On Sunday, the Cleveland Browns’ take on the Arizona Cardinals. To help preview a few topics from the Cardinals’ perspective, we reached out to Seth Cox from Revenge of the Birds and exchanged five questions with him. Enjoy!
Chris: “This Sunday, it’s Baker Mayfield vs. Kyler Murray -- the 2018 1st overall pick vs. the 2019 1st overall pick, and both of whom played at Oklahoma, which is pretty crazy. Murray has had a pretty solid rookie season by my estimation, but tell us about his strengths and weaknesses.”
Seth: “Murray has had his worst two weeks following the bye week and it coincides with the running game of the Arizona Cardinals becoming non-existent. While Murray has done well to create when things are not there, the team is really, really bad around him in those situations, as Murray’s outside the pocket rating is substantially lower than his in the pocket. It is something I’ve noted since preseason, how bad the teams receivers are at working back to the open area during the scramble drill, but it has really reared its head the last two weeks.
Murray is accurate and elusive, he protects himself from hits, sometimes too much taking sacks instead of throwing the ball away and running out of bounds behind the line of scrimmage. It has been a really good rookie season that we hope finishes on a better note than what we have seen the last two weeks against the Rams and Steelers.”
Chris: “The Cardinals rank dead last in the NFL defensively, and are particularly bad against the pass it seems. They are consistently allowing an average of 30 points per week. Usually I ask people, “is the defense really that bad,” but I think that’s a given here -- therefore, I just want to know which part of the defense is the worst of the worst?”
Seth: “If you are in the fantasy playoffs start every Browns player available. Baker Mayfield will likely have a huge day, the wide receivers are going to be running free the entire game and tight ends will likely just stand alone in the endzone during the game.
Seriously, the pass defense is the worst I have ever seen in my entire life. The Cardinals have the top two players in terms of touchdowns given up in the league. One is rookie Byron Murphy who is just getting picked on at this point, but the other one is Haason Reddick, who has only played 65% of the snaps and is tied with Murphy.
They can’t defend the pass. At all. Combine that with they don’t create a ton of pressure, they are 23rd overall in total pressures, and you get the worst pass defense I can remember.”
Chris: “WR Andy Isabella is a local kid (born in Mayfield, OH) who Arizona drafted in the second round. Aside from back-to-back weeks where he had catches of 88 and 55 yards, respectively, he hasn’t been involved much it seems. Why is that?”
Seth: “Isabella was someone many hoped would be getting a lot of burn and instead his lack of route running ability from the slot and his body catching style has made him someone who has basically redshirted his rookie season.
It makes it especially bad when you consider that Christian Kirk has missed time with injuries, Larry Fitzgerald is playing like a 36 year old first ballot Hall of Famer and then there are just some guys. Hopefully we see more of Isabella the last three games.”
Chris: “Freddie Kitchens was with the Cardinals in various roles from 2007-2017. Steve Wilks was the Cardinals’ head coach a year ago. I know it’s hard to tell much about position coaches (Kitchens), but tell us anything you remember about both guys from their time in Arizona.”
Seth: “Wilks was a guy that checked all of the boxes in terms of being a head coach, came up through the NFL, worked his way up, good defensive coordinator, young, demanding and yet he was completely overwhelmed from day one. While he looked like the guy everyone wants to see as their next head coach, he couldn’t get the players or the GM to buy into his vision of what he needed and he was saddled with Mike McCoy as his offensive coordinator. He was never a bad guy, he was just never ready to be a head coach.
Kitchens was in Arizona for a decade and was the lone bridge on the coaching staff between the Ken Whisenhunt to Bruce Arians regimes.
Kitchens was a tight end coach for five years, then moved to quarterbacks coach where his personality and ability shown through in his work with Carson Palmer. After a half decade in the shadows, he helped rejuvenate Palmer and his career and just became one of the more important coaches on the staff. He was willing to do anything the Cardinals asked of him and he was a great personality in his time here.”
Chris: “Tell us about one player on offense and one player on defense who Browns fans might not be familiar with, but who could make a nice contribution for this week’s game.”
Seth: “Offensively, if the Cardinals have success it will be because either Kenyan Drake or Chase Edmonds are able to put up numbers in the rushing game. When Drake and Edmonds run well, the Cardinals offense is pretty efficient and can create a number of opportunities for Kyler Murray to make plays. If not, it’ll be another long day.
Defensively, Jordan Hicks has been the anchor in the middle, while so much has fallen apart around him this season. He has been worth his huge free agent paycheck and could be the lynchpin if the Cardinals can find any other talent to put around him in the rebuild of the Cardinals defense.”
Thanks again to Seth for taking the time to answer my questions.