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What We Learned from Week 9

NFL: Miami Dolphins at Arizona Cardinals Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

It’d be pretty easy to come in here with some scathing superlatives. After all, the Dolphins?! After beating the Seahawks? Coming off a bye week? How could you let a rookie QB in his third game go off on you after putting up a mere 93 yards a week ago?

Take a deep breath.

Still with me? Good, let’s me tell you why this wasn’t all bad, there’s probably some bad you’re not focused on, and why you should be encouraged going forward.

Coverage is King

Being able to cover is pretty important in today’s NFL. Who knew? Despite an up and down year from Byron Murphy, we saw that bad can in fact be worse in his absence.

Despite 3 sacks from the front and a (relatively) contained rush attack from Miami, it was not enough to keep a young offense led by Tua Tagovailoa from the comeback.

It was a concerning defensive effort, no doubt. But take into consideration the personnel and injury woes and I wouldn’t lose sleep over it. Should have done better, but you can’t expect much when you’re taking this cornerback room into a game. Not against an underrated coaching staff such as Miami’s.

What’s more concerning is that this may be a taste of things to come. Patrick Peterson is finishing up the last year of his deal, and many would argue he is not worth bringing back. Robert Alford has not shown to be someone you can rely on taking the field. Byron Murphy has struggled to be a reliable defender against the pass and is, to this point, your best cornerback in 2021.

There is very little to look forward to beyond that for the cornerback room. Despite that, the front office has seen fit to disproportionately invest in the front seven, and unless there’s a surprise - free agency might offer little respite aside from bringing on an older veteran.

Christian Kirk steps up

Miami sold out to stifle the damage that Deandre Hopkins could do, and they succeeded. Luckily, the third year receiver stepped up in a massive way to the tune of 123 yards and a touch.

Much like the trend with other second round picks, it’s been an up and down year for Kirk as the Cardinals struggle to find consistent options outside of Hopkins. Was this a byproduct of a defensive gameplan, or can Kirk finally become the WR2 that many hoped he would be?

Speaking of second round picks and wide receivers...

It’s time to stop defending the Andy Isabella pick.

It seems to be a weekly occurrence now were the situation arises that this pick is questioned, especially in regards to who the Cardinals passed up on to select him.

After a fumbled return that was luckily recovered and a third down catch were the young receiver tried to do a little too much and ran away from the sticks... it was a rough day at the office to say the least.

I didn’t like the selection then and there’s little to nothing that makes me think otherwise now. I honestly don’t know that a round later would not have been too early a selection either. Regardless of what you think about Metcalf’s fit in Arizona or your rationale for the selection, it’s hard to justify the returns given the price. Maybe he turns it around, it’s still very early in his career. But the fact remains that they clearly overspent on the prospect - both in a vacuum and relative to the talent still on the board.

The Offense continues to hum

I’d been pretty sour relative to my peers on Kyler Murray’s season prior to the last two weeks. But what a stretch this has been. It was an up and down day from the offensive line and the Dolphins did what they could to erase Hopkins from the game, but that didn’t stop K1 from once again carving up the opposing defense on the ground - this time with another efficient and explosive passing performance.

It’s unfortunate that his herculean effort was largely wasted, but as far as I’m concerned we’re still in the rebuild. The wins are gravy, and K1 taking huge steps forward is... well, even more gravy.

That’s enough from me. What did you learn?