The Arizona Cardinals notched up their first win of the season. What went right, what went wrong and what went HORRIBLY wrong?
Let’s find out:
The Good: Run For The Hills
The Cardinals run game exploded on Sunday, with 38 carries for 266 total yards on the ground. What’s most impressive? None of their rushers exceeded 100 total yards on the ground.
The @AZCardinals had 266 rushing yards today -- the 3rd-most they've had in a game since relocating to Arizona in 1988. They had 268 vs. STL on 11/27/11 and 267 vs. NO on 9/22/96. Those games each featured a 200-yard rusher (Beanie Wells, LeShon Johnson).— Vince Marotta (@Vincemarotta) October 6, 2019
Cards had 3 players w 60+ rushing yards: Kyler Murray (10-93), David Johnson (17-91), Chase Edmonds 8-68).— Mark Dalton (@CardsMarkD) October 6, 2019
Last time that happened: 10/19/75 vs Eagles w Jim Otis (116 ), Terry Metcalf (81)
Steve Jones (64)
Kingsbury’s offense had more rushing than passing yards, and perhaps that’s okay. It shows that his scheme is more than just a Mike Leach one-dimensional style air raid and he was able to manufacture a very effective offensive attack on Sunday making use of the talent of his quarterback, his franchise RB (through the air as well) and the newcomer and maybe newest RB1 on the team in Chase Edmonds
The Bad: Late Scare on Defense
The Cardinals surrendered a 14-point lead in the 4th quarter on Bengals drives to tie the game at 23, rather than putting the game away.
The team also forced no turnovers (unless you want to count a turnover on downs) and had only 1 sack of Andy Dalton on the day. Dalton recovered his own fumble and really there doesn’t seem to be any other way for Arizona to get turnovers as they still don’t have an interception on the year.
The team also got lucky once or twice, with Dalton missing an open touchdown to Tyler Eifert and a bizarre 4th and 1 play call that should have been an automatic QB sneak for a first down to keep a promising drive on the move. In the end, they gave up 23 points to a team that had only scored 3 on the Steelers with all their issues the week before.
The Ugly: Redzone Rears its Ugly Head...Again
The Cardinals were 1/6 in the red zone technically, although their final drive they were likely never intending to score 7 (despite what Kyler Murray said postgame about wanting to score on his game-clinching run).
That sort of inefficiency is why it was ever a close game at all.
If the Cardinals score TWO times more from that point rather than just once, you add 14 points onto the board and suddenly....they put up 35+ points on the Bengals and it’s not even a close game. Those points would be far more indicative of the over 500 yards of offense that were in the game rather than a measly 23 points up until seconds remained in the game.
Will the points come? You’d think so.
Cards fans appear to have forgotten how terrible Arians was in the redzone his first 6 games/season...— Spookimus (@Coximus2) October 6, 2019
Kliff is a rookie NFL coach
Kyler a rookie QB
The execution will come as they get a feel for it
That said, it’s impossible not to notice some of the criticisms of Kingsbury’s decision-making early on in the process. Especially in a sequence just before the half:
Arizona has the ball first and goal at the 3 with 14 seconds and no timeouts and Kingsbury calls ... a WR screen? They tackled Fitzgerald at the one and Arizona had to spike it and kicked the FG. Cardinals should have gotten 2-3 shots at the end zone; instead they got one— Chris B. Brown (@smartfootball) October 6, 2019
100% true. Arizona throws that ball to the endzone and if it’s knocked down, only a few seconds come off the clock and there’s 2 downs to go.
And while Kliff Kingsbury took the blame at halftime for the call, it’s definitely starting to wear on fans in how difficult the adapting has been for the team and his scheme to the NFL level when it comes to putting actual points on the board versus simply field goals.
Until it’s fixed, it’s definitely a criticism as the team’s only seen success in that range when Murray himself is running it, like they’ve done the past two weeks. And the long touchdown by Chase Edmonds was outside the redzone.
Even so, the team has had issues with their deep threat game as well and whether that’s personnel or other issues, the deep passing plays to Larry Fitzgerald have disappeared and Christian Kirk being out was only replaced with one big pass to Pharoh Cooper and a few long pass plays to....the running back?
I guess Kliff is learning and adapting but it’s definitely a concern until true production is found in the red zone.
Cause until then, every game will either be close or come-from-behind.
You can follow @blakemurphy7 on Twitter.