After a slow and un-Cardinals-like (how often do we say that?) first quarter, the Cards completed their mission to get to 7-0 before a Thursday Night NFC Rivalry game that might be the talk of the nation.
Who won on the day and who lost? Let’s take a look:
WINNER: Zach Ertz
In his first game with Arizona, Ertz:
- made a spectacular first catch
- scored the longest TD of his career (on another great catch)
- became the first NFL player to score a TD with his former and current team on consecutive weeks in league history
- had a total of 66 receiving yards...on National Tight End Day
Not a bad bit of work for the Cards’ newest acquisition
LOSER: Kyler Murray’s body
I could put the OL here, and while they did tighten up as the second half got underway, Murray took 4 sacks and they were IMPACTFUL. Some big hits and one that turned into a safety and at one point he went into the blue medical pop-up tent for a check.
It didn’t end up stopping him from torching the Texans when he got time, but today a LOT of Cardinals’ fans held their collective breath and sent up a prayer for Rodney Hudson’s health.
WINNER: Markus Freaking Golden
Man, Golden had two sacks including a forced fumble on the day, passed Chandler Jones in sacks on the season and...really showed how dominant of a pass rusher he is when he’s in Arizona.
Or anywhere else, really. He’s hopefully going to be in the Valley for a long time but at least is here through 2022. After a miserable tenure in New York, he’s as happy to be back in the desert as Cardinals fans are to have him.
LOSER: The Quarterback Davis Mills
Mills took a much bigger beating overall than Murray but despite the fact that he was able to complete passes and move the ball at times in spite of those sacks...he really didn’t show much as far as becoming a capable backup.
Maybe that’s where he is as a 3rd round rookie replacing a backup QB in Tyrod Taylor replacing a suspended (?) Deshaun Watson.
But he didn’t throw over the middle at ALL, or even passes further than 10 yards downfield. His one that he did was picked off and he tried to dink and dunk to the outsides in a way that was similar to Josh Rosen’s rookie year but without ANY of the deep passing or over the middle upside.
He looked like a career backup but without upside. If he isn’t able to develop or if the staff doesn’t take the training wheels off of him, he’s gonna get hurt or end up out of the league but simply not being able to manage the game and make plays to win as a QB versus what he put out on the field.
Granted...it WAS a ridiculously talented Cards defense he played.
WINNER: D Hop & J.J.’s revenge game
Hop had a touchdown and some big catches, including one that sparked the Cards’ offense in the second quarter after it had struggled to catch fire.
Watt had a sack, some TFL’s and almost had a second sack on the day. And more importantly they’re not 7=0 while the Texans have been on a 1-6 stretch of football.
The biggest loser here might be Texans fans watching their greatest franchise players not only on another team...but being dominant against their former teammates themselves. Yikes.
LOSER: Poor David Johnson
I feel nothing but sadness watching Johnson on the opposing sideline, honestly. He was reportedly depressed and heard all the “noise” that comes from being on the wrong side of one of the biggest trades in NFL (maybe sports) history.
But what was most sad was his usage and skills.
The dude from 2015 to 2016 was electric as an athlete, breaking tackles at a high rate or running downfield vertically catching passes like a wide receiver. People even asked if he might replace Larry as the Cards’ main offensive threat one day.
He was sensational to watch as SUCH a gifted athlete.
Today? He had a time he tripped on his feet on a screen pass, was struggling in pass protection (why he’s used there I have no idea) and was basically a checkdown guy who got lit up by Cardinals’ players including his former teammate Jordan Hicks.
It was about as close to “Emmitt Smith in AZ post-Dallas” as we might see from a player and knowing that not only have the Texans been misusing him but that his body & abilities don’t seem to have much use left at this stage was sad to see. Father Time comes for us all. For running backs? Even faster.
And maybe quicker than anyone expected from David Johnson after such a magical & promising start to his career.