The Arizona Cardinals were slow to get out of bed on Sunday and struggled throughout the day against the Carolina Panthers. From low offensive numbers to not being able to get off the field, Kliff Kingsbury’s squad struggled in all phases of the game as the Bird Gang is now 2-2.
Here are four key numbers that tell the story of Sunday’s loss:
The good news? Kyler Murray completed 24 passes. The bad news? All that led to 133 yards. The intermediate and deep passing wasn’t there. No Cardinals receivers averaged above 10 yards per reception. DeAndre Hopkins and Larry Fitzgerald were both quiet throughout a game where the Cardinals were behind and in passing situations.
Larry Fitzgerald has 4 receiving yards in the last two games, the lowest over a two-game stretch in his illustrious career.
— Josh Weinfuss (@joshweinfuss) October 4, 2020
The 133 yard total is the third-lowest in Murray’s year-plus career. Ironically, the two lower totals came during Cardinal wins, but the Bird Gang rushed for 253 yards against Seattle and Chase Edmonds dominated with 127 yards and three scores against the Giants in those games.
There was not that ground attack that could supplement the small jabs the passing attack made on Sunday.
Much has been made about the “body clock” for West Coast teams heading East over recent years. The logic makes sense: The Pacific and Mountain time zone teams are kicking off at what would 10 a.m. at their home stadiums, and it could be tough to acclimate and perform at a high level earlier in the day than usual.
Teams can travel East earlier in the week to fight off a slow start, practice earlier than usual and use countless other tactics to counteract the jet lag.
Whether it’s a body clock issue or just coincidence, the Cardinals are 2-4 in the Kliff Kingsbury era when heading East. Those two wins came against the New York Giants and Cincinnati Bengals by a combined nine points.
The Cardinals are hopeful they picked up some new practices when heading to the Eastern Standard Time Zone as they will do so three more times this year, including next week against the New York Jets.
A big reason for optimism early on in the season was the defense’s ability to get off the field on third downs. Through the team’s first three games, opponents converted on third down just 10 times.
On Sunday, the Panthers reached the line to gain seven times on third down and also converted on a fourth down play. This led to a 37:08 to 22:52 time of possession advantage and limited the Cardinal offense to just 55 plays.
One area of concern for the Cardinal defense has been the lack of turnovers forced. Despite those troubles, the defense has been generally good, partly because of the pressure the front seven has been able to create. Despite Patrick Peterson nabbing the first interception of the season, Arizona was without Devon Kennard this week and struggled to create that panic up front against Carolina.
The group had zero sacks and just three tackles for loss, all of which came from Jordan Hicks.
The numbers rarely lie, and in today’s loss, these stats pointed to the shortcomings of team’s overall performance.