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A Hard Way To End, And Rams Aftermath

It was hard not to notice that Kyler Murray, along with saying the Cardinals' failure to make the postseason this year when it looked good at 6-3 at one point was because they are a group that is learning to win, said there were other things he didn't want to get into at the moment.

I would guess they could be things he'd never really want to get into publicly. Without knowing what they are, perhaps we have also reached the point two years into his career where Murray will feel strong enough to make his voice heard. Of course it would've helped Sunday if Murray hadn't been injured, which took things south. Would it have guaranteed the Cardinals would have won and made the playoffs? No. But it became clear quickly Chris Streveler, basically as inexperienced as Rams counterpart John Wolford but without the week of practice prep, wasn't going to be able to make it work.

So we go into the offseason of this unusual year (and personally I am praying that by the time we get to training camp next year, COVID protocols are a thing of the past.) The Cardinals have a ton of free agents, many of them key guys (I will have my annual look at the roster this week). They have to figure out what they want to change with this offense, which bogged down too much in the second half of the season. The self-reflection will be important.

I thought this team would win eight or nine games. They did. I did think they were going to find a way into the playoffs after that start, however. They did not do that.

-- The Cardinals will be drafting 16th in the first round. Right smack in the middle. Positions I would speculate could be a target: OL, CB, edge rusher, WR. Long way to go before that, however.

-- There was a brief stir caused on social media after the game but I feel confident in saying that Larry Fitzgerald has not yet made a decision about his future. It just doesn't seem right that this is the way it would end for Fitzgerald, a home game with hardly any fans, and then a final game where he's not even dressed because of a groin injury. I personally would like to see him return. We'll see what happens.

-- Missing Fitz and Christian Kirk I think would've made a big difference in the offense, but it was hard to tell with the Murray injury. Chase Edmonds didn't play a ton either, but again, everything was skewed with a backup at QB.

-- Kenyan Drake needed 81 yards to get to 1,000. He only had 36 as the Cards were unable to sustain much offense. And 11 of those came on the first play of the game. It was all so promising at that point.

-- A partial list of the players who could have potentially played their last game in Arizona as they go into free agency: Fitz, Drake, Patrick Peterson, Haason Reddick, Kelvin Beachum, Corey Peters, Dan Arnold, Markus Golden.

-- Speaking of Golden, he spoke postgame, and after being asked the first question, he instead took a moment to emotionally thank the entire organization "for allowing me to come back and play for the Arizona Cardinals." I don't know what his market will be or what the Cards will want to do there, but I'd hazard a guess Golden very much wants to stay.

-- With their big stop – nice forced fumble, Isaiah Simmons – on the goal line, the defense held up a good chunk of the game. Yes, they were going against a backup QB, but of that halftime 12-7 deficit, only three points were scored with the defense on the field. There are pieces they need, on the defensive line perhaps, a cornerback or two depending on what happens with Patrick Peterson. But those are conversations for the weeks ahead. I think for the most part, Vance Joseph made strides with the personnel he had, especially after injuries hit.

-- It began so much like a good story, with the CFL guy throwing the TD pass to the undrafted rookie running back Jonathan Ward. Running back is another intriguing offseason storyline. Does Drake leave? What happens with Eno Benjamin and/or Ward. And what role do the Cards see Chase Edmonds in if Drake isn't around?

That's enough for tonight. The analysis will come plenty soon.

Kliff for aftermath