When and where: August 24, 2019, U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN, 1:00 PM ET
The Arizona Cardinals hope to move past an ugly offensive showing in Week 2 of the preseason when going on the road to take on the Minnesota Vikings. Rookie quarterback Kyler Murray got his first taste of NFL adversity after getting sacked and hit often by the Oakland Raiders defense. Will Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury make the necessary adjustments on Saturday against a super-aggressive Vikings defensive front?
Murray hype comes to a halt for the Cardinals
Cardinals rookie quarterback Kyler Murray’s NFL debut went as well as it could have gone. He came out and threw a few check down passes with near-perfect precision against the Los Angeles Chargers. One preseason game was all that was needed to vault his name into the same conversation with many of the other young and talented quarterbacks in the league.
Of course, an inevitable reality check was waiting around the corner.
Murray’s Week 2 outing against the Raiders didn’t go nearly as smooth. He was under pressure throughout the entirety of his time on the field, culminating into him going 3-of-8 passing for only 12 yards. That’s more than just a heaping helping of humble pie. The Raiders fed Murray the whole pie and watched him eat it in front of them.
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That isn’t to insinuate Murray was overconfident after his debut performance. He’s simply a young player learning on the fly how to lead a team as a franchise quarterback in his first year. There aren’t many rookies faced with the pressure of carrying an entire franchise on their shoulders. Yet, that’s the current situation for Murray, who is forced to do so with one of the worst offensive lines in the league. The Raiders’ pass rushers were basically getting free releases off the line as they made their way into the backfield and pummeled Murray. If the Cardinals can’t shore up the offensive front, it’s going to be another long and disappointing season.
Arizona also (may) have bolstered their receiving corps with the addition of Michael Crabtree. The 31-year old veteran worked out two weeks ago with the Cards, but never signed. Last season, he caught 54 passes for 607 yards with Baltimore, which wasn’t bad considering the Ravens became mainly a running team at mid-season when rookie Lamar Jackson took over at quarterback. However, he did have eight drops last season and an 8.0% drop rate.
Will the Vikings offense take a step forward in 2019?
The general expectation in the third week of the preseason is to get an extended look at the starters. That could mean more snaps for Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins, who is still trying to prove he’s worth every cent of the $84 million in guaranteed money on his contract. There really is no excuse heading into his second year under coach Mike Zimmer, especially when the Vikings have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to offensive talent.
Cousins will step to the line with Stefon Diggs and All-Pro wideout Adam Thielen flanked at his sides, along with a pair of versatile tight ends in Kyle Rudolph and rookie Irv Smith. He’ll also have the strong combination of Dalvin Cook, Ameer Abdullah and Mike Boone running out of the backfield. All of the pieces are on the chessboard for the Vikings offense to succeed.
It’s put up time for Cousins.
A year after their surprising NFC Championship run with Case Keenum as the starting quarterback, the Vikings didn’t even make the playoffs last season. It wouldn’t be fair to heap all of the issues on Cousins, as the defense also had some disappointing stretches last season. Missing the playoffs only makes Zimmer’s seat even hotter in Minnesota.
One thing Zimmer and his team will try to do more is get the ball in the hands of receiver Laquon Treadwell, who has been a disappointment since being taken in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft. They’re not even trying to hide the fact that they want to deal him.
“We’re trying to get Treadwell the ball a little bit more in the second half,” Zimmer said after their last game via USA TODAY. “Try to showcase him a little bit, I guess. He made some nice plays.”
- Cardinals are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 games overall.
- Cardinals are 0-3-2 ATS in their last 5 head-to-head meetings.
- Cardinals are 0-2-2 ATS in their last 4 head-to-head meetings in Minnesota.
- Vikings are 6-2 ATS in their last 8 Saturday games.
- Vikings are 35-15-1 ATS in their last 51 games on fieldturf.
- Vikings are 36-16-1 ATS in their last 53 home games.