1st: Kliff Kingsbury’s transformation is stunning.
- Almost always in the NFL, you are either a good coach or a bad coach. While many good coaches eventually run their course, bad coaches almost always stay bad. Adam Gase will always be bad. Eric Mangini is bad. Kliff Kingsbury is evolving into a good coach. Does that mean my two years or Kliff jokes and roasts was all for naught? Not necessarily. Its more likely what was perceived as Kingsbury’s biggest weakness, his lack of success as a leader, may actually be his greatest strength. He’s not rigid in his ways. He’s not married to anything. He’s open to changes, input and adjustments. That makes him unique in the coaching world where precedent, success and conviction all handcuff most coaches from making the changes they need to make. Kliff’s been good, its as simple as that.
1. Kliff’s penalty was the highlight of the season so far.
- Last year, Kliff’s 15 yard penalty would’ve been used as the primary evidence of his incompetence as an NFL head coach. This year, its a sign of his confidence. K2 talked trash to Josh Norman with the same kind of BDE he probably has when someone else is trying to buy his date a drink at the bar. No need to make a scene but when push comes to shove, she’s leaving with me. Last year, that penalty would’ve felt like the overcompensation LDE of a lifted truck with the dumbest stickers imaginable plastered all over it. What a difference a year makes.
2. Kyle Shanahan had an epic meltdown of a game from a coaching perspective.
- Everything that Kingsbury did well in this game, Shanahan whiffed on. Preparation, execution, focus, energy, discipline were all things Kingsbury’s Cardinals nailed and all things the 49ers fell flat on their face with. Kyle failed to go for 2 late to cut the lead to a two score game, didn’t get his offense into hurry up mode late in the 3rd quarter and generally earned the comparisons I’ve made of him to Kendall Roy of Succession. This was a “question everything!” kind of loss for the 49ers that may resonate well beyond this season.
3. Rodney Hudson is the team’s MVP so far.
- Hudson was back after his IR trip and the difference was palatable. His physicality at center has been lauded since he landed in the desert. The Cardinals played like a team hungry to physically dominate their opponent and that’s Hudson’s specialty.
4. 9 games in, the Cardinals are probably better than you think.
- They have the best record, the biggest point differential, are undefeated on the road, have the third best turnover margin in the NFL, third most sacks, allowed the third fewest points per game and scored the most points per game. And they dominate in DVOA. They are the best and most consistent team in the NFL heading into mid-November.
5. Colt McCoy’s played a nearly perfect game.
- The biggest shock for me on Sunday was the play of Colt McCoy. The well traveled veteran is the perfect backup but also the kind of backup that comes in and doesn’t screw things up. On Sunday, he did a Frank Caliendo-level impression of Kyler Murray. He even had a few soul crushing first downs with his legs. McCoy was nearly flawless against the 49ers and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think there was at least going to be a noticeable dropoff without Kyler at the helm.
6. Chase Edmonds injury will be yet another test for this team.
- Losing Edmonds for a few weeks would be a challenge for the Cardinals but not one they can’t overcome. Much like all their other challenges, this should be one the Cardinals withstand. James Conner was a man possessed against the 49ers and Eno Benjamin left Dre Kirkpatrick’s competitive soul smeared on the grass. The Cardinals will be ok.
7. AJ Green’s absence continues.
- The biggest question coming out of the Cardinals Week 9 game is still “Why didn’t AJ Green turn around in Week 8?”. Our wait continues.
8. It was a very good weekend for the Cardinals outside of their win too.
- Not only did the Cardinals win but Dallas lost, Green Bay lost, Los Angeles lost and the Buccaneers didn’t win. Its a little early for scoreboard watching but right now the Cardinals are in complete control after a very favorable Week 9.
9. Under the Radar Stars
- Every coach that stepped up after COVID once again kept the Cardinals from having a full staff and Kelvin Beachum and DJ Humphries.
10. What’s Next? Vs. Carolina.
- The Cardinals could see PJ Walker since Sam Darnold is a walking turnover. Last year, the Panthers embarrassed the Cardinals in Carolina. More than that, Matt Rhule went all Baylor vs Texas Tech and outcoached Kingsbury thoroughly all game.