An Uncle Rico Production
Arizona Cardinals Weekly Report
The Arizona Cardinals’ recent performance against the Baltimore Ravens exemplifies the ongoing challenges that have plagued their season thus far. Despite a record of 1-7, it would be unwise to characterize the team as intentionally performing poorly, or “tanking.” Their evident commitment to competing is clear, as evidenced by their late-game rally, which unfortunately wasn’t enough to secure a win.
That’s me trying to look at the glass half full.
The reality is they are a team with devastating deficiencies at some of the most important skill positions in football. While they may be celebrated for playing with “effort” (which used to be THE baseline standard in American culture, with no need for a pat-on-the-back or recognition for doing so), it is clear that “trying hard” will not be enough to sustain victories, nor fans of the Cardinals.
Quarterback Josh Dobbs showed moments of decency, but once again resorted to his old habits of inaccuracy & bad decision making. Sunday against the Ravens, these came in the form of two thrown interceptions that you would expect a first time starter in JV football to make; one was air-mailed about five feet over the intended receiver (Michael Wilson was the closest-ish) & a rollout throw into double coverage while backed up inside the Cardinals 20-yd line.
He finished the day completing 25 of 37 passes for 208 yards and two touchdowns. Unfortunately, it was his two interceptions that proved the most costly, as the Ravens were able to convert them into touchdowns.
With a final score of 31-24, either one of those interceptions could’ve made the difference in a game that needed a converted onside kick to make it look not awful. Dobbs’ offensive inconsistencies is a problem that has troubled the Cardinals throughout the season. At this point, he is almost guaranteed to turn the ball over once & miss wide open receivers looking to walk untouched into the end-zone.
Don’t get me started on their second-half offensive woes. While yesterday did mark an improvement, it was still not enough to overcome the hole that Dobbs put his team in. But I will say, the refs blatantly putting “the fix” on crucial plays can also make it difficult for offensive success.
The defense also shares responsibility for the loss, as they succumbed to untimely penalties & defensive breakdowns, but the finger must be pointed at one grouping & one grouping alone: The Cornerbacks. The fact that any of our corners make more than a public school teacher is an absolute travesty. Even the worst teacher on their worst day plays better than our corners.
Now, most of the cornerbacks are wet-behind-the-ears with not enough scratches on the saddle. Our top CB is 3rd year player Marco Wilson who is a suitable backup, at best. We spent 3rd & 6th round picks on DBs Garrett Williams (Syracuse) & Kei’Trel Clark (Louisville) respectively & picked up Starling Thomas V off the waiver wires after the Detroit Lions cut him before the start of the 2023 regular season.
I had high hopes for the first two, especially Kei’Trel. Williams was coming off an injury which cost him his senior season, the entire offseason, & well into the regular season. In fact, he made his first appearance last weekend in Seattle, pulling in his first career interception.
Clark, on the other hand, ascended to the #2 cornerback by the end of preseason for Nick Rallis’ new defense. But it became clear rather early that Clark did not have the stuff. It wasn’t until teams began purposely targeting Clark on every throw that HC Jonathan Gannon decided to make a change. Joe Burrow very well may be responsible for killing Clark’s career in the NFL.
I’ll be surprised if he bounces back after getting roasted EVERY SINGLE THROW for weeks on end. Poor guy wasn’t ready, but Gannon wasn’t going to protect this rookie like he is Clayton Tune; a huge mistake if you ask me, but that’s a story for another day. Clark may have grown into a very usable defensive talent, had he not been thrown into the fire immediately. Now……well, the jury’s out.
It would be too easy to ONLY blame the youth on the back end, for football is, in fact, a team sport. And it is more than two or three players who’ve earned the Cardinals defense their embarrassing league rankings. They are in the bottom of nearly every defensive category. Their inability to play a solid 60 minutes of football has had a cumulative effect on the team’s performance, making it difficult to close out games successfully. But are they as bad as their rankings say?
Absolutely not. The offensive struggles in the second halves of nearly every game this season has been a crutch that the defense has had to play with. It’s completely demoralizing & nearly impossible to prop up your team while one player **cough Dobbs cough** obliterates any chance for success. Or even competing, for that matter.
Interestingly enough, HC Jonathan Gannon has already announced that he’s deciding to stick with Dobbs as the starting quarterback for the upcoming game against the Cleveland Browns, despite the potential return of Kyler Murray from injury. Murray, who has been rehabilitating from a torn ACL, might bring the much-needed spark to the Cardinals’ offense.
Yet Gannon seems committed to giving Dobbs additional opportunities to prove himself, which is why some in the media believe this move has more to do with positioning themselves in the upcoming NFL Draft than actually trying to win this season.
The decision to keep Murray sidelined raises many questions about the Cardinals’ strategy moving forward. With a record that nearly places them out of playoff contention & an upcoming trade-deadline, one might wonder what the new ruling-class of the Cardinals are scheming behind the scenes; will Murray be on the move (with other key players) or will they look to keep the leaders of yesteryear?
Introducing Murray back into the lineup could serve as a catalyst for this year’s team, both in terms of a positional upgrade & for morale purposes. If Murray were to start the next eight games, Murray would surely comprise a record better than 1-7. But is that what the brass wants?
The question Cardinals fans need to be asking is not whether Kyler Murray is good enough to play quarterback for the Cardinals, but rather whether or not the new Cardinals’ management believes Murray fits into their vision for “the guy”; their leader?
Or is that spot reserved for USC’s Caleb Williams?
Also a story for another day……