The Cardinals have arrived at the bye weekend, and that itself is an accomplishment. In a world where the coronavirus - or the potential to
catch the coronavirus - overshadows everything, that the Cards have made
it though seven games without an issue is a big step.
So too is how they have played. It was hard to get a sense of exactly
where this team was coming out of training camp, but here they are,
among the leaders in the NFC, battling for the top of the best division
"Prior to the season, just instinctively Anthony Davis Kentucky Jersey
, I had a feel that we had a chance to be a pretty good football team,"
GM Steve Keim said. "I also felt like, if we were going to lose games,
it was going to be because we beat ourselves. I don't want to say that
with any arrogance, but at the same time the way we have lost those two
games are because of self-inflicted mistakes. I know a lot of teams can
say that, but I truly feel like, when we put it all together, and we do
everything we can do from a talent and a team standpoint, I feel like
we're going to be a hard out."
So what have the Cardinals learned at the bye?
KYLER MURRAY'S LEGS HAVE BECOME A MAJOR WEAPON
?Kyler Murray?'s ability to run and scramble was always part of his game
- it's why he was the No. 1 overall pick. But he and coach Kliff
Kingsbury have unlocked the run in 2020. Murray is on pace for just
under 1,000 yards rushing, he already has scored seven touchdowns on the
ground and he is averaging 6.7 yards a carry. At the same time, he has
figured out how to use his legs for good, avoiding sacks much better
than as a rookie, having been sacked only nine times in seven games.
KLIFF KINGSBURY IS (MOSTLY) AGGRESSIVE
OK, so if Kingsbury had to do it over again, he probably stays on
offense in overtime rather than settle for a second-down field-goal try,
but truthfully, that was one of the rare times Kingsbury hasn't pushed
it. He goes for it often on fourth down, he likes to up-tempo the
offense Carmelo Anthony Syracuse Jersey
. And it's paid off - the Cardinals are averaging 29 points a game and
DEANDRE HOPKINS IS EXACTLY WHAT WAS PROMISED
The Cardinals won the ?DeAndre Hopkins? trade when it happened - that
was a given. But Hopkins has been spectacular in his first seven games
as a Cardinal. He leads the league in catches (57) and yards (704) and
has already made a handful of crucial plays. As the Cardinals' offense
evolves, it underscores how they needed a No. 1 receiver, and what
impact Hopkins has made.
CHASE EDMONDS PLAYS A VITAL ROLE IN THE OFFENSE
The Cardinals will have to find out how to deal with the loss of ?Kenyan
Drake?, who has been solid if not spectacular the first part of the
season. The duo of Drake and ?Chase Edmonds? was as good as there is as a
two-some. More falls on the shoulders of Edmonds, who, in his limited
touches, has been excellent all season. It's only because he doesn't get
the ball a ton that his year hasn't been noticed more. The Cards don't
beat the Seahawks without his timely plays. He'll get more work now as
the starter; he can't wait to get that chance.
THE OFFENSIVE LINE HAS DEPTH
The offensive line is ranked high in the key metrics Ja Morant Murray State Jersey
, and even if the players themselves shrug that off, it's clear the unit
has become something impressive. Some of it is the quarterback and the
way Kingsbury runs the offense, but it's also they way the group has
been playing - and even if a player has an injury, GM Steve Keim has
finally built a unit that can survive some mishaps.
ISAIAH SIMMONS IS A WORK-IN-PROGRESS
It's the (non-)story of the pre-bye, how much first-round pick Isaiah
Simmons isn't playing. Some of it is Simmons' inability to get any
offseason work at a position for which he needed it at inside
linebacker. Some of it is the realization that, at this point, De'Vondre
Campbell is better for the defense. Simmons capped his first half of
the season with a (soon-to-be) game-winning interception against the
Seahawks. Will he play a lot more in the coming weeks? Hard to say. But
barring injury, the Cardinals aren't going to put him out there just for
the sake of having him out there.
BUDDA BAKER IS A STAR
The safety made a Pro Bowl last year. And then the Cardinals gave him a
giant contract extension. Maybe Budda Baker was trying to live up to all
that - or maybe Baker is just that guy. Either way, he has been one of
the best in the NFL, showing it when he has played and proving it even
when he did not (in Carolina.) Baker was named a captain after Chandler
Jones got hurt, and it makes too much sense. He's become the heartbeat
of the defense, much like predecessor Tyrann Mathieu was once upon a
BUT BAKER CAN'T OUTRUN DK METCALF
I mean, we all saw it. But it was a hell of an interception.
EVEN WITHOUT CHANDLER JONES, THE CARDS CAN PRESSURE THE PASSER
Losing Jones was crushing. The man is one of the best in the league Kemba Walker Uconn Jersey
, and the Cards lost in the locker room there too. But defensive
coordinator Vance Joseph has found a way. The Cards still have 19 sacks,
which is among the best in the league, and they are pushing the pocket.
Now they have Markus Golden arriving to help. The secondary has played
well, but the pass rush has to hold up its end of the bargain. So far,
Sando: "Having a young QB with ability lifts up everyone in the
Ruiz: "Having a star quarterback. Kyler is developing into that star
quarterback this season, and when you have a guy like that, it gives you
such a bigger margin for error. Like you saw on Sunday, they made those
mistakes and made some coaching mistakes. They didn't capitalize on
some opportunities they had, and it didn't matter because they had
Kyler. His unique skillset allowed those late drives to happen. He just
unlocks so much for that offense and for the team as a whole."
Q: How would you handicap the NFC West?
Orlovsky: "I'd say the Rams stand out. I took the Rams to win the
division before the season started, just because I think they are the
most complete football team. ... I said this (Tuesday): the common theme
of all the NFC West teams is one, they've all got great coaching, two,
all of their quarterbacks are playing good football, but the
differentiator is the Rams have at least some form of a defense. Seattle
right now doesn't. San Francisco is just so banged up, but they might
be getting healthier. Arizona, if their defense continues to buckle down
in crucial situations Kyrie Irving Duke Jersey
, they're going to be really, really difficult to play against. I could
convince anybody that any team in that division is going to win. I truly
feel confident saying that. I can't do that in any other division."
Schatz: "We've got Seattle 38%, the Rams 27, Arizona 26 and the 49ers 9
(to win the NFC West). The deal is, the 49ers and the Rams, their
schedules get much harder going forward. Arizona's schedule gets a
little harder, and Seattle's schedule gets even less a little bit
harder. There's not much change to Seattle's. We have the entire
division having a winning record 38% of the time, but the entire
division making the playoffs only 5% of the time because New Orleans and
Tampa Bay are so good."
Sando: "The NFC West is tough to handicap. All the teams are good but
flawed. I default to the team with the best QB (Seattle) but think the
Seahawks will have a hard time sweeping any season series in the
Ruiz: "I would probably put Seattle as the top team in that division,
and I think I would go Rams over the Cardinals at this point, though I
feel like the Cardinals, Rams and 49ers are stuck in a group just below
Seattle. But Arizona has the best point-differential in the division.
Maybe what we saw against Seattle, that's what we'll see going forward.
And if that's the case - the defense playing well and the offense
starting to click in both phases, the passing game and the running game -
I would not be surprised if the Cardinals are right there by the
Seahawks by December."