Rapid Reactions: Cardinals get comfortable-enough win over Jets
Convincing? Debatable! But a win’s a win for the Arizona Cardinals right now, and a 30-10 scoreline over the New York Jets was a bounce-back victory Arizona was in need of after losing two straight.
Kyler Murray threw for a career-high 380 yards while DeAndre Hopkins had another huge day with six receptions for 131 yards and a touchdown.
Arizona had some problems throughout, including a shaky start to the third quarter that left the door open for the Jets to get back in the game trailing 17-10.
But the Joe Flacco-led squad wasn’t capable of that, with a handful of drops not helping the Jets’ cause.
Arizona Sports’ hosts, reporters and editors give their thoughts on the Cardinals victory.
John Gambadoro, co-host of Burns & Gambo
OK, let’s start with reality. This was not a game the Cardinals were going to lose. The Jets could be on their way to 0-16. They are that bad. All Arizona had to do was show up and they were going to win. But let’s take a deeper dive into the game, because beyond winning, the Cards needed to show some improvements in areas of concern.
They needed to establish a running game outside of Kyler Murray — they did that. Between Kenyan Drake and Chase Edmonds, the Cardinals rushed 21 times for 96 yards. Drake’s 3.3 yards per carry average is not good but he did get 19 carries and the Cardinals were committed to the running game. Right now Edmonds looks fresher and more explosive and his three carries for 36 yards were the perfect change of pace from Drake. Going forward, Edmonds needs more carries. But good balance with 30 runs and 37 passes. Kyler had a TD run amongst his nine carries for 31 yards.
We wanted to see some semblance of a downfield attack and we did see that. The 37-yard touchdown pass from Murray to the Hopkins was pure perfection. This coming a few plays after a 45-yard bomb to Hopkins in which Murray underthrew him but the greatness of Hopkins allowed for the big gain. The intermediate and deep pass was much more prevalent in this game for Murray — who also connected with Christian Kirk (2) and Andy Isabella on pass plays of 20 yards or more, including one to Chase Edmonds for 30 yards. So some progress going down the field and getting vertical. I also liked another great 4th down call from Kliff Kingsbury in the second half as Murray hit Daniels off a terrific play-action pass which set up a TD that made it 24-10.
We also wanted to see Vance Joseph’s defense get after the quarterback and dominate a game. The Jets were held to 10 points, 285 yards and went 4-for-13 on third down. Now, these Jets are pathetic offensively and don’t pose much of a threat. But nonetheless, the Cardinals defense never let them get going. Dennis Gardeck subbing for the injured Chandler Jones and seeing his first defensive snaps of the year had two sacks and Budda Baker added one. Jamison Crowder did have eight catches for 116 yards as the lone bright spot for New York.
All in all the Cards did what they needed to do. Win a game they were supposed to win and win it going away. I wouldn’t read too much into this victory. It is a win but not really one you can evaluate where the Cardinals are at with. The good news is they did what they needed to do and didn’t struggle.
Dave Burns, co-host of Burns & Gambo
The “Get Right” game for the Cards went exactly as planned. They “Got Right” against a Jets team that looks like it’s walking the Green Mile. But before any time is spent on what got fixed for the Cards and what remains broken for the Jets, the potential loss of Chandler Jones that has to be addressed. It’s a mood killer and real adversity for a team that hasn’t experienced much of it in 2020. The additions of Devon Kennard, Jordan Phillips and others were designed to accentuate Jones, not replace him and frankly I’m not sure how they do that moving forward. He’s off to an uncommonly slow start but you just don’t replace one of the premier pass rushers in the game in the blink of an eye. Vance Joseph has his work cut out for him.
Beyond that, the Jets were like bacon; they made everything on the Cardinals just a little bit better. Kyler Murray was aggressively – sometimes too aggressively – pushing the ball down the field. On a couple of occasions, he simply heaved the ball down the field and was fortunate there weren’t more interceptions. But the 380 yards and 10.3 yards per attempt were a far cry from last weekend and it was refreshing to see the offense traveling in a more north-south direction. Speaking of compasses, Kenyan Drake seemed to fix his internal compass mid-series. Almost sensing the frustration with too much side-to-side, Drake capped off a brilliant series with some tough tackle-splitting rushes. Hopefully, he can build on that because the fan frustration, and the desire to see more Chase Edmonds, was palpable.
But the play of the game belonged to DeAndre Hopkins, a one-handed snare in the end zone during which he got popped. His adjustment to an underthrown ball earlier in the series was magnificent. The Murray-Hopkins connection flourished against the Jets and provided an exclamation point to Houston firing Bill O’Brien earlier in the week.
Defensively, the Cardinals did more than enough against a Jets team with too many flaws to list and a coach that will be relieved to be relieved of his duties soon enough. The Cards’ future depends less on building from this game and more on building a game plan around a pass rush without Chandler Jones.
Vince Marotta, co-host of Bickley & Marotta
One of the big issues with the Arizona Cardinals during their consecutive losses against Detroit and Carolina was early-game urgency.
The Cardinals got off to slow starts in both games, and lost both. So, could they come out early and get off to a quick start against a woeful Jets team?
Forcing two three-and-outs and then marching on an 89-yard touchdown drive for a 7-0 lead answered that question with a resounding ‘Yes.’ Arizona went on to win 30-10, earning their first road win against the Jets since 1975 (and no, they don’t play there often).
