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Cardinals Push Back Against 'Pretty-Boy Football' Label

Players don't believe preseason performance was indicator of offense's ability

RB David Johnson carries the ball against the Raiders
RB David Johnson carries the ball against the Raiders

Safety Lamarcus Joyner capped a dominant Raiders defensive showing on Thursday night by sacking Kyler Murray for a safety.

It gave Oakland a 26-0 lead and dropped the Cardinals' total yardage to 12. Joyner crowed on the ESPN telecast afterward, calling coach Kliff Kingsbury's spread-oriented scheme "pretty-boy football."

Joyner was clearly happy with the first-team defense's performance, but Cardinals players found it amusing that he was so thrilled with exhibition superiority.

"We were super vanilla," running back David Johnson said. "They can say what they want. They played well against an offense that didn't even scheme against them. It's whatever."

According to Johnson, "when we played the Raiders, we didn't look at the personnel. We didn't really do anything." Wide receiver Christian Kirk said the game plan was "as basic as it gets."

Kirk smirked when asked about the moniker Joyner gave the offense.

"Just because we don't line up with two tight ends and run the ball, I guess we're pretty boys now," Kirk said. "I guess we'll have to show how pretty we are this season."

Coach Kliff Kingsbury has been unfazed with the criticism of his offense, noting that it comes with the territory in the NFL. He did say practices were crisper in the aftermath of the contest, as players don't like to lose even when winning isn't the ultimate goal.

The Cardinals are still expected to play vanilla in the third preseason game on Saturday against the Vikings, but Kingsbury wants to cut out the penalties and other sloppiness.

"We've got to be able to execute whatever is called, and that was kind of the theme this week," Kingsbury said. "I like that they took to that."