Zach Ertz said “I’m at a loss” and that’s where things seem to be for the Cardinals. Those who need to have answers don’t, and the team as a whole is at a loss – at this point, six losses, after Sunday’s game against the Seahawks.
Seattle is way better than it was expected to be before the season, but this is about the Cardinals and where they are. And that’s on both sides of the ball. Offensively, it’s easy to see what the issues are – way too many penalties, especially pre-snap, among them – but defensively the Cardinals can’t give up 10-of-15 third downs or more than 400 yards.
This isn’t about breaking anything down. This is a big picture now. The Cardinals basically have to win the next two games against the Rams and 49ers. Things can get weird this season – the way the NFC is playing out, it likely won’t take a great record to get into the last playoff spot – but a team is still going to need to be around .500. The Cardinals are not right now.
“We understand what’s going on right now as far as playing bad football,” quarterback Kyler Murray said. “It’s not winning football. And that’s the result you’re going to get when you’re doing stuff like that.”
— The injury to right guard Will Hernandez is one to watch. Kliff Kingsbury said it was a pectoral injury, and that can mean many things but it is often something serious, especially when giant men on the line of scrimmage are grabbing and pushing and pulling other giant men. To potentially missing all three interior OL starters is … not ideal.
— Zaven Collins continues to improve. The interception was impressive – the play recognition, which he struggled with as a rookie, was the most important part.
— There were so many moments that could’ve changed the game. If Byron Murphy holds on to what was a gift-wrapped interception in the end zone early in the game – the Seahawks scored a touchdown on the next play – things could’ve been different. The Cardinals also had a crazy weird drive at the end of the first half. Eno Benjamin gave up his body on a soul-stealing hit to turn a short pass into 15 yards on third-and-14, and on the next third down, new wideout Robbie Anderson dropped a pass when he was wide open. Murray saved the day with a scramble on fourth down – only to have the ball poked loose from behind. It cost the Cardinals three points at least.
“It’s unfortunate,” Murray said. “I haven’t usually fumbled in my career at all, and then the kid made a good play.”
— The Cardinals had the ball for 10 offensive possessions. Only three crossed midfield and only three featured more than one first down.
— Another great playcall that should’ve rescued a third-and-long came in the third quarter. Needing 17 for a first down, Murray threw left to wide receiver Greg Dortch, who threw back cross-field to running back James Conner, who gained 18 yards. One problem: Both passes were forward. Murray said Dortch’s toss was supposed to be the lateral.
— Rondale Moore looked good again. But DeAndre Hopkins only had three targets after the first drive (and his touchdown – he did lose a second TD catch when Anderson false-started.) Rookie Tariq Woolen was on Hopkins a lot of the time, and he is getting credit for such defense . Hop will likely stew on that until the Cardinals see the Seahawks again in 2023.
— It was a rough day for the defense trying to contain the Seahawks’ play-action bootleg passes the opposite way. The backbreaker was Noah Fant’s 51-yarder on such a play when the Cardinals needed the ball back with three minutes left. Kliff Kingsbury said the Cardinals were selling out for the run, but that was basically the ballgame.
— Anderson had his first catch, but it lost four yards. AJ Green, meanwhile, was for the second time in three active games without a snap.
— Eno Benjamin was limping late in the game after a play, so that’s something to watch, especially with Darrel Williams on IR.
That’s all for tonight. On to LA, where the Rams are stinging from a Tom Brady comeback.