Here is this week's 1st and 10 for the Arizona Cardinals Week 2 win over the Washington Redskin. Find this blog every week the day after the Cardinals game right here.
1st: Kyler Murray is really fun to watch play football
- Let's not underrate or under-appreciate fun. Not in 2020 when virtually everything fun has been deemed impossible, unsafe or needing to be changed to still be enjoyed - fun is great. We can all twist ourselves into pretzels trying to outdo each other on how bright Kyler's future is - "Is he the best Cardinals QB ever?" "Is Kyler an MVP favorite?" "Is Kyler Murray the future of the QB position?" - and just all agree that watching him play football is pure, unfiltered entertainment.
1) The Cardinals offense left a lot of meat on its bone against Washington. After watching the offense stop and start for two weeks with Kyler Murray's legs really being the only effective jumper cables, its fair to wonder whether this offense is getting too dependent on Kyler Murray's rushing ability. Its not a problem at all at this point but even Kliff Kingsbury agrees this offense is far from reaching its potential.
2) The biggest issue as I see it is a lack of rhythm in the play calling. Like a MLB starting pitcher who keeps shaking off the catcher and getting mound visits, Kliff has yet to find the right mix of plays. Part of this may be the Cardinals new found weapons in DeAndre Hopkins, a full season of Kenyan Drake and Kyler's willingness to run the ball have actually made play calling more complicated rather than simplifying it. Kingsbury has yet to find the right balance to feed his three hungriest mouths while making sure the rest of the team is also getting nourishment.
3) The Cardinals defense has been much improved early on. Now, they have also played the equivalent of the ghost of Sam Bradford in back to back weeks but after last season's consistently dreadful performances the defense deserves its praise. It hasn't been any one or two players leading the charge, the Cardinals defense is getting contributions from all over the field.
4) Except for Isaiah Simmons, who played a total of 7 snaps in Week 2. Simmons, the 8th overall selection in the 2020 NFL Draft, has yet to make a play to remind everyone of why he was drafted where he was. At this point, it's fair to say that the lack of OTA's, minicamp, full training camp and preseason had a huge impact on his learning a new position. Should he be learning ILB? Thats a different question. As Haason Reddick thrives outside, I find myself wondering if the Cardinals should skip the three year ping pong'ing of positions with Simmons and place him at OLB right now.
5) It's early but if Simmons's struggles continue, expect there to be even more scrutiny on who the Cardinals passed on to draft the athletic LB. CJ Henderson is having a great start to his career with Jacksonville and would've been the perfect heir apparent to Patrick Peterson. Mekhi Becton and Tristan Wirfs have both graded out as two of the top tackles in all of football through two weeks. And CeeDee Lamb has 165 yards receiving through two games.
6) Speaking of Patrick Peterson, his early season struggles continued against Terry McLaurin. McLaurin is the perfect example of the kind of receiver a top ranked corner is expected to shutdown in 2020. McLaurin can do everything well from all over the field. While Peterson wasn't solely responsible for every play that McLaurin made, the inability to go into a game knowing that Peterson is taking away your top receiving threat is a big boost to opposing teams and a potentially big problem for the Cardinals against better teams. Peterson finished the game as PFF's lowest graded Cardinals defender.
7) This kind of flew under the radar pregame yesterday but CBS's Jason La Canfora wrote a piece about how several Cardinals players have not heard from the front office regarding their desired extensions. This isn't an issue right now but when you reward a player who had 0 games played and three years left on his deal with a huge new contract with a bunch of fresh money, it wouldn't be surprising if it becomes an issue down the road.
8) Back to the positives: Andy Isabella caught a football. In fact, Andy Isabella caught multiple footballs! Let's bronze his hands before they turn back into stone! The Cardinals passed on Terry McLaurin twice when they drafted Isabella and Zach Allen but at least Isabella showed up on Sunday for a few moments. It's clear that Isabella's speed and Kyler's arm would make for a fun combination if only Isabella was willing to give up his global heist career. For the record, Isabella was the highest graded offensive player for the day according to Pro Football Focus.
9) Under the radar stars: Zane Gonzalez, who was 3 for 3 from FG range and exceptional kicking off. Zach Allen and Corey Peters combined for a solid day up front for Arizona. Lamont Gaillard's name wasn't called much and thats a good thing.
10) What's next: The Lions. Detroit has lost 11 in a row dating back to last season and set an NFL record on Sunday when they blew a double digit lead for the fourth consecutive game. Detroit, ladies and gentlemen! But this Lions team should not be taken lightly. Kenny Golladay is expected to play for the first time in 2020 and while he's not a household name like so many top WR's, he is a difference maker. Matthew Stafford is easily the best QB the Cardinals have faced in 2020 and with TJ Hockenson, Marvin Jones, Danny Amendola and the aforementioned Golladay, this Lions offense will be a big test for the Cardinals defense. Anything but a tie will be accepted.