Arizona Cardinals: Undefeated Underdogs

Arizona Cardinals
Arizona Cardinals Credit: @derrickspencer

The Cardinals have a tough task ahead. As everyone knows, Arizona will be missing Chandler Jones, Rodney Hudson, Zach Allen, HC Kliff Kingsbury and QB Coach Cam Turner. But the Browns aren’t without their fair share of obstacles to overcome either. RB Nick Chubb was ruled out a couple days ago. Luckily for them they have a stud right behind him in Kareem Hunt. But now LT Jedrick Wills and RT Jack Conklin have also been ruled out. And according to the Browns official depth chart, rookie James Hudson is the backup LT and there’s no backup listed at RT. So Cleveland will likely have to play some guys out of position on the OL today. Expect interim HC Vance Joseph to dial up lots of pressure on the defensive side to take advantage.

Being without our Head Coach and playcaller seemingly gives AZ an immediate disadvantage. But on the flip side, someone else calling plays could make the offense a bit unpredictable today. With Kugler being the run game coordinator, we may see an uptick in runs, but who knows. Assistant WR coach Spencer Whipple will also be helping Kugler call plays.

The Browns are 1st in the NFL in rushing with 187 yards per game and the Cardinals are 8th with 128/game. Stopping the run will be key for both teams but in the end, whoever can protect their young QB the best, may be the team who wins. Give us your keys to today’s game @Cardinals_ATB on Twitter.

NFL Power Rankings Week 5: 7 Up, 7 Down – Thrive at Five

NFL Power Rankings Week Five, Credit: BillsWire

A wild and wacky Week 5 is done and dusted. What were the biggest topics on the tongues and minds of NFL folks league wide? Who were the heroes and villains of the fifth week? 14 of the hottest storylines dotting the NFL landscape. The Weekly NFL Power Rankings for week five are here and the question begs itself: who had the drive to thrive in week five?

Up

1. Kyle Pitts FINALLY gets his first touchdown

– The rookie star tight end finally got his first touchdown against the Jets on the soil of America’s greatest ally. Topping off his greatest game as the focal point of the Falcons’ offense (which necessitated due to injuries to the emerging Calvin Ridley). Perhaps this game propels the precocious rookie forward into being the premier tight end league-wide as once was promised? Rookie tight ends are notorious for being fickle in their impact. Head coach Arthur Smith hasn’t been utilizing him as the promised future at the position until Sunday so there’s that factor as well. Maybe this is the game that changes that. Pitts’ fantasy owners will surely love it. 

2. Burrow to Chase is the goods

– Quite a burgeoning friendship one would suspect if both stay healthy and fulfill their endless potential. Chase on target to, well, chase down the GOAT rookie receiver season of Randy Moss 1998. The ascendant star receiver added another 159 yards and a touchdown on just six receptions on Sunday against the Packers. Burrow put a mighty scare into the Bengals after getting hit hard on a scramble (he ultimately returned) and he was admitted to the hospital for a throat contusion. If both players can stay healthy, they can be one of the more lethal quarterback and receiver duos in this league.

3. 1 PM window finishes 

– The early slate delivered some wild hijinks to close it out. Which made up for the relatively nonchalant finishes that the late afternoon games provided us. We all witnessed the crazy back and forth missed kick contest between the Packers and Bengals extend beyond the start of the late window. A game Houston squad made it tough for the Patriots and held the lead until the Pats came back late. Denver got past its offensive struggles and made it a contest deep into the 60th minute against the Steelers. Detroit actually held the lead in a dramatic affair with the injury-depleted Vikings before ultimately succumbing to yet another long-distance game-winning kick. It’s a fun league-wide trend that these games are so close this season. The fans are simultaneously reaching for the antiacids and their phones on an increasing basis this year. We’re all here for the drama. 

