Cardinals’ Greg Dortch answering challenge put forth by Kliff Kingsbury
TEMPE — The usage of Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Greg Dortch has been anything but consistent over the course of 2022.
But could that trend finally come to an end over the final stretch of games this season?
If Dortch’s performance and snap count on Sunday night was any indication, light the torch the rest of the way, folks.
“That was by far the most detailed he’s been, alignment, assignment, technique, the route depth, all of those things,” head coach Kliff Kingsbury said Monday when asked what Dortch needs to do to earn consistent playing time moving forward. “I was really proud with how he responded.
“We challenged him, ‘Hey man, these last three weeks, let’s do it like a pro each and every snap.’ We took him off the return duties so he could focus on that. He responded. You can see, we said it all along, when he knows what he’s doing and he’s running routes and catching the ball and in space, he’s done a great job. We just got to build off that, but I like what I saw yesterday.”
And answer the call he did.
Pacing Arizona’s wideouts behind 10 catches (11 targets) for 98 yards, Dortch turned in his sharpest outing as a Cardinal from detail and execution standpoints and was an integral piece of the offense throughout the team’s 19-16 overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Christmas.
After seeing just 10 offensive snaps combined in Weeks 14 and 15, the wide receiver registered 58.
For Dortch, all he feels he needs is a chance.
“It means a lot, it really shows your faith,” Dortch said postgame on seeing more touches come his way. “Hard work really does pay off if you stay consistent and trust God. It really pays off.
“Like I said before, it feels good to come out and perform but it’s a team game, it’s not about me, so it sucks (we lost on Sunday).”
Greg Dortch’s toe tap gets the Cardinals closer to FG range. @_GDortch
— NFL (@NFL) December 26, 2022
As we’ve seen this season, when Dortch gets an opportunity, he makes the most of it more times than not.
Thrust into a starting role early on with Rondale Moore sidelined due to injury to start the year, Dortch quickly found success running with the first team out of the slot.
In the first three games Moore missed this season, Dortch thrived behind 20 catches (23 targets) for 198 yards and a touchdown. He averaged just under 10 yards per reception and provided another receiving option alongside Hollywood Brown and Zach Ertz.
But upon Moore’s return, Dortch became an afterthought offensively.
From Weeks 4-10, Dortch registered just five receptions on six targets for 23 yards and a touchdown. After seeing no fewer than 71% of the available offensive snaps in each of the first three contests, Dortch saw no more than 53% of reps just once over the seven-game span.
The wide receiver was very much trending toward a sole role as a return man until yet another injury to Moore opened the door for Dortch.
Just like before, he stepped right on through.
Taking over for Moore three plays into Arizona’s Monday Night Football loss to the San Francisco 49ers, Dortch notched the first 100-yard game of his career, reeling in 9-of-10 targets for 103 yards.
Unfortunately for Dortch, the successful stretch lasted just one game thanks to a thumb injury that sidelined the wideout — and the momentum he was once again building — in Week 12.
And despite a clean bill of health coming out of the bye a week later, on top of Moore eventually heading to injured reserve, Dortch found himself with limited offensive snaps in Weeks 14 and 15.
That didn’t stop Dortch from grinding at practice, however, eventually earning the role he played in this past Sunday. Now, it’s about staying locked in and making it hard for the Cardinals not to play him with two games left in 2022.
“This is a business, and you have to be ready to perform whenever your number is called,” Dortch said postgame. “It might not be next week, you don’t know when it’s going to be, but whenever it’s called you have to be ready to perform.
“I just try to show up every day to work. I don’t know how much I’m going to play or when my number is going to be called, but when it is called, I just have to be ready for that moment.”