Rapid Reactions: Arizona Cardinals snap 2-game skid with win over Rams
The Arizona Cardinals walked into SoFi Stadium on Sunday needing something to go their way.
Losers of back-to-back games and garnering little consistency, the Cardinals were staring at a do-or-die situation against the Los Angeles Rams.
A win at the very least keeps them in the conversation in the NFC West and Wild Card pictures. A loss puts Arizona in a near-insurmountable hole.
And with numerous starters sidelined, most notably Kyler Murray, it was unknown as to what Cardinals team would even show up.
But after the dust settled in L.A. on Sunday, it was the Rams diving deeper into the NFC West basement, with the Cardinals taking home the 27-17 win behind the arm of backup signal caller Colt McCoy.
The victory moves Arizona to 4-6 on the season, leapfrogging Los Angeles (3-6) in the process.
Arizona Sports’ hosts, editors and reporters react to the Cardinals’ W:
John Gambadoro, co-host of Burns & Gambo:
I can admit it. I wanted to see what Colt McCoy could do with this Kliff Kingsbury offense today vs. the Rams. Not that I was rooting for Kyler Murray to be injured, but if for some reason he could not go, I had a real reason to watch this one closely.
Anyone who listens to the show regularly knows that I put the vast majority of the offensive issues on Kyler and his inability to recognize/read defenses and go through progressions. In game film that I have watched he is constantly not seeing open receivers. So, I have put less on Kliff and more on Kyler. What I see with Kyler is a quarterback that if his first read is open, he is dynamic. If it is not open, he is not and looks to break the pocket and/or run. So, with McCoy today you saw an offense that just ran a lot better.
You saw a quarterback who could:
1. Read defenses
2. Get the ball out quick
3. Take some shots down the field.
McCoy finished 26-of-37 for 238 yards and a TD. He averaged 6.5 yards per attempt — last week vs. Seattle, Murray was at five yards per attempt. Colt did not do anything special, he just ran the offense and did a good job of it. He had a solid game. I’m not saying there should be a quarterback controversy, but if the Cardinals want to hold Murray accountable, they at least know they have a backup capable of giving this offense a boost. With McCoy behind a makeshift offensive line decimated with injuries, he was sacked just two times — none by Aaron Donald.
McCoy targeted Deandre Hopkins 14 times and Hop had 10 catches for 98 yards. Rondale Moore had nine catches for 94 yards, including a beautiful 26-yard catch on a nicely thrown ball by McCoy on a fourth-and-three from the Rams’ 41-yard line that set up a James Conner nine-yard TD run that put Arizona ahead 24-10.
I liked that on the Cardinals’ first possession of the game, McCoy took a shot down the field on a deep throw to Moore that was an incomplete pass. He showed it to the Rams early which likely opened up some plays later in the game for him.
Look, Kyler NEEDS to be the Cardinals’ answer at quarterback BECAUSE of the huge investment in him. He is not going anywhere. Now, whether he can be that answer is another story — a lot of people have their doubts. And those doubts are 100% justified. And watching McCoy go to LA and beat the Rams — something Kyler has only done once in his career — just further emphasizes to me that Kyler is more of the problem than anyone else is.
Vince Marotta, co-host of Bickley & Marotta:
Leading up to this fascinating Week 10 matchup between the Cardinals and the Rams, it became clear that the winning team could still convince itself that it’s alive in the NFC West playoff picture.
It’s the shorthanded Cardinals who can take that step forward, as they beat a depleted Rams team 27-17 at SoFi Stadium in L.A.
Before the game, we learned that Kyler Murray wouldn’t play and it would be Colt McCoy at the controls of the Cardinals’ offense. And much like the three games McCoy started in place of Murray last season, the Cardinals followed the script: get a double-digit lead and enjoy the flexibility to mix things up with the run and the pass.
McCoy again played mistake-free football and completed 26-of-37 passes for 238 yards and a touchdown. And he did that behind a makeshift offensive line that featured only one normal starter (right tackle Kelvin Beachum) on the field. Major kudos to Josh Jones, Rashaad Coward, Billy Price and Cody Ford for protecting McCoy and doing just enough to allow the Cardinals to be pseudo-productive in the run game. I’ll be honest, seeing that as the starting O-line had me thinking Aaron Donald might set a new NFL single-game record for sacks. He didn’t have one, and only hit McCoy once.
