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3 Areas the Arizona Cardinals MUST show improvement in against the Kansas City Chiefs

What do the US Marines and the Arizona Cardinals have in common? More than you might think...

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Arizona Cardinals Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

There’s a statement and motto by the U.S. Marines that perfectly describes what fans need to see from the Arizona Cardinals come Sunday morning.

No, it’s not “Semper Fi” but rather a slogan to deal with any mental, spiritual or physical difficulty they might encounter.

“Improvise. Adapt. Overcome.”

It’s also, perhaps unsurprisingly, been turned into a meme abut Bear Grylls, the famous TV survival artist...

So how do these areas relate to the Cardinals? Let’s go through each.

#1: Improvise

Josh Rosen, so far, has been a decent quarterback in structure. When out of structure, he’s still made some great plays, either check downs to David Johnson, sprinting or making something out of nothing.

He’ll have to further develop his ability to create when plays break down rather than take a sack or play hero ball, as things will never be perfect at an NFL level. On the other side of the ball, Patrick Mahomes has made a living off of improvising and making plays outside the pocket in the NFL this year, buying time until routes clear out even if his line isn’t protecting him as well.

Rosen’s obviously not expected to be Mahomes (how many quarterbacks can?), but having his wits about him to extend plays or make calls and adjustments based on seeing the defense is definitely something to root for him to do.

The Cardinals will need to slow him down there while Rosen makes things happen to keep the Chiefs offense off the field.

Speaking of Mahomes...

#2: Adapt

Mike McCoy lost his job because of lack of communication and also not adapting to his players but forcing them into his scheme. Steve Wilks has also been criticized for forcing linebackers like Deone Bucannon and Haason Reddick into roles in his Carolina 4-3 defense or playing a 4-2-5 as he didn’t want to adapt to the strengths of the players versus his scheme.

He’s going to potentially have to do that even more if S Budda Baker doesn’t play on Sunday, despite him favoring playing that nickel as his base package. He’ll also have to continue to find a way to stop the run and to slow up his blitz-heavy package as that could get torn to shreds against a Chiefs offense that thrives on screens and aggressive calls.

If Wilks shows that he isn’t able to gameplan for an opponent like the Chiefs and we see some similar results of Andy Reid outcoaching him, it’ll be a concern for Cardinals fans.

Likewise, new OC Byron Leftwich will have to adapt to the strengths of David Johnson in a scheme that Mike McCoy left behind and bring his new philosophies and identities along for the team despite the lack of an offseason to overhaul the playbook.

Adapt or die might be the mentality fans want to see a shift in, against Kansas City and for the rest of the season.

3. Overcome

The Cardinals are -16.5 underdogs in this game. Possibly the longest odds that they have had as a team since nearly a decade. They have a rookie quarterback, injuries on the offensive line and in the secondary, a new offensive coordinator, young mistake-prone wide receivers and are on the road in the hostile environment of Arrowhead Stadium.

That’s a lot.

...Maybe even too much.

But if the Arizona Cardinals are going to turn around their 2-6 record and the lasting image of a 40+ point blowout to the Denver Broncos on national television, they’re going to have to overcome some seemingly insurmountable obstacles if they want a chance to win this game.

Heck, that could apply for the rest of the season as well.

The turnaround seemed like it began for Arizona when they overcame a 12-point deficit behind the arm of Josh Rosen, the playcalling of Byron Leftwich, and a defense that shut down the Niners when it counted in the 4th quarter against San Francisco.

They overcame a LOT to get their crucial 2nd win of the season.


They have to continue to show that progress and take steps forward to overcoming obstacles, not steps back. Another similar blowout like the Denver game and fans will begin to question everything from the quarterback to the head coach to the GM to the owner.

And it won’t be pretty. A win isn’t maybe even the goal so much as making progress to overcome.

Because in the NFL, you aren’t able to win games and show progress but instead are overcome by those obstacles themselves?

Then you nor anyone else will be around for much when the cuts start coming...and they will come.

Let’s hope that’s not the case come Sunday.

You can follow @blakemurphy7 on Twitter.