In 2018, the Arizona Cardinals entered their season with a 21-0 deficit to the then Washington Redskins in their home opener
Their head coach was Steve Wilks and starting QB was Sam Bradford.
They’ve since seen numerous changes, so much that this team was hardly recognizable, as the Cardinals entered this home opener two years later now leading the Washington “Football Team” by a score of
There were some penalties but all in all, Kyler got it down all three ways: in the quick game, on the ground, and through the air, with deep pass completions of 54 yards and 49 yards to Andy Isabella and Christian Kirk.
He also ran for a score and had the newest star Cardinal, Deandre Hopkins absolutely wide open for his first touchdown as a Card:
Meanwhile, on the defensive side, the Cardinals held Haskins to 9 of 16 on 66 yards passing and started 0 for 4 on 3rd down. Devondre Campbell was making plays and Kennard and Hassan Reddick.
Heck, on special teams the Cards even forced a fumble on a punt return. Things were clicking on all cylinders.
Things were clicking on all cylinders in all aspects of the game for the Cards through one half.
The second half?
Not so much. The Washington Football Team got off to a much better start on defense and the Cardinals offense stalled, despite a creative 4th and 1 from their own side of the field to Christian Kirk.
The WFT drove down and Arizona held on defense for a field goal and Kliff called his offense together. Something he RARELY does.
This, to me is key. Who is Kliff Kingsbury going to be? A player’s coach? An innovator? A coach with a chip on his shoulder as a guy who was “an offensive coordinator but not NFL material” or a “guy who couldn’t win in the Big 12”.
Kliff proved it in their 3rd quarter drive, going for it from 55 out on 4th down for a clutch Fitzgerald touchdown.
The Cards seemed to struggle in the redzone, with Kyler missing a wide open Dan Arnold as well as overthrowing an open Chase Edmonds in the redzone.
Yet Kliff didn’t let up, going for it AGAIN on 4th down with a handoff to Chase Edmonds. And while the offense looked lost at times, it doesn’t matter when you have Kyler Murray:
Kyler Murray. Good at football.
The latter half of the Cardinals’ second half was a slower affair, with Arizona letting the Washington Football Team back into the game a bit, with Patrick Peterson letting up a touchdown to star WR Terry McLaurin.
The Cards settled down a bit however for the last drive of the day, getting chunk yards (including a pass to Dan Arnold)
What’s the takeaways from the game? I have three:
- Kyler Murray can lift this team by himself if he needs to...fortunately his defense in the first half meant he didn’t have to today because of those magic legs
- The Cardinals defense isn’t elite quite yet...but they’re very good
- Kliff Kingsbury’s ability to adjust and rally the offense was almost as impressive as the improvement on special teams this year.
To me the biggest regret? The offense could still be better. How scary does that make Kyler Murray?
Arizona had the opportunity to put up 40 points this week on the Football Team and I don’t think that they will be held back from that in the future if they have a different set of refereeing but in the end, a win is a win.
And for the first time in 5 years. the Cards are 2-0. Through 2 weeks they don’t seem to be on the level of the Baltimore Ravens, Philadelphia Eagles or Kansas City Chiefs in terms of 2nd year quarterback explosions, but they’re well on their way to being one of the biggest stories in the NFL this year.
And into the future.