Cardinals must be cautiously optimistic after win over Rams

(Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images) James Conner
(Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images) James Conner /

The Arizona Cardinals have a right to be excited about the 2021 season after getting a big win over the Los Angeles Rams in Week 4.

The Arizona Cardinals beat the Los Angeles Rams in every facet of the game on Sunday. They also played another tough team, the Tennessee Titans, well in Week 1. However, the Cardinals barely escaped the Minnesota Vikings, and they looked like the team that stumbled down the stretch in 2020 throughout the first two and a half quarters in Jacksonville.

The good news? The Cardinals have outscored playoff teams from the 2020 season 75 to 33. Through the first four games of the season, they’re averaging 35 points per game and allowing just 21.25 points. Quite the differential.

However, against lesser-talented teams like the Vikings (1-3) and the Jaguars (0-4), they have put up 65 points, but they have allowed 52. Sure, wins are wins in the NFL. But the Cardinals cannot afford to keep playing down to lesser talent in 2021. It was a huge problem in 2020, and it ultimately ended up costing them a playoff spot.

Arizona Cardinals still have plenty to work on this season

Despite the 4-0 start, the Cardinals have had flaws in their game. After stopping Derrick Henry in Week 1, opposing running backs have run all over them. Darrell Henderson averaged 6.4 yards per touch, rushing for 89 yards on 14 carries against them on Sunday. So the run defense remains a mystery.

Chase Edmonds had a career game running the ball, with 120 yards on 12 carries, good for 10 yards per attempt. James Conner added two touchdowns, and Kyler Murray added 39 yards of his own. But the running game has been sleeping until Week 4. It was good to see it running on all cylinders. But at the same time, the question remains: Can they get consistent with the rushing attack?

Overall, it’s great to be 4-0, and this is the time of the year when we sort out our contenders from those who will have to wait until next year. The Cardinals are solidifying themselves among the NFL’s elite. However, they need to be cautiously optimistic and realize there is still a lot to improve on.

After a 5-2 start in 2020, they faltered down the stretch. Things went south after they led the division via tiebreaker after 10 weeks. They need to remember that and prevent it from happening again in 2021.

The Cardinals must stop playing down to their competition, which lost them games they should have won in 2020. The run defense must improve, and once again, it did not show up. And finally, they need to get more consistent in the running game on offense.

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The schedule does not get any easier with games against San Francisco and Cleveland coming up. Along with potential trap games scattered about the schedule. Let’s celebrate a perfect record in the first month of the season. But let’s continue to take things one week at a time, and remember that the Cardinals still have a lot of room for improvement.