Well...that was easy?
The Cardinals routed the Bears off of four Andy Dalton interceptions yesterday en route to what is a franchise best 10-2 start.
What are some key takeaways to have from the game? Those are obvious.
- Needing to still work on the run defense
- James Conner is a beast
- Kyler’s still got the arm and connection with DHop and is a threat in the redzone
- The blitzes and unique style of defense is awesome to watch Vance Joseph move around.
But what might be some underrated takeaways?
Let’s start with one that is a big-time find when looking at it..
#1. These grades on the Cardinals’ 2019 Draft Class have turned out to be more accurate than we thought at first glance
There was a bit of shock in the behind the scenes draft episode of Flight Plan when it came to Arizona’s draft.
Obviously, having Kyler Murray as the top player in the class and worth taking OVER Josh Rosen was one of them. But there were others (refresher below on the behind the scenes look starts about 10 minutes in)
Some of the players such as Andy Isabella and Hakeem Butler haven’t worked out but look at the other names & some of their reported rankings...
- Byron Murphy (top 6 grade)
- Zach Allen (round 1 grade)
- Jalen Thompson (added in supplemental draft for 5th round pick, 2nd - 3rd round projected for 2020 draft)
In the last few weeks, and in Byron and Jalen’s case, perhaps the Cardinals have been seeing this all year long or would have if Jalen and Zach hadn’t seen 2020 lost to injury.
They’re coming into their own and all three had interceptions of Andy Dalton and have made some groundbreaking plays on the defensive side of the ball this season. It shows that Arizona was justified in their high grades and the high potential they saw in these players.
And that they indeed were able to find playmakers making a Round 1 impact in rounds 2, 3 and 5.
It’s why I do think you need to give at least 3 years to see what a player turns into at the NFL level. Some guys are stars immediately (like Kyler...Hopkins) but some take some time to develop. But when they do, it’s worth the wait. Thompson’s impact especially was missing in 2020 in stopping big plays.
In fact, it’s worth it enough from Thompson to pose an interesting question...
#2. Do the Arizona Cardinals have THE best safety tandem in the NFL?
It was overdue in seeing an All-Pro and Pro Bowl combination level of respect given to defensive Captain Budda Baker as the model of the best safety in the NFC. He’s proven himself to be every bit the leader that the Cardinals have needed at the position after moving from Adrian Wilson to the likes of Tyrann Mathieu and now to Baker.
But it’s the play of Jalen Thompson, who’s been both sticky in coverage, hitting hard in the run game and has kept adding to his takeaways...that should bring up some more consideration.
Budda Baker and Jalen Thompson showing why they might be the best safety duo in the NFL.— Kyle Odegard (@Kyle_Odegard) December 5, 2021
Arizona’s safeties have been unsung heroes that in reality have simply prevented big plays down the field and forced takeaways to push the Cards to the best turnover differential in the NFL.
He and Baker have a combined 5 interceptions, and it’s due to their efforts moving up and down the field that’s not only helped keep Arizona’s corners (including a rookie) clean but has also helped make up for the poor run defense by ensuring that a big hole is never a gaping one.
They deserve more national love as well. Also, Budda’s interview might be one of the best a Cardinals’ player has given all season.
I can’t lie, this is one of my favorite post-game interviews EVER! #AZCardinals ALL PRO Safety Budda Baker’s energy is infectious! Plus a video bomb from… wait for it! @AZCardinals @nflnetwork— StaceyDales (@StaceyDales) December 5, 2021
#3. D.J. Humphries has been the model of consistency
There may be questions of consistency with the other portions of Arizona’s OL (Beachum had some struggles in the run game, Pugh and Garcia have battled health along with Rodney Hudson and Josh Jones has taken a backseat) but Humphries isn’t one of them.
The FOX Sports broadcast pointed out from the sidelines that since his 2018 trip to Injured Reserve following three up and down seasons that saw him inactive, benched, inactive and injured again...Humphries has played in 43 straight games.
43 straight games without missing a start.
He’s been the model of durability for Arizona as well as impact playmaking on the offensive line.
Who would have guessed that after 2018?
Good for him, I’ll say. And good for Arizona as well.
He has a team option left for the Cardinals but it will be well worth it to either extend him or rip up his deal to keep him as the left tackle long-term for the team.
What were your takeaways? Sound off below in the comments!