1st: The Cardinals offense doesn't just beat you, they crush your soul.
- It doesn’t matter if your defense calls the exact same play the Cardinals offense is going to run like Tecmo Bowl, Kyler Murray will find a way to beat you. The Rams are a defense built around literal and figurative strength, anchored by two physical monsters in Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey and Kyler reduced them to a pile of goo by the 4th quarter. The Cardinals were able to beat the Rams at their own game, converting more than 60% of their 3rd downs, including several huge 3rd and longs. This offense sets a tone, attacks from all angles but most importantly the Cardinals offense sows doubt in every defender’s mind. It’s an advantage the Cardinals are starting to reap the benefits from.
1. The Cardinals are the new Suns.
- The Suns were considered a cute novelty for much of their run last season. At some point you have to decide if you believe in the team or not. I believed in the Suns early on and I feel the same about the Cardinals. Injuries can change everything but right now, the Cardinals are a worthy heir apparent to the Suns incredibly fun, surprising run from last season.
2. Kliff Kingsbury has earned a new nickname.
- At the end of the Fox Broadcast, Daryl Johnston said that after the Cardinals win in LA, the critics of Kliff Kingsbury would be quieted. As one of the loudest Kliff critics, I can vouch that to be true. After going 0-4 in his head to head matchups against Sean McVay, I dubbed Kliff Store Brand Cereal Sean McVay. Congratulations K2, you’re new nickname is Frosted Flakes.
3. Kyler Murray is evolving in front of our eyes.
- Kyler’s evolution in year 3 is obvious in some ways and more subtle in others. The most obvious evolution in real time was watching Kyler eliminate his one or two “what-was-he-thinking? Throws that he showed in the first three games of this season and making better decisions. He was still able to make plays downfield, still took some chances on tight windows but avoided the momentum altering turnover that had come up in every other game this season. The more subtle change? This was the second national broadcast team to comment how different he was to deal with in production meetings leading up to the game. How you present yourself and to who matters for leaders of organizations and Kyler is finally embracing all aspects of the QB position.
4. Byron Murphy's emergence is one of the season's biggest developments.
- The Cardinals haven’t had a shutdown corner since Patrick Peterson tested positive for PED’s. Byron Murphy is that guy, pal. Before his rib injury on Sunday, Murphy was doing the same things to the Rams that Jalen Ramsey does to the Rams opponents. His emergence in 2021 is one of the most important to the Cardinals success, both short term and long term.
5. The Cardinals offense is as good as any in football.
- There are just a handful of offenses that truly matter in the NFL right now. The Bucs, the Chiefs, the Cowboys and the Cardinals. Others, like the Bills or Packers or Seahawks could join them but right now the Cardinals offense belongs in the conversation as the most dynamic in football.
6. Rodney Hudson is the unsung hero of the Cardinals season.
- Kyler Murray mentioned the newcomers this year adding physicality to the field and he was speaking directly about Rodney Hudson. Going from Mason Cole to Rodney Hudson is like the difference between wrestling your little brother to wrestling a grizzly bear. Hudson may prove to be the move that saves Steve Keim’s job.
7. Maxx Williams is on pace to make history.
- No player’s usage better reflects Kliff Kingbury’s growth than Maxx Williams. Kingsbury loved to put square pegs in round holes his first two years believing system trumped fit. Now he’s learned to adapt his system to his personnel and Maxx Williams is benefitting. Since the Cardinals moved to AZ, the highest single season receiving yards for a TE was Jay Novacek in 1988 with 569. Maxx Williams is on pace for over 700 yards.
8. Jalen Thompson is making a name all for himself.
- No longer just the guy next to Budda Baker, Jalen Thompson is becoming a force in his own right. There are times watching the game where a Cardinals defenders rockets in to make a play and it takes me a minute to figure out if its Budda Baker or Jalen Thompson.
9. Under the Radar Stars - Matt Prater, Justin Pugh, Robert Alford, James Conner and Sean Kugler.
10. What's Next?
- At home versus the San Francisco 49ers. Trey Lance is on deck and State Farm Stadium will be the test track for Kyle Shanahan to test out his new sports car. The 49ers are always dangerous and with a full week of practice, Lance could give the Cardinals their toughest defensive task of the season.