First and 10: Cardinals vs. Lions

First:

  1. Kyler Murray is the real deal. Sure, he missed some open receivers, had four passes batted down at the line of scrimmage and could barely get a first down in his first three quarters but he overcame it all. At some point, Kyler Murray decided he wasn’t going to lose to the NFC’s version of Iowa State and erased an 18 point fourth quarter comeback. This was likely the worst we’ll see Kyler Murray play for three consecutive quarters. The Cardinals did not win and they still have some major questions but they have a quarterback and in the NFL, thats a massive step.

And 10

2. Questions remain for Kliff Kingsbury. The 4th quarter comeback helped ease a lot of concerns about the direction of the franchise and its chances of success but I still have some major questions about Kliff Kingsbury. I loved that he owned the teams failures in the post game press conference but there still seems to be something missing from his leadership. The Cardinals won because Kyler Murray willed them to victory. K2 gets some love for his tutelage of Kyler but some of his in game decisions and overall leadership skills are still very much in question.

3.The Detroit Lions Detriot Lions’d all over the football field on Sunday. They deserve a huge assist in the Cardinals avoiding an ignominious start to their season. From the muffed punt late in the 2nd to the soft defense they reverted to when nursing the lead to the timeout called on a critical 3rd down that would’ve resulted in a TD to the even more bizarre play call coming out of that timeout to Staffords near pick with :05 seconds to go in OT. This was vintage Detroit Lions and no matter what you think about the Cardinals coming out of Week 1, you’d rather be the Cardinals than the Lions going into Week 2.

4.The WR corps is now a strength. A year ago it might’ve been the worst WR group in football. After Week 1, its clear the group has made significant improvement. And they’ll add Michael Crabtree in short order. Already, the WR group is one of the deepest on the team.

5.Steve Keim dodged a bullet. After flirting with disaster yet again on the offensive line, being forced to start journeyman Justin Murray at RT after an injury to always injured Marcus Gilbert, the offensive line inexplicably held up. This unit will determine the future of GM Steve Keim. With a rookie QB and a rookie QB contract, the Cardinals cannot afford to squander valuable time with another bad offensive line. There are other issues on Keim’s roster but the O Line looms large for his future in the big chair.

6.The rookie class came to play. Not just Kyler but Zach Allen held his own up front on the D Line and Byron Murphy helped prop up a patchwork secondary while KeeSean Johnson had five catches in his debut. Its very early but so far this rookie class is looking more like Keims 2015 haul than every other draft he’s had since being on the job.

7.Larry Fitzgerald: still awesome. I apologize to Larry for waiting this long but something tells me its the way he’d want it. Fitz not only energized the crowd and the offense, he may have saved the season in his 16th season with the team. No matter what happens with the team and the season, the opportunity to continue to have a front row seat to greatness should be one we do not take for granted.

8.Other bright spots: Damiere Byrd, Trent Sherfield, Zane Gonzalez, the entire Special Teams unit, Jordan Hicks

9.Other areas of concern: Interior DL, DJ Swearinger, sloppy penalties, red zone playcalling

10.Whats next? The Baltimore Ravens who put up 59 on a hapeless and possibly mutinous Dolphins team. The Cardinals defense will be tested to its limits with Lamar Jackson’s improved aerial attack in ways other teams will be tested by Kyler Murray. Still, the Raven’s are the anti-Lions and Arizona likely won’t have the luxury of this opponent gift wrapping so many dumb mistakes.

The Drive with Jody Oehler

The Drive with Jody Oehler

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