The Arizona Cardinals looked lost in Week 1 of their 2022 season. And while they faced long odds to beat the Chiefs, no one expected this debacle.
Things could not have gone worse in Week 1 for the Arizona Cardinals. At the very least, they can say that they scored more points than the Los Angels Rams and San Francisco 49ers combined. But that means little when 14 of those points occurred in garbage time.
The Cardinals also faced Patrick Mahomes with a depleted defense. But still, it’s tough to use the rash of injuries as an excuse when you allow 44 points. Before the Chiefs finally backed off and garbage time hit, it was 37-7 after just three quarters. Yes, the Cardinals were banged up, but it wasn’t like the entire defense was on injured reserve.
Want more fun? Chiefs head coach Andy Reid pulled Mahomes in favor of 15-year veteran Chad Henne to close this one out. Things like this shouldn’t happen in the NFL, and the Cardinals need to be embarrassed about their performance. So what went wrong? Let’s look at three reasons they lost this one.
Three reasons the Arizona Cardinals lost to the Kansas City Chiefs: Reason #1 – No answer for Patrick Mahomes
While it’s true Mahomes is one of the league’s best quarterbacks, teams like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Cincinnati Bengals have found ways to slow down and stop the All-Pro. This occurred with blitzes from varying angles while dropping seven and at times, eight defenders into coverage.
Instead, the Cardinals tried to pressure Mahomes from the middle, which was a big mistake on their part. When you try to overwhelm the offensive line when playing against Mahomes, he will step up into the pocket, deliver a strike, and take a hit. And it’s why he finished the game 30 for 39 with five touchdowns and zero picks.
Reason #2 – The Cardinals never established a running game
When the opposing quarterback picks your defense apart, your best bet is to keep the ball out of their hands. Unfortunately, Kliff Kingsbury seemed to have zero intention of slowing the game down and playing ball control. And it ended in sheer disaster.
Who was the Cardinals leading rusher in this one? Kyler Murray, who gained just 29 yards on the ground. James Conner led the team with 10 carries, while Murray and backup quarterback Trace McSorley combined for eight.
If the Cardinals defense is going to look this bad against opponents in the future, Kingsbury needs to swap in his college-style Air Raid offense for something more conservative. Running the ball at least 40% of the time is a good place to start, though he may want to consider running closer to the 45% mark.
Reason #3 – No answer for Travis Kelce
When you play the best tight end in football, you need to force the quarterback to look elsewhere. Once again, the Cardinals failed in that regard. How open was Kelce? He hauled in eight catches for 121 yards, averaging 15.1 yards per catch. Mahomes targeted the future Hall of Famer nine times, yet the Cardinals never cared to key on the tight end.
Overall, this could not have been a more embarrassing performance for the Arizona Cardinals, and they have a right to hang their heads. Now it’s time to pack ’em up and move on to Las Vegas, where the Raiders will be waiting for them on the other side of the desert.
(Game statistics provided by ESPN.com)