Rapid Reactions: Cardinals improve to 2-0, Kyler Murray stars in win
It was the Kyler Murray show in the Arizona Cardinals’ 30-15 win over the Washington Football Team.
Murray’s line of 353 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns was pretty good as it is, but it was more about the plays the second-year quarterback was consistently making to get to those numbers.
That playmaking and a solid defense was what carried the Cardinals, as head coach Kliff Kingsbury said after the game he wasn’t happy with the offense’s rhythm and the number of penalties.
Arizona Sports hosts, reporters and editors give their thoughts on a 2-0 start to the season for Arizona.
John Gambadoro, co-host of Burns & Gambo
What’s not to like about 2-0?
The Cardinals completely dominated this football game and the outcome was never in doubt. There is a lot to like about what we are seeing with this football team right now.
Let’s start with Kyler Murray. He will get $40 million dollars per year in two years when Arizona gives him an extension and he will be worth every penny. I mean, have you ever seen anyone make more people look stupid missing tackles than Murray? Let’s begin with the first touchdown run of 14 yards in which he looked like he was in a video game. The cutback on Troy Apke to get into the end zone — I mean I actually felt bad for the Washington free safety. Like, what is he supposed to do besides pick up his jockstrap at the 5-yard line?! And the second touchdown run by Murray, the one that went for 21 yards in which he was untouched. The blocking was excellent, as he got great help from Kenyan Drake and Andy Isabella, and he even had Justin Pugh down the field. On the play in which Arizona had trips right and Hopkins left, Murray scrambled left, cut back to the middle and then Akpe diving for air. The kid is special.
Now, let’s talk about the defense. In Week 1, the Cards had sacks by Chandler Jones, Angelo Blackson and Zach Allen. This week, they had sacks by Corey Peters, Jordan Phillips, Devon Kennard and Haason Reddick. That’s seven sacks by seven different players. The Washington pass rush that had eight sacks last week vs. Philly had three on Murray and one was credited to Landon Collins when Murray ran out of bounds. Great job the Cards o-line again. Arizona had 160 rushing yards, and if you take Murray out, Drake averaged 4.3 yards per carry gaining 86 yards on 20 carries, including 5 back-breaking carries to basically run out the clock late fourth quarter. That DeAndre Hopkins guy just adds eight more catches and a TD. The Cards were 7-for-17 on third down and ran 73 plays one week after running 78. By comparison, Washington ran 60. If you want to nitpick, Patrick Peterson got beat a few times by the speedster Terry McLaurin.
Dave Burns, co-host of Burns & Gambo
It was hard…really hard…to put a limit on your imagination Sunday. Hard not to look at Kyler Murray and wonder if he truly is an MVP candidate thanks to having more tools than a Home Depot. Hard not to look at DeAndre Hopkins and think that he might be an even bigger steal than you first thought. Hard not measure the improvement of a defense that is allowing opponents to convert only 26% of their third downs so far. Hard not to look at a schedule that features not one, not two but three 0-2 teams in the next three weeks and wonder if 5-0 is on the horizon. Mostly it’s hard not to look at the Cards in their entirety and wonder if they are the chosen worst-to-first team for 2020 that is perhaps capable of even more than that.
Truthfully, Washington isn’t very good and I think most of us at the station had a feeling a laugher was possible, even likely. And since we’re being honest, there are a few things that could use some cleaning up. Mostly the penalties and a couple of chances to really run up the score early that went by the wayside.
In the end, the issues are fixable and not nearly worrisome enough to take our focus off of the real story of Week 2: The Cardinals have a force of nature at quarterback. Murray’s star shines brighter by the week as he ties defenses in knots that are just too tight to undo. So far nobody has provided an answer for how to limit him let alone stop him and the part that might give the league the same kind of anxiety that Ron Rivera has been dealing with is simply this; there is room for improvement. He can/should/will get better. And once that happens, feel free to dream whatever dream you’d like about the 2020 Arizona Cardinals.
