The Arizona Cardinals were able to overwhelm the Washington Football Team to earn their second victory of the season. Arizona earned their first 2-0 start since the 2015 season via a 30-15 drubbing of Washington. It was the home opener for the Cardinals as they looked to start fast on offense and overwhelm Washington on defense. Today we look at how Arizona accomplished that goal.
K1 is A1
Quarterback Kyler Murray is creating a solid case for MVP consideration. Murray’s ability was on full display on Sunday against Washington. The second-year quarterback completed 26 of 38 passing attempts for 286 yards with one touchdown and one interception. However, for the second week in a row, it was Murray’s feet which doomed the opposition. Murray rushed for 67 yards on eight carried, adding a pair of rushing touchdowns. Against a very talented defensive line, Murray’s elusiveness confounded the Washington pass rush. On multiple occasions, Murray escaped the pocket under hot pursuit and turned a possible loss into a short gain.
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Murray has now faced two of the league’s toughest defenses and single-handedly torn them apart. In the passing game, Murray is averaging 258 yards with a 67% completion percentage, and one touchdown and one interception. However, Murray is also adding 79 yards rushing per game and has already scored three touchdowns on the ground. Murray is averaging a whopping 7.5 yards per carry and is close to matching his four rushing touchdowns from his rookie season. He leads the team in both rushing yards and rushing touchdowns.
— Arizona Cardinals (@AZCardinals) September 20, 2020
Hopkins’ First Time
In the first quarter, the Arizona offense found themselves with a third-down, inside the Washington five-yard line. Murray dropped back and whipped a pass to the back of the end zone where DeAndre Hopkins was wide open on a quick slant route. The reception marked Hopkins’ first score as a member of the Arizona Cardinals. Hopkins had a touchdown wiped last week after a booth review marked him down before reaching the end zone. On Sunday, the talented receiver was able to overwhelm the Washington secondary to secure his first score. While Hopkins saw a slight dip in production from week one, he finished Sunday’s game with eight receptions for 68 yards receiving and the touchdown.
.@DeAndreHopkins borrowed that invisibility cloak for this score.
— Arizona Cardinals (@AZCardinals) September 20, 2020
Hopkins has been better than advertised thus far, compiling a total of 22 receptions, 219 receiving yards, and nearly a 10-yards per catch average, through two games. He is the go-to receiver in Kliff Kingsbury‘s offense and has become the favorite target of quarterback Kyler Murray. On Sunday, Washington attempted to play physical with Hopkins and prevent clean releases off the line of scrimmage. However, Hopkins’ athleticism allows him to slip past the contact as well as create enough separation and overwhelm the Washington secondary. Hopkins is on pace to shatter his previous career highs in receptions and receiving yards this season.
In 2019, the Arizona defense struggled to find consistency on the field. At times the pass rush looked dangerous, other times opposing offenses racked up 300-plus passing-yard performances. On the ground, the defense did better, although opposing offenses typically dropped the ground game in favor of airing out the football until the late stages of the contest. Additions were made during the offseason and they have already proved to be effective. For the second straight game, the Arizona defense held their opponent to 20-points or fewer. On the season, the defense is averaging a measly 17.5-points per game. On Sunday, Arizona’s defense held Washington without a touchdown until the 12-minute mark in the 4th quarter. The Cardinals have a difference-maker at every level on defense.
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Leading the charge on the improved unit is All-Pro safety, Budda Baker. Defensive tackle, Angelo Blackson, was added just before the start of the season and has been a handful for opposing offensive lines. Blackson has been solid at the point of attack and has shown a knack for getting penetration. De’Vondre Campbell was signed to play linebacker for his coverage skills. Campbell has been as advertised and has been great at slowing down opposing tight ends, something the Cardinals struggled with last season. He effectively shut down tight end Logan Thomas, who finished with four receptions for 26-yards. Campbell’s play has also allowed Haason Reddick to stay outside where he has looked vastly more comfortable. Reddick collected his first sack of the season on Sunday. In all, the defense has been able to overwhelm opposing offenses and get the football back to their explosive offense.
The Cardinals showed improvement from week one to week two. Arizona’s offense continued to take what was given. Kyler Murray’s lone mistake came when under duress and looked more like a miscommunication between him and the intended receiver. Regardless, the offense is averaging 27-points per game while the defense is surrendering an average of 17.5-points per game. A near 10-point differential is a major indicator that the team is successful. As the team and staff continue to grow, the Cardinals have the potential to challenge for more than just a playoff spot. If Sunday’s performance is any indication, Arizona could go far.
– Ryan Adverderada is the Managing Editor for Full Press Coverage Cardinals. He also covers the San Francisco 49ers for Full Press Coverage. Like and follow on Follow @ryanadverderada