McCoy also did a great job of spreading the ball around and bounced back from a knee injury during the contest. He’s now 3-1 as a starter for the Cardinals over the last two years.
On the defensive side of the ball, it starts with Budda Baker. The safety, who was ruled out (maybe for multiple weeks) with an ankle injury earlier in the week started and had the interception that pretty much shut the door on the Rams. He is undoubtedly the emotional leader of this team and his presence was huge. The D forced two turnovers and the pass rush was formidable with J.J. Watt, Myjai Sanders and Zach Allen getting sacks. They also held Cooper Kupp to three catches for -1 yard until he left the game with a nasty-looking ankle injury in the second half.
And the Cardinals used a fourth kicker — Tristan Vizcaino — and he was perfect on the day.
At 4-6 and with Seattle losing to Tampa Bay in Germany, the Cardinals are alive heading into a Monday Night Football game against San Francisco. What they do with this lifeline is entirely up to them.
And I’ll just plant this seed for the week… McCoy very efficiently guided the Cardinals to a win over the Niners last season. Does that, coupled with Sunday’s performance, give Kliff Kingsbury the freedom to rest Murray for another week? It will certainly be a topic of discussion.
Dave Burns, co-host of Burns & Gambo:
We’ve had the is-it-Kliff-is-it-Kyler conversation for so long and in so many different ways, I actually relished the chance to see a change to the equation. For weeks I had been hoping for a different play caller; what we got instead was a different quarterback. But the desired effect was the same… change it up. Try something else to see if the offensive could thrive.
Thrive is strong but at times it was functionally better. A handful of drives operated with an efficiency that has been lacking, or at best woefully inconsistent, all season long. On more than one occasion, I saw Colt McCoy (or is it Jolt McCoy) looking off a screen and throwing downfield. And while many of the plays looked the same, the way they were run just felt less chaotic and more under control. Kingsbury noted at halftime the Cards were able to avoid the negative plays. The banged up offensive line did a good job protecting Colt but how much of that was them and how much was McCoy just getting the ball out quicker? But it didn’t solve everything. The 298 yards gained were only 42 yards more than the Rams and still the third lowest total of the season.
I wanted to see if a change would make a difference and it did. But was it enough to make a change at quarterback? Absolutely not. The focus still needs to be on making Kyler the very best version of himself he can be. There is no wavering off that now. So, for at least another week, the Cards have given themselves something to play for. Had they lost to the Rams, this season would have been plunged into total darkness. Instead, there’s a faint light — not much mind you — but it’s there.
Tyler Drake, co-host of Cardinals Corner and ArizonaSports.com editor:
They had to have it. No matter who was starting at QB — or along the OL — the Cardinals had to win this week for any kind of hope at turning this season around.
For all the downright ugliness this team has shown offensively, highlighted by sloppiness and overall poor play, Colt McCoy came out behind a makeshift offensive line and delivered in the spot start in place of K1.
He kept the offense methodically moving behind short passes and a quick trigger, while the O-line did its job keeping the QB upright.
McCoy moves to 3-1 as a Cardinals starter, with each of his wins looking much of the same: efficient.
Kingsbury and McCoy seemed in sync from the jump and weren’t seen having any of those little tiffs Murray has had with his head coach and teammates on a near-weekly basis.
Now, does that mean we need to start up a QB controversy? Absolutely not.
McCoy did a fine job in place of Murray but a Colt-led offense is not the remedy to the issues the unit is having. Murray has the ability to change a game in an instance with either his arm or his legs. And he just got paid. There’s no way Michael Bidwill would be OK with a $230 million backup.
But while I say that, if we don’t see more out of Murray next week, why not give McCoy another shot? He’s proven effective in Kingsbury’s offense and at this point, clean football is key for this Arizona team.
Defensively, I can’t leave this space without talking about safety Budda Baker.
After Kingsbury was told Baker had a zero percent chance at playing, the safety not only suited up on Sunday, he helped shut the door on any kind of Rams comeback thanks to a fourth-quarter INT.
If you for some reason weren’t a Budda believer, you better be now. He is the unquestioned life blood of this team — not just the defense — the entire team. It goes as he goes.
Is it possible to put an active player in the Cardinals’ Ring of Honor? Because it’s already a forgone conclusion.