Kevin Zimmerman, Cardinals reporter and editor for ArizonaSports.com
The sentiment is that the Cardinals left points on the board and the defense let things slip a tad in the second half. All that unperfectness is only promising for a 2-0 team. Nevertheless, the home opener against Washington sure felt like a dominant victory for Arizona and was more affirmation that Kyler Murray is indeed in line to be one of the most improved players in the NFL. At this point, though, it should be pointed out that the defense has made the bigger jump from a year ago, and so far offseason additions have a lot to do with it. Tackle Jordan Phillips forced a fumble, linebacker De’Vondre Campbell said “no” to Washington while covering tight ends and running backs, and Devon Kennard recorded his first sack as a Cardinal.
Jordan Byrd, host of Arizona Sports Saturday and producer of Burns & Gambo
In what could be a sign of just how good the Cardinals can be this season, Arizona played sloppy and mistake-filled football and still dominated Washington. Within the first few minutes, it was clear who was the superior team in Glendale on Sunday and yet it didn’t turn into the blowout it could have. Penalties and mental mistakes plagued the Cards all afternoon and kept Washington in the game much longer than they should have. Being able to overcome these setbacks is a positive sign but won’t be sustainable against better competition.
There were some individual performances I was pleased to see. Hasson Reddick continues to improve since being moved to the outside and Andy Isabella demonstrated that in small doses he can be another weapon defenses have to contend with. It certainly wasn’t pretty, but the sign of a good team is being able to win when not playing your best. And that’s exactly what Kliff Kingsbury’s team did on Sunday.
Kellan Olson, reporter and editor for ArizonaSports.com
That’s what a dynamic quarterback can do for a football team.
The Cardinals were lethargic for the most part on offense, and if it wasn’t for the handful of awesome individual plays made by Murray, they would have left their defense in an unfair position after it was excellent to open the game. An average defense with a game-changing Murray is the formula for the Cardinals’ success, and they’ve hit 2-for-2 on that combination to two wins.
They’ve undoubtedly got some things to clean up, but they can take care of that in three very winnable games coming up before the schedule gets tough.
Vince Marotta, Co-host of Bickley & Marotta
This year and future seasons might just boil down to one thing for the Arizona Cardinals: They have Kyler Murray and you don’t.
The second-year quarterback was fantastic with both his arms and legs again in leading the Cardinals to a 34-15 win over the Washington Football Team at an empty State Farm Stadium.
Arizona is 2-0 for the first time since 2015 — the same year they played for an NFC Championship.
For the second straight week, there was a momentum-shifting play early. This week, after a Murray interception set Dwayne Haskins and Washington up at the Cardinals’ 19, Jordan Phillips got a strip sack and Chandler Jones recovered it. That squelched Washington’s best scoring chance in the first 30 minutes and led 20-0 at the break.
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves just yet, there’s plenty to sort out for this team.
They committed 11 penalties that cost them 97 yards.
With a comfortable lead in the third quarter, the Cardinals just got weird on offense. They went three-and-out on their first drive of the half and then had a strange 7-play possession that featured a fourth-down conversion run on an option reverse run by Christian Kirk from their own 27-yard line. They immediately followed it up with two penalties and still punted from their own 14.
Up 27-9 early in the fourth, the Cardinals routinely snapped the ball with 20 or more seconds left on the play clock — not exactly a great strategy for milking the clock with a lead.
But ultimately, they dug deep when they needed to. With a 27-15 lead, the Cardinals took over with 6:34 left and ran the ball with authority. Kenyan Drake bulled his way for 34 yards on the drive that ended in a short field goal by Zane Gonzalez.
Washington, who opted not to use any timeouts on the possession (curious, I know), looked defeated and gassed. That’s because they were.
The offensive line, again, played well and neutralized a very talented pass rush and front seven. Washington finished with four sacks, but for only a total loss of eight yards.
Kliff Kingsbury doesn’t feel like the Cardinals have played a complete game yet, and likely they haven’t. But they’re in a stretch of schedule that allows them to sharpen things against beatable opponents the next three weeks.