The Cardinals finally won a blowout game after maybe over 2 years and they won it mainly because they stuck to the things that they do best. Here are some things the Cardinals need to do before the season ends to really show that they have matured.
1. Play Patrick Peterson against the elite or best outside receiver of the opposition IN MAN COVERAGE PLEASE
If there is one thing I saw on Sunday, it was whenever Patrick Peterson was lined up against Odell Beckham outside the defense just did not give up that many yards. Peterson is good along the corners of the field as he pushes receivers to the outside and does not easily get burned. Patrick Peterson in my opinion still might be the 3rd best outside corner in man to man situations in the NFL and the Cardinals should use that to their advantage. Zone Coverage has been tough as the Cardinals struggle in tackling and give up record yardage to anyone after the catch. If Vance Joseph can call more man coverage and generate pressure at the same time, this defense might see a bounce back to the 2016 and 2017 days in the last 2 games of this season as it still features high end players in Budda Baker, Patrick Peterson, and Chandler Jones.
2. Run the ball more on first down and just don't attempt to get unnecessarily cute
Maybe the biggest reason the Cardinals won the game is that the ran the ball much more on first down. They were able to gain positive yardage on almost every first down and they did not need to do sneaky stuff to get themselves into converting position. The burst of speed Kenyan Drake provides on offense is very valuable on first downs as it keeps you ahead of the sticks and even allows Kyler Murray to tuck in and run a couple himself because there is another treat in the backfield. Running the ball also set up some 20 yard plays on play actions and jet sweeps as the defenders sold for the run. It looks like Kingsbury is adjusting to the pro game and he cannot just stop here.
3. Use your versatile pieces everywhere on the team
The Cardinals might not have a great roster but they do possess some very versatile players all over their roster from the running backs to the secondary. The Cardinals need to find a way to use David Johnson's fresher legs and 13 million dollar contract later in the game after Kenyan Drake and Kyler Murray have been running over defenses. By the 4th quarter, David Johnson could be dangerous playing against some worn down defenders. It is something like what the Titans had with Demarco Murray and Mariota starting and then giving Derrick Henry a majority of carries starting at the end of the 3rd quarter and it worked really well.
The Cardinals also need to use Dan Arnold to see what they have in him as he is a matchup nightmare for linebackers because of his height and safeties or corners because of his height. He made a very nice catch in the end zone on Sunday and he can also be put outside in 1 on 1 situations.
The Cardinals also have Mason Cole along the offensive line and although AQ Shipley has played modestly for his cap number, he is old and Cole might be a long term fit. Although some say that he struggles to snap in the shotgun, he is an ironman and for a offensive line that is slowly gelling together, having a mainstay really helps.
The Cardinals also need to use Jalen Thompson more at slot corner in situations where Murphy is playing outside as he has shown he can cover and be Physical close to the action in the run game.
4. Build on usually large early leads
Throughout the course of this year, the Cardinals have had substantial leads to start games but a fan cannot relax for even a bit as they seem to let up for a bit after that. After going up 14-0, the Cardinals let the Browns score 10 unanswered points before rebounding to make it 21-10. This will cost them against more mature teams and if they want a chance at winning big right now and in the future, they have to take care of that. One score above a 2 score game in my eyes seals the game for good and the Cardinals have just let up a lot this season.
Kliff needs to find a way to buckle down after big leads and have long, sustainable drives that keep them in front big on the scoreboard as well as keep the defense charged and ready to play.
What do you think the Cardinals need to do to show their growth in the final 2 games this season?