ARIZONA CARDINALS

State of the NFL should give Arizona Cardinals fans hope for 2024

Jan 22, 2024, 2:54 PM | Updated: 4:10 pm

Dan campbell and Sam LaPorta, Detroit Lions...

Head coach Dan Campbell of the Detroit Lions reacts with Sam LaPorta #87 during the second quarter against the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC Wild Card Playoffs at Ford Field on January 14, 2024 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Football is America’s campfire. The sport dominates our culture and our civic mood. Cities are profoundly impacted by the result of a single playoff game.

Today, Detroit feels liberated. Buffalo feels cursed. Kansas City wonders when its beloved Chiefs became villains who must be stopped.

Fans in Green Bay can’t believe their good fortune. In 1992, they rolled out a franchise quarterback in Brett Favre, whom they replaced with Aaron Rodgers, whom they replaced with Jordan Love. The Packers might flourish for over four decades without the torment of a mediocre quarterback.

Texas is currently a house divided. The Cowboys coughed up another postseason hairball while the Texans claimed bragging rights with the best quarterback/head coach combination in the state, even though DeMeco Ryans and C.J. Stroud were both rookies.

Here in the Valley, Cardinals fans should feel more hopeful with each passing week.

The Cardinals won only four games in 2023. But they exceeded expectations in a great majority of their losses. They should more than double their win total next season.

The Cardinals currently possess the 4th and 27th overall picks in the NFL draft. General manager Monti Ossenfort has enough draft capital to splurge on a wide receiver like Marvin Harrison Jr. at the top of the draft and still fill glaring needs at edge rusher, cornerback, defensive line and offensive line.

In 2023, the Cardinals established a physical persona. They exceeded 200 rushing yards in three of their final four games. They bloodied the Steelers and the Eagles on the road in winter. They have a rising star at tight end and the perfect complement of running backs. With an elite No. 1 receiver, the Cardinals officially become a problem and immediately become a top 10 offense.

The Cardinals also succeeded in laying down a real foundation built on professionalism and toughness. Their roster was inferior and seriously underfunded in many areas, especially on defense. But the Cardinals fielded very few players who would feel like underdogs in a fistfight, and those who do will be gone by the start of next season.

The Cardinals enter next season with stability in football operations. It appears the Cardinals picked the right leader in Jonathan Gannon, just as the Lions did with Dan Campbell. Leadership is everything in a sport as demanding as football, and only real leaders can build culture in 13-loss seasons.

The Cardinals enter next season in a shifting NFC West. Pete Carroll is no longer running the show in Seattle; Matthew Stafford is 35, and likely has one more year in Los Angeles; and at the moment, we’re still not entirely sure what the 49ers have with Brock Purdy.

Finally, the complete list of NFC playoff quarterbacks: Stafford, Purdy, Love, Jared Goff, Jalen Hurts, Dak Prescott and Baker Mayfield. Not exactly a Murderer’s Row. And proof the Cardinals have more than enough quarterback to make the playoffs next season.

We demand nothing less.

Reach Bickley at dbickley@arizonasports.com. Listen to Bickley & Marotta weekdays from 6 – 10 a.m. on Arizona Sports.

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