Budda Baker: Cardinals were unprepared for 2022 due to poor training camp participation
Arizona Cardinals pro bowl safety Budda Baker told NFL.com at the Pro Bowl Games practice that he could tell his team was ill-prepared for the season after a Week 1, 23-point loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
The first game of the season ended up being an indication of the trajectory for both teams. The Cardinals ended the year with the No. 3 overall draft pick while the Chiefs are playing on Arizona’s home turf this weekend with the opportunity to win Super Bowl LVII.
“It started with the beginning of the season in training camp when we had a lot of injuries,” Baker said. “We didn’t really have a lot of players practicing and doing a lot during training camp, which then, of course, led to that kind of a (expletive)-show Week 1 versus the Kansas City Chiefs.”
The Cardinals would hover around .500 through the middle of the season before going on a seven-game losing streak to close things out.
Baker believes the lack of preparation in training camp led to the issues that snowballed into the regular season, culminating in a 4-13 record.
Through training camp, quarterback Kyler Murray missed time due to a positive COVID-19 test, wide receiver Marquise Brown was out with a hamstring issue and outside linebacker Markus Golden missed time with a toe injury while awaiting a contract extension.
The cornerback room was severely depleted with Antonio Hamilton missing time due to a cooking accident. Byron Murphy missed time with an illness, Trayvon Mullen had a toe injury and the death of then-newly-signed cornerback Jeff Gladney left major question marks on Baker’s flanks.
“You know in training camp it was definitely startling to not see a lot of the starters practicing and stuff like that.,” Baker said. “You know especially with the preseason games none of us played in the preseason, it’s kinda just going through training camp, which was not a lot of people, and then we get to Week 1, it showed who was prepared.”
Failures on multiple fronts led to the removal of both head coach Kliff Kingsbury and general manager Steve Keim, the later of whom was replaced with new GM Monti Ossenfort.
Baker’s next head coach has not been determined but the team has narrowed the options down to three candidates: Steelers senior assistant Brian Flores, Giants offensive coordinator Mike Kafka and Bengals defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo.
Baker missed the final two games of the regular season with a shoulder fracture in Week 16 and also played through a high ankle sprain that nearly kept him out of a Week 11 contest against San Francisco, which started the losing streak.
He returned to the field to participate in the Pro Bowl Games at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas where he snagged an interception for the winning NFC side.