Arizona Cardinals Close but Not Close Enough in 20-17 Loss

The only undefeated team in the NFL the Philadelphia Eagles and their fans stormed into State Farm Stadium Sunday, made themselves at home, and got comfortable really early as all teams do against the Cardinals.

The Cardinals wearing their new alternate helmet in black, looking to change the narrative that they cannot win at home, sitting at 8 straight after this one got away from them.

Two touchdown deficit seems to be the average that the Cardinals wait to see before they start to actually compete to win, resulting in a pretty good effort to complete the com from behind win every week.

What is the reason for the massive slow starts week-in and week-out?

This is a question that no one has been able to answer, not even the people that suppose to have all the answers have a clue.

Head Coach Kliff Kingsbury after every game this season, has had the puzzled look on his face trying to answer why the slow starts continue each week.

Then he put himself on display when he says in week three “we are going to tweak some things” in regards to making a better start but that tweaking has not worked.

Instead of a tweak maybe they need a full overhaul of the game plan.

The Eagles jumped out to a 14-point lead with two Jalen Hurts quarterback sneak touchdowns, and the Cardinals did not answer until the second half.

It can be said that the Eagles let their foot off the gas, as they may have seen this game as a trap game and were playing against their own minds.

But the Cardinal’s defense showed up to continue the great play they have gotten all season long, at least after the first three drives of the opponent.

Cornerback Byron Murphy has almost shut down three straight star receivers in a row and has clearly cemented himself as the team’s number one corner.

Zach Allen and JJ Watt have also been instrumental in getting stops by getting their hand up and batting balls away, also making key tackles at critical times.

There is still much that is lacking on both sides of the ball, but the glaring issue is the unit that was supposed to be the strongest this year, the offense has been very mysterious.

The main component that seems to be missing at the start of games is quarterback Kyler Murray and his ability to run on designed plays to help losing up the defense.

The Cardinals are the only team in the league that has yet to score any points in the first quarter, and Murray has minimum attempts at running to start games and it looks like that is designed that way.

Then the offense finds its rhythm late in the second half, and the weapon of choice that is helping the team come back is the running of Kyler and the hurry-up spread offense.

Perhaps it’s as simple as starting the game the way you have finished them and they should be fine, but it’s not that simple when you have a Coach that is continually second-guessing himself.

There are play calls that are only supposed to be made after they have been set up to be ran, for instance, the bomb attempt that Murray threw the interception looked forced, it was at the wrong time.

The offense to that point hadn’t done anything that would scare the defense or trick the defense and therefore looked very pedestrian and predictable. They had not established a run game that would set up the deep ball, and furthermore, Kingsbury’s playcalling still has the name “cute” attached to it.

Running “cute” plays still requires them to be set up first before they will work, can’t do reverse or a jet sweep trick play when the defense already knows what’s coming because you haven’t done enough to get them guessing.

This falls on the College Coach that had been said to be the offensive guru, but has looked more like a scared and nervous play-caller pacing the sidelines.

When the troops see the leader sweating and looking in a panic, then they will follow that lead and the Cardinals offense has played the first quarter looking exactly like their coach.

In the second half of games, it seems they catch a rhythm and KLiff calms down as Kyler starts to make plays to make it easier on everyone, why he doesn’t choose to make those plays early still is a mystery but Murray has always been that guy that has self-preservation and will not put himself in harm’s way.

This was proved at the last drive to tie the game, where Murray had an opportunity to get a first down and possibly make the kick that was missed a shorter distance.

Maybe they get an opportunity to throw for the win in the end zone a few times if Murray didn’t slide a yard short of a first down.

After looking at the play, he had plenty of time to cut that back and get out of bounds with the first down and plenty of time left.

The bad decisions and self-inflicted wounds continue to be the benchmark of this team year in and out, there has to be an underlining issue as to why this team cannot perform under pressure and compete from start to finish.

The Cardinals lose 20-17 and had an opportunity to tie the game at the end of regulation, but backup kicker Matt Ammendola missed the 43-yarder to the right of the post.

The team heads to Seattle next week against a team that has been a complete surprise with Gino Smith at quarterback looking like an MVP candidate.

The slow start in this game will also determine if the Cardinals have a chance or not, the Seahawks play hard for 60 minutes but leave plenty of opportunity for the opponent to win the game.

Can Arizona continue its good play on the road, a place where they seem more comfortable and playing their best football in the second half?

Regardless of the outcome, the Cardinals have to come in with a desperate mentality and play as if the second half of the game is starting at the beginning and go right into that rhythm offense that scores points.

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