Its back! The gimmick everyone forgot about and no one really needed again but here is my First and 10 thoughts from the Cardinals preseason loss to the Vikings.
First. The Arizona Cardinals offense - It was better. Put the hot takes back in the take oven because the Cardinals offense looked capable. If last year the Cardinals offense was stuck in the Stone Ages and the Rams offense was exploring space, at least the Cardinals offense during the Vikings preseason game looked like it was post-Industrial Revolution. Thats a lot of work to say the offense was better. We obviously still haven’t seen everything but with the first team the offense mixed play calls well, used the screen pass to perfection and took a few shots down field. Had they converted a few red zone opportunities into a TD or two, everyone might need to take a cold shower but that hasn’t happened...yet.
2. Kyler Murray - Murray’s overall numbers don’t jump off the page, 14/21 for 137 yards and 0 TD’s, with 4 carries for 9 yards but he played well. Remember, he’s a rookie QB getting his first taste of playing on the road. He made good decisions, showed great touch on a few balls down the field and threw some WR’s open. Yes, he missed some throws and had two passes knocked down at the line of scrimmage but Kyler looked like he was ready for his first regular season challenge. The biggest Kyler Murray takeaway from this game is his full skill set was on display from his deep ball touch to his arm strength on the run to his elusiveness and speed. He has an incredible skill set. Its tough to be objective, but if you watched this game without any rooting interest, its hard to imagine you’d rather have Kirk Cousins than Kyler Murray.
3. Run Defense - It was still bad, giving up a Vikings preseason record 85 yard TD run to Dalvin Cook. But, it wasn’t quite as bad as the first two weeks. They applied some pressure to Cousins, who was without starting WR Adam Thielen and generally didn’t look completely overmatched physically by the Vikings. The defense is still likely to be a major issue this year with an Achilles heel on literally every unit but at least for a day, the run defense didn’t look historically bad on every snap.
4. The Clap Trap - The Cardinals still have the clap. And its not going away. Kyler Murray avoided any false start penalties because he avoided any clapping but Brett Hundley wasn’t as fortunate. The team broadcast played a montage of other QB’s aggressively clapping without penalty and its starting to feel as if this has become a Cardinals vs. the officials kind of issue. This is ultimately up to Head Coach Kliff Kingsbury to figure out and so far, he hasn’t.
5. Kliff Kingsbury - He needs to show some emotion. Maybe behind closed doors, Kingsbury is willing to unleash something other than a smile but so far it feels like Kliff Kingsbury is the model for “Serenity now, insanity later.” A public demonstration of anger towards the officials, as first suggested by the Arizona Republic’s Kent Somers would seem to be a good decision for the rookie head coach but instead Kliff has shown as much emotion as his elderly wife in The Notebook. (Spoiler alert?)
6. KeeSean Johnson - He looks like the real deal. So smooth, so naturally capable of slipping open and he appears to have a great set of hands. He made a handful of really nice catches on some really nice throws from Kyler and the two seem to have great on field chemistry.
7. The WR Group - After the 3rd preseason game the Cardinals have a much clearer idea of the WR group: 1) Fitz 2) Kirk 3) K. Johnson 4) Crabtree 5) Sherfield 6) Isabella 7) Byrd 8) Cooper. Cooper appears to be on the outside of bubble crunch as he didn’t show anything on special teams either and while Isabella isn’t on the bubble, he’s clearly playing catch up to the rest of the unit. Damiere Byrd and his speed had a good game, potentially winning him a roster spot.
8. Secondary - The fact we’ve gotten this far without freaking out about the secondary is a big win. Tramaine Brock was beaten early but the pass wasn’t completed, Byron Murphy didn’t do anything to be noticed either way which is a win and Kirk Cousins wasn’t successful exploiting anyone else in the secondary. If I’m a Vikings fan, I would be worried in year 2 for Kirk Cousins.
9. Preseason MVP - Voting is almost over and right now, the leaders are 1) Pete Robertson 2) Michael Dogbe 3) Joe Walker
10 What’s next? - The 4th and final preseason game which only matters because it means the preseason will come to a merciful end.