Arizona Cardinals report card: Win masks some areas in need of improvement

Bob McManaman
Arizona Republic

Cardinals insider Bob McManaman hands out his position-by-position grades for the Cardinals following their game Sunday against the Vikings:

Pass offense: B-

Kyler Murray completed 29 of 36 passes for 400 yards and three touchdowns and spread the ball around rather nicely, hitting DeAndre Hopkins, A.J. Green and Rondale Moore for scores. He was intercepted twice, however, one of which was returned for a touchdown by Nick Vigil. Murray might have been a little too aggressive on some of his throws, taking risky chances, but that happens with some of the game’s greatest quarterbacks. Tight end Maxx Williams was a beast in the passing game.

Rush offense: C

The Cardinals finished with 103 yards, but it seemed non-existent for most of this game. Chase Edmonds led the way with 46 yards on eight carries Murray added 31 yards on five keepers, including a 12-yard touchdown run. It was the 17th of his career, moving him ahead of Jim Hart into first place all-time among Cardinals quarterbacks.

Pass defense: C-

After sacking Ryan Tannehill six times last week, the Cardinals only got to Kirk Cousins once (Markus Golden), although Chandler Jones, who tied the franchise record with five sacks in the season opener, had three quarterback pressures. The coverage could have also been tighter, as Cousins threw for 244 yards and three touchdowns, including a 64-yarder to K.J. Osborn on the second play of the game. Arizona only had four passes defensed after registering eight a week ago.

Rush defense: C

Dalvin Cook had moments when it appeared he couldn’t be stopped. He kept rattling off big runs until injuring his ankle, which would bother him later in the game as well. As it was, he finished with 131 yards on 22 carries — a 6.0 average. The Cardinals, however, didn’t allow a single rushing touchdown. They did let Cousins romp for a 29-yard gain that led to his third touchdown pass — a 14-yarder to Justin Jefferson.

Special teams: B

Matt Prater was 2 for 2 on field goals, kicking a 62-yarder right before halftime and then nailing a 27-yarder with 4:25 left to play that gave the Cardinals a 34-33 lead they would not surrender. Andy Lee planted two of his four punts inside the Vikings’ 20-yard line, including one that pinned Minnesota at its own 2. There wasn’t a lot of excitement in the return game, but there weren’t any crazy mistakes made on special teams, either.

Coaching: C

Coach Kliff Kingsbury admitted he could have done a better job getting the ball to DeAndre Hopkins more often. After catching four passes for 54 yards and a touchdown during the Cardinals’ first scoring drive, Hopkins was rarely targeted again, if at all, and he never caught another pass. Dynamic playmakers like Hopkins need more touches. Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph wanted to find a balance between stopping the run and limiting the passing game. His defense didn’t do either nearly well enough, but the stops came when in the right place at the right time.  

Best bet

The Cardinals did not cover the 3½-point spread but with 67 points, the teams easily combined to out-do the over/under (50.5).