ARIZONA CARDINALS

NFL.com’s Rank: Arizona Cardinals must ‘show progress’ for 2024 to be a success

May 31, 2024, 4:25 PM

The Arizona Cardinals went to work this offseason rebuilding the roster through the 2024 NFL Draft and free agency, leading to higher expectations.

Some have Arizona doubling its win total, others have the Cardinals earning a playoff berth. But in NFL.com analyst Adam Rank’s eyes, the Cardinals simply need to show progress in Year 2 under head coach Jonathan Gannon for 2024 to be considered successful.

I’ve seen some buzz about the Cardinals being a sleeper team this year. I’m not saying that’s out of the question, but the schedule looks like it could be tougher than you might think (teams like the Commanders and Jets might be much better than their 2023 record would suggest). Seeing Kyler Murray and Marvin Harrison Jr. creating positive memories with an improved defense should be a realistic goal for this team.

On both sides of the football, there have been noticeable upgrades. Offensively, Arizona rounded out its wide receivers room in a big way with the addition of Harrison, who Rank lists as the team’s most important non-QB, through the draft.

Its late free-agent signing of Zay Jones could end up being a sneaky addition, too.

Away from the field, Murray is showing signs of maturing leadership and gets a full offseason with the new regime fully healthy.

He’s also coming off a promising sample size in the new-look offense, completing 65.7% of his throws for 1,799 yards and 10 touchdowns to five interceptions. He was a big factor in three of Arizona’s four wins on the year.

They scored six more points per game with Murray at quarterback. As luck would have it, the scoring unit measurement for a touchdown is (wait for it) six points. That’s significant. Murray also saw improvements in completion percentage (71.7%) and passer rating (108.3) over the final three games of the season. And with Marvin Harrison Jr. along for the ride, Murray is going to be given every chance to succeed for the Cardinals. One place I’d like to see him do better — the deep ball. He’s regressed in that area in recent years. The Cardinals do not have a player on the roster who has caught a touchdown pass of 20-plus air yards from Murray.

The Cardinals also made it a priority to improve the defensive line with the signings of Justin Jones and Bilal Nichols on top of the adding Darius Robinson in the first round of the draft.

Cornerback has also taken a step forward from a talent standpoint after the Cardinals brought in veteran Sean Murphy-Bunting and a trio of rookies led by second-rounder Max Melton.

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