4. Browns and Chargers stop playing defense

– The late slate did provide the viewers with some incredible offensive fireworks as both the Browns and Chargers decided to play a game of H-O-R-S-E in the fourth quarter. It was mind-boggling as each team traded long touchdowns like cryptocurrency. After a relatively quiet three quarters, the teams combined for whopping FORTY-ONE points in the final stanza. Both teams went over a combined 1,000 yards of total offense in this one. Justin Herbert continues to solidify his case as a top-five quarterback in this league with every bomb throw he makes and game-winning drives. Where else could you get an entire defense actively trying to drag a runner into the end zone? 

5. The Jameis Winston Experience 

– We got the full ride on Sunday on that roller coaster. He threw a ghastly interception then follows it up with this beauty of a deep shot to Deonte Harris. Overall, Mr. Winston has had a great season controlling his inner turnover demons thus far. He’s played well in Sean Payton’s system and with Taysom Hill’s unfortunate injury, looks to be the only passer touching the ball for a bit. Comeback Player of the Year contender? 

6. The 2021 MVP race crystalizes

– The race for the 2021 MVP award is likely down to three contenders as we move deeper into October and beyond. The three lucky contestants: Kyler Murray, Josh Allen, and Justin Herbert. There could be a dark horse that looms on the horizon like grizzled graybeards Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, and the like but it’s these three young guns battling it out. All three are off to fast starts and leading their teams as division contenders if not outright favorites. You can’t go wrong with any of them winning the award at the end. Allen is proving that he’s here to stay after a remarkable 2020. Murray is leading the league’s top offense. The Los Angeles Charger signal-caller has come on like gangbusters during his sophomore season after a remarkable rookie year. Allen likely wins it after establishing his bonafides last year. 

7. The 2019 MVP Stakes His Claim to the Crown

–  Lamar Jackson had a performance for the ages on Monday Night Football, leading the Ravens to a stirring comeback victory over the Colts. He’s well on his way to making the MVP race a four-way contest with the aforementioned three young guns above. It will be a thrilling race to the very end and Jackson has the precedence as a prior winner to know what it takes to win it. He has progressed every season as a passer under Greg Roman’s watch. Can he win the award for a second time?

Down

1. Special Teams coaches’ heart rates 
– The specialists in Week 5 were on one this week. A whopping 12 missed extra points plagued the league’s foot meeting with leather people, including THREE in the Texans-Patriots (in a dome, no less). The aforementioned Cincinnati-Packers featured both kickers missing game-winning kicks on repeat, including Mason Crosby missing THREE BY HIMSELF in about 15 minutes of game time. Of course, we can’t leave out the punters as a 0-yard punt AND a double punt happened! There’s nothing that epitomizes the weekend more than Evan McPherson pulling a Nick Young and celebrating a bit too early.

2. Injuries

– Another brutal week of injuries took a toll around the league as multiple stars are looking at long term issues. None more so than the Giants as Daniel Jones, Saquon Barkley, and Kenny Golladay were all knocked out of the game. The Browns didn’t escape as Jack Conklin, Denzel Ward, Greedy Williams, and JOK suffered game-ending injuries as well. Pittsburgh receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster injured his shoulder and is out for the season. The offensive linemen suffered heavily as Joe Thuney (broken hand), Oday Aboushi (ACL), Germain Ifedi (knee), Laremy Tunsil (hand), Sam Cosmi (ankle), Rodger Saffold (shoulder) were all declared OUT. At what point do the owners realize that the 17th game isn’t worth it? Do teams begin to schedule loss games like the San Antonio Spurs infamously made legendary?

3. Business is not booming for Miami 

– There’s no shame in losing to the GOAT quarterback. However, there is shame in how they lost. The Dolphins’ defense was dismantled in a devastating fashion as all three units were to blame. The secondary was lit on fire as Antonio Brown got loose on a pair of touchdowns. How dominant was the Bucs offensive line? Well, let’s say a picture is worth a thousand words. Not to mention that the Twitter account of Tua Tagovailoa’s gym went on a Brian Flores-related rant after the game. Things aren’t rosy for the denizens of Hard Rock Stadium right now.

