For the Arizona Cardinals, the stars have aligned for the team in a metaphorical and literal way during the team's 6-0 start, standing as the NFL's lone undefeated squad.
Names such as quarterback Kyler Murray, wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and defensive end J.J. Watt are just a few stars in what feels like a galaxy in Arizona (which just added another in tight end Zach Ertz).
They've undoubtedly played a prominent role in Arizona's hot start to the 2021 season. However, great football teams receive contributions from all players on the roster, and that's been an underrated aspect for the Cardinals thus far.
Take it from defensive coordinator Vance Joseph, who was indeed part of the depth that stepped up in the 37-14 win over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.
Head coach Kliff Kingsbury was placed on the reserve/COVID list prior to the team departing from Phoenix, forcing Joseph and offensive line coach/run-game coordinator Sean Kugler to share head coaching duties on short notice.
"Obviously it's been a rough week, losing our head coach and losing a couple guys to COVID. It's been a up and down week, but our team leaders were great all week. No one wavered, no one blinked, staff didn't blink. Every day, it was bad news. And no one blinked not one time," said Joseph following the game.
Yet the dominant win in Cleveland was a mere microcosm of the Cardinals' offensive output through six straight wins to open the season.
Heading into the season, the Cardinals were adamant of a 1A/1B approach when it came to touches at running back with two talented ball-carriers Chase Edmonds and James Conner.
Through six games, that's ultimately been the case, as neither back has played less than 37% of snaps in each game. Although Edmonds has more yards (316 to Conner's 272), Conner has scored five times on the ground this year (Edmonds has yet to score), all within four yards or less.
Both backs have complemented each other well, with each performing their specialized tasks at high levels.
Hopkins has already equaled his touchdown total of six from 2020, as only Rams receiver Cooper Kupp (7) has has more receiving touchdowns than Hopkins.
Yet Hopkins hasn't been the only player on the receiving end of Murray's passes, as five receivers (including Hopkins) have at least 28 targets thus far:
WR DeAndre Hopkins: 38
WR A.J. Green: 32
WR Christian Kirk: 31
RB Chase Edmonds: 30
WR Rondale Moore: 28
With the addition of Ertz, it would come as no surprise to see his name impacting the stat sheet sooner rather than later.
When Hopkins isn't making alien-like catches, he's drawing extra attention from defenses and allowing others around him to thrive. Whether that's Kirk coming out of the slot, Green using his frame down the field or Moore utilizing his speed in the open field, all parts of the Cardinals' receiving corps has made their impact felt.
In the Trenches
Lets not forget football games are won and lost in the trenches. Arizona's starting five up front have been tremendous when the unit has remained upright and healthy.
Yet in this league, bumps and bruises are set to come after everybody. The Cardinals have already seen starting linemen like center Rodney Hudson (ribs/shoulder), right tackle Kelvin Beachum (ribs) and left guard Justin Pugh miss some time throughout the season, although Pugh only missed the second half of the Jacksonville game.
If you'll find depth anywhere on Arizona's roster, it's within the offensive line.
Chess pieces such as Josh Jones (who's essentially played interchangeably at right guard and right tackle) and Max Garcia (also working multiple positions at center and right guard throughout the season) have been crucial to the Cardinals maintaining solid play through the early stages of the season.
“You roll with it, it’s next man up,” Kugler said earlier in the season. “My father was a firefighter and when somebody goes down you pick up the hose and you go."
While there's been no wildfire for the Cardinals offense to put out quite yet, the fight that all contributors have given through Arizona's 6-0 start has been remarkable.