Christian Kirk was mulling what the Cardinals had done against the Texans last week when he noted that the offense had let the defense down.
An offense that generated 31 points and 397 yards. Yes, a slow start, but still. The 30-point/400-yard combo, which the Cardinals hit in each of their first four games, had been set as an amazing bar, and now it felt like the wide receiver was dismissing it.
Which he kind of was.
"It's funny -- that's our standard," Kirk said. "We talked about it after the game. We just have such a high standard for ourselves. The way we started the first half didn't sit well with us, regardless how we bounced back. For us, there is (no room for) no lack of energy, or being able to go and start. That start, for us, is unacceptable on the offensive side of the ball. That's our mentality. It just wasn't clean, it didn't sit well with us, and we know we have to be better."
It's frightening in a good way to think of this offense doing a lot better. Maybe it can, maybe it can't – as the cliché goes, the other guys get paid too. And there is little question the start against the Texans might not have played out as well against a better team.
But it speaks to the mindset of this team. Every team and every player every year can throw out the "we need to get better" and "we only take one game at a time." Not every team actually walks the walk. But you've got Kyler Murray after every game, no matter how the Cards perform, no matter how dominant they look that day, and even if he starts his press conference upbeat he can't help at some point slipping organically into a comment how he was frustrated at times or irritated they didn't do more.
"You can enjoy it for the day and then that night, but I think we've got to continue to get better," Murray said. "That's how I see it. I think Christian is right as far as in the first quarter it was 5-0, and we came out flat and didn't play well. A couple of mishaps here and there and then everybody feels ugly about what's going on."
The defense held it up against the Texans, the quarterback said, and agreeing with Kirk, he noted the Cards can't afford that against the Packers.
Even if they don't, something tells me Kyler will still find something that needs to be better. That's just where he and this team are these days. It's one of the reasons this start to the season is no fluke.
-- The news that J.J. Watt will miss the game felt a little out of left field. Which I am guessing Kliff Kingsbury likes just fine.) I don't know if it's a short week thing, or if he would've been down regardless. Had the Cardinals been on a normal week and reporters would've seen the open practices – and frankly, it's hard to get a feel for injuries when the week is short – his DNPs would've attracted more attention. There will not be another injury report for a week, but at least he didn't go on IR, so that's a good sign.
-- The other two dinged-up Cards – wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and center Max Garcia – will be ones to watch. I think Hop plays – Hop doesn't miss games – but will he be his normal self? As for Garcia, you'd rather not the Cardinals be down to their third-string center.
-- The Packers and the Cardinals have had a very interesting recent history. Yes, the Packers have gotten some wins, but they have been lost in the shuffle of history, like the 2009 season finale when Ken Whisenhunt knew the Pack would be back in a week for the playoffs and treated it like a preseason game. Or the 2012 visit to Green Bay, when the Cards were just a bad team.
But the Cardinals can't help but remember the 2015 regular season blowout in Arizona, the Cards' first game without Tyrann Mathieu's injury, a game that probably masked the issue that was to come with the Badger down. There was the incredible 51-45 overtime win in the 2009 playoffs, when Karlos Dansby scored on a fumble recovery (and a game that serves as the backdrop of a soon-to-come Folktales episode). There was the 2015 playoff game (a Folktales episode coming later tonight in fact) with the Hail Mary, the Hail Larry and a funked-up coin toss in between. Heck, even in 2018 in Green Bay, Fitz somehow came down with a desperation Josh Rosen toss so the really bad Cards could upset the Packers, getting Mike McCarthy fired before the Cardinals could even take off on their charter from the Green Bay airport after.
I'd guess the Cards don't need any drama Thursday. It doesn't have to be memorable. Just a win.
-- The meeting against the Packers – a combined 13-1 record, or .928 winning percentage – is the highest combined winning percentage entering a Thursday game in October or later in the NFL since 1934, according to NFL Research. The last time two teams met on a Thursday in Week 8 or later with one or fewer losses was Week 13 in 2007 – when the Cowboys beat the Packers, but backup Aaron Rodgers, in relief of Brett Favre, threw his first NFL touchdown pass.
-- Since 1990, no team that has started 7-0 has missed the playoffs.
-- The roof will be open Thursday night, and the Cardinals are wearing their color rush jerseys – black with red numerals.
-- Kyler Murray said he feels good, which hopefully is a good sign given how much he was knocked around last week. That might be the only thing that can slow him down. According to Next Gen Stats, Murray has a crazy 149.6 passer rating (tops is 158.3) when passing against the blitz. And under pressure? His rating is still an excellent 102.4.
-- Also Kyler: He is only the fourth QB since 1950 to be 7-0 with a completion percentage of at least 70. The other three – Tom Brady in 2007, Peyton Manning in 2009 and Aaron Rodgers in 2011 – all won MVP.
-- Last word goes to Chase Edmonds. James Conner, short-yardage bully and red-zone running back, has piled up six touchdowns. So his backfield mate Edmonds was asked if he was hoping he could get his own score, since he has yet to do so this season.
"I hear about that a lot," Edmonds said with a smile. "I'd like to get one. Everybody would at least like to get one. But what I try to do is focus on my job, focus on the football game at hand, focus on the plays. Don't force too many plays and let the game come to you."
Edmonds laughed. "I would like one, though."
See you Thursday night.