ARIZONA -- The Arizona Cardinals fell to 2-9 on the year after dropping Week 11's road test to the Houston Texans.
Despite pitching a second half shutout and forcing a total of three turnovers on rookie C.J. Stroud, the Cardinals were unable to muster anything to mount yet another comeback under Kyler Murray's guidance.
"That's a playoff football team. And we go nose-to-nose, but they made more plays than us. That comes in the details. Coaches have got to be on that during the week, and that goes into playmaking, and that’s what wins games. They made a couple more plays than we did, and that's why we lost," said Cardinals coach Jonathan Gannon following the game.
As Arizona moves forward to Week 12's home contest against the Los Angeles Rams, what did we learn from Sunday?
What We Learned About Cardinals After Week 11
Marco Wilson's Time is Running Thin
Teams have picked on Wilson throughout the season, yet the Texans made it clear as day who they believed who the link was in Arizona's defense by targeting Wilson over, and over, and over again.
Wilson posted a PFF grade of 31.8 in coverage this past week and his season grade of 40.0 ranks 110th out of 115 graded corners by Pro Football Focus.
The Cardinals know Wilson simply isn't cutting it, either.
From AZCardinals.com's Darren Urban:
"Cornerback Marco Wilson, who has struggled, set season-lows in both defensive snaps (50) and defensive snap percentage (75). It was the fourth straight game Wilson's percentage had decreased."
What's keeping Wilson on the field? Likely lack of depth. Rookie Garrett Williams continues to impress while Antonio Hamilton and Starling Thomas IV have fallen in good graces with the coaching staff. Kei'Trel Clark - a promising rookie - is also on the roster.
Greg Dortch Needs More Playing Time
There's typically not a whole lot of similar sentiments an entire fan base on top of media members will agree on in unison, though it's apparent everybody is banging the table for WR Greg Dortch to see the field more often.
On Sunday, Dortch stepped up with Michael Wilson out due to injury and paced the Cardinals in targets+receptions+yards, something fans are used to seeing when Dortch is awarded the opportunity to see legitimate action.
Greg Dortch led the Cardinals in targets (8), receptions (6) and receiving yards (76) against the Texans.— Kyle Odegard (@Kyle_Odegard) November 20, 2023
Every time the guy gets an opportunity, he makes plays.
Why doesn't Dortch see the field more?
Dortch primarily handles return duties in Arizona and is often relegated to the slot due to his size+speed, where Rondale Moore is ahead of him. It's unknown if Moore (who to his credit, caught a touchdown pass on Sunday) is being played significantly more simply due to his draft status/name value.
With a healthy Wilson (who is 6-2) in the lineup, it's tough to sell the Cardinals on rolling out an all-small lineup of receivers, so splitting Dortch on the boundary instead of Brown/Wilson isn't feasible.
Yet those are just excuses - every time we've seen Dortch on the field, he's typically produced good things. That needs to continue regardless of who is healthy and who is not.
Have Patience With Kyler Murray, Offense
After a thrilling come from behind victory in Week 10, Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray came back down to earth against Houston. Another interception on top of a handful of other misguided throws again sparked commentary about his future with the organization.
As the young kids would say: That's wild, fam.
It was expected Murray would have to work through some bumps and bruises during his return from an ACL injury, and following up his fairly strong performance against the Falcons would have been tough on the road.
Operating in a new offense and little live reps with his teammates, growing pains are going to continue to be expected moving forward as chemistry is built between Murray and his weapons.
That goes for offensive coordinator Drew Petzing too, who placed Murray mostly in shotgun formations despite operating a completely different system previously.
That didn't quite allow James Conner to get going on the ground, which placed Arizona as a fairly one-dimensional offense against Houston.
Former NFL MVP Rich Gannon offered his take on Murray's performance here:
Perhaps Petzing felt Murray was more comfortable operating in a familiar scheme, or maybe the Cardinals simply wanted to spread Houston out.
It will be interesting to see how the Cardinals look moving forward on that side of the ball, but it's clear as day patience will be needed as Arizona's franchise quarterback settles himself into a new system with new teammates and coaches.