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Report Card(inals)- Week 3 vs. Rams

The Arizona Cardinals fell to the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday; here's how each position group graded out.
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The Arizona Cardinals haven't beaten the Rams at home since Nov. 2014, and the trend continued on Saturday. The in-division rival took the win to the tune of 20-12.

Interestingly, after a slow start the Cardinals' defense had its moments. In the 2nd and 3rd quarters they were fairly effective in getting the Rams offense off of the field.

However, the Arizona offense led by QB Kyler Murray struggled with bad play calling and execution and never managed to get in the end zone on Sunday.

So, how did each position group do?

Arizona Cardinals Week 3 Report Card

Cornerbacks - C

Now, the cornerbacks weren't the worst position group on defense but it would be hard to give any higher than a C when the opposing quarterback finished with 10 yards per play and a 103.6 passer rating.

Marco Wilson whiffed on an end zone interception that could have swung momentum early in the game.

Jace Whittaker was seen in the background of too many replays steps behind his assignment.

Safeties - B

Jalen Thompson and Budda Baker didn't play the perfect game, but they were there when needed to clean up the myriad of mistakes happening up front.

Baker and Thompson finished first and second on the team in tackling, respectively. Baker finished with 8 combined tackles and one forced fumble while Thompson contributed 7 combined tackles and one quarterback hit.

Linebackers - D

For the second week in a row, Isaiah Simmons started the game on the bench while the likes of Nick Vigil and Tanner Vallejo took snaps over him.

This is near criminal behavior from Vance Joseph as Vigil and Vallejo repeatedly proved they don't belong on the starting lineup of the Cardinals, or really any NFL squad.

Matt Stafford had his way with the middle of the field and was not forced into many deep shot positions. The pass was nearly always there directly in the center of the field.

Another incident that lowers the positional grade: Zaven Collins' missed sack of Stafford in the 4Q could have forced a stop and given a huge swing of momentum to the Cardinals. That missed opportunity was the beginning of the end of all hope.

Defensive Line - B-

Before an injury to Rashard Lawrence took him out of the game, the Cardinals defensive line was performing admirably enough.

JJ Watt got his third sack as a Cardinal (second on the season) early in the game and Zach Allen had three tackles including one tackle for loss.

The Rams running game really didn't get going until Lawrence was removed from the lineup in the fourth quarter and then Cam Akers went to work in a long drive that eventually killed nearly all offensive momentum the Cardinals had built up.

Overall, the unit held up for more than three quarters of the game and deserve a lot of credit for that.

Running Back - C-

On the other side, the Cardinals running game never got off the ground either.

James Conner touched the ball 13 times and finished with 39 yards. That's an average of 3-yards per carry. Not great.

Eno Benjamin had some flashy moments but ended up with nearly the same average per carry, in his case 3.2 yards.

It isn't as if the Cardinals don't have talent at the running back position, Conner had 18 total touchdowns last year, but the inability to establish the running game is a concerning trend early in 2022.

Wide Receiver - C+

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This is such a hard position to grade as the Cardinals basically had two wide receivers in Sunday's matchup.

A.J. Green was targeted twice but didn't haul in a catch and was removed from the game in the first half with an injury. Andy Isabella was on the field but finished with one reception for 11 yards after a long shot in his direction went uncaught because Isabella didn't run his full route.

Minus those disappointing performances, Marquise Brown and Greg Dortch showed up and played well.

Brown had his first game that lived up to preseason expectations. He finished with 14 receptions for 140 yards in his temporary role as No. 1 receiver.

Dortch also proved reliable yet again with 9 receptions for 80 yards.

A series of drops by receivers lowered what most likely would have been a B or B-.

Tight End - C

Zach Ertz was in the lineup again, but had an uncharacteristically off day. He was targeted 10 times but only hauled in six catches. One of those missed was, unfortunately, a dropped pass at the goal line.

Maxx Williams made his appearances in the blocking game but didn't receive a single look from Murray.

Second-round rookie Trey McBride made his appearance as well, but it was nominal appearance at best.

Offensive Line - C

This week, it certainly seemed like Murray was having trouble finding the time to go through progressions and get the ball out.

The Cardinals offensive line has historically struggled against LA and clearly, one part of that is the presence of Aaron Donald. The type of interior pressure that he produces puts an immense amount of pressure on any o-line, but he does seem to have near mythic powers in Arizona.

In one sense, they did their job in preventing a huge number of sacks. Murray was only sacked once, and that is a tenuous definition, but in terms of giving their quarterback time to be successful the Cardinals offensive line left a lot to be desired.

Quarterback - C+

Kyler Murray finished the day with some big numbers like 314 passing yards and a 63.8% completion rate, but those tell only a portion of the tale.

  • Possibly, the most telling number in his stat line was 5.4 yards per passing attempt. Murray found some success in the second half in the dink and dunk game and stuck to that formula, even when the game scenario dictated a need for something different.
  • It was incredibly frustrating to watch what seemed an incredible lack of urgency in Murray and Co. with over six minutes left in the 4Q refuse to abandon the short passing game.
  • Murray also didn't have his first rushing attempt of the day until late in the fourth quarter, a component of his game that was instrumental in orchestrating the comeback win in Las Vegas last week.
  • The ability to change up your game and keep defenses guessing is a crucial skill for any quarterback in the NFL, and one that Murray will need to continue working on.

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