But the big story of course (and I won’t share the video here) was QB Tua Tagovailoa leaving the game after a hit to the head on the turf in which his body exhibited signs of concussive trauma, and he left the game on a stretcher.
Thankfully, it seems as though he’s going to be able to fly back (important given concussions can have negative effects) with the team. That’s the biggest takeaway. But there are a few more:
#1. The Bengals proving that a slow start doesn’t mean the end
The stat about teams starting 0-2 rarely making the postseason? Well, the Bengals started out that way and have managed to open up back to a 2-2 position and are only a game back of first place in the AFC with Miami falling to 3-1, and are back in their division as well.
Granted...unlike Arizona they lost games by a total of 6 points (essentially two game-winning field goals) and while the offensive line is still...offensive and the running backs were unable to find room, they reminded everyone of how dominant Burrow and those weapons are in the deep passing game and made up ground in a hurry.
Something that’s easier to do in the season than later, as the Cardinals have learned. A Panthers win and getting to 2-2 will put them back on track.
#2. The Niners probably miss Mike McDaniel more than they’ll admit
Well there was more than once that people in Cardinals twitter mentioned how adept Mike McDaniel’s playcalling seemed to be (and it was notable that he orchestrated several decent drives while his backup was in the game).
Mike McDaniel gamed up so much open stuff on that opening drive.— Nate Tice (@Nate_Tice) September 30, 2022
Each skill player was lined up at a different spot on every play. Bengals defenders heads were popping sorting it out.
It’s both good and, perhaps, to some fans, somewhat disturbing news to Cards fans.
McDaniel was a guy that Kingsbury wanted to interview for an OC job and he was denied, repeatedly by the Niners. In fact, they wanted to keep him around and he had followed the Shanahan tree for over a decade until a head coaching offer came his way.
Clearly, the Niners wanted to keep him as best as they could.
Lots of motion, moving players around, scheming guys open on the first drive and a fast start. It’s part of what’s been...missing from the Cardinals this season under Kliff Kingsbury thus far, and a change of pace might be nice for the team. It also, however, means that the San Francisco 49ers, who are 2-1, do not have his services and boy, does it seem to show thus far as they have been a far more limited offense, while Miami has opened things up.
It’s nice to see a divisional opponent weakened, and maybe Kliff can steal a bit for a surprise look in a “must win” game against the Panthers...or maybe not. Kind of how it’s been for better or for worse.
#3. Quarterback and their health are the most important things in the league
Tua’s health is something that’s had issues dating back to college. He’s had ankle injuries, concussions, hurt his hand and tonight he likely took the field after being cleared of a concussion and...he shouldn’t have been playing for precautionary measures.
On the hit that Tagovailoa took, it was coming on the heels of another sack and a performance in which he was battered and took multiple sacks vs. the Bills. And that’s an unfortunate part of his game. There’s taking sacks and taking hits but there’s only so much a man’s body can take. As a smaller QB (though not as small as Kyler Murray) it gives you an understanding somewhat of why some quarterbacks have health issues and why others are able to last the whole season.
If Kyler Hurray isn’t healthy, the Cardinals aren’t going anywhere, and him coming into the league with a high standard of how best to protect himself has been helpful for Arizona...but has also led to questions about his capability in the offense without being able to run.
Cardinals are running 74.0 plays per game so far, 2nd-most in NFL. Kyler Murray still only has a total of 7 designed runs and 12 total rush attempts.— Adam Levitan (@adamlevitan) September 29, 2022
That's fewer than Jacoby Brissett (12), Mac Jones (14), Joe Burrow (15), Daniel Jones (25).
It’s a conundrum. Would you rather win games or have a healthy, effective quarterback?
After watching the 3-0 Dolphins see their quarterback get sent to the hospital, I think the answer is “both”...but you won’t get the former unless you have the latter. Trace McSorley is the only backup you have on the roster right now with Colt McCoy on IR.
Really, it’s going to be interesting to monitor Murray’s health as this season progresses.
#4. The Hopkins TNF Effect
End Thursday Night Football, I’ve hated it for a long time. That’s all I have for the rest of the night ✌— Full-Time Dame (@DP_NFL) September 30, 2022
While I agree that TNF needs to end, I also don’t think it’s going anywhere. Players haven’t been able to recover quick enough to avoid major injury and that’s an issue.
Which does lead to an interesting exception in one case...DeAndre Hopkins.
Hopkins is currently serving a 6-game suspension which will end after Arizona plays in Seattle on Sunday and will be back that following Thursday at home for Thursday Night Football against the Saints.
Basically, he will be the healthiest and freshest player on either sideline. Not just from not having played for 5 weeks of the season, but also because he won’t have played on Sunday either.
He’ll have more juice and Arizona needs to have as much of a competitive advantage as possible by using him in multiple ways to take advantage of beat up, tired Saints defenders.
That’s all for now. We’ll see if the Cardinals can crank out a win to get to 2-2 this upcoming sunday afternoon.