The Drive with Jody Oehler

The Drive with Jody Oehler

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Playoff Lessons Learned For the Arizona Cardinals

Head coaching interviews are intensifying, mock drafts are being churned and the NFL offseason looms large for the Arizona Cardinals. Let's hope the new front office isn't too busy to actually watch football.

This year's postseason has had a few important reminders for NFL teams on the outside looking in and if they are paying close enough attention, lessons to be learned so that next time they are on the inside looking out.

What are those lessons? I think we've re-learned three valuables lessons that the Arizona Cardinals can take from this year's postseason.

Lesson 1: Don't Get Dak'ed.

  • Dak Prescott is a good NFL QB. He's fine. But you can't let your franchise get deceived into believing he's something more than he actually is. This usually happens when a home grown QB is lavished with a major contract. Now that feel good success story becomes a championship or bust player and often times, that's just not the caliber player they are. Dak Prescott is currently getting roasted by most of the Cowboys fan base and half of the NFL media world. His crime is being Dak Prescott. He's a good but not great QB that needs a lot of help and some good luck to win games deep into the playoffs. Instead of recognizing this, the Cowboys confused him for a great QB, traded away one of his top WR targets, never replaced said WR and watched as Dak failed to elevate the team around him. That's not Dak's fault, that's just who he is. If you want to win in the NFL, you have to maintain a firm grasp on reality and objectivity. The Cowboys did neither and now serve as a valuable lesson to the Cardinals. After four years, Kyler Murray has not had a Burrow or Mahomes-esque impact on the franchise. He's not a QB that the franchise should feel can single handedly deliver consistent championship runs. He needs help. He needs help with personnel on the field and coaching off it. The Cardinals can't cut corners on offense thinking that Kyler has it taken care of; they need to double down on adding pieces that make him better or they'll go bust.

Lesson 2: Hire a Coach Who Understands Game Management

  • After watching another round of NFL head coaches botch basic game and clock management situations in the biggest moment of their team's season, you have to wonder: What are team's doing in their HC interviews? Why isn't like 75% of a head coach interview based on a prospective coaches clock and game management knowledge. I know there's no simulating the real thing but its mind boggling how many teams blow basic game management. If I were the Cardinals or any other NFL team currently hiring a HC, I'd hire the candidate that best demonstrates an understanding of when to call timeouts, when not to call timeouts and how to use the clock to a team's advantage. I'd forget about their ability to conjure up motivational slogans or who their coordinators would be and just hire a dude that understands when to call an appropriate timeout.

Lesson 3: Build. The. Lines

  • I've written about this, I've ranted about this and I've tweeted about this. The Cardinals need to build their lines. Steve Keim mistakenly took that for Build the Line-backers. Never once did Keim accept the dirty work of building his team from the inside out. Sure, its the least sexy way to win the draft and the offseason but its also the most effective. Watching the Eagles and 49ers ascend to this level can be attributed to exceptional offensive game plans and creative in game play calling - all made possible because of their capital investments into the offensive lines. Both teams are terrorizing opposing quarterbacks on defense and have defensive coordinators that are amongst the most likely to be hired as head coaches - because their front office made significant and reoccurring investments into their defensive lines. Build the lines. Its really that simple.

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