July 27, 2021

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Halfway Through (Plus One), What We’ve Learned…

3 min read
Halfway Through (Plus One), What We've Learned...

The Cardinals Are Still Trying To Find Their Playmakers

Christian Kirk, David Johnson and Chase Edmonds got hurt. Andy Isabella has been slow to be integrated. Kenyan Drake has been, so far, a revelation. Maxx Williams has been better than expected. Larry Fitzgerald’s role seems to be morphing. A hallmark of Kingsbury’s offenses in college was often that there was not necessarily one or two go-to guys. The Cards will likely have to see what they have in the playmaker department in the offseason, after being able to real-time their offense to see exactly what they need. The guess is that this roster is not set up totally where it needs to be for Kingsbury to maximize what his offense can be.

The Defense Is Going To Struggle Against The Pass

Opposing quarterbacks have thrown 24 touchdown passes and been intercepted just twice this season against the Cardinals, with a 118.4 passer rating. That makes defensive success pretty hard to sustain. The Cardinals have been unable to get a consistent pass rush beyond Chandler Jones, and the coverage has struggled both with tight ends and with the youth in the secondary. As Steve Keim said Friday, the Cardinals have to have guys like Patrick Peterson play well. What he didn’t say was that the margin for error right now is all but zero. Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph will have to work hard to make it work over the last seven games.

The Running Game Has Been Better Than Expected

Kingsbury made the point a few times in the offseason that the running game has always been an important part of his offense. But now that the regular season has unfolded, the coach has some stats to back it up. Even with the injuries at running back, the Cardinals are averaging 5.0 yards a carry as a team, which would be the franchise’s best mark of all-time if it holds through the season. Some of that is because Murray can get you quick, unaccounted for carries for chunks of yards. But Edmonds looked good most of the time when he carried the ball, and Drake did Thursday. (Johnson has been up and down with his YPC.) It hasn’t been only about the pass.

They Are Willing To Play Young Players

Playing inexperienced guys or rookies was all but necessary this season as the Cardinals try to rebuild. But not all coaches are comfortable doing that, and Kingsbury has been. Murray at QB. Justin Murray at right tackle (albeit out of necessity.) KeeSean Johnson at wide receiver, and probably more Isabella going forward. On defense, the secondary has the Thompson twins at safety, Deionte and Jalen, along with cornerback Byron Murphy. It’ll give such players the foundation of some playing time when the Cards start 2020.


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