4. Coaches wearing the scandalous scarlet letters 

– I won’t get into the Urban Meyer stuff this week as it’s been harangued into oblivion. It’s definitely not a great look for a coach with a questionable character already struggling to adapt to the pro game. The Jaguars looked relatively competitive on Sunday despite the week filled with questions about Meyer’s antics. However, on the west coast, Raiders head coach Jon Gruden is in a lot of hot water regarding racist emails about NFLPA director DeMaurice Smith. Then the New York Times broke the news that the Gruden emails got horrifically worse, way worse. Gruden has elected to resign, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero

5. Denver’s offense is who we thought that they were 

– Try as they might, the Broncos’ offense just couldn’t get it going until it was desperation time against the Steelers. Teddy Bridgewater, while a capable quarterback, isn’t the most physically gifted passer. Throw in an offense that is recovering a key asset or two like Courtland Sutton, it’s going to take a minute to gel together. Next week might be a get-right game against the tumultuous scandal-ridden Raiders in the Mile High City.

6. Seattle without Chef Unlimited 

– We will get a few weeks’ glimpses into the possibly not too distant Wilson-less future with Russell Wilson out due to injury. Geno Smith takes over as the starter. The schedule is demanding to say the least with a road trip to Pittsburgh, home against the Saints, away at Green Bay, and home to Arizona dotting the next four out of five games. Can the Seahawks keep their heads above water in the Division of Death with Mr. Unlimited? 

7. The Chiefs defense is bad

– Yeah, nothing new here but it’s dire for the men under the watch of Steve Spagnuolo. The numbers are disastrous and I’m not sure Spags’ pedigree can save them this time. Missing their best defensive lineman Chris Jones isn’t helping much, either. It’s a long season yet the defensive statistics reflect a team with a much lesser talent profile. Wherever the season ends up for the Chiefs to be seen, it is ominous. Patrick Mahomes can’t keep on rescuing the defense when he’s battling some issues himself. 

Previous Editions

Week 1: Opening Overreactions

Wk 2: Perceptive Repeats

Week 3: So Nice, Do It Thrice

Week 4: Good Quads Like Saquon

NFL Power Rankings: 7 Up, 7 Down – Good Quads like Saquon

The first quarter of the 2021 NFL season is in the books! Time sure goes by fast when we’re having fun. Which seven most burning topics of the who, what, why, and the how of week four stood out? Which teams have some work to do as we exit the first quadrant of 2021? Let’s take a look at some NFL Power rankings and answer the question: Who had a good quads like Saquon Barkley?

Up

1. Matty Ice can still flash the fastball 

Our NFL power rankings begin in Atlanta. The old aging warhorse showed he’s plenty capable of uncorking the heater on occasion, as he did on Sunday. He was great against a dominant WFT front and showed some life just yet, including a beautiful whistling dart to Kyle Pitts. Add in four scoring tosses (three to sudden WR1 / RB1 Cordarrelle Patterson) and a hilarious, spritely gallop to extend a must-have late drive.

While he won’t be the Matt Ryan of old any longer, he still has a bit left in the tank to unleash performances like the one on Sunday. It’s quite unfortunate that his defensive teammates can’t stop Falconing so often. Next up for the Falcons, a date across the pond with the one-win Jets. 

2. Kyler Murray is always fun

What else can we say about the kid at this point? He’s on a rampage even against the best of defenses. Murray is easily the frontrunner for MVP as we exit the first quadrant of the 2021 season. The electric playmaker is proving all the doubters wrong every week. Defensive coordinators are just flabbergasted and torn asunder trying to scheme against him. Murray has the potential to be the fully evolved and weaponized Michael Vick in an offense that fits him perfectly. 

