Head coach: Kliff Kingsbury (1st season with AZ)
Ranked 12th in total offense through Week 2 (T-12th in total points)
Ranked 31st in total defense through Week 2 (T-9th in points allowed)
The Broad Strokes
After finishing 2018 at the bottom of the league, the Cardinals and first-overall pick Kyler Murray are still seeking the first win of the Kingsbury era.
Kingsbury has admitted there are things he’s figuring out along the way during his first season in the NFL, and his quarterback is learning with him – but they’re learning fast. Murray has proved to be elusive in the pocket but hasn’t yet used his legs to gouge defenses like he did in college, with only 17 yards rushing this season. On the perimeter Murray has future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald, who seems to have found the Fountain of Youth with his new quarterback. For the first time ever, the 16-year veteran recorded over 100 yards receiving in the first two games of the season, and he’s already hauled in four catches of 40 yards or more, something he didn’t do once in 2018.
Defensively, former Broncos head coach Vance Joseph is calling the plays for a unit that’s currently giving up an average of 458.5 yards per game. With All-Pro corner back Patrick Peterson still suspended for another four weeks, the Cardinals secondary ranks sixth in the league in net passing yards allowed (619) and is still seeking its first interception.
It doesn’t do much good having a Heisman trophy-winning quarterback if your offensive line can’t keep him upright. Through two games, Murray has been sacked eight times (T-4th most) and hit another 12 (T-10th).
For a group that finally started to get some penetration last week against the Bucs, the Panthers defensive line could be able to exploit the Cardinals upfront.
The Kyler Murray problem
With that being said, Murray is still one of the most dangerous running quarterbacks in the league and presents an interesting challenge when it comes to defending him.
Even with an offensive line that continually collapses around him, Murray has looked composed in the pocket and is treating his legs as a last resort, instead of a go-to escape. So far, Murray has averaged 328.5 yards per game passing (fourth best in the league) and has added on two touchdowns and just one interception.
Murray is just the second quarterback in NFL history to start his career with two 300+ yard passing games. Any guesses who was first? Cam Newton.
After a quiet Week 1, second-year wide receiver Christian Kirk made waves last week against the Ravens with six catches for 114 yards – his first time crossing the century mark. With Fitzgerald in the spotlight again, Kirk is able to fly under-the-radar and surprise defenses.
Panthers' fans should be familiar with the name Damiere Byrd. The former Panthers wide receiver has found success in Arizona’s pass-heavy offense, already tallying 10 catches for 87 yards. In Byrd’s three seasons in Carolina, he only accounted for 12 catches for 129 yards.