Cardinals got off to their best start of the season.
Begin with a play on D, stuffing the run and getting a hit on Cam Newton in 3rd and 6 and forcing an INT by Markus Golden that the Cardinals capitalized on with a rushing touchdown.
Then, the team showed how quickly that can change, as they had a measly finish to one drive, settling for a field goal, and then allowing a 55-yard kick return to Donte Moncrief.
Offsetting holding and personal foul penalties put the Pats into a 4th and 2 yet instead of the Patriots taking the easy 3 points, they went for it on 4th and 2 with an option for a touchdown.
This is what Arizona’s been all season: an immensely talented team that has issues and can look dominant at times and then look hapless—on either side of the ball.
But the talent held, and Cam showed his rust/age with some missed throws and holding onto the ball too long & being unable to outrun an Isaiah Simmons sack.
But against the Patriots—adjustments will come. And the Cardinals’ adjustments went one way while the Pats went another and it all came down to this three play sequence:
-Dropped TD by Kirk
-Mistimed stretch by Keesean Johnson
-Drake stuffed up the middle w/ no camera angle to see the football cross the plain.
The second half the Patriots took advantage of more special teams’ gaffes by the Cards and put up 17 straight points, converting in the end zone when Arizona couldn’t.
Arizona came back to tie it up, taking advantage of two New England mistakes themselves...penalties on 3rd and 4th down (can’t believe they went for it!) put Arizona back in business for Kenyan Drake to run it in.
Then the Patriots, with a tied game, did what they’ve done all season long and turned the ball over in a critical 4th quarter situation as Dre Kirkpatrick picked off a telegraphed pass from Cam Newton, letting the Cards take over with a chance to run down the clock and win the game.
And in the end it came down to two things:
-Arizona’s offense couldn’t do much without Kyler Murray’s legs.
-Arizona’s defense held tight
-A Zane Gonzalez miss sunk the Cards while the opposing kicker made their clutch kick.
That’s really what it comes down to. A lot of people are going to blame Kingsbury and honestly? He does deserve a bit of blame.
No shots to Hopkins or throwing the ball after the first down (which milked the clock) but ultimately failed yet again to do the one thing the Cardinals needed to do...put the game away.
They couldn’t get a first down on the ground and Kliff didn’t throw the ball.
For Kyler’s end? He had two times he chose to hand the ball off and not risk taking a hit and the Patriots played as such to put guys there where he’d have to outrun some dudes and take a hit to pick up two yards.
So when Zane missed the kick, it surprised nobody who’s followed this team.
Everyone on the offensive side has to be better.
Kliff put his team in position and...then couldn’t lock it up. They didn’t stretch the field at all or throw downfield and Kyler’s arm was likely still bothering him.
Kyler wasn’t willing to put his body on the line outside of ONE play....and the Cardinals offense when Kyler doesn’t run is scary.
Can’t get to 20 points, not taking shots....they are essentially giving up on showing teams that they aren’t a good offense when Kyler is not running.
They’re not converting in the red zone like they were. They aren’t seeing deep plays...Pats just made one less mistake.
And if this continues, I don’t think Zane Gonzalez will be on the roster...but it will be more than this.
Kliff has to adjust and change something and be able to find an answer cause if all teams need to do is take away his legs, then the Cardinals will forever be limited as a team.
The good news? The team has 2-3 winnable games still to be able to finish with a winning record.
But right now even if they sneak into the playoffs? They ain’t beating anybody...
And that’s not what you want as a fan of this team when you watch the #1 offense in the NFL suddenly collapse after one ill-fated hit that wasn’t even a mild injury...what does it mean?
It means that fingers will be pointed at two places:
Steve Keim and Kliff Kingsbury.
Kyler, fwiw, can’t carry the whole team every single game as he has been...and showed that he is the only guy doing that outside of some effort from Hopkins/Edmonds.
Is that schematic/philosophy of Kliff?
Partially. He doesn’t use a QB sneak and has refused to put Streveler in there, and the offensive line has had issues at times, while at others they seem to pick them up easily.
He also didn’t throw the ball when he needed to.
Is it a talent issue?
Assuredly. We’re talking about a different game if Christian Kirk hangs onto the football or comes down with the big throw from Kyler that was just outside.
They need more in their passing game and with Fitzgerald out, Isabella had one body catch that bailed Murray out and a jet sweep but otherwise...nothing like the last Lions game.
Is it on a young Kyler Murray still developing? This is a lot of it. Plus the Isaiah Simmons hit where no one was watching Cam on 3rd and 13 and the defense didn’t even think that there would be a run to push for overtime and Simmons made a terrible rookie error...his 2nd of the game.
Which shows the pros and cons that he’s experiencing similar to Kyler and sadly it cost the team here.
In my opinion...this is a meh/average Cardinals team that Kyler has managed to drag to relevancy.
Even more than Kliff and even more than Hopkins, I think the talent of this team is still not up to par to most NFL teams.
Remember that this Cardinals’ team was 3-13 just two years ago and was a 5-11 team last year. What did they improve in the offseason?
Hopkins...and inside linebacker...and maybe cornerback #2?
That won’t cut it.
Steve Keim has the biggest offseason of his life as the Cardinals’ as a team can’t let Kyler be the man at all times and carry them cause if he has an off day, they struggle. Part of that hangs on Keim, but it also hangs on a dropped Christian Kirk TD on a slant...an out of bounds catch by him...and the offensive line being beaten in the run game on the ground.
The Cardinals were in place for a 7-4 spot where a 10 win season was in reach and they let them down.
It’s gonna have a lot of fans dreading next week’s game against the Rams twice. Because if they drop to .500, people won’t just call for Kliff’s head, but they’ll call for it immediately after going from 29 points to 21 and 17 the last two weeks...against bad defenses no less.