Cards Sprint Past Washington: Five Things We Learned

(AP Photo/Darryl Webb)

The Arizona Cardinals opened the home portion of their 2020 regular season schedule defeating the Washington Football Club 30-15 at State Farm Stadium in Glendale. The Cardinals improve to 2-0. Washington falls to 1-1.

Here are Five Things We Learned as Arizona stays unbeaten.

1. Setting The Tempo…If the first half wasn’t totally perfect, it sure was close. Outside of one bad, late throw over the middle by Kyler Murray, the Cards’ offense and defense were dominant through the first 30 minutes of game action Sunday. Kliff Kingbury’s spread attack was efficient both running and throwing, while the defense never let Dwayne Haskins, Jr. get comfortable in the pocket. He finished the half 9-15 for just 66. He was also sacked four times. Murray and the offense outgained Washington 244-96. It was Arizona’s first first half shutout since Week 16 of the 2017 season against the New York Giants.

2. Skating With Kyler…Early in the fourth quarter Washington safety Troy Apke got a firsthand look at every NFL’s defenders worst nightmare. With the pocket breaking down, Murray scrambled to his left and dashed into the secondary as Apke approached. With the lone defender between he and the goal line, the Cards’ second-year year star stutter-stepped left and then cut to his right before jogging untouched into the end zone. Apke’s attempted tackle wasn’t even close. He was simply the latest victim to KM1’s almost unfair game-changing speed and elusiveness in the open field. It was Murray’s second rushing score of the game and third of the young season already. “I feel more comfortable out there,”  he said after the game. “If I know I can get more yards, that’s what I’m going to try to do.” Murray added a 14-yarder on the final play of the first quarter and tallied 76 yards on just eight carries for an average of 8.4 yards per tote. “He’s a spectacular talent, we all know that,” Kingsbury said almost matter-of-factly after the win.

3. Penalty Problems…A long-time Cardinals’ nemesis reared its ugly head in Glendale once again. Kingsbury’s squad was penalized 11 times for 97 yards. Part of the second half lull offensively was due to critical mistakes which often put Arizona behind the sticks. “Moving forward we have to clean up those penalties and we know that,” Kingsbury said. “We’re hurting ourselves.” Part of those penalty problems could be attributed to not playing pre-season games but Arizona has now been flagged 20 times through the first two weeks, albeit it, both in wins. 

4. Easing In Isaiah…Although rookie first-round pick Isaiah Simmons started Sunday, he played limited first half snaps (five according to ESPN.com’s Josh Weinfuss) as the Cards continue to keep the former Clemson star in a specific role within defensive coordinator Vance Joseph’s scheme. Simmons certainly experienced the NFL’s steep learning in last weekend’s upset win over the 49ers but make no mistake, the franchise is extremely high on his versatility and bright future in the league. De’Vondre Campbell and Jordan Campbell continue to see the majority of the snaps at linebacker. Simmons was credited with one solo tackle against Washington.

5. Speaking Of Campbell…The free-agent signee from the Falcons is fitting in quite nicely in Joseph’s 3-4 system. After registering seven tackles (five solo) against San Francisco, that number jumped to 10 Sunday against Washington, including eight solo and two for loss. He also added a pair of pass deflections. Campbell is no stranger to finding the football. The 6-foot-3, 232-pounder had at least 90 tackles in three of his four seasons with Atlanta. His addition addressed a real need area this off-season for the Cards. “I think he’s one of the most under-the-radar players in the league,” Kingsbury notes. “He is all about football, all the time. He is a great fit here.”

Arizona will look to stay perfect when they host the Detroit Lions next Sunday at 1:25.