The Arizona Cardinals: Explosive, Assertive, Decisive. Wait, what?


Detroit Lions v Arizona Cardinals

Detroit Lions v Arizona Cardinals

For four games we watched the Cardinals do their best impression of James McAvoy in M. Night Shyamalan's Split.

"To whom am I speaking with now?" Dr. Fletcher asked McAvoy's character, Kevin, in an attempt to decipher which of his 23 distinct identities sat before her.

"Barry," Kevin answered, but I'm not sure even he knew.

Dr. Fletcher was later killed by "The Beast," one of Kevin's more brutal personalities. Sad. But, more sad than the Cardinals killing themselves, and their fans, with split personalities through the first quarter of the 2020 NFL season? Sorry, doc, but you've obviously never watched an offense featuring Kyler Murray, DeAndre Hopkins, Larry Fitzgerald and Kenyan Drake average 4.3 yards per pass attempt. That's brutal.

In a league dominated by well-defined identities, the Cardinals' only dependable characteristics through a quarter of the season resembled Kliff Kingsbury's soft-spoken, laissez faire press-conferences. The offense had been anti-assertive, and the defense anti-violent.

That all changed Sunday. I mean, it was the Jets, but isn't that kind of the point? They call it a "get-right" game for a reason.

The Cardinals demonstrated their latest, and hopefully final, attributes: Explosive, assertive and decisive. Wait, what?

Yep. The week after Kyler Murray produced less than 5 yards per attempt against Carolina, he exploded for 10.3 yards per attempt in The Meadowlands. Murray led all Week 5 passers with 380 yards, and thew passes of 20 yards or more to 5 different receivers.

In the midst of Kyler's outbreak, Kliff Kingsbury continued a sneaky-assertive trend - one that's akin to him outmaneuvering his staff to the office by 4 a.m. each morning - when he went for it on fourth-down from his own forty-yard line, up by a touchdown with about four minutes left in the third quarter.

It worked.

The Cardinals are now four for four on fourth-down attempts this season. How 'bout them apples?

What led to the Cardinals most dominating performance of the season? Decisiveness. They decided who they were going to be, before the game started. Steve Keim, Kyler Murray and several others declared last week's set of practices the best of the season. Kliff Kingsbury clearly heard the criticism of his dink-and-dunk play-calling. They stripped out the fluff of games prior, like Chris Streveler appearances or sideways passes.

The Cardinals found themselves just in time. Vegas has them as 3-point favorites over an injury-plagued Cowboys team on Monday Night Football next week. From there, into the meat grinder they go. Seattle twice, the Rams twice, Buffalo once, Bill Belichick on the road.

Let's not think about that right now. Let's just enjoy these Cardinals.