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<p>(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)</p>
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Week Two Arizona Cardinals Observations

Night and day, back to night: The offense’s showing against the Commanders in Week 1 was one to forget for the Arizona Cardinals as they put up zero offensive touchdowns, 210 total yards, and a measly 13 first downs. Going into week 2 against the Giants, quarterback Joshua 

Dobbs said there was a night and day difference in the offensive cohesion between this week and the last.

 “I feel like from where we were last Wednesday,” Dobbs said. “It's like night and day just understanding each other, understanding the flow and the rhythm of the offense,” 

For 50% of the game, this looked to be exactly the case. The Cardinals had more yards in the first half than they did the entirety of their week one game against Washington, with three offensive touchdowns to aid them in taking a commanding 20-0 lead going into halftime. The difference wasn’t just felt in the box score either, as Dobbs looked like a brand-new quarterback. Throwing on time with anticipation and pushing the ball down the field, the traits Dobbs was exhibiting this past Sunday had been nowhere to be found in the season opener. Unfortunately, the day would turn to night once again as Arizona’s offense evaporated in the second half. They stopped taking deep shots and playing aggressively, things that built their lead in the first place. They took their foot off the gas and New York took full advantage, outgaining the Cardinals in yards by 358-138 in the second half. Arizona only scored one more touchdown after halftime and gave up 24 unanswered points. To make matters even worse 17 of those 24 unanswered points came in the 4th quarter, the final nail in the coffin to their 31-28 loss.

Budda Baker’s absence felt: Once the Giants showed a modicum of competency, the Cardinal’s secondary folded. Haymaker after haymaker was thrown their way and Arizona had absolutely no response in that second half. Daniel Jones completely carved them up, throwing for 259 yards and 2 touchdowns in the second half.  They needed a leader to rally around, someone to fire up the team and stop the bleeding. Unfortunately, that someone was out this Sunday with a hamstring injury, and they look to be without Budda Baker for a month at the least.

Defensive standouts: While the offense has been inconsistent at best, Arizona’s defense has shined for the most part through these first two weeks, especially the defensive line. Going into the season, many fans wouldn’t be able to name a single defensive tackle on the roster, but the big boys have stepped up as Leki Fotu, Carlos Watkins, and Jonathan Ledbetter have all registered a sack on the young season. Jonathan Gannon’s run defense has also held up well, limiting Brian Robinson Jr. and Saquon Barkley to less than 65 yards each and a combined 3.4 yards per carry. Another defensive gem so far has been 3rd-year 6th-round pick Victor Dimukeje. This outside linebacker has stuffed the stat sheet in these two games, recording five tackles, 1.5 sacks, and a forced fumble.

O Captain! My Captain!: Denis Gardeck has been a special teamer for Arizona since 2018, but was named team captain for their defensive unit coming into 2023. He has shattered any and all expectations in this early season, registering 3 sacks, which is tied for second most in the entire NFL. Not even the likes of Joey Bosa, Brian Burns, or Myles Garret can match the production of “The Barbarian.” Gardeck’s start has been so impressive that he’s on pace to break the season sack record, albeit through two games. Will he continue to have this production throughout the season? Probably not. But what will continue is his energy and unwavering pursuit of the quarterback, something this Cardinals team desperately needs.

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