When a team gives up 27 points, the defense usually isn't going to celebrate, and make no mistake, there was no celebrating anywhere in the Cardinals locker room Sunday in Cleveland. Losing a game like that can be a drain mentally more than physically, and nine games into the season nobody wants to hear about what could be described as positives – especially 20 or so minutes after it is over.
The defense was put in an impossible spot against the Browns with rookie QB Clayton Tune unable to engineer much. Posed to safety Jalen Thompson, his response batted such a suggestion away.
"Overall as a team we have to do a little more," Thompson said. "The defense did what we could but I feel like at the end of the day we have to do more to help the offense."
Maybe things would've changed a little if Thompson's undercut of Amari Cooper on a tipped Deshaun Watson pass would've been an end zone interception – instead of a crazy TD catch reminiscent of Michael Floyd's Cardinals TD reception in the playoff Hail Larry game against the Packers. Probably not.
But as coach Jonathan Gannon said, "I did think they hung in." It would have been so easy for the unit to slide into oblivion. It did not. Dante Stills continues to show up as a rookie defensive lineman. There were other solid plays. Perhaps it's the knowledge that Kyler Murray will be back soon. But it was easy to see the awful Sunday. There was, believe it or not, some good.
-- Murray's return to the roster has to come this week. Gannon wouldn't commit to anything Kyler postgame, which wasn't a surprise. But that'll be the story again leading into the game against the Falcons – who were stunned by Vikings QB Joshua Dobbs on Sunday.
-- The Cardinals are already without starting left guard Elijah Wilkinson and both left tackle D.J. Humphries and guard Will Hernandez left the game Sunday with leg injuries. Hump sounded optimistic that his issue wasn't bad after going in for X-rays and certainly the Cards will like as good an offensive line as possible when Murray steps on the field.
-- The Cardinals were without their top three rushers on the season in the game. Running back James Conner and Emari Demercado were hurt, and third-leading rusher Dobbs was in Minnesota playing for the Vikings after his trade.
-- Wide receiver Rondale Moore actually got the start at running back for the Cardinals. He gained two yards on the first play.
-- The Cardinals averaged just 1.2 yards a play for the game.
-- Speaking of Dobbs, he wasn't supposed to play, but rookie Jaren Hall suffered a concussion early in the game against the Vikings and Dobbs was forced into the lineup after just five days with Minnesota. He had 17 days after a trade before playing for the Cardinals, and last year had just eight days before starting for the Titans.
How this plays out for the Vikings could impact the Cardinals and the conditional seventh-round pick the Cards sent to Minnesota in the deal (which was Dobbs and the seventh for a fifth-rounder.) The Cards could get back their seventh if Dobbs plays enough/well enough.
-- Murray isn't the only one who can come off a list this week. Conner is eligible too, and if he can play, that would be a major double-boost to the offense next weekend.
-- The Cardinals should have had a 25-yard passing play to Moore on a beautifully designed play that had Marquise Brown drawing two defenders as Moore came out on a wheel route. That was, until Brown was flagged for offensive pass interference. The problem was that replay showed Brown never touching either defender, and simply doing a quick reverse pivot that fooled the Browns. There wasn't even a pick. But it came back, and the Cards never had a play close to that afterward.
That's enough for today, especially for this game. Time to fly home.