The Cardinals also corrected other issues that had plagued them, namely more of a downfield passing game. Kyler Murray threw for a career-high 380 yards, completing 27-of-37 passes. He spread the ball around; four players had four or more catches. The highlight of the passing game came in the fourth quarter when Murray tested the Jets’ defense, going deep to DeAndre Hopkins, who was well-covered, but still made the catch for a beautiful 37-yard touchdown.
But let’s remember, this performance came against the Jets, who are every bit as bad as they were advertised heading into the game. Joe Flacco, who I thought might use this as a, ‘Hey, remember me?’ kind of moment as he tries to resurrect his career, didn’t. He wasn’t horrible, but his receivers didn’t help him at all with several dropped passes. Adam Gase is a curious play-caller, and that’s being kind.
Of concern: Chase Edmonds is clearly the most explosive back the Cardinals have, and he got only three carries, one of which he took in for a 29-yard touchdown. Meanwhile, the team’s $8 million man, Kenyan Drake, made some mind-boggling decisions trying to bounce the ball outside. After three such decisions, he came to the sideline and apparently got a talking-to, because he attacked the middle of the Jets’ defense in subsequent carries, gaining 60 yards on 18 carries. But again, why only three carries for Edmonds?
Another bummer is that Chandler Jones left the game with a biceps injury and after the game, coach Kliff Kingsbury said if that’s confirmed, it would be a season-ending injury.
The Cardinals are back above .500 and have another chance to improve offensively against a dreadful Dallas defense next Monday night.
Doug Franz, co-host of Doug & Wolf
First and foremost, it was the Jets.
Secondly, the way the Cardinals played the last two weeks, they wouldn’t have beaten the Jets either, so we did see improvement.
KLIFF: Looked like the late 2019 offense that actually has balance.
KYLER: Dramatically better at anticipating what the pre-snap read would tell him post-snap.
DRAKE: Other than a couple runs, he was much more physical.
JONES: Not only is the injury devastating, but it again exposes what a trash performance the Lions and Panthers games were. Now the Cards face the meat of their schedule without Jones and without beating the two weak teams on their schedule.
Luke Lapinski, host of The Rundown with Luke Lapinski
Sure, it’s just the Jets. Nobody’s planning a parade and you won’t be telling your kids where you watched this game 20 years from now. But a win’s a win. New York’s basically in the league to make other teams feel better about themselves this season and, well, Arizona needed a self-esteem boost. Good timing.
It wasn’t pretty either. A few plays were — the one-handed grab by Larry Fitzgerald, the fourth-down conversion to Darrell Daniels and anything involving DeAndre Hopkins and a sideline — but the game itself was pretty clunky overall. The Cardinals made their fair share of mistakes, but the Jets made more. And Arizona finally capitalized on some of those.
The Cardinals looked a lot more energized this week too. And that translated into a win they absolutely had to have. Starting at 10 a.m. didn’t matter and, if we’re being honest, it shouldn’t have. Not against this New York team.
Budda Baker’s return gave Arizona a jolt, and getting Fitzgerald a little more involved is never a bad thing. The Cardinals looked like a team without an identity the last couple weeks, and turning to emotional leaders like Budda and Fitz is a good way to inject some heart and soul back into your game. They looked like they wanted to play football today. Dennis Gardeck is probably still dancing somewhere.
They also put up nearly 500 yards of total offense, and punched the ball in on the ground three times. Christian Kirk was much more involved in the passing game, piling up 78 yards after managing just 76 all season entering the game. When he’s making plays, the entire offense just looks so much more balanced.
Meanwhile, Hopkins racked up another 131 yards and a big score to put the game away in the fourth. That trade is quickly climbing the charts among the best in Arizona sports history. Especially when you factor in the David Johnson contract they got rid of.
Bottom line is the Cardinals stopped the bleeding today. They beat a team that everybody should beat, but they’re over .500 nearly a third of the way through the season and they’re right back in this race again. Now they just have to hope the Chandler Jones injury isn’t as bad as it looked.
Kellan Olson, editor and reporter for ArizonaSports.com
A needed win that did nothing to shift the worries that developed watching this team the first four weeks. The “bad team things” were still there.
As Dave Burns brilliantly described it as in this space after last week’s loss, Kyler Murray still makes a few too many bad decisions and throws a week that convince you there might be some type of “yips” situation unfolding. I will say that even against a team this terrible, it was still good to see the passing game expanded. Murray still needs more designed runs, though, before I give Kliff Kingsbury much credit. To be fair, we have been asking for a big game out of this offense, and Murray going 27-of-37 for 380 yards is pretty close to it.
It took Dennis Gardeck (!) to get a pass rush going, and it’s only going to get worse with Chandler Jones potentially out for the season, even with his lack of production four games in. It was another big day for an opposing No. 1 wideout, with Jamison Crowder at 116 yards and eight catches. I am not letting a total of 10 points for the Jets fool me into thinking this Cardinals defense is not still potentially very bad. Next week is going to be an absolute shootout.
If the Jets had Sam Darnold in and fewer drops, this game could have been very close. This now turns into a monumental two weeks for the Cardinals to show us the team they really are against the Dallas Cowboys and Seattle Seahawks.