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Cardinals Report Card: Heat turning up on Kliff Kingsbury after loss to Seahawks

Bob McManaman
Arizona Republic

Cardinals insider Bob McManaman hands out his position-by-position grades for the Cardinals following their game Sunday against the Seahawks:

Nov 6, 2022; Phoenix, AZ, United States; Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) and DeAndre Hopkins (10) take the field against the Seattle Seahawks at State Farm Stadium.

Pass offense: D

Kyler Murray was held to just 175 yards on 25 of 35 passing. He threw a pair of touchdowns, but lost a fumble and was sacked five times. Although he did help engineer Arizona’s first first-quarter touchdown, which also happened to be the first TD the team has scored on its opening possession all year, the offense was flagged for five false starts — by five different players. The interior of the offensive line needs help, especially if right guard Will Hernandez misses significant time with a pectoral injury he suffered on Sunday.

Nov 6, 2022; Phoenix, AZ, United States; Arizona Cardinals running back James Conner (6) runs the ball past Seattle Seahawks defender Jordyn Brooks (56) at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Rondone-Arizona Republic

Rush offense: D-

So what if Murray ran for 60 yards on eight scrambles? The Cardinals may have finished with 122 rushing yards overall, but it wasn’t enough. Not when the running backs only account for 59 yards on 12 carries between them. Coach Kliff Kingsbury said he wanted to run the ball more but losing Hernandez in the first quarter didn’t help, especially against Seattle’s five-man defensive front. It was interesting that the Cardinals went to rookie Lecitus Smith to replace Hernandez instead of a veteran like Sean Harlow. Kingsbury said he didn’t want to risk losing Harlow, the team’s backup center.

Nov 6, 2022; Phoenix, AZ, United States; Seattle Seahawks receiver Tyler Lockett (16) celebrates his first down catch against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Rondone-Arizona Republic

Pass defense: D

Geno Smith didn’t torch the Cardinals here, although he did throw for 175 yards and a pair of TDs. But there were too many splash plays allowed, like the 30-yard completion to Tyler Lockett, a 22-yarder to running back Travis Homer and the big 51-yard catch and run late in the game by tight end Noah Fant. The Cardinals were completely out of position on that first-down play call and the Seahawks made them pay for it by finishing the drive with a game-securing touchdown. Linebacker Zaven Collins did have an interception, which he returned for a 30-yard touchdown. Arizona, though, dropped two other potential interceptions and Seattle scored touchdowns right after each play.

Nov 6, 2022; Phoenix, AZ, United States; Arizona Cardinals linebacker Ben Niemann (56) tackles Seattle Seahawks running back Kenneth Walker III (9) at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Rondone-Arizona Republic

Rush defense: D

Rookie Kenneth Walker III finished with 109 yards on 26 carries and scored two backbreaking touchdowns in the fourth quarter. The Cardinals sold out against the run and still couldn’t stop it as Seattle went off for 158 rushing yards overall. The game plan coming in was to try and snuff the run and Arizona failed, plain and simple. Kingsbury said his defense was tired. So what? It’s the NFL. Even if it’s true, that’s no excuse. Am I wrong?

Special teams: C-

A holding penalty on Ben Niemann nullified a nice 32-yard kickoff return by Greg Dortch early in the second quarter. The Cardinals also choose to pass on attempting a 58-yard field goal near the end of the first half, opting to go for it on fourth down at the Seattle 40. Murray scrambled for a 9-yard gain and a first down, but had the ball knocked loose and the Seahawks recovered, which meant no points at all for Arizona. Kicker Matt Prater has been dealing with a sore right hip, but if the team was worried about him reaggravating the injury, why did they cut kicker Rodrigo Blankenship? Punter Andy Lee, listed as questionable because of an illness, had a gutsy performance. His net average (44.2) on six punts wasn’t spectacular, but it got the job done. One of his punts went for 65 yards.

Nov 6, 2022; Phoenix, Ariz., United States;  Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury prepares his team before playing against the Seattle Seahawks at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Michael Chow-Arizona Republic

Coaching: D-

Kingsbury is going to take a ton of heat for his latest loss and deservedly so. He’s not the one making all the mistakes, but he’s responsible for some of the same negative things that keep occurring. Whether it’s the false starts (five of them), the penalties overall (12 for 77 yards) or the fact his offense still hasn’t lived up to its full expectations, he’s running out of answers and his team is running out of time. This loss was major, and it will be felt all week. If the Cardinals can’t turn things around against the Rams and 49ers, Owner Michael Bidwill might turn things over to a new head coach.

Have an opinion on the Arizona Cardinals? Reach McManaman at bob.mcmanaman@arizonarepublic.com and follow him on Twitter @azbobbymac. Listen to him live on Fox Sports 910-AM every Tuesday afternoon at 3:30 on Calling All Sports with Roc and Manuch. 

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