3 Concerns the Cards Have About the Upcoming Season

Harry

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How easily will Murray integrate new receivers?

Previously Murray has displayed a predilection for throwing almost exclusively to familiar targets. McBride, for example, had a breakout season last year, but could have emerged a year sooner if targeted more. Some may recall I got some grief for naming in preseason, McBride as my offensive breakout player his rookie year. Murray has to be used some in preseason to get a better sense of ball placement with the new WRs. If he doesn’t play at least a quarter, I’d say the Cards are not serious about a 2024 playoff run.

Where does the QB pressure come from?

Is Ojulari ready to take a big step forward? He came to camp last season injured. There is no substitute for the experienced acquired going through a full camp. He’s had time to better develop his body. He needed to add more power to his game. His brother has developed nicely and legacy players tend to develop better than non-legacy guys. In their rookie year players often lack an accurate sense of what they are up against. The best competitors use that gap as motivation to step up their game in year two. Ojulari showed enough flashes to indicate the talent may be there. There’s a reasonable chance he could move his game to another level. I labeled him a developmental project when he was chosen. I like his chances.

Was Xavier Thomas undervalued by the scouts? Coming out of high school he was one of the most sought out players in the country. Several talent evaluators had this guy as a 2024 draft sleeper and a few had him higher on their board. Many of us felt his production at Clemson would have been more impressive had he not suffered from nagging injuries. Hopefully Cardinals can get him in better condition. He has an elite first step coupled with a wide variety of moves. Some of them lack polish, which should be correctable as he’s a willing student. He has an exceptional motor and always plays to the whistle. He has excellent agility and bend. I expect him to typically start on passing downs as he is weak against the run at this point. Don’t be surprised if they move Robinson inside on passing downs and let Thomas come in from the outside. He is both fast and quick. Against all but the best tackles, he could be immediately effective. The more tape I watched on him the more I liked him.

Coupled with the other rushers I expect the 2024 pass rush to be average. I do think the Cards may yet sign a veteran rusher as a mentor.

Finally what will the O-line look like?

It was a focus in free agency & the draft. BTW the interest in Humphries post injury is real. If his price is realistic don’t be shocked by a return to the desert. Humphries comfort zone is limited and he’d prefer to go to a place he knows. The coaching staff sincerely likes him, but they won’t pay top dollar unless an injury forces the Cards to add a lineman. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them flip the tackles in preseason to see which alignment is most productive. Center and RG starters will remain unchanged. The real action will be at LG. I do not like Wilkinson. If he’s the starter, the offseason was a partial failure. At least 6 guys figure to see some action at LG. I think Adams and Colon are the favorites. They want guards who can pull and hit their target on the run. I think Gaines and Hayes will fall by the wayside.
 

bankybruce

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The Kyler/WR/TE/RB dynamic is going to be interesting to watch. Teams will be focused on McBride and Harrison, so Jones/Wilson/Dortch will need to step up quickly. The one saving grace is that McBride/Wilson/Dortch had had time with Kyler and if Harrison is as good as advertised, we get click fast, especially with the safety valve in Conner back there. I have high hope early here, but could see some early struggles too.

QB pressure on defense is the biggest glaring weakness for sure. We need to bring in someone bad!

40% of the OL will he new this year after 60% was last year. Will be interesting to watch the left side early on.
 

az jam

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Starters not playing in preseason games is a league wide problem as very few do it especially now that they have gone to just 3 preseason games. It's a problem from the fan perspective as season ticket holders have to pay for watching backups play and in many cases the third and fourth string qbs. I doubt if Kyler will play and maybe not even Harrison.
 

kerouac9

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Complaining about starters not getting 30-45 preseason game snaps is about as “old man yells at cloud” as it gets. Those are not meaningful, but Kyler and the WR group have to take advantage of every training camp rep.
 

Proximo

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I'm not worried about the OL at all, weirdly enough. KM...yeah, he's a concern overall. This is truly the last make-or-break year for him. As for the QB pressure...yeesh!
I'm actually not worried at all about Kyler, I was last year, but his last 8 games convinced me he is going to be good under this system.

I think the OL should be fine, it should be at least as good as last year which was good enough.

I'm not that worried about QB pressure either, while we obviously won't be great we are talking about 1 sack a game difference between the best pass rushing team and a bad one. I am more concerned about our run defense and corner play.
 

gmabel830

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I know you can say this about every team every year, but the #1 concern is if we are going to be able to keep our players healthy. I don’t recall any time in my fandom more than last year where I saw a guy on the field and thought “who the hell is that guy?!”
 

az jam

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Complaining about starters not getting 30-45 preseason game snaps is about as “old man yells at cloud” as it gets. Those are not meaningful, but Kyler and the WR group have to take advantage of every training camp rep.
I agree and I am one of the complainers and am an old fart yelling at the clouds. Looking at the bright side, at least your starters won't get hurt in meaningless preseason games.
 

