Rapid Reactions: Cardinals fail to handle Newton-less Panthers
Sep 22, 2019, 5:26 PM | Updated: Sep 23, 2019, 7:16 am
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
The Arizona Cardinals were favored coming into Sunday’s game against the Carolina Panthers, who were without quarterback Cam Newton, but they ultimately lost 38-20.
Cardinals’ quarterback Kyler Murray went 30-of-43 and had two touchdowns. He also threw two interceptions, the first of which sent things into a downward spiral for the Cardinals at the end of the third quarter.
Murray’s said in the past that he doesn’t like to get hit, but he was sacked eight times in Sunday’s loss.
The Cardinals’ defense struggled to contain Kyle Allen and his receivers. In the second quarter, Allen found DJ Moore down the field for a 52-yard touchdown pass. In the third quarter, Allen handed the ball off to Christian McCaffrey, who took it for a 76-yard touchdown run.
Here are the rapid reactions from the 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station staff:
Dave Burns, Co-host of Burns & Gambo
After Kyler Murray hit David Johnson for the touchdown to start the second half, the Cardinals led 17-14. On their next drive, Zane Gonzalez hit a 47-yard field goal to cut the Panthers’ lead to a perfectly manageable 21-20 margin with 2:52 left in the third quarter. From that moment on, the Cards amassed a whopping minus 16-yards of offense with one first down on 15 plays.
So what happened? Two things. Christian McCaffrey ran virtually untouched up the middle for a 76 yard touchdown and Murray threw his first interception of the game two plays later. The toxic combination of the two seemed to break the Cards. The interception was quickly flipped into yet another Panthers touchdown putting the Cards in chase mode the rest of the game. Whatever spunk Murray displayed quickly vanished.
This loss is the first true disappointment of the 2019 season. Credit Kyle Allen for playing a virtually flawless game, but the Cards couldn’t pressure him and don’t seem to have a soul on the roster who can adequately cover a tight end. Murray, in complete control the first half, flaunted his inexperience in the fourth quarter. Two giant drops changed the complexion of the contest. David Johnson gained 3.4 yards per carry. A game that looked winnable at home against a backup QB got out of hand in a hurry.
John Gambadoro, Co-host of Burns & Gambo
Through three games, the Cardinals, while showing improvement and being more competitive, have yet to put it all together and play a complete game. The Cardinals completely fell apart in the second half against Carolina on Sunday, allowing a long touchdown run, numerous fourth-quarter sacks of their quarterback and two back-breaking interceptions by Kyler Murray.
Murray broke out of his shell and showed off his running capability in this one and the offense converted some red-zone touchdowns. But the lack of pass rush on a young quarterback is mind-boggling. Chandler Jones had two sacks but without Patrick Peterson and Robert Alford, the Cardinals need their front seven to win more one-on-one matchups in getting to the quarterback. Arizona can’t get blitz-happy with their top two corners out so pressure needs to come from players just beating their guys. Covering the tight end continues to be a problem — this time it was DJ Swearinger who struggled.
The game just got away from Arizona in the second half after Christian McCaffrey broke off a long touchdown.
And the David Johnson question continues — can he ever get back to being the dominant back he was in 2016. So far the answer is no. There just doesn’t seem to be any belief when he gets the ball that he is going to do something special.
Kellan Olson, editor and reporter
Maybe this is easier to say because I was really low on this team (and its defense) in the first place, but my biggest takeaway was the successful high-tempo drives Murray led at the start of each half.
The 14-play, 74-yard drive to open the game was the best the offense has flowed all season. That’s the special sauce Kingsbury brings with Murray as his quarterback, and we finally saw it. Murray’s legs, in particular, added an extra element the offense was missing in the first two weeks.
Besides the obvious with the defense coming back to reality given their talent level, the biggest worry was the inability of the Cardinals pass-catchers to get open.
That was a huge problem last season and is one again in 2019. Andy Isabella not being a factor at all as a second-round pick is an issue. Despite the holes all over this roster, I wonder if the Cardinals should consider investing their likely high first-round pick on one of the wideouts from Alabama.
Kevin Zimmerman, editor and reporter
There were two main elements to evaluate the loss to the Panthers by. Concisely, the offense put together its best, most creative drive of the season on the first possession then saw a rookie quarterback behind a rickety offensive line struggle to play catchup with too many pass-rushers in his face.
The other thing to consider is this: Arizona isn’t good enough to make mistakes or miss on opportunities given. A deep ball to Christian Kirk, which that would’ve given the Cardinals life, was dropped. So was a sure touchdown catch to a wide open Trent Sherfield. And the defense? Woo, boy. Giving up explosive plays and losing Greg Olsen in coverage multiple times certainly wasn’t all on out-execution on the part of Carolina. Arizona made way too many mistakes on that side of the ball. The Cardinals allowed 7.0 yards per play. Enough said.
Vince Marotta, Co-host of Bickley & Marotta
That brilliance is I could really muster after Sunday’s loss to Carolina. That defensive performance was uh-oh bad.
The Cardinals were surgically dismantled by an undrafted quarterback making his second start in the NFL. Kyle Allen looked like a cross between Patrick Mahomes and Joe Montana Sunday. Arizona generated zero pressure (outside of two Chandler Jones sacks) and Allen had his way. Receivers, and more disturbingly, tight ends roamed free in the Cardinals’ secondary once again.
In fact, in three games, Vance Joseph’s defense has allowed opposing tight ends to catch 23 passes for 348 yards and five touchdowns. If that stat line belonged to one person, he’d rank tied for 5th in the NFL in receptions, 2nd in yardage and first in touchdowns.