1st: The Arizona Cardinals played a D+ game offensively and still won on the road by double digits.
- The Cardinals showed they can play well below expectations and still win. That is powerful in the NFL. Deandre Hopkins and Rondale Moore combined for 23 yards receiving, Kyler Murray had less than 20 yards rushing and didn’t throw a TD pass and yet the Cardinals still put up over 400 yards of offense and won a game on the road by double digits. Sure, it was against the hapless Jags but the Cardinals offense, like Kyler, has found a higher form of enlightenment so far in 2021.
1. The Cardinals are one of five remaining undefeated teams. That should be the first thing people mention when discussing the Cardinals win on Sunday, not the 68 yard field goal attempt.
2. Now, let’s talk about the 68 yard FG attempt. It was thrilling for like 4 seconds. I tweeted my approval, getting caught up in the moment like when you watch a viral video and are about to see the crazy thing that made it viral happen. There’s really no defending the decision in hindsight but I will say I had a much bigger problem with the Cardinals decision to SET UP a 68 yard field goal than attempting it. Arizona had a few timeouts left and chose one of their final plays of the half to run the ball up the middle. Its like Kliff lost a bet to Matt Prater and had to pay up.
3. The Cardinals strength of their defense is undoubtedly their secondary. Not the pass rush, not their pair of first round inside linebackers but their island of misfit toys secondary. There isn’t a single first round pick in their starting unit. Byron Murphy Jr is emerging as one of the stickiest DB’s in the league, Marco Wilson is proving he belongs and Robert Alford spent two years planning his revenge. The safety duo is even better. We all know what Budda Baker brings to the table but Jalen Thompson is doing a Frank Caliendo level impression of Budda.
4. The run defense is officially a problem. The first three weeks were marked by their opponents WR strength. Their next three weeks will be marked by their opponents ground game strength. The Rams, 49ers and Browns will run at the Cardinals and those results could be a lot uglier than the secondary’s results to start the season.
5. Rondale Moore was invisible Week 3 but I’m not worried. Part of me wants to believe the Cardinals have not wanted to show too much of their playbook for Rondale Moore before the Rams game only to unleash him as their secret McVay-defeating weapon. Moore remains one of the Cardinals best playmakers, a mini(!) extension of Kyler in the WR ranks and I expect big things from him Week 4.
6. I’m buying Christian Kirk stock and selling my AJ Green stock. Kirk is perfectly suited for his new role as game breaking WR out of the slot. The moment you let your guard down to roll coverage to DHop, Green or Moore, Kirk is going to beat you and Kyler is going to find him. Speaking of AJ Green, he had his first 100 yard receiving game since 2018 and while that feels good, I remain skeptical of his ability to consistently produce for the Cardinals.
7. JJ Watt needs to be better. The Cardinals didn’t pay over $14 million dollars a year for him to be a celebrity brand endorser. Showing up and making plays in Los Angeles would go a long way towards offering real return on his deal.
8. Jordan Phillips and Dennis Gardeck could be back in Week 4. Both players are eligible to be activated from IR and both would be huge additions against Matthew Stafford and the Rams.
9. Under the Radar Stars: Rodney Hudson, James Conner, Maxx Williams, Jalen Thompson, DJ Humphries.
10. What’s Next: @ Los Angeles Rams - Rams actually had a home field advantage in their first game at Sofi Staidum with actual fans. This matchup has become the annual reminder that the Cardinals hired store brand Sean McVay. McVay has never lost to the Cardinals a a head coach. With a win, the Cardinals rocket into the conversation of best team in football. With a loss, the Cardinals will be written off as pretenders. The truth is usually somewhere in between.