3. The Dallas buddy cop show is back on the air

Dak continues to round back into pre-injury form and for the first time in a long while, we had a dominant Zeke performance Sunday (against the top-ranked run defense, no less). If the offensive line can somewhat keep Dak and Zeke going to match their suddenly performing defense, Dallas might be an NFC contender. The NFC East has habitually shown that any competent team could win it. Is America’s Team truly back? Time will only tell. 

4. Justin Fields sans Matt Nagy calling plays 

Much to the chagrin of fantasy owners who picked up the Lions’ defense, Justin Fields had a nice rebound game after last week’s disaster. The difference? Matt Nagy not calling the plays and being a bemused bystander/delegator. OC Bill Lazor took over the play-calling duties and the difference in Fields was night and day. If Nagy can just stick to being maddeningly furtive and nonsensical during press conferences and avoid the headset, the Bears can do something. It’s only the Lions but baby steps, people, baby steps. Up next for Fields and co are the hapless Raiders defense who Justin Herbert dissected with ease on Monday night.

5. Sam Darnold revivalist movement

Speaking of young quarterbacks trying to redeem themselves, enter Sam Darnold. OC Joe Brady certainly has begun to rebuild Darnold after his Jets tenure was so rocky. It only has been four weeks but the signs of a Darnold revival are there. Many people were skeptical of him being able to play the position but he has proved that he’s more than capable early on. He has been the first passer in team history to throw for 300 yards or more in three straight games. Who leads the entire league in rushing touchdowns? Not Derrick Henry. Darnold does. The young buck could be on his way to stardom if this keeps up.  

6. The Diggs holiday family football games must be INTENSE

Cowboys cornerback Trevon Diggs has ascended to the ranks as one of the best corners in the game this season. Receiver brother Stefon was one of the best receivers already. Trevon has had an impressive start to 2021, snagging five interceptions and shutting opposing receivers down. Stefon continues to be the focal point for the Bills offense. Just how crazy are the holiday backyard games in the Diggs household? We need the All-22 footage right now! Could we see the brothers go up against one another on a sunny day in Los Angeles in the month of February? 

7. Russ Cooking to 💯 wins

Bonus Ups: Chris Jones really tried that bounce pass off the Referee + Hunter Renfrow is Vegas DB1

First up, we have Chris Jones trying to imitate LeBron’s self alley-oop dunk with the ref acting like the glass on the way to the failed fumble recovery. *Insert at least he tried Bart Simpson cake meme*

Next, Hunter Renfrow makes an astute observation of the incoming Chargers fake punt and destroys the receiver

Down

1. A bad day at the office for the Texans offense

If players and teams are rising in the NFL power rankings, others must be falling. We all knew that there would be bad days for the hapless Texans but Sunday was a horrifying example of what happens when a vastly superior team shows up. Davis Mills had a massive “welcome to the NFL, rookie” game, throwing four interceptions en-route to a Bills 40-0 rout.

Three straight losses for Houston and a date against a smarting Patriots squad looking for a rebound. Somehow, some way the Texans are in second place in the AFC South. 

2. Mike Vrabel and Sean Payton

Both of these coaches deserve to lose their parking spots for their abject failures in leading their teams to painful defeats against vastly inferior opponents. Vrabel had no excuse in particular against the previously winless Jets. Payton even less so with them blowing a lead in the fourth quarter, allowing for a walkoff TD to young Saquon Barkley.

It’s time for both men to make changes. The Saints need to scrap the two quarterback thing and stick with Jameis Winston for good or bad. Tennessee needs to let DC Shane Bowen go and move Jim Schwartz into a full time role. 

3. Big Ben is what he is

The end has come for a once-proud, aging star quarterback, and Father Time waits for absolutely no one when he arrives. The mind may still be willing but the body just isn’t responsive at this point in his career. Roethlisberger tried his best to hang on to what little gifts he has left but he should retire at the end of the season to save face for himself and the organization.

The offensive line issues are aplenty but Ben is sadly beyond the pale. He should get ready for the Hall of Fame enshrinement in 2026 instead of giving it another go in 2022. 

