1st and 10: The Cardinals Head Into the Playoffs On a Loss
1st: The Cardinals leadership duo let them down
Kliff Kingsbury and Kyler Murray were simply not good enough down the stretch for the Cardinals. It wasn’t just their on field disappointment on Sunday, it was also their post game leadership that failed the team. Kliff and Kyler spent time after the loss to Seattle justifying their failures over the last month, rationalizing losing and embracing their shortcomings. There are no silver linings for losing at home with the division on the line. Both men tried to play off the Cardinals failures as okay in the face of making the playoffs and their success on the road this season. It was loser talk. Its time for the Cardinals top two leaders to show up for the playoffs.
Bad Body Language Kyler was back.
After a two week reprieve, we got more of Bad Body Language Kyler. He’s a little damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t but for whatever reason Kyler just hasn’t found his lane as a leader for this Cardinals team
Kyler isn’t used to struggling athletically.
The NFL is a well oiled humbling machine, as Murray is finding out. Three years in and Kyler is still struggling to adapt to the speed and athleticism of the NFL. For his entire athletic life, things have likely been fairly effortless as long as he put in the work. The NFL isn’t so simple and its taking its toll on Kyler’s confidence and demeanor.
The offense is toothless without Deandre Hopkins.
Flaccid would be another word. On Sunday, only James Conner was the little blue pill for the Cardinals. Once he left the game with an injury, it was back to turtle-shelling for the offense. His injury status could make or break the Cardinals Wild Card round chances.
The defense hasn’t recovered from the injuries in the secondary.
Since injuries sapped the Cardinals secondary of two starters, the defense hasn’t been the same. Even before their injuries, there were signs the two overachievers had peaked this season. Now, their return may be the only chance the defense has to slow Matthew Stafford and Co. down.
JJ Watt’s return helps but can’t be counted on to solve all of their problems.
The Cardinals will no doubt get some juice from Watt’s improbable return but much is still not known. Will he be on a snap count? How physically limited will he be? How high is the risk of re-injuring the shoulder?
Chandler Jones has entered the next stage of his career.
Call it the Dwight Freeney as a Cardinal stage. Or John Abraham. He’s not a pure situational pass rusher but he’s also not a drive to drive difference maker. That’s become a problem for the Cardinals who need a consistently disruptive Jones to make some postseason noise.
DJ Humphries and Budda Baker had bad days, hopefully that’s it.
Humphries was put on skates a few times and Baker added to his career lowlight reel against the Seahawks when he bounced off Russell Wilson at the goal line. The Cardinals desperately need both next Monday to be their usual selves.
Can Rondale Moore save the Cardinals?
Moore has quietly had kind of a disappointing rookie season for the Cardinals. His best two games were his first two games and since then he’s had seven games under 20 yards receiving and missed the last three games due to injury. If Kliff and Co can utilize his skills, he could make a difference.
Under the Radar Stars
Rodney Hudson. Its always Rodney Hudson.
What’s Next? Wild Card matchup @ the Los Angeles Rams
The Cardinals opened as four point under dogs and the smart money right now would be on the Rams to cover that.