With DeAndre Hopkins initiated, which weapons do Cardinals turn to?
Given the opportunity to pick his poison, Kyler Murray shrugged. In the 2020 opener, a 24-20 win over the San Francisco 49ers, the Arizona Cardinals quarterback more often than not picked the most deadly one.
He targeted DeAndre Hopkins 16 times, completing 14 passes for 151 yards to his new X receiver on Sunday. Thirty-six rushes between two running backs and two quarterbacks added balance. Now it’s about what comes next.
As in, which Cardinals teammates might benefit from all the attention Hopkins will draw Sunday against the Washington Football Team? Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk come to mind, especially after the latter player recorded zero receiving yards.
After Hopkins, no Arizona player saw more than five targets against the 49ers, but Hopkins believes the attention that Murray put on him in Week 1 should pay off.
“I think that opens up things a lot. Not that those guys need it,” Hopkins said Tuesday. “A guy like Larry Fitzgerald, who’s been consistent his whole career, you’ll see him make plays this Sunday.
“Obviously, my boy didn’t get the ball like he wanted to — I know him as a competitor — but C-Kirk, he made a big play downfield with the penalty. I think you know, obviously, things are going to start opening it up for guys like C-Kirk, who’s a baller, a playmaker, a competitor. But all he cares about is winning. I think that’s everyone’s mindset in this locker room.”
Fitzgerald made four catches for 34 yards against San Francisco, but his most talked about contribution Sunday was picking the ball off the turf on a Hopkins completion, allowing Arizona to spike the ball late in the first half to set up a field goal.
Kirk’s biggest play, as Hopkins said, may have been a pass interference penalty drawn as part of a 14-play, 94-yard drive that helped Arizona go ahead 17-13 in the second half.
Tight ends Dan Arnold (45 snaps) and Maxx Williams (43 snaps) received two targets each — Arnold had 21 receiving yards Sunday — but could also be on the menu more often after Arizona used tight ends heavily to begin 2020.
For what it’s worth, Washington allowed 11 catches for 119 yards and two touchdowns to Philadelphia Eagles tight ends Dallas Goedert and Zach Ertz in Week 1. Those are numbers the abysmal Arizona defense might have allowed a year ago.
Even No. 4 receiver, Andy Isabella, could be more integrated in Week 2 after a bland-looking gameplan in Week 1. He played only 14 snaps.
The Cardinals feel good about where a one-man gameplan in Week 1 might lead them moving forward.
“(Sunday) was kind of Hop’s day,” head coach Kliff Kingsbury said. “He got hot and carried us through, and we have a lot of guys capable of having those type of days. The more weapons you have, the more challenging it is for a defense to prepare for you, and we just have to do a good job as a coaching staff to continue to spread the football around.”