1st: This is just who the Cardinals are.
- Not to go all Denny Green on you (RIP) but at this stage of the season, the Eagles game represented exactly who the Cardinals are. They are a sometimes sloppy, underwhelmingly coached, feisty, occasionally explosive offense with a beeeeend but don't break defense. And that's not magically changing this season. Two years ago, the Cardinals were the dregs of the NFL and now they are playing critically important games in late December with a playoff berth within sight. Things are pretty good.
1. Kyler Murray is kind of emblematic of the entire Cardinals team right now. Its easy to watch Kyler and notice what he isn't doing well in any give game. His comfort level in the pocket, body language on the field, leadership qualities and most recently his ball security have all been questioned. But when you focus on what he already does well, it tells a different story. An impossible player to game plan for with a big arm, lethal quickness and an ability on any given play to make something happen. He has flaws. He has room to grow. But right now, in his second year in the league, he's also about to lead the team to the playoffs. Which Kyler are you focused on?
2. DeAndre Hopkins debut season has gone swimmingly. His performance on Sunday against the Eagles was arguably his most dominant of the season. He made catches in traffic, down field, at the sticks and picked up yards after the catch. He was targeted early and often and delivered. This is just the beginning of his Cardinals career; its wild.
3. Vance Joseph is getting the most out of the Cardinals defense. Deploying Markus Golden, Haason Reddick and Dennis Gardeck like they are some pass rushing Voltron (look it up!), adjusting Budda Baker's role to playing more centerfield, trying to find the right situation for Isaiah Simmons and piecing together a secondary on a week in, week out basis. Joseph is doing what all great coaches do: maximizing the talent at his disposal. He's been the Cardinals best coach all season.
4. Fans want to pile on Patrick Peterson and after his performance Sunday, they were justified. But coming into the game, P2 hadn't allowed a WR to eclipse 40 yards in one on one matchups in the previous four games. He's no longer the great cover corner he was for much of the previous 8 years but he's still a good NFL CB. He's a free agent at the end of the season and there's really no world where the Cardinals are a better team with Peterson gone. In fact, with all the other pressing needs likely on this roster, re-signing Peterson may be the #1 priority so as to avoid CB becoming the default biggest need for this team.
5. Because I'm in the Christmas spirit, I waited until this long to really bring up any negatives but the interior of the offensive line is officially a problem. Mason Cole was bad, the two guard positions are an interchangeable mess and it couldn't come at a worse time with SF and LAR on the schedule to close things out. Building the Lines will once again be the rallying cry of astute Cardinals fans this offseason and the interior may be the biggest priority for the team.
6. Before it gains any more tractions, drafting a RB in the first round would be a criminally dumb decision for the Cardinals front office. James Robinson, Tony Pollard, Mike Davis, Jeff Wilson, Carlos Hyde/Chris Carson, Nyheim Hines, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Aaron Jones and Salvon Ahmed are just a few names that prove the folly of drafting a RB high.
7. Hasson Reddick's new nickname is Bitcoin. Complete unknown, most people dismissing for years, smart people buying in early and now explosive growth. Reddick isn't just getting lucky, he's been really good rushing the passer. Its a mystery why the Cardinals are using a similar approach with Isaiah Simmons.
8. How did we get to the point where Dennis Gardeck's health may be the difference between the Cardinals making or missing the playoffs?
9. Under the Radar Stars: Mike Nugent, Aqib Talib, Chris Banjo, Zach Allen and Chase Edmonds.
10. What's Next? A rematch against the San Francisco 49ers. Right now, I'd give the Cardinals a 70% chance to make the playoffs. With a loss to the Niners, that probably dips to the 20's.