1st: The Cardinals answered the bell.
- Every single person who has invested a shred of time or emotion into the Arizona Cardinals, including members of the Arizona Cardinals, knew they had to show up in New Jersey on Sunday and win. And they did. The Cardinals didn’t let the Giants set the tone, deciding to finally throw the first punch on the first drive of the game. From there, the Cardinals dominated a woeful Giants offense and the Cardinals offense did enough to make sure the game was never in doubt. Style points don’t matter in December, just wins and the Cardinals played like it on Sunday. Finally.
1. Kliff Kingsbury also answered the bell. After spending a week getting harangued by every NFL film guru to make some offensive adjustments, Kingsbury did just that. Even if it was the obvious move, Kingsbury still gets credit for doing it and not digging his heels in on his system. There were some snaps under center, play action, DeAndre Hopkins moving around the field and more relying on the players that are the most reliable. Progress.
2. It was never really a possibility but the win eliminates any possibility that Kingsbury has to worry about his job at the end of this season. The Cardinals are a playoff team heading into Week 15, thats more than enough reason for the Cardinals to keep him around for Year 3. But Year 3 will be a whole different ball game when it comes to expectations and pressure for Kliff.
3. Vance Joseph has come so far from the first series of the 49ers game when it felt like he was going to be this year’s Mike McCoy. Joseph is entrenched as the Cardinals defensive coordinator, he could change his number to a Phoenix area code if he wants.
4. Haason Reddick is a great story. Reddick didn’t draft himself. He didn’t change coordinators. He didn’t force position changes. He’s shown up, worked hard and done what different coaches wanted him to do. For him to set a franchise record and get to double digit sacks in the same season he had his 5th year option declined is a feel good story. Should he be back next year? It’s going to depend on his market. If he’s got a Devon Kennard market, then yes. If his market is closer to the Shaq Barrett franchise tender, then no.
5. It was really interesting to hear that Budda Baker was the one who delivered the save the season speech. Outside of the locker room, we can exaggerate the impact of speeches as we pretend teams follow a sports movie script. But this game represented so much to everyone on the roster, it was interesting to hear that Budda delivered the speech. Baker represents everything you would want a team to reflect: relentlessness, passion, pure ambition and excellence. While you’d like Kyler Murray to deliver that speech, Budda wasn’t a bad choice either.
6. Andy Isabella being inactive was a pretty wild swing for his season. It's the only way to keep Kliff and Kyler from hurting themselves. Isabella doesn’t have to live up to the DK Metcalf standard but he also can’t get lost on punt coverage, lose balls in air and run routes short of the first down markers as the Cardinals fight for their playoff lives. With his demotion and Christian Kirk’s prolonged struggles, Chase Edmonds is likely the Cardinals second best receiving option behind DeAndre Hopkins.
7. Speaking of DeAndre Hopkins, I’m not trying to make a mountain out of a mole hill but at a certain point after a break up, if the person that was broken up with continues to Facebook stalk the ex and make passive aggressive comments, it says more about that person than whoever unceremoniously did the dumping, Maybe forget about what’s happening with the Texans and focus 100% on the Cardinals.
8. The Cardinals kicking woes were thankfully not an issue in Week 14. There’s almost no reason to go back to Zane Gonzalez after Mike Nugent had a perfect day. On the other hand, it doesn’t make sense to cut Zane Gonzalez as the team the Cardinals are trying to fend off in the playoffs, the Minnesota Vikings, are currently in the midst of a kicking crisis and would likely jump at the chance to add Zane. For now, two kickers on the roster it is!
9. Under the Radar Stars: Byron Murphy, Chris Banjo and Jason Garrett.
10. What's Next? Jalen Hurts and the Eagles. The Eagles have to win out to make the playoffs and Jalen Hurts is coming off a stunning win over New Orleans. Every single facet of the Eagles team looked energized with Hurts at the helm. This matchup just got a lot more interesting.