Weekly High 5: Vance Joseph’s Defense Shines Bright in Big D

Matthew JohnsonOctober 20, 2020
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The Arizona Cardinals dominated a hapless Dallas Cowboys team on Monday Night Football in Week 6, improving to 4-2 on the season. An NFC West showdown with the Seattle Seahawks is up next. Let’s walk through our biggest takeaways from Monday’s game and the weekend in sports.

1. Cardinals defense owns the night.

Four takeaways, 3 points allowed. That was the stat I think the Cardinals defense was hoping to finish the game with, but Dallas scored a late touchdown with under three minutes to play and wiped away that possibility. Not to worry, however, because defensive coordinator Vance Joseph dialed up the best defensive game plan the Cardinals have seen in years on Monday – the highlight of Arizona’s 38-10 beat down of the Cowboys on national TV. Safety Budda Baker snagged his first career interception, forced a fumble, and had one sack and seven tackles. He should win the NFC Defensive Player of the Week award or there ought to be an investigation. Cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick and defensive lineman Jordan Phillips each forced a turnover, and linebacker Jordan Hicks should’ve had another, but his frying pan hands dropped the easiest interception of his life. Linebacker Haason Reddick sacked backup Cowboys quarterback Andy Dalton twice and showed us what “the Griddy” dance was all about.

Big Takeaway: The Cardinals did all of this without edge rusher Chandler Jones, who will miss the rest of the season after biceps surgery. Perhaps it was the bright spotlight of Monday Night Football or the big stage in Dallas – or the matchup against Dalton – but we saw something in the defensive play that we haven’t seen in a long time: life. There was energy, heart, grit, passion and toughness from the players on the field behind an aggressive attitude from Joseph. They will need to carry that effort this Sunday in Glendale against Russell Wilson and the Seahawks.

2. Kyler Murray had the best “bad” game ever.

The Cardinals somehow put 38 points on the scoreboard with their quarterback completing only nine passes! Murray was 9-for-24 for 188 yards passing and two touchdowns. Two of those passes, however, went for big chunks: a 60-yard catch and run from DeAndre Hopkins and this 80-yard touchdown bomb to Christian Kirk.

Big Takeaway: Murray missed wildly on many of his passes and was nowhere close to connecting to his favorite target Hopkins most of the game. Make no mistake: This was a subpar passing game for Murray, but the Cowboys defense is so bad, it made him look good somehow.

3. Running the ball down their throats.

Fans of physical old-school football can rejoice! The Cardinals ran the ball for 261 yards on the porous Dallas defense. Shout out to the offensive line – they should’ve received a game ball. Behind that O-Line, Murray scampered for 74 yards and a rushing touchdown, and Kenyan Drake amassed 164 yards, two touchdowns and a 69-yard house call to kick the Cowboys while they were already down and out.

Big Takeaway: The Cardinals offensive line continues to be the most underrated and underappreciated part of this team and the entire league. DJ Humphries anchors the unit and is the poster child of being underrated. They go up against a good run defense in Week 7, with Seattle allowing 100 rushing yards per game (one of the better marks in the NFL). The Seahawks pass defense, however, is the worst in the NFL, allowing 370 yards per game through the air.

4. World Series matchup is bad news for D-Backs.

Game 1 of the World Series begins Tuesday night between the Tampa Bay Rays and Los Angeles Dodgers. These are two teams who got there on completely different paths.

Tampa has the third lowest payroll in all of baseball and still owned the best record in the American League with an entirely unknown roster of players. Starting pitcher Charlie Morton is the only Rays player with World Series experience. Manager Kevin Cash started the “bullpenning” trend – where he uses a relief pitcher to begin the game and inserts a regular starting pitcher in the 2nd or 3rd inning.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers are a nightmare row of talented superstars. L.A. has the second highest payroll in the majors, led by $365 million dollar outfielder Mookie Betts. They’re also the most talented team in baseball led by reigning NL-MVP Cody Bellinger—a  Valley native and former Hamilton High School star now hitting game winning home runs in Game 7 of the NLCS.

Big Takeaway: We can’t help but watch this matchup and think about how distant the Diamondbacks are from getting there. The D-Backs can’t come close to the talent level of the Dodgers, and the front office is not as smart or creative as the Rays to overcome the payroll obstacles. These are two good young teams that will be hard to compete with for a very long time.

5. Is golf finally becoming cool?

No one will remember who won the CJ Cup on the PGA Tour last weekend (it was Jason Kokrak, for the record). But we will have the lasting image of Tyrell Hatton’s club flip on the 10th hole on Saturday.

Big Takeaway: If bat flips are cool in baseball, club flips should be cool in golf. Based on the viral nature of the video, the PGA Tour appears to be embracing it.

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