The Arizona Cardinals suffered their first loss of the season to the Green Bay Packers on Thursday Night Football. Is this cause for concern or nothing to worry about? Let’s examine both.
Cause for Concern
First of all, wins are tough to come by in the NFL, so no matter how they’re earned, it’s still a move in a positive direction. The one area in which the Cardinals have grown this season is in their ability to win close games. The more close games you win the more it builds confidence in individual players, the team overall, and the coaching staff. Losing the Packers game in that manner seemed to be a glimpse of Cardinals teams from the past.
Another area of concern was the turnovers. Since Kyler Murray’s arrival, there have been a number of losses that have also coincided with multiple turnovers from him. Winning the turnover margin is still the statistic that’s the biggest indicator regarding wins and losses. The Cardinals had 3 on Thursday and they proved to be costly in a close game. Having a more balanced offense by running the ball more effectively would take some of the pressure off of Murray. Running the ball more effectively will also give them an advantage in time of possession—another area in which the Cardinals were deficient. If the Cardinals want to make some noise in the playoffs, having an offense that isn’t solely relying upon Murray would be greatly beneficial.
Nothing to Worry About
There were some positive takeaways from the game. The defensive effort was outstanding, as it has been all year. After Rondale Moore’s muffed punt gave Green Bay the ball with 1st-and-goal from the 3-yard line. The Cardinals tightened their chin strap and forced the Packers to settle for a field goal. Then there was Murray’s (potential) game-winning touchdown drive. He drove the team 95 yards down the field to put them in position for the game-winning score. Obviously, the result wasn’t what they intended, however, I’d take my chances with A.J. Green against a corner who was recently signed 10 times out of 10. Another positive was that running back Chase Edmonds scored his first touchdown. Heading into the game he was tops in the NFL for rushing yards without a touchdown.
Their first loss of the season is nothing to worry about. All of their seasonal goals as a team are still in front of them. The Cardinals are a really good football team. The NFL is a quarterback-driven league—you either have a franchise QB or you’re willing to do whatever it takes to get one. In games like these, it proves that the Cardinals have their franchise QB. Murray is dangerous and gives the Cardinals a chance to win every game because of his competitive nature.
Furthermore, the defense is playing better than it has in many years. Even with Chandler Jones not getting home as much as he had earlier in the year, the defense is currently ranked as a top-three unit in the NFL. Young corners Marco Wilson and Byron Murphy leave this fan base optimistic about the future. They also may have the best tackling safety tandem in the NFL with Budda Baker and Jalen Thompson (who doesn’t get nearly the amount of credit he deserves).
If the Cardinals can find a way to become more balanced on offense by running the football more effectively, with the way the defense is playing, they could easily find themselves in the NFC Championship Game or beyond.