Krangodnzr

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How easily will Murray integrate new receivers?

Previously Murray has displayed a predilection for throwing almost exclusively to familiar targets. McBride, for example, had a breakout season last year, but could have emerged a year sooner if targeted more. Some may recall I got some grief for naming in preseason, McBride as my offensive breakout player his rookie year. Murray has to be used some in preseason to get a better sense of ball placement with the new WRs. If he doesn’t play at least a quarter, I’d say the Cards are not serious about a 2024 playoff run.
Disagree on PS game reps. Murray has played in a billion games now. The biggest thing we need to see is Murray get a lot of training camp reps, because we know Harrison and Murray will work on the side.
Where does the QB pressure come from?

Is Ojulari ready to take a big step forward? He came to camp last season injured. There is no substitute for the experienced acquired going through a full camp. He’s had time to better develop his body. He needed to add more power to his game. His brother has developed nicely and legacy players tend to develop better than non-legacy guys. In their rookie year players often lack an accurate sense of what they are up against. The best competitors use that gap as motivation to step up their game in year two. Ojulari showed enough flashes to indicate the talent may be there. There’s a reasonable chance he could move his game to another level. I labeled him a developmental project when he was chosen. I like his chances.
I think Ojulari has to take a big step for the pass rush to get better. It's a real iffy proposition and is the only major concern I have with this team.

Ojulari definitely has the talent to be a player, but as we've seen over the many years most of us have watched, talent isn't everything.
Was Xavier Thomas undervalued by the scouts? Coming out of high school he was one of the most sought out players in the country. Several talent evaluators had this guy as a 2024 draft sleeper and a few had him higher on their board. Many of us felt his production at Clemson would have been more impressive had he not suffered from nagging injuries. Hopefully Cardinals can get him in better condition. He has an elite first step coupled with a wide variety of moves. Some of them lack polish, which should be correctable as he’s a willing student. He has an exceptional motor and always plays to the whistle. He has excellent agility and bend. I expect him to typically start on passing downs as he is weak against the run at this point. Don’t be surprised if they move Robinson inside on passing downs and let Thomas come in from the outside. He is both fast and quick. Against all but the best tackles, he could be immediately effective. The more tape I watched on him the more I liked him.

Coupled with the other rushers I expect the 2024 pass rush to be average. I do think the Cards may yet sign a veteran rusher as a mentor.
Agree on Thomas. I tend to hone in on players that are really productive but when you watch Thomas, you see why the Cardinals are interested. He could very well be that guy who is almost ready to turn the corner production wise.

When I've watched the limited film I've seen, he has a super quick first step and he does have some pass rush moves. One of the things I noticed about this edge class is that there wasn't really many quick twitch rushers, and Thomas is one of the few twitchy guys
Finally what will the O-line look like?

It was a focus in free agency & the draft. BTW the interest in Humphries post injury is real. If his price is realistic don’t be shocked by a return to the desert. Humphries comfort zone is limited and he’d prefer to go to a place he knows. The coaching staff sincerely likes him, but they won’t pay top dollar unless an injury forces the Cards to add a lineman. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them flip the tackles in preseason to see which alignment is most productive. Center and RG starters will remain unchanged. The real action will be at LG. I do not like Wilkinson. If he’s the starter, the offseason was a partial failure. At least 6 guys figure to see some action at LG. I think Adams and Colon are the favorites. They want guards who can pull and hit their target on the run. I think Gaines and Hayes will fall by the wayside.
The numbers say that Wilkerson (and what I say on the field) played a lot better over the last six games of the season. He was a mini-disaster early in the year, so not a guy we want to see the Cardinals rely on.

What I am happy about is that there are a plethora of legitimate candidates for the LG position to include draft picks from back-to-back drafts. This is the right way to address a hole on your roster and I'm excited about watching what will unfold.

The Cardinals can surprise if the defense is markedly better. That means some young guys will have to step up, but it isn't out of the realm of possibilities.
 

kerouac9

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Is Xavier Thomas 25 years old? I'm not gonna sweat it because it's a fifth round pick in a shallow draft, but if you can't big-man people who are five years younger than you in college...
 

GeorgiaCard88

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Our lack of a pass rusher is the one area in my mind that separates us from being a middle of the pack kind of team this year to a playoff bound team. We try to overcome the lack of stardom with a solid rotation of guys who are “fresh” but it’s still a weak point.

Kyler is making the big $$$ now- as a veteran QB, it’s his job to make this talented but very young group of WRs into something. Part of that is on the oline which i think will be better than advertised, but a lot of it rest on his shoulders for sure. No more excuses from Kyler this year, if this offense continues to sputter, it’s time to call it what it is and move on
 

football karma

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The lack of run-D mentioned here is concerning. How isn’t that not #1 to you guys?
i agree with this -- Especially in a division where the other teams entire offensive approach is predicated on running the football
 
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