There is no such thing as a moral victory in sports or in life - there are only wins and losses, and yesterday, the Arizona Cardinals lost. Sure, they played far better than almost everyone expected, or at least that was the case on defense.
Offensively, they barely got past the 50 yard line and every time they did, the Redbirds settled for three points. But overall, the end result should be a real confidence-booster for the D, even if they faced a Washington Commanders offense led by a fifth round pick playing in just his second NFL game.
The Redbirds found out that they could overwhelm opposing offensive lines with their ability to swarm quarterbacks and ball-carriers. They also discovered that they don’t allow many big plays unless they give them to their opponents via costly penalties.
And last night, the unit found out they’re playing a team next week whose quarterback would have garnered a higher passer rating if he just “spiked the ball” on every passing attempt. I’ll have more on Daniel Jones later in the week, but right now, let’s talk about why the Cards should be fired up for the game this Sunday.
Arizona Cardinals played better than everyone expected
For a team that was supposedly tanking, the Redbirds sure looked like they had a little too much talent defensively to “accomplish” such a feat. Dennis Gardeck was clearly the impact player Sunday, and besides his two sacks (one of which was a forced fumble) he also logged a trio of quarterback hits.
Kyzir White was a tackling machine, snagging nine total and one behind the line. Jonathan Ledbetter was perhaps the biggest surprise, totaling six tackles, a sack, and a quarterback hit.
None of the above names are well-known in the NFL universe, and it shows us that you don’t need a bunch of big-name players to change the game. Instead, the likes of Gardeck, White, and Ledbetter could simply factor in as “good system fits” and excel in head coach Jonathan Gannon and defensive coordinator Nick Rallis’ defense.
In short, there was no moral victory to be won because they don’t exist. But that doesn’t mean the Cardinals, and even the offense, should be feeling pretty good about their chances in Week 2. Yes, even the offense, because once they get an actual starting quarterback under center like Kyler Murray who’s not afraid to stretch the field, they’re going to be scoring….a lot.
Source: Cardinals, Jonathan Gannon surprise critics despite Week 1 loss by Dan Bickley, Arizona Sports
(Statistics provided by Pro-Football-Reference and ESPN.com)