ARIZONA CARDINALS

Cardinals organization top-down responsible for embarrassing Week 1 loss

Sep 11, 2022, 5:54 PM | Updated: Sep 12, 2022, 10:12 am

The Cardinals elevated Bill Bidwill into the team’s Ring of Honor on Sunday. To commemorate the occasion, they played just like one of those dog-breath teams from the 1990s.

This was an unmitigated disaster, as ghastly as it was predictable.

The Cardinals lost 44-21 to the Chiefs in their season-opening performance, dropping their sixth consecutive game at State Farm Stadium. They were exposed, embarrassed and thoroughly annihilated. The game wasn’t as close as the final score, and that’s saying something.

Failure funneled from the top-down: from penny-pinching ownership to a general manager that did little to reinforce a shaky defense to a head coach who punted on an entire preseason.

The Chiefs were obviously the better team. They were also far better prepared. The latter is inexcusable, and that’s on Kliff Kingsbury.

“They beat us in every way,” Kingsbury said. “No denying it, no hiding from it. We didn’t execute in any phase, and they played at a very high level.”

As feared, Patrick Mahomes shredded Arizona’s paper-thin secondary. There was very little resistance anywhere on the football field. There were zero sacks and very little pass rush from a team that chose to let Chandler Jones leave for greener pastures. There was no breakout game from Isaiah Simmons, who spent part of the offseason talking about his impending stardom.

Labeled a “star backer” by defensive coordinator Vance Joseph, Simmons was nearly invisible. Unless he was getting worked by Chiefs star Travis Kelce.

“Week 1, I’ve got a long way to go,” Simmons said. “I’m a lot better than what I put out there (on Sunday), but like I said, it’s Week 1. You don’t win the Super Bowl based off Week 1. You don’t make your career based off one game.”

The statistics were sobering. The Chiefs amassed 448 yards, 360 in the air. They ran 66 plays and produced 33 first downs. And after his fourth touchdown pass of the game, Mahomes flashed four fingers to the sideline, staking the Chiefs to a 30-point lead with four minutes left in the third quarter.

But the Chiefs are not a defensive juggernaut by any means, and the Cardinals struggled mightily on offense. Kyler Murray made a few remarkable plays. He also appeared skittish at times, and on cue, jokes began circulating about how much he studied for the opening game. That will be an unfortunate, ongoing punchline accompanying every bad loss.

The obvious takeaway is that Kingsbury should’ve worked out some of the kinks during the exhibition season. He even admitted that his offense had no rhythm for the first three quarters on Sunday.

Yet Kingsbury said he had no regrets about his approach, and that Camp Cupcake worked just fine during an opening week win against the Titans the previous season. He said the issue was a lack of urgency during practice. Murray and others said the team must pay more attention to the details, the little things that always show up on Sunday.

Alas, many have said the same things about their hideous collapse in 2021, a team that got too comfortable after a 10-2 start. So, what has changed around here?

Overreaction is the currency of football, especially in Week 1. But the most troubling element of this loss is the game looked exactly like an extension of last season, where the Cardinals lost five of their final six games, a team blown away like a tent in a tornado.

“Yeah, they kicked our (expletive),” Murray said.

We’ve heard that far too often around here. And while no jobs are on the line in 2022, the schedule is unrelenting, the fan base is losing its patience and early becomes late very quickly in the NFL.

Reach Bickley at dbickley@arizonasports.com. Listen to Bickley & Marotta mornings from 6 a.m. – 10 a.m. on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.

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