It looked as if the Cardinals were going to lock up their first win against a 2022 playoff team. But there’s a reason they play all four quarters in football. Against the New York Giants, Arizona allowed New York to enjoy its largest comeback since 1949, also against the Cardinals. Graham Gano kicked a 34-yard field goal to help Big Blue win its first game of 2023, 31-28, at State Farm Stadium.
It was the tale of two halves of football. In the first thirty minutes, it was all Arizona, all the time. Conversely, the Giants dominated bell to bell in the second half. When Gano kicked what wound up being the game-winner, State Farm grew quiet as a church with last rites being given to the Cardinals.
So, what went so wrong for the Cardinals on Sunday afternoon? Here are three things Arizona needs to correct this week against the Dallas Cowboys.
The Cardinals Need to Find Consistency for Winning
From coaching to execution, the Cardinals came apart quickly. The swagger of a first half gone right was quickly replaced as they stumbled and got everything wrong. After taking a 20-0 lead into the halftime locker room, it seemed as if Arizona would find the win column.
New York simply executed better and made plays in the second half. The Cardinals did not do that. Arizona quarterback Josh Dobbs is now 0-4 as a starter. Based on Week 2 against the Giants and what looks to be a very good Cowboys team coming to town on Sunday, he could be 0-5 after next week.
Dobbs needs to take control of this offense. The coaching staff on the sideline had to make him think they were playing a ‘prevent offense’. The Cardinals need to turn more of the controls over to Dobbs. Dobbs needs to be a vocal leader. The bottom line here is that he’s got more experience than the poor coaching allows him to exercise. He needs to take advantage of the opportunity for his next job on another team.
Losing Budda Baker Could Be the Deathblow
Make no mistake, the Cardinals defense was the best thing this team had going. Budda Baker missing ANY games completely erases Arizona’s hopes of competing until 2024. What this means is all the pressure will be assumed by the Cardinals offense. Scoring anything less than 28 points in a game is likely a loss. If capable, and that is not a given, scoring more will be required.
Going back this offseason, the common denominator between wins and losses was the Cardinals defense. Arizona on “D” could keep them in games. No Baker for four weeks or longer puts a pin in the Cardinals season.
Gannon And His Staff Are in Over Their Head
There is no doubt that the hiring of Jonathan Gannon has been an abject failure. The Cardinals turned the second most important job in the organization over to a novice.
Gannon was not ready for this job. He also would not be the first. The league’s history is littered with those “not ready for prime time”, and Gannon is getting close to making that list. Sure, he’s now down two significant players in Kyler Murray and now with Budda Baker, but his game management is disastrous.
It won’t get easier this week. Dallas looks to be the real deal, and while the NFC West has a lot of question marks, the Cardinals still have the most.
By the looks of things two weeks into the season, the Cardinals no longer look to be a team tanking. They don’t have to; they are already bad enough to lose games without trying.
Main Photo: Joe Camporeale – USA Today Sports