Are Cardinals better than they showed against the Lions? They better hope so – The Arizona Republic

Posted: September 28, 2020 at 11:56 pm


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One football game in September should not a referendum on the season, but it can be a point on a graph that indicateswhere a team is in its development and how far it has to go to be considered good.

The answers for the Cardinals after Sunday are a.) still in the learning stages and b.) so far that they should pack a lunch, maybe some snacks and plenty of water for the trip.

Good teams dont lose at home, 26-23, to the Lions, who snapped an 11-game losing streak.

Good offenses dont commit three turnovers, run eight plays in the fourth quarter, or throw seven passes in the direction of a second-year receiver, KeeSean Johnson, and only two in the direction of a future hall of famer, Larry Fitzgerald.

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) walks off the field after being defeated by the Detroit Lions at State Farm Stadium.(Photo: Rob Schumacher/The Republic)

Good defenses dont let opponents drive 75 yards for a touchdown near the end of the first half or 70 yards for the game-winning field goal with no time left.

As coach Kliff Kingsbury accurately pointed out afterward, the Cardinals deserved to lose Sunday. Even in these divisive times, no one could argue.

We lost a game, so obviously none of us did enough, Kingsbury said.

Kingsbury blamed himself for the Cardinals' first loss of the season. Didnt have the team ready, he said. Called a bad game. Has to get the ball to Fitzgerald more often. Needs to communicate better with quarterback Kyler Murray.

Kingsbury is correct on all counts.

Including Kingsbury, the Cardinals were all over the map on Sunday.

Kingsburys a gifted play caller, but he outsmarted himself too often on Sunday. Like when he took Murray out and put backup Chris Streveler in on fourth and one in the third quarter. The Cardinals were late lining up, called a timeout, and then tight end Dan Arnold was called for a false start.

Why take Murray out on fourth down? Especially after the brilliant touchdown 1-yard touchdown run he made in the second quarter?

And why later in the quarter did Kingsbury call three consecutive pass plays after Kenyan Drake had rushed for 15 yards and a first down?

Murray threw two touchdown passes to Andy Isabella, including one that dropped into Isabellas hands just before the receiver ran out of end zone. But Murray had three passes intercepted. Causes:a deflection, a bad decision and a poor throw.

The defense twice held the Lions to field goals after Murray had passes intercepted in Cardinals territory. Yet, quarterback Matthew Stafford shredded it for 75 yards at the end of the first half, and for 61 yards on the final possession.

Im pissed, defensive tackle Corey Peterson said. Obviously, we had opportunities to win the game, even as poorly as we played.

But the Cardinals apparently arent far enough along in their development to do that.

Sep 27, 2020; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray throws an interception to Detroit Lions cornerback Jeff Okudah (30) in the second half at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher/The Arizona Republic via USA TODAY NETWORK(Photo: Rob Schumacher/The Republic)

The good news is there is not only room for improvement, but the capability of it.

Murray is a more consistent passer than hes shown. He hasfeathered a pass in to Isabella in the back of the end zone, andzipped an 18-yard out to DeAndre Hopkins.

But hes also missed on a couple of deep balls this season, and his ability to throw while on the run needs work.

Kingsbury is a creative play caller, but sometimes need the self-awareness that often the best designs are simple.

Against the worst rush defense in the first two weeks of the season, why run a reverse to Isabella? And why did Fitzgerald, who entered the game with 645 receptions at State Farm Stadium, finish with 646?

Over the next two weeks, there is an opportunity for the Cardinals to reset and address the shortcomings that were apparent on Sunday.

Carolina, next weeks opponent, is 1-2 and missing running back Christian McCaffrey. The Jets, the opponent the following week, are 0-3 and missing, well, pretty much everything.

Three weeks in, its impossible to tell for sure what kind of team that Cardinals are going to be this season. Lets hope it's not the one that played the Lions Sunday.

Reach Kent Somers at Kent.Somers@gannett.com. Follow him on twitter @kentsomers. Hear Somers every Monday and Friday at 7:30 a.m. on The Drive with Jody Oehler on Fox Sports 910 AM.

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Are Cardinals better than they showed against the Lions? They better hope so - The Arizona Republic

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September 28th, 2020 at 11:56 pm

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