Clayton Tune, Arizona Cardinals offense lethargic in 1st half vs. Browns
Nov 5, 2023, 12:25 PM | Updated: 5:36 pm
(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
The Arizona Cardinals entered their Week 9 matchup against the Cleveland Browns with a lot of factors working against them offensively.
To recap, the Cardinals are:
– Starting a rookie at quarterback who hadn’t attempted more than one pass (which came off a trick play).
– Missing starter James Conner and effective backup Emari Demercado in the run game.
– Without rookie pass catcher and one of the team’s top receiving threats in Michael Wilson.
– Down starting offensive linemen Elijah Wilkinson and Trystan Colon.
– Without starting tight end Zach Ertz.
The mountain of negatives played a big part in the first half, with the Cardinals mustering just 31 yards of total offense and three first downs as they trail 13-0 through two quarters of play. Third downs have not been Arizona’s friend behind a 0-for-5 conversion rate.
On the flip side, the Browns are sporting 193 yards of total offense to go along with 10 first downs.
Whether it was through the air or on the ground, it’s been tough sledding in Cleveland for Arizona.
In his first NFL start, rookie quarterback Clayton Tune has relied mostly on screen passes, completing five of his eight pass attempts for 22 yards and an interception. Most of that yardage came on a 12-yard catch-and-run from tight end Trey McBride, who has just one catch at halftime. The QB chipped in 12 more yards on three carries and has been sacked twice.
He’s seen little help out of the backfield, with Keaontay Ingram leading Arizona’s ground attack with 15 yards on four carries.
Arizona opened up the game with wide receiver Rondale Moore lining up in the backfield. It did little to boost the ground game, though, with Moore sporting negative yardage on two carries.
Luck wasn’t on the side of Arizona’s defense, either.
After limiting the Browns to just three points through most of the first half, the Browns found the end zone despite the play of rookie Dante Stills.
Looking for paydirt on a second-and-nine look from Arizona’s 11-yard line, Cleveland quarterback Deshaun Watson fired one wide receiver Amari Cooper’s way.
But instead of a clean throw and catch, Stills managed to get a piece of the ball as it crossed the line of scrimmage. Unfortunately for the Cardinals, the deflection still made its way into the waiting hands of Cooper for the game’s only touchdown.
The Browns would knock in one more field goal before halftime following a roughing the passer call on Cameron Thomas that kept Cleveland’s scoring drive alive despite a third-down stop.
Budda Baker paces the Cardinals defense with five tackles, while Josh Woods and Leki Fotu have combined for a sack.
Catch the rest of Cardinals-Browns over on the Arizona Sports app, 98.7 or ArizonaSports.com.