Every week we try to bring you the best inside information about the Carolina Panthers upcoming opponent. This week that meant talk to our opposing SB Nation blog for the Arizona Cardinals, Revenge of the Birds. I spoke with their managing editor, Seth Cox, to get the inside scoop on Kyler Murray, who is definitively not a corgi, Larry Fitzgerald’s retirement plan, and more.
Don’t forget to visit their site to see what I had to say about the Panthers side of this match-up.
Then, check out our conversation below and, as always, stay with Cat Scratch Reader for all of your Carolina Panthers coverage. We promise to keep you well informed even when the team isn’t exactly well worth watching.
Kyler Murray and Kliff Kingsbury are two games into their debut NFL season and they are 0-1-1. That’s a weird record. Is it the result of weird of game circumstances or are there reasons to worry about the translation of the Air Raid to professional football?
I think through two games the translation for the Air Raid has been mostly positive. I mean, the Arizona Cardinals offense was historically bad in 2018 and they are average through two games in 2019. That is a massive leap up when you consider they have the same top two receivers, same running backs, and another bad offensive line. So, I think you have to be comfortable with where they are with an idea that they could become more as they improve their personnel, but also as both rookie coach and rookie quarterback get a bit more comfortable in the NFL.
So much has been made of the Cardinals offense and its potential, what’s the story with their defense? Is it more than an afterthought for Kingsbury?
Through two games the Cardinals are the definition of bend but don’t break… Except they break quite a bit. They are giving up a ton of yards, second most in the NFL, but 23rd (not good) in scoring defense. The reason, they get timely stops and or turnovers. They find a way to get enough stops in the game to give their offense a chance and when you are missing your top two cornerbacks, Patrick Peterson and Robert Alford, while implementing a new defensive scheme, you try and find the silver linings. The biggest reason they lost game two while tying game one was they couldn’t get to Lamar Jackson, while pressuring Matthew Stafford constantly, forcing two fumbles and recovering one. Against the Ravens, they got enough three and outs to give the offense a chance, they just could not get a short field or a big play turnover. They have no interceptions through two games, so if they can’t force turnovers against the Panthers, it could be another close loss.
Larry Fitzgerald is still in the NFL. This isn’t really a question, but I guess it should be. Is he OK?
Talk about a career renaissance through two games, Fitz has 13 receptions for 217 yards and a touchdown. The first time he has had back-to-back 100 yards receiving games since 2015. He is a deep threat again, for the first time in years, with four catches of over 40+ yards through two games, after not having a single 40+ yard catch in 2016, 2017 or 2018. He’s found his place in this offense and is still a top threat, despite the age.
The Panthers have already blocked two punts this season and came close to a third. How confident are you in the Cardinals special teams units?
Until this past weekend, the Cardinals special teams had been their most consistent and strongest unit. Then they had some dumb mistakes, fielding a pooch kick and stepping out of bounds at the six, then dumb penalties on a punt return. Yet, they have been solid in their blocking and coverage assignments through two weeks. That’s not to say it won’t happen this week, because if you had asked me a week ago if the Cardinals would shoot themselves in the foot twice on specials I would have said no.
Y’all got to cover a tie in Week 1 and that left me jealous. Ties are easily my favorite phenomenon in professional football. What are the odds we will get lucky enough to see one again this week?
I hope none. I don’t mind ties, but this team needs less moral and more real victories. So, I’d like to see a real one this week that allows us to see the continued progress on the field. Especially if the Panthers are starting a backup quarterback on the road… Even if it is a homecoming for him.