The Arizona Cardinals now find themselves at 2-3, with inconsistency and frustration defining the first five weeks of the 2022 season. But are brighter days around the corner?
The Arizona Cardinals fell to the Philadelphia Eagles 20-17 in yesterday’s Week Five matchup, in a game that was certainly a winnable one. Using a backup kicker in a game-tying situation due to Matt Prater’s injury, the already once-fired-in-2022 Matt Ammendola, the team fell short on doing what it needed to do to send the game into overtime. But Ammendola isn’t the only one who screwed up when it mattered the most.
When the Cardinals got the ball after a go-ahead field goal from the Eagles’ Cameron Dicker, they were having real success moving the ball down the field, so much so that it appeared a game-tying field goal wouldn’t even be necessary – they were going to win the game. That was until a lapse of judgment on the part of Kyler Murray led to a downed ball that brought up a fourth down situation that could’ve been avoided altogether.
This incident showed a poor sense of situational awareness on the part of Murray, but that isn’t the end of the story. On a fourth down situation with just a yard or less to get for the first down, particularly knowing you have a bad kicker on the sideline, it shouldn’t have been unthinkable that the offense go for it and grab some extra yards to make that kick an easier one. With the ease the offense was moving the ball on that drive, perhaps you even get the ball into the end zone before time expires.
This continues a streak of misfortune for the Cardinals in the 2022 season. The team did do a better job of scoring in the early part of the game. They did have to pull another comeback job in order to make the game competitive, but it didn’t take a second half miracle in order to be in that position. Baby steps, right? What’s more, Marquise Brown had another excellent game, hauling in eight receptions for 78 yards and a touchdown.
Brown is on pace for career highs in receptions, receiving yards, and touchdowns this season. It remains to be seen whether that will continue to be the case after the arrival of DeAndre Hopkins. But Murray is going to be able to expand the possibilities of this offense when both Brown and Hopkins are available. Until then, the Cardinals just have to find their way past the Seattle Seahawks, who are also 2-3.
Zach Allen has been doing about as well as could’ve been expected at this point. He’s on pace to set a career high in sacks this season. He has two already through five games and a number of batted down passes as well. It’s good to see him fulfilling some of the potential fans had hoped he’d prove to have. His presence has made the Cardinals’ pass rush a wonderful asset for a defense that continues to struggle in other areas.
It isn’t just Allen’s stats that are making a difference for the Cardinals on defense. Offensive lines now know that they can’t take his presence across the line lightly and that he may require a number double-teams throughout the game. With J.J. Watt playing well also, suddenly the defensive front is something to be reckoned with again. Allen has yet to hit his ceiling and could easily become one of the NFL’s better pass rushers.
It’s easy to be down on the Cardinals right now. There are plenty of reasons to be down on this team at the moment. But all things considered, they really aren’t in that bad a place. They’re tied for second place in the NFC West. Only the San Francisco 49ers are ahead of the rest of the pack and they’re just one game up. It’s going to be a competitive race for the division crown and there’s no reason why the Cardinals can’t put it all together when the full set of pieces is finally put together.