This season was supposed to be a tankapalooza for the Arizona Cardinals. With Kyler Murray down for most of the year, they overhauled their roster, and hired a new head coach and general manager. After tearing their team down to the screws, the Cardinals were expected to be a team in transition. Instead, they have been competitive through three games, and knocked off the Dallas Cowboys in Week 3.
America’s team chokes! Cowboys blow it in Green Bay
The Cowboys defense was reeling from the loss of Trevon Diggs for the season and the offensive line was down three starters. However, the Cardinals were still starting Joshua Dobbs at quarterback. A smart guy — an actual rocket scientist with a degree in aerospace engineering — but he was drafted in 2018 and had only started two games in his entire NFL career before this season. The Cowboys came into this game as one of the hottest teams in the league, and not only lost, 28-16, to the tankers, they trailed the entire game.
There were a lot of jokes made about the Cardinals new coach Jonathan Gannon when that video went viral of his “fire in your gut” speech. A speech that was not only uninspiring, but delivered with such a lack of passion that it could have been used to put out an actual fire.
The guy actually asked NFL players if they took the bus to practice. Imagine a 6-foot, 220 pound walking muscle who makes a six-figure salary waiting at a stop for a bus transfer in Tempe, Ariz., to get to work.
Public speaking may not be Gannon’s strong suit, but through three weeks it appears that coaching football is a strength. He was the defensive coordinator for the Philadelphia Eagles for two seasons. The Cardinals defense was supposed to be awful, but it has turned into a strength. They held both the Cowboys and Washington Commanders under 20 points, respectively, and they shut out the New York Giants in the first half.
On Sunday, the Cowboys made it into the red zone five times, and came away with only one touchdown. If nothing else, the Cardinals are providing true NFL-level resistance, something that was clearly not the goal of management with the way this roster was constructed during the offseason. Also, rookie linebacker Kyzir White is sinking his teeth into opponents. He is flying all over the field, and made the game-clinching interception in the fourth quarter — Dak Prescott’s first of the season.
There were plenty of reasons to joke about the Cardinals headed into this season, and there will probably be more as it progresses. Energy and professionalism have gotten them through three weeks, but they are still 1-2. For some strange reason they have had the Cowboys’ number in recent years— winning seven of their last eight matchups against the star helmets.
The Cardinals’ schedule picks up with three of their next four games on the road, including trips to Seattle and San Francisco. They may very well end this season with a top-three draft pick, but what it appears that they will not be is an embarrassment.
That video the social media team put out of Gannon’s fire gut speech is a different story, but the team is doing its best to put that head-scratching moment behind them and show they — and their coach — might be better than we gave them credit for.