Roundtable: What’s a successful Arizona Cardinals season in 2022?
There is star talent on this Arizona Cardinals team, for sure. Depth could be an issue, as could too few upgrades on the defensive side of the ball.
A lot in 2022 depends on the Cardinals improving internally, be it quarterback Kyler Murray, coach Kliff Kingsbury or young first-round picks Isaiah Simmons and Zaven Collins.
So before Arizona embarks on the season with a Week 1 game against the Kansas City Chiefs, we asked our Arizona Sports hosts, editors and reporters two questions about this year’s team. First up in this roundtable:
What would you consider a successful season for the Cardinals, and do you think they’ll achieve it?
Dan Bickley, co-host of Bickley & Marotta: To be deemed a success, the Cardinals need to make the playoffs. They don’t need to win a playoff game, but a competent playoff performance is essential. They get there on the back of Kyler Murray.
Vince Marotta, co-host of Bickley & Marotta: Coming off an 11-win season during which the Cardinals had several weird or painful losses (Green Bay, Carolina, Detroit, Seattle), anything less than a return to the playoffs would be a step back and a disappointment. Actually, check that: A return postseason engagement ending in another embarrassing loss that sticks with the fan base for nine months would not be a success. Make the playoffs and show up … who knows? Maybe win a game or two?
Heading into the season, there are so many questions surrounding the personnel of this team, I don’t think they’ll reach that standard despite the NFC as a whole seeming less daunting than last season heading into Week 1.
Ron Wolfley, co-host of Wolf & Luke: A playoff win will suffice. They have improved every year under Kliff Kingsbury; they have made the playoffs. The only event that will continue the momentum of the organization is a playoff appearance in which they play well … and win.
Luke Lapinski, co-host of Wolf & Luke: Improvement and success are two different things. They could improve on last year by winning another regular season game, or even just finishing stronger in December. That’s not really success at this point though. The bar has been raised and I think the only way we — and they, for that matter — are going to consider this a success is if they win at least one playoff game. It’s year four for Kyler and Kliff, and they just got massive extensions.
We can’t call this an experiment anymore. They’re all in. And when you’re in win-now mode with a franchise quarterback and a young coach you’ve committed to for years and years (and more years), it’s time to start making an impact in the playoffs. The NFC has some good teams, but it’s not on the level of the AFC at the moment, so the opportunity is there.
Then again, after seeing the first injury report of the season, maybe “success” is simply finding a way to field a full lineup against the Chiefs in Week 1.
Dave Burns, co-host of Burns & Gambo: A successful season can only be measured by growth and improvement over the season before. And for that to happen the Cardinals must win a playoff game. It has only happened one season since Kurt Warner retired, and it’s long overdue. Unfortunately for the Cards, I don’t think it will happen. Too many questions and holes on defense. Too much uncertainty about how they’ll finish.
John Gambadoro, co-host of Burns & Gambo: With a brutal schedule and some obvious weaknesses on that defense at edge rusher and cornerback, I would say a successful season is gaining a Wild Card spot and going back to the playoffs for the second consecutive season. I think the ceiling for Arizona is 10 wins, but the floor is seven. The NFC is not nearly as good as the AFC, so a playoff berth may be had with a 9-8 record.
Tyler Drake, ArizonaSports.com Cardinals reporter and co-host of the Cardinals Corner podcast: The Cardinals cracked the postseason for the first time in years in 2021, dismal showing or not. They have to not only return to the playoffs for a second straight year, but they must also look like they belong with the league’s best. They cannot lay another egg like they did in the NFC Wild Card game against the Los Angeles Rams.
Erik Ruby, Arizona Sports contributor and co-host of the Cardinals Corner podcast: A successful season is not one that has a certain number of wins or requires Arizona to make the playoffs. A successful season is one in which this team shows growth. Win games at home, win games in the back half of the season and start the playoffs strong. If the Cardinals do just some of that, then the season could be considered a success.
Kellan Olson, ArizonaSports.com editor: Finishing above .500. It’s a brutal schedule and I think there are far too many “if’s” across the board to have confidence in this team making noise in the playoffs. A breakdown of those qualifiers:
If Hollywood Brown is a seamless fit and if a healthy Zach Allen is a difference-maker and if replacing Chandler Jones isn’t an issue and if Isaiah Simmons has a breakout season and if Zaven Collins and Nick Vigil are solid and if Byron Murphy Jr. plays like he did in the first half of last year and if Marco Wilson can improve and if Trayvon Mullen Jr. is a competent NFL cornerback. That’s a lot, so I’m going to say no.
Jake Anderson, ArizonaSports.com editor: Anything short of a playoff berth for the Cardinals in 2022 should be considered a failure, especially after flaming out last season. That being said, I think getting to the divisional round would be gravy. But given where the team is heading into Week 1 and Kingsbury’s history in the second half of seasons, a competitive playoff game should be both expected and achievable.
Kevin Zimmerman, ArizonaSports.com lead editor: Simply earning a playoff berth would be a success for a team that’s in the top-third of toughest schedules, according to Sharp Football Analysis. Beyond how far Arizona goes once there, it’s important to see how this thing looks with Murray locked into a contract. If he takes another step forward, Kingsbury doesn’t end the year on the hot seat and Vance Joseph remains a head-coaching candidate, it’ll be hard to complain.
My expectations are relatively low, but I still think the Cardinals can check all those boxes. The offensive talent among the first-stringers is too good for Kingsbury to fail even when injuries hit, and Joseph always figures out how to get the most out of his personnel. As far as winning in the postseason, I’m not sure.