Football Outsiders Almanac 2021 Arizona Cardinals

Arizona Cardinals

Kyler Murray and Kliff Kingsbury Have Something to Prove in 2021

 

Football Outsiders Almanac 2021 Arizona Cardinals

 

They say the sun sets quickly out west. That was certainly true for the Arizona Cardinals last year. A season that once looked bright and full of promise quickly turned as dark as midnight in the Sonoran Desert, leaving the team, its coach, and its quarterback suddenly facing an uncertain future. The Cardinals' miracle win over the Bills in November moved them into a tie for the division lead, but seven weeks later they had fallen out of the playoff field entirely as their offense disintegrated late in the year. That collapse did more than torpedo Arizona's playoff hopes in 2020—it raised the stakes for everyone involved heading into 2021.

After this season, the Cardinals will need to make a decision on Kyler Murray's fifth-year option, adding another year to his contract at a value of $20 million or more. They may also face a difficult choice concerning head coach Kliff Kingsbury—coaches who fail to make the playoffs in any of their first three seasons rarely get there in later years either. If this regime is going to last, Murray will have to prove that he is more than just a scrambler with a big arm, that he can develop the touch and process to deliver in obvious passing situations. And Kingsbury must show that his offense can work at the pro level, because in the final third of last season it looked decidedly minor league.