Upgrade Your Fandom

Join the Ultimate PHNX Sports Community!

Arizona Cardinals' snap counts from Sunday’s game tell a story

Howard Balzer Avatar
September 12, 2022

Cardinals defensive coordinator Vance Joseph didn’t have much of a choice with how he deployed his players in Sunday’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs.

With the team’s cornerbacks group compromised by injuries, the nickel back against quarterback Patrick Mahomes consisted mostly of linebackers. The snap counts tell the story.

Starters Byron Murphy Jr. (100 percent) and Marco Wilson (96 percent) played virtually all the snaps, while Jace Whittaker (elevated from the practice squad) played 13 percent (nine snaps) and Christian Matthew played one snap late in the game, even though head coach Kliff Kingsbury said Friday Matthew would be the next guy in.

There were 10 linebackers with snaps, led by Zaven Collins (96 percent), Isaiah Simmons (87), Nick Vigil (51), Devon Kennard (50), Markus Golden (40), Victor Dimukeje (37), Dennis Gardeck (29) and Ezekiel Turner (23).

On offense, rookie tight end Trey McBride was inactive, while tight end Zach Ertz and guard Max Garcia were active. With Justin Pugh inactive and Cody Ford on reserve/injured, Garcia was in uniform despite not being signed off the Giants practice squad until Saturday.

“When you lose a guy [Ford] Thursday at practice that you had penciled in to start, who was really the backup at that position, it’s not great,” Kingsbury said after the game. “Yeah, we’ve had some tough injuries obviously leading up to the game, guys that we expected to start, but that’s everybody this time of year and the guys that stepped in there got to be able to play at a high level and execute at a high level and none of us did that today.”

As noted earlier in the week, the notion that “everybody” is dealing with those issues “this time of the year” is robotic coach-speak and isn’t accurate.

The Cardinals currently have five players on reserve/injured that are eligible to return, and the Chiefs has one. The Cardinals had two players declared out for the game not including Ford, and Kansas City had one.

Overall, there are 56 players league-wide as of opening day on the eligible to return list, and only one other team (Atlanta) has five, while three others have four. Sixteen teams have one or none.

Surely, the Cardinals could have lost anyway with those unavailable players, but it’s also likely the game wouldn’t have been as lopsided.

Ertz, who missed significant practice time during the summer because of a calf injury, said after the game, “It felt great. I was on a pitch count, which was tough because it’s something I haven’t done really in my career. So it’s tough to get in a rhythm early on. I had a calf injury early in camp and had a bad setback so pretty much had to start from scratch. That’s why it took longer for me to get back.”

The “pitch count” was around 30 and he played 39. Ertz acknowledged he remained in the game with the outcome in doubt to help create some offensive rhythm that will help moving forward.

As for McBride being inactive, Kingsbury said, “He just has to keep coming. Still thinking a little bit out there. He’s got the right skill set and he’s working hard, but we felt like the other three guys and with the numbers we needed other places, that was the right move.”

His absence accentuated the fact that only three of the team’s eight 2022 draft picks were active Sunday. Meanwhile, eight of Kansas City’s 10 choices were active and two started: cornerback Trent McDuffie and defensive end George Karlaftis, both first-round selections.

For the Cardinals, McBride (2/55), linebacker Myjai Sanders (3/100) and running back Keaontay Ingram (6/210) were inactive. Linebacker Jesse Luketa (7/256) is on the practice squad and guard Marquis Hayes (7/257) is on reserve/injured.

Linebacker Cameron Thomas (3/87) played four snaps and had one tackle; center Lecitus Smith (6/215) played eight offensive snaps in the final series along with one special-teams snap; and cornerback Christian Matthew (7/244) played one snap on defense and 14 (52 percent) on special teams.

The only two Chiefs picks not playing were offensive lineman Darrian Kinnard (5/145), who was inactive, and safety Nazeeh Johnson (7/259), who is on the practice squad.

McDuffie (1/21): 32 snaps (49 percent) and had one tackle before being ruled out in the third quarter because of a hamstring injury.

Karlaftis (1/30): 51 snaps (78 percent) and one on special teams; and had one tackle, quarterback hit and pass defensed.

Wide receiver Skyy Moore (2/54): 13 snaps (19percent) on offense and six on special teams (22 percent). He had one reception for 30 yards, four punt returns for 41 with a long of 15 and a kickoff return for 23.

Safety Bryan Cook (2/62): 22 snaps (34 percent) on defense with one tackle, 19 (70 percent) on special teams.

Linebacker Leo Chenal (3/103): 10 (15 percent) defensive snaps, 11 (41 percent) on special teams.

Cornerback Joshua Williams (4/135): 15 (23 percent) defensive snaps with one tackle, 11 (41 percent) on special teams.

Cornerback Jaylen Watson (7/243): 33 (51 percent) defensive snaps with one pass defensed, 11 (41 percent) on special teams with two tackles.

Running back Isiah Pacheco (7/251): 16 (23 percent) on offense, 11 (41 percent) on special teams. Rushed for 62 yards on 12 carries with a long of 22 and a 3-yard touchdown. Returned one kickoff for 22 yards.

All told, the Cardinals draft picks totaled 13 snaps from scrimmage and 15 on special teams, while those for the Chiefs had 192 scrimmage snaps and 70 on special teams.

Get Arizona's Best Sports Content In Your Inbox!

Become a smarter Arizona sports fan with the latest game recaps, analysis and exclusive content from PHNX's writers and podcasters!

Just drop your email below!

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

Scroll to next article

Don't like ads?
Don't like ads?
Don't like ads?