It was hard to find Arizona Cardinals players that didn’t contribute in the 38-13 over the Tennessee Titans in Week 1.
One player on offense who was somewhat quiet was WR2 on the Cardinals depth chart, A.J. Green. With just two receptions for 25 yards, Green was more of a decoy while Christian Kirk caught two touchdowns and rookie Rondale Moore had 68 yards.
But it was understandable that the 33-year-old veteran didn’t have a big game. This was Green’s first game as a Cardinal and he’s not the same player as he was in his prime.
But Green had just two fewer targets than DeAndre Hopkins and was on the field for 55 snaps of 69. There are reasons to think Green can bounce back and even surprise people with a monster game against the Minnesota Vikings on September 19.
Even if Green doesn’t have a huge game, he understands it’s all about the team first.
“I’m always team-first,” Green said on August 25. “When I was the guy in Cincinnati for 10 years, I always wanted another guy. I have Tyler Boyd and we had Marv Jones, we had some great guys. My thing is, I don’t want to be forced the ball and here, I don’t have to be forced the ball.
Number one wideout DeAndre Hopkins will get former Cardinal corner Patrick Peterson to square off in Week 2. According to Pro Football Focus, when Peterson has been covering Hopkins all-time, Hopkins has been targeted 18 times, with nine catches, 125 yards and three touchdowns, per Cardinals reporter Darren Urban.
Coach Kliff Kingsbury has a method when it comes to surveying matchups for receivers.
“I see (players) as Xs and Os, that’s always been my philosophy,” Kingsbury said. “There are certain players, Pat P being one of them, where you’ve got to always know where they’re at and who they’re guarding. But I try to attack a defense schematically as best I can and get our best matchups out there.”
In that case, Green could be a player to target on Sunday. Bashaud Breeland will be matched up with Green on the outside, who gave up 107 yards and two touchdowns against the Bengals. That was the second-most yards given up by a corner in Week 1.
While Green didn’t fill up the stat sheet, all it takes is Green to run downhill near the sidelines, which led to success against the Titans in one play.
Green has the benefit of having other receivers that can draw attention as well.
Christian Kirk & Rondale Moore
Those other receivers that can create trouble for opponents are Christian Kirk and Rondale Moore. The Cardinals were the only team to have three wide receivers with 80+ grades from PFF.
The leader of the pack wasn’t Hopkins in that department but it was the 24-year-old from Scottsdale, Arizona in Christian Kirk with 85.9. DeAndre Hopkins and Rondale Moore went just after him.
Kirk came up with five receptions, including two touchdowns in the first week and happens to be heading into his contract year. Murray and Kirk go back a long way, as he told Adam Schefter’s daughter, Dylan Schefter, in a Nickelodeon special NFL Slimetime.
“I’ve known Kyler for a really long time,” said Kirk. “I’ve known him since high school and to have him back as my quarterback in the NFL, it’s crazy how full-circle football is.”
As for Moore, it’s no shock he’s already making a name for himself. His 16 yards after the catch in the first contest led the NFL.
His debut was spectacular, and his day could’ve been better if it wasn’t for a hold in the endzone that wasn’t called.
There are plenty of mouths to feed in Arizona. If the Vikings pass rush doesn’t do their job, Minnesota’s corners could have a long day.