Background: Dec 5, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (10) makes a touchdown catch against the Chicago Bears during the first quarter at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike Dinovo
- Cardinals’ 1st possession on offense, following Jalen Thompson’s interception.
- Treat yourself to this breakdown by ESPN’s Dan Olrlovsky of Kyler Murray’s pass to Zach Ertz on the preceding play to set up the 4th and 3:
- 4th and 3 from the Bears’ 21 yard line.
- Kliff Kingsbury elects to go for it, rather than try to attempt a field goal in the driving, cold rain.
- Kyler Murray had previously fumbled his first pass attempt when the wet ball slipped right out of his hand.
- Shotgun Formation Empty Backfield: Twins to left, trips to right with Hopkins out wide.
- Without sending any WR in motion, the Cardinals are either going to pass or run the ball with Kyler Murray.
- Electing not to motion a WR on this play, suggests that Kliff Kingsbury and Kyler Murray expect the trips to the right will keep the FS honest and therefore they can rely on DeAndre Hopkins being one on one with his man.
- The snap of the wet ball from Rodney Hudson to Kyler Murray is perfectly clean, which allows Kyler Murray to sync up his feet and to time up the fade pass.
- Right tackle Kelvin Beachum aids and abets the cause for doing a great job of kicking the edge rusher wide.
- Kyler Murray gets a clean release (notice how fundamentally well he steps into the pass while squaring his shoulders to the target) with touch and a perfect spiral, knowing he needs to throw the ball just inside the right pylon.
- DeAndre Hopkins’ execution of the route and the catch is absolutely textbook —- look at how he subtly keeps his left arm in touch with the CB, but never pushes his arm —- this is called “opening the window” —— a window into which Kyler Murray perfectly drops the dime —- while Hopsational secures the catch the second it hits his basket hands, which is key because if there is a slight bobble, the pass would have been called incomplete —- instead the catch accounts for Hop’s left foot being in bounds a yard before the pylon and then he is able to land his right foot perfectly into the short corner of the end zone —- just as importantly he maintains perfect control of the ball throughout the catch, RAC and barrel roll.
- At first the play is called incomplete, but then is overturned by the referee. The booth reviews confirmed that Hopkins had his left foot down on the catch and then got his right foot into the end zone while maintaining full possession throughout the process.
- Here is the whole play:
- Here is the replay:
- This still shot above indicates a perfectly thrown pass by Kyler Murray and it confirms that Hopkins makes the catch with his left foot down, thus all he needs is to get his right foot into the end zone and complete the process of the catch without a glitch and this is a TD.
- This downfield shot from Kyler Murray to DeAndre Hopkins in the middle of the cold, driving rain on 4th and short speaks to how confident Kliff Kingsbury is in this fade route —- and notice too that Kliff Kingsbury moved Hopkins over to the right side of the formation in this situation because, in light of the slick field, Kyler Murray would have a little better advantage, feet and shoulder-wise, throwing to his right.
- On a dry track, Kliff Kingbsury typically prefers to call this fade route with DeAndre Hopkins wide to the left side of the formation.
- Talk about a coach’s confidence —- put it this way, Kliff Kingsbury sensed the team had a better chance of scoring on this fade route than they would have trying to kick a field goal in the cold rain and wind.
- In terms of putting the Cardinals’ 33-22 win at Chicago in added historical perspective:
What makes the 7-0 road record so outstanding is not only the fact that they won all 7 by 10 points or more, but the have dominated at stadiums of five 2020 playoff teams: AFC TEN (4), CLE (6); NFC: SEA (3), LAR (6), CHI (7). Cards rank 9th in overall Strength of Schedule.— Walter B J Mitchell (@WBJMItch) December 8, 2021
Major props thus far to The Traveling Kingsburys!