4. Jared Goff and Detroit had a Jared Goof type of day

How’s the Lions season going, you ask? Well, it’s going kind of like this:

5. Bill Belichick and late game management

Speaking of questionable late game management, we enter into evidence Bill Belichick’s mystifying decision to attempt a 56 yard field goal on fourth and short. If he opts to go for it, either way the game is likely over at that point. In a year that more and more teams are going for it on fourth down in plus territory, he opts against it.

The Patriots don’t convert, Thomas Brady has to drive down the field on an absolutely rain blasted soaked pitch and he looked shaky at points in the game. If they do get it, they can continue to milk the clock for a closer attempt on the very same slick surface. Did Belichick outsmart himself trying to teach the old man a lesson? 

6. Jimmy G as the 49ers starter 

We may have witnessed the end of the Jimmy Garoppolo regime by the Bay through no fault of his own. He injured his calf during Sunday’s contest and Trey Lance had to step in for a cameo appearance. The kid wasn’t half bad, tossing two touchdowns to no interceptions.

Calf injuries, like most soft tissue injuries are notoriously finicky so it will be interesting to see if Jimmy G can go next Sunday or the rookie stepping in for a start. Garoppolo has been nothing but a consummate professional dealing with the notoriety of being “Mr. Right Now” while assisting Lance in his development. 

7. Captain Kirk vs. The Baker

Let’s just say that it won’t go down as the preeminent quarterback duel of our lifetimes any time soon. Both passers were, to put it mildly, not up to expectations on Sunday. Sorry, Kirk and Baker, absolutely no one progressively liked that. Not even opposing defensive coordinators. The Vikings did win an enthralling 14-7 stare-down, however. Perhaps it is best that the tape gets burned before everyone’s retinas are pervasively damaged from watching that horror show. Minnesota hosts the Lions while the Browns travel to Los Angeles to face rising superstar QB Justin Herbert next.  

Previous 7 Up, 7 Downs

Opening Overreactions

A Perceptive Repeat

So Nice, Do it Thrice

7 Up, 7 Down: A Perceptive Repeat?

Week 2 was full of intrigue as teams tried to shake the stark realities of Week 1 debuts or build upon progress. Which teams / players did the thing? Who needs some work as we look ahead to Week 3 of the young 2021 season?

Up

1. Micah Parsons is certified #good

– The former first round selection validated the Cowboys with a monster performance on Sunday. He was moved closer to the line due to injuries and showed well despite not playing EDGE since high school. PFF gave him an overall grade of 89.9, which was good for highest defensive rookie this week. He had eight pressures on the most promising young quarterbacks in the league. It looks like the pass rush moves he was working on with the legendary DeMarcus Ware on Hard Knocks paid off. The versatile linebacker was a freak athlete that played in a variety of roles while at Penn State. Certainly a good start to the young linebacker’s career. Could a permanent move to EDGE be in the cards after his initial performance? 

2. Late Game Window

– If the early slate was a bit of a dud (it wasn’t) but in comparison to the late slate, it was quaint. There was a period of a few minutes where multiple games came down to a game winning field goal attempt. Arizona survived the Vikings last dash attempt (in a candidate for game of the year) while Tennessee and Dallas made their field goals to sneak out road wins. Dallas kicker Greg Zuerlein delivered after a litany of coaching errors and his own demons from last week.  All of which served as delicious appetizers to the big showdown on Sunday Night Football. 

3. Lamar Jackson and John Harbaugh’s “GUTS”

– Speaking of Sunday night action, there was plenty of it as Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes put on a show. Jackson, especially put on a show during the fourth quarter leading the Ravens to an upset win over the Chiefs. He struggled early on, throwing multiple interceptions to Tyrann Mathieu, including a pick six. It was a shootout until the very end when the Chiefs inexplicably took the ball out of Mahomes’ hands on a crucial drive. 

