For three hours the Arizona Cardinals put everyone watching their game on Sunday for a roller coaster ride. Arizona were in search of their first win this season and welcomed the Chicago Bears. The game started well for the Cardinals but gradually turned sour as turnovers and questionable play calling erased an early lead. In the end the Cardinals fell to the Bears. In the loss there were both winners and losers. Today we take a look at a few of those Cardinals.
The defensive end had not played since late September 2017 after tearing his ACL against the 49ers. Golden received his first action of the 2018 on Sunday and got the start on defense. While he did not make it on the stat sheet, Golden’s presence seemed to provide the defense a lift to begin the game. Golden’s effectiveness will only increase as he receives more playing time. On Sunday it was simply a win to have Golden back on the field.
The rookie wide receiver finished the game with 90 yards on seven receptions. Kirk was able to find open spaces both underneath and deep against the Chicago secondary. On the game’s third play Kirk lined up in bunch formation on the left side of the field. On a delayed release, the rookie ran away from coverage crossing the field. Sam Bradford hit him in stride and Kirk picked up 30 yards on the play. On Sunday Kirk led the team in receptions (7), yards receiving (90), and targets (8). The rookie has looked more and more comfortable with each passing week. Kirk is beginning to look like a real threat for the Cardinals offense.
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Boston was signed during the off-season to help bolster the secondary in the safety heavy scheme on defense. The veteran played his best game yet with the Cardinals on Sunday. Boston finished with seven tackles and an interception. He nearly had a second interception but tripped over receiver Allen Robinson. Boston managed to knock the pass down. The safety did receive a late hit penalty which kept a Chicago drive alive. All in all Boston earned his spot and showed the staff he can make plays.
This seems pretty obvious, although it started so well for Bradford. Two touchdown passes over 20 yards in the games first three drives. Made some big throws to open receivers to move the offense. Then the bottom fell out from under him and he was benched for the rookie quarterback. Three turnovers will do that, especially when all three come on consecutive drives. Bradford essentially blew the lead with his turnovers as they gave the Bears chances to put points on the board while taking possible points from the Cardinals. Arizona gave Bradford the starting job heading into the 2018 season. In what looked to be his breakthrough moment, Bradford failed to finish and now finds himself searching for answers.
Fitzgerald was targeted just twice on Sunday. The veteran caught both passes thrown his way but added just nine yards. His first catch came on the first offensive play of the game. Fitzgerald was not targeted again until more than midway through the third quarter. The veteran receiver served as decoy for most of the game, often drawing shaded coverage from the safety over the top. Fitzgerald is still one of the better receivers in the league, the offense needs to find ways to take advantage of his skill set. It is frustrating for many to watch Fitzgerald suffer through another quarterback fiasco. Perhaps the switch at quarterback will be the catalyst for a positive change.
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Arizona’s offense struggled to consistently move the football once the Bears defense made adjustments. The two early scores were more a result of poor defensive communication rather than solid play-calling. Both plays featured a mix up in coverage and an open Cardinals receiver. Perhaps the most frustrating decision came in the game’s final minutes with Arizona trailing by two. On a critical 3rd and 2 from the Chicago 42 yard line, coordinator Mike McCoy called a counter run play to the left side of the line.
Tight end Jermaine Gresham served as the lead blocker. From the start the play fell apart as the Bears sent a blitz and disrupted the timing of the play. To make matters worse, the Cardinals ran the play with David Johnson on the sideline being talked to regarding a missed blitz pickup from the play before. Rookie Chase Edmonds was dropped for a three yard loss followed by a Rosen interception. The 3rd and 2 situation presented the offense to make a play and wrestle victory from the jaws of defeat. Instead the Cardinals left their biggest offensive threat on the sideline to watch.
On to the Next One
The Cardinals welcome the rival Seahawks to State Farm Stadium this Sunday. Josh Rosen has been named the starter for the game and will be making the first start of his NFL career. The rookie showed some glimpses of a spark which could change the offense. In the end it will only matter if the play calling and execution is there. The Cardinals are looking for their first victory and Seattle stands in the way.