The Drive with Jody Oehler

The Drive with Jody Oehler

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Cardinals @ Giants: Compliment and Question

Well this is unusual. We haven't seen these parts in about 4 years. The Cardinals continued the good times rolling with their third win in a row. Yes, the teams they've beaten are a combined 3-15, but this Giants game felt different.

Unlike the Bengals and Falcons, the Giants have a pulse. It was raining, it was an early East coast start. These were the kinds of conditions that the Cardinals brand of "pretty boy" football was supposed to fold against. These Cardinals were supposed to be interested in pillow fights not a bare knuckle street brawl.

But, there they were with their sleeves rolled up leaving the Giants bloodied and bruised after winning their first fist fight of the season.

What's the biggest question coming out of the game? Other than why Kliff Kingsbury thinks Fordham is in the Ivy League. And whats the biggest compliment I can pay them? I'm glad you asked.

Biggest Question: Can the Cardinals keep this winning streak in the proper context? The downfall of the Cardinals over the last 3+ years can be traced back to an organizational arrogance that permeated every corner of their organization after the NFC Championship game appearance following the 2015 season. The Cardinals won one playoff game and began to act like Foxboro West. They've paid a price for it ever since. This is really the first bit of success they've experienced since then. Sure they won 15 games combined in '16 and '17 but those were seasons largely populated by falling short of expectations rather than climbing towards something bigger. And the 3-13 record from '18 speaks for itself.

Now, they are making real progress again. This feels like the beginning of something, possibly. Their big, bold moves from the off season seem to be working. But, they can't get carried away. The Saints and 49ers are lurking over their next two games giving the Cardinals to test themselves against two of the four best teams in the NFL. Their division is brutal. Their schedule gets harder. The real tests are coming and if the Cardinals aren't better prepared than they were last time they tasted success, the fallout could be even worse.

Biggest Compliment: For the first time, its harder to pick just one compliment. It could be Chase Edmonds. It could be the offensive line and Sean Kugler. It could be Kliff Kingsbury. Chandler Jones. Patrick Peterson. Hell, it could be Steve Keim for one week only.

But instead, I'm saving my highest praise for Kyler Murray. Murray had his worst statistical game of the season with just 104 passing yards on 14 completions. But like an ace in baseball, the biggest test to becoming an ace is getting outs when you don't have your best stuff. Kyler didn't have his best stuff and won. He didn't dominate this game but he controlled the game. His fourth down conversion on the first drive basically led the Cardinals to a win.

He made mistakes. Obviously his whirly-gig sack that led to the blocked punt TD was a huge mistake. When he ran out of bounds before the two minute warning, the face palming Cardinals fans made who were watching could be heard in New Jersey. But he's a rookie and he's getting better. If these mistakes continue to happen well into year two, it will be a different conversation about situation awareness. But for now, they are likely just growing pains.

Kyler Murray is for real and the game on Sunday proved it.

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