Lamar then took the ball on a game icing drive, which led to the now famous do you want to go for it question asked by Harbaugh. A fantastic preview for a potential rematch in January?

4. Carolina D fences in the Saints

The Panthers defense held the explosive Saints offense to a mere seven points and harried Jameis Winston into two interceptions and just 111 yards passing. They also kept the electrifying Alvin Kamara to just 30 yards on 12 touches while getting four sacks and 11 hits on Winston. DC Phil Snow’s men have been dominant through the first two games, leading the league in numerous categories. They get to face a largely untested rookie leading a dysfunctional Houston Texans team on Thursday night. Undoubtedly for which they will be salivating for.

5. Explosive Teddy Bridgewater

– The amiable Teddy Bridgewater has appeared to revamp his game into a more high powered attack with Denver it seems. He has looked downright aggressive compared to his reputation of being “safe”. He’s in the top ten in passing yardage, touchdowns, QB rating, and true to form, has no interceptions. Bridgewater has seized the starting job over Drew Lock and it appears that the Broncos are going to ride with him despite their dalliances with Aaron Rodgers. I’m excited what the future weeks portend for him armed with a much better offense and a stout defense. He deserves all the flowers as a veteran QB who has more than his paid dues. 

6. Houston being competitive 

– Everyone wrote off the Texans as the worst team in the league and yes it appears that way talent wise. HC David Culley has them fighting and competing early on, even if the competitive level isn’t the best. That’s admirable. They’re even in first place in the AFC South. Well, we’ll see how much of that competitive spirit is retained as the opposing teams’ talent level ratchets up. They’re about to face a brutal six game gauntlet of the Panthers, @ Bills, Patriots, @ Colts, and @ Cardinals. All this without the hot start of injured Tyrod Taylor and managing the tricky Deshaun Watson situation. Let’s hope for Culley’s sake that his team can win at least two of these games. 

7. Kyler Murray is FUN

– Murray is one of the most fun quarterbacks in the league right now. It just wasn’t the Titans that were bamboozled and mystified on how to cover him. Mike Zimmer’s Vikings defense was similarly flummoxed as well on Sunday afternoon. He was unstoppable uncorking passes from seemingly improbable locations like a mini-Mahomes all game. The clip below probably wasn’t even his best HOW??? throw of the game. When the Cardinals offense is truly clicking, it’s really entertaining for fans everywhere. Now that he has AJ Green, rookie Rondale Moore, along with the erstwhile superstar DeAndre Hopkins to go along with a solid line, they will be a tough out for anyone. I would go as far as to say that the Murray led Cardinals are everyone’s second favorite team and a Red Zone darling.  

Down

1. The Dolphins OL

– Yeesh. That wasn’t the best effort in the world against the stingy #BillsMafia defense, getting shutout, 35-0. The biggest part, the unit was responsible for franchise QB Tua Tagovailoa getting injured by a virtually free oncoming pass rusher. It remains to be seen how long Tua will be out for due to this latest setback but it appears grim. The line gave up six sacks and 11 hits on the QB overall. The line needs major upgrades in the worst way possible. They need to get right in a hurry for Brian Flores’ men to compete for the playoffs. 

2. Taunting rules

Let the great Field Yates surmise everyone’s thoughts on this needlessly obtuse and useless rule:

Also, a compilation to further outline this outlandishly farcical rule that NO ONE wants:

3. Wentz is Cooked?

– Russ is cooking while Carson Wentz might be officially cooked as a starting level quarterback after Sunday’s tough minded performance that resulted in a spectacular shovel pass interception and an injury. The trade that brought him to Indianapolis may be a bust but it’s early yet. The Colts are currently projected to have a top five selection but they owe it to the Eagles should Wentz play 75% of the snaps and the Colts make the playoffs. If their record gets worse in a downtrodden AFC South similar to last year’s NFC East, they might be inclined to sit Wentz to avoid paying the premium cost. 

