The Drive with Jody Oehler

The Drive with Jody Oehler

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Jody Oehler: This Is the Cardinals Biggest Offseason Priority

There's no denying the Arizona Cardinals enter the 2020 offseason with a much different vibe than the last two years.

After successfully navigating a tough December finish, making clear and obvious improvements offensively and leveling out defensively, the Arizona Cardinals feel distinctly like a team on the rise.

But in the NFL, improving from one year to the next isn't enough to sit back and feel comfortable. You have to constantly evaluate and re-evaluate every portion of your roster trying to get better any way you can.

The last time the Cardinals entered an offseason with this much optimism, they were coming off an NFC Championship appearance that saw them get annihilated by the Carolina Panthers. Instead of taking the NFC Championship game as a sign they still needed to get better, the Cardinals got complacent.

They operated with an organizational arrogance that felt more like they had won multiple championships and less like a team that just had their doors blown off in front of the football world.

They went into the 2016 season with a third round CB starting, rookie special teamers at LS and K, failed to upgrade at important positions on the offensive line and watched their season end the same night it began in Week 1.

The Cardinals need to learn from that experience and pour resources into their offensive line this offseason.

A narrative is emerging that the Cardinals offensive line was good this past season. Organizational arrogance would be placing way too much value on an improved offensive line as a finished product.

Sure, the offensive line was better this season than last year. Historically injury prone linemen DJ Humphries, Justin Pugh and AQ Shipley all started 16 games. The rushing offense was one of the ten best in the NFL. And Offensive Line coach Sean Kugler undoubtedly was a coaching upgrade.

And they weren't close to being good enough.

Kyler Murray was sacked more times than any NFL QB. Fourth quarter drives broke down when teams consistently collapsed the pocket rushing only three or four. And when the Cardinals needed to rely on their offensive line, they couldn't. This offensive line did not pass the stress tests good teams consistently pass.

If the Cardinals want to repeat past mistakes, they'll feel satisfied with the offensive line and make minor additions. They'll confuse progress with a finished product.

If they want to actually get better, they'll try and upgrade anywhere they can along the line via free agency and the draft.

If the Cardinals can avoid organizational arrogance and build their lines, they have a shot to be one of the NFL's most exciting teams as early as next season.

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