2 Cardinals Veterans Featuring A.J. Green Underrated in Win

Getty Images A.J. Green catches the ball during the second quarter against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 3 of 2021.

Despite a shaky first-half performance against an inferior Jacksonville Jaguars opponent, the Arizona Cardinals won 31-19 on Sunday, September 26.

Kyler Murray thinks they would’ve lost this game in previous years.

“I’m frustrated, but as a team, I’ve been here three years now and the last two years we would have lost that game for sure,” said Murray.

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Arizona had over 400 yards in total offense, which is the third straight game of doing so. The Cardinals have started 3-0 for the first time since 2015, the same year they went to the NFC Championship game.

Many players are worthy of being the most valuable for the Cardinals on Sunday. Murray shined and put up over 300 passing yards for the third straight game. Cornerback Byron Murphy caught two interceptions, including a pick-six touchdown return. Running back James Conner had two rushing touchdowns.

But there were two players that might not get most of the headlines who shouldn’t go unnoticed.

A.J. Green

Star wideout DeAndre Hopkins missed practice throughout the week before the Jaguars game due to a ribs issue. Fortunately, Hopkins was able to play and played more than 90% of the offensive snaps.

But Hopkins only had three catches and wasn’t featured in the offense. Christian Kirk managed the workload with seven catches for 104 yards. But on the other hand, AJ Green turned back the clock and had his first 100-yard receiving game since 2018. His average depth of target was 17.5 yards and caught five balls.  Green was someone Murray would look for crucial chunks of yardage.

One critical moment in the game was a third down and eight at midfield. If the Cardinals don’t convert, they would have to punt only being up five points in the fourth quarter. Murray’s throw was underthrown but it was a jump-ball in which Green has always had a knack for catching.

He did just that.

Granted, he was against rookie corner Tyson Campbell. But this is the second straight week of production for the 33-year-old. And it would be a tad alarming if Green wasn’t putting up at least decent numbers by the week leading to Week 4.

He’s not the same Green from years past. But if Green can be the downhill target along with a healthy Hopkins, top slot receivers in Kirk and Rondale Moore, this offense will continue to dominate.

Jordan Hicks

Linebacker Jordan Hicks has had some journey with the Cardinals. After signing with the Cardinals in 2019 and starting 32 games for the past two seasons, GM Steve Keim called Hicks and told him he wouldn’t compete for a starting job. This was a few days after drafting inside linebacker Zaven Collins.

While Hicks did request a trade in the offseason, he’s taken the high road since training camp and has performed exceptionally well.

Hicks’ skills showed to the max against the Jaguars where he had 12 tackles, garnered six pressures, a sack to end the game and a 91.2 pass-rushing grade by Pro Football Focus. He also forced a fumble on Trevor Lawrence.

Hicks had a lot to do with Murphy’s first interception. Hicks forced the ball out of Jacob Hollister’s hands and Murphy scooped it in mid-air for the pick.

Kingsbury told Cardinals reporter Paul Calvisi after the game, “He’s a stud human. Glad to we got him.”

Hicks was on the field 100% of the time on defense while rookie Collins had a snap rate of 41%. There’s no doubt that Hicks is a mainstay on the Cardinals’ defense.

The Cardinals should be glad to have kept Hicks’ services.

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