Opening game at Glendale. Cards heralded a new HC with a unique offensive system and a young, small-in-stature QB to run it. New HC Kliff Kingsbury kept his new offense under wraps during preseason, and Cardinal fans weren't sure what to expect scheme-wise and from individua players.
Lions arte in Year #2 of the Matt Patricia regime. Patricia made a key change in his offense when he replaced last year;'s OC Jim Bob Cooter with run-oriented Darrell Bevell and drafted a multiifaceted though "old school TEto hook up with QB Matthew Stafford in tight end TJ Hockenson.
Patricia also beefed up both his offensive and defensive lines, sending out signals that his new-look squad would be bigger and tougher.
Murray spearheads 27 - 27 comeback "victory."
The Bottom Line:
If the roof had been opened, the skies would have been a deep, gloomy gray. 11-minutes were left in regulation. Cardinals trailed the Lions by eighteen, 24 - 6. And that was just the score - Kyler Murray looked rattled by the speed of the pro game. The Cardinal defense gave up bushels of easy yardage and cheap points. Cardinal weaknesses in the secondary and offensive lines looked every bit as glaring as they were during last year's Wilks regime.
According to Kingsbury: "“It was three quarters of the worst offense I’ve seen in my life and it was my fault,” (The playcalling was “too cute”).
We were quite willing to concede the season and focus instead on a handful of good plays, emerging young players and steady progress as the season progressed.
But 11-or-so minutes of regulation later, when the dust settled, the Cards were on their way to a 27- 27 tie. In the 4th quarter alone, Kingsbury had posted 15 of 19 passes for 154 yards, 2 TD's and a 2-point conversion. In the OT, he registered another 84-yards thru the air.
Murray finished the contest with totals of 29 of 54 for 308 yards. He threw one interception. Murray was actually outrushed by Stafford 22 - 13.
In some ways, this game was the Cardinals' version of Preseason Game #3 (where you get t see how the starting units stack up, how the team looks overall and who the emerging young players are). Here's a thumbnail:
For the first 3 quarters, he looked uncomfortable keeping up with the speed of the pro game. (The game seemed to be handling Murray rather than vice versa). But early in the 4th quarter, he seemed to get his "sea legs" and started executing throws he struggled with in the previous 3 quarters. Envisioning what Murray will be like as he works on developing various aspects of his game should be very exciting for Cardinal fans - the rapidity of that development will have a major bearing on the improvement of the entire team.
Looked much more like the David Johnson of a few years ago - ran with more abandon. Caught that nifty TD pass.
Overall not a good outing (they had trouble separating and lost too many 50-50 battles. KeySean Johnson wasn't living up to his early hype. Kirk wasn't as glue-handed as we'd hope. But Fitz came up with clutch catches later in the game and he and Murray seemed be wind up on the same page more often as the game wore on.
It didn't cave. Some questions about whether the refs were picking on Sweezy.
Backup RT Murray (Yeah, same last name as the QB) came in off the street to start. Yet the Card OL was able to open a few tiny holes for Johnson and by and large kept Kyrell Murray from getting repeatedly flattened.
Defensive Front Seven
Did a better-than expected job of stopping the run.
C Jones and T-Sizzle are a super-human force. Their presence helps the secondary do their jobs with less risk. Saw a little bit of Reddick - nothing especially impressive.
Started off out of synch (i.e. left receivers uncovered, allowed Hockenson to be wide open in the back of the end zone).
But they tightened up - ironically at the same time our offense became more potent. We had suspected that the absence of both starting corners - Patrick Peterson and Alford - would leave Cardinal coverage extremably vulnerable, but three backups (Brock, C Jones and Murphy) played like starters on a capable unit). Brock dropped the pick that would have likely scored the winning TD or at least put us in chip-shot range, but he otherwise played a solld game
Turning into "Old Reliable."
Big test will be next Sunday in Baltimore. (Watching 2 jackrabbits, L Jackson and K Murray) duke it out should be a treat.
We've had trouble locating play-by-play logs worth posting here so please bear with us. When we find it, we'll post it here.