Hiring Bruce Arians, Jan. 17, 2013
After regressing back to their losing ways after closing out the 2000s with back-to-back winning seasons, including a trip to Super Bowl XLIII, the Cardinals hired Arians. He went on to lead Arizona to its best three-year stretch in franchise history — which included a 13-3 season and a run to the NFC Championship Game in 2015 — and became the first Cardinals coach to win 50 games in his first five seasons with the franchise. He changed the culture for a franchise that couldn’t win consistently.
This Week: 26
Comment: The Cardinals’ season ended with another loss, a 31-24 setback to the Rams that left Arizona’s final record at 5-10-1. That’s not much better than the 3-13 finish in Steve Wilks’ one-and-done run in the desert, but the Cardinals feel like they’re in a much more positive place than they were a year ago. That comes with stability. Kyler Murray had a successful rookie season and could be set for a big Year 2 leap. Kliff Kingsbury isn’t going anywhere, and on Monday, he announced that defensive coordinator Vance Joseph will also be back, despite Arizona’s struggles on that side of the ball. A big offseason priority will be giving Joseph more pieces to work with: The defense finished the year ranked last in yards allowed per game (402) and allowed at least 21 points in every week but one.
This Week: 23
Comment: So Kliff and Kyler did not revolutionize the game in their first season at the pro level, but the Cardinals saw some encouraging signs as the pairing heads into Year 2.
This Week: 21
Comment: “Air Raid” offense ranked 24th passing, no Arizona receiver averaging 55 yards per game. Only Redskins worse in time of possession.
This Week: 24
Comment: David Johnson was active and didn’t have one carry in Week 17. He has a $10.2 million salary in 2020 that is guaranteed, so the Cardinals are in a tricky spot. A trade has been speculated about, but it’s doubtful there would be a great market after the Cardinals effectively benched him for Kenyan Drake. He’s an interesting name to track.
This Week: 22
Comment: They did some really good things in Kliff Kingsbury’s first season. They have a future star in Kyler Murray.
This Week: 21
Comment: At first glance, a 5-10-1 season might not seem reason for much excitement.
But when you’re the Arizona Cardinals coming off the 3-13 nightmare that was the 2018 campaign, you learn quickly to take progress where you can get it.
For the Redbirds, much of that progress came courtesy of rookie quarterback Kyler Murray. Playing the season finale on a bad hamstring, Murray became just the sixth quarterback to pass for 3,500 yards and run for 500 yards in the same season. Only one other rookie accomplished the feat—Cam Newton in 2011.
NFL power rankings: Ravens, 49ers stay on top; Saints, Chiefs close gap; Bears, Falcons, Broncos rise to end 2019
This Week: 25
Comment: For many, the Cardinals exceeded expectations of what they could do right away with Kliff Kingsbury and Kyler Murray offensively, but the addition of Kenyan Drake made the running game the most reliable part of the team with the defense not doing much at all. They need to invest a lot on that side in the offseason.
This Week: 23
Comment: The Cardinals dropped out of our bottom five by Week 2, and stayed out for the rest of the year, even during a rough losing streak in November and early December. That the Cardinals reached their high point, here at No. 23, at the end of the regular season says a lot about what our panel thinks about the Cardinals’ future with Kyler Murray at quarterback.