Cardinals insider Bob McManaman hands out his position-by-position grades for the Cardinals following their game Sunday against the Buccaneers:
Passing offense: B-
It would have been an “A” but there were too many penalties, one significant pass drop, a bad throw and play design on Kyler Murray’s only interception of the game, and not enough urgency on the final possession of the game. Otherwise, Murray (324 passing yards, three touchdowns) and this unit were mostly sensational, especially Christian Kirk (six catches, 138 yards, three TDs) and Larry Fitzgerald (eight catches, 71 yards).
Rushing offense: D
Give most of the credit here to the Buccaneers and their dynamic defensive front seven, who smothered things up from the start. Kenyan Drake and David Johnson had little-to-no room in which to operate and when they did, the Bucs sniffed things out. Drake was decent at times, but Johnson never was and his third-quarter fumble was hugely significant even though it didn’t cost Arizona the game.
Pass defense: C+
The Cardinals intercepted Jameis Winston twice and sacked him four times, but Winston gutted Arizona’s defenders by relying heavily on the screen pass and it worked. He ended up throwing for 358 yards and although he only had one touchdown pass, Winston did more than enough to keep the Buccaneers in this game, offensively, because the Cardinals kept hurting themselves.
Rush defense: C-
The Buccaneers finished with 118 total rushing yards and no ball carrier ran for more than 43 yards. But Tampa scored two touchdowns while running the ball and that hurt. So did a handful of penalties by the Cardinals, who gave up just enough running plays of 10 yards or longer to help get them beat.
Special teams: A
Zane Gonzalez made both of his field-goal attempts, including a season-long 54-yarder. He did, however, inexplicably boot one of his kickoffs out of bounds, which allowed the Buccaneers to start their first possession at their own 40 and quickly turn it into a touchdown. Punter Andy Lee and Pharoh Cooper connected on a brilliant 26-yard completion on a fake punt on fourth down that led to an Arizona TD. The kick coverage units kept former Cardinals speedster T.J. Logan from doing anything substantial at all.
Give coach Kliff Kingsbury some credit for taking as many chances as he did and continues to keep doing. He’s clearly not skittish despite being a first-year coach. He’s an aggressive play caller who believes in his players and he showed that multiple times on Sunday. His only big miss was probably the play when Murray was intercepted. Kingsbury admitted later it was a bad play to roll out at that particular time and spot on the field.
Have an opinion on the Arizona Cardinals? Reach McManaman at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @azbobbymac. Listen to him live on Fox Sports 910-AM every Tuesday afternoon at 3:30 on Calling All Sports with Roc and Manuch and every Wednesday night from 7-9 on The Freaks with Kenny and Crash.
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