4. The Chiefs defense merits banishment from the Kingdom 

The KC defense just has to be league average to complement an all world offense yet they are failing to do just that. By most metrics, they are in the bottom tier. It’s not like they are not chock full of talent, either. There is too much talent on the defense for it to be this bad. Patrick Mahomes can’t continually save the day even if he’s capable of it every game. It’s early but DC Steve Spagnuolo has proven to be capable of fixing defenses. #ChiefsKingdom surely expects the defense to be better, it has to be, right? 

5. Welcome to the League, Rook QBs

– Week 2 was a mixed bag for the much ballyhooed class of 2021 rookie quarterbacks as they have had several welcome to the big leagues moments between them. Zach Wilson in particular had a rough go against the wizard Bill Belichick, throwing for four interceptions and 0 scores. Trevor Lawrence is continuing to throw interceptions like the cookie monster devours cookies, throwing two against Denver. Trey Lance sat. Justin Fields got a lot of time after Andy Dalton was injured, throwing a hideous interception in a crucial moment against the Bengals and was just 6-13 and 60 yards. In more positive news, Mac Jones was effective, leading the aforementioned Patriots to a dominant win. Davis Mills of Houston will get the start on Thursday after subbing in for an injured Tyrod Taylor on Sunday. This was expected growing pains for a rookie class.

6. Injuries are the worst

– It was a brutal week for injuries as a litany of stars were hurt enough to get knocked out of the game or had to sit out a few plays. Most notably, Andy Dalton, Tua, Carson Wentz, Bradley Chubb, TJ Watt, and Tyrod Taylor left and did not return. Baker Mayfield was injured trying to make a tackle on the player who intercepted his pass, dislocating his shoulder. Speaking of Cleveland, Jarvis Landry exited the game and subsequently placed on IR. Big Ben and Eagles OL Brandon Brooks are dealing with pectoral injuries. Eagles EDGE rusher Brandon Graham has a reported torn Achilles. Chubb underwent ankle surgery and is expected to miss significant time and may have ended his time in Denver. It’s only week three of a long 17 game season and it’s going to be a slog with all these injuries to key players already.

7. Zac Taylor is not a good head coach nor OC

– Taylor has proven repeatedly that he isn’t ready for the big time yet. There’s no reason that he shouldn’t call the offense more aggressively than he has. An example that is none more glaring was Sunday when he refused to unleash Joe Burrow until it was too late. The Bengals don’t have the greatest talent along the offensive line, sure but the play calling has been way too conservative. He has to be more mindful that he has a franchise quarterback that needs to be let loose. The Bengals have drafted well over the years but I don’t think he’s that dude that can maximize the short window of contention that a rookie QB contract provides. Perhaps he isn’t ready for a head coaching job just yet and went too far ahead of his skis riding the McVay wave.

Kyler’s “Luxury” Legs

This past offseason Kyler made it clear he wanted to use his legs as more of a luxury than a primary feature that the offense is reliant on. This also insinuates he wants to utilize his arm more this season.

Through two weeks so far, Kyler is averaging 96.3 more passing yards per game than last season. Even in comparison to just the first 2 games of 2020, Kyler passed for 86.5 more yards per game. His 400 passing yards yesterday was the 2nd most of his career.

Obviously 2 games isn’t a large sample size, but the rushing usage has also gone in the direction Kyler wants, cutting in half from 51.2 yards per game in 2020 to just 25.5 rushing yards per game so far. Last year he averaged 79 rushing yards on 10.5 rushing attempts the first 2 games. In the first 2 this year, Kyler’s received half as many rushing attempts per game at just 5.

Tennessee and Minnesota clearly don’t have the best pass defenses so I wouldn’t expect Kyler to average nearly 100 more passing yards per game through the whole season (but he might get close with a full healthy season). Most importantly, Arizona should be able to continue this ratio of utilizing Kyler’s arm more and his legs as more of a secret weapon this year.