Lip service hasn't done the Arizona Cardinals well as of late.
Team leaders, after falling to the Los Angeles Rams by a score of 20-12 fashion, took the podium and repeated many of the same words fans have heard plenty over Arizona's 1-2 start.
Kliff Kingsbury on slow starts
“That’s something we’ve got to figure out. It’s been slow starts in all three phases this week, unfortunately. But that’s got to be an emphasis to get started faster on offense, get in a groove and get moving so we can get into some of our tempo stuff. Coaches and players, we’ve got to figure that out this week.”
Kyler Murray on slow starts
"I wish I had the answer right now. I'm not sure. That's not winning football. We make it tough on ourselves."
"That first quarter is just... you know, can't make [expletive] happen. Can't get anything going, it's just bad. It's bad football."
There's a saying: You are what you do, not what you say.
The Cardinals can continue to say the right things at the podium after games. They can continue to say they've had great weeks of practice. All of that stuff is great, until you look at the scoreboard and realize where things went wrong.
Arizona has had five first quarter possessions thus far through three games. All have ended in punts. The Cardinals have built first half deficits of 10 or more points in all three games.
The mantra, not just for individual games but for the entire season as well, has been "It's not how you start, it's about how you finish."
Kingsbury himself has said this a handful of times since Week 1, and has even referenced "we should know" when reflecting back to his team's collapse last season.
The importance of finishing should also apply to drives that end in field goals and not touchdowns, points which are left off the board that are always important but somehow weight more when you're playing the Rams.
The Cardinals had four drives of 10+ plays in Week 3, here's how they turned out:
19 plays, 75 yards: Field Goal
16 plays, 58 yards: Field Goal
12 plays, 54 yards: Turnover on Downs
17 plays, 89 yards: Field Goal
In Week 2 (their sole win of the season thus far) Arizona had two drives of 10+ plays:
11 plays, 94 yards: Touchdown
18 plays, 65 yards: Touchdown
The recipe for success may not be as complicated as we once thought.
Kingsbury has been playing the cool card for the opening duration of the season, roping back in the "it's not how you start but how you finish mentality".
To his credit, the Cardinals were able to draw the game to one possession before the final whistle blew. You can also point out Arizona was a mere miracle comeback away from being winless thus far.
Play-calling, execution, whatever the reason for Arizona's stumbles out of the gates, need to be alleviated sooner rather than later to rescue the early part of their schedule.
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