Don’t Be So Quick to Give Up on the Arizona Cardinals


The Arizona Cardinals have lost two straight games in pretty embarrassing fashion, but it may be to soon to call them done.

It was only a couple weeks ago that the 9-1 Arizona Cardinals had a comfortable hold on the NFC West and the best record in the NFL. They weren’t playing dominant football every single week, but they were finding ways to win no matter what tried to restrain them.

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After two consecutive ugly losses, the feeling is much more grim.

The trouble started with the Cardinals 19-3 loss to the Seahawks. At the time, this didn’t seem like that much of a problem. Seattle had the home field and was playing to save its season, and the Cardinals just weren’t able to get it going.

Now, after a 29-18 loss to the mediocre Atlanta Falcons, the alarm bells are sounding in the desert. The offense looks like a flashback to 2012, and the defense just doesn’t have the consistency to shut down everyone all of the time.  With three (arguably four) games against tougher opponents to close out the season, the Cardinals look like their competing for a sixth seed rather than the top of the conference.

Going forth, there are many questions: Who or what factors are to blame for the skid? Can they right the ship and get back to winning?

The first question is tough to answer. On the defensive side, the game against Seattle was not awful. 19 points is on par with the Cardinals average points allowed. Against Atlanta, the defense did hit rock bottom, allowing its first 100 yard rusher in 21 games and allowing Falcons QB Matt Ryan to operate without much pressure. Bad games do happen, but the defense has to continue to be the backbone of this team.

The offense has just been straight up ugly. They haven’t scored an offensive touchdown in eleven quarters. Drew Stanton has five interceptions in his last 79 attempts, and the running game has continued to be nonexistent.

So who’s at fault? To some degree, everyone down through the roster. The offense flailed in Seattle, and pretty much everyone had a bad day against Atlanta. Even Bruce Arians and Todd Bowles seemed off. They saw Patrick Peterson  get burned by Julio Jones repeatedly, but just kept letting them go at it one on one.

The past is the past though. The more important element is the future. Some will argue that this is the end of the line for a team that’s been getting by on luck. Others may take a more optimistic standpoint. The team has just lost its way temporarily and will be able to set this right.

The things that have been killing the Cardinals recently have been their shortcomings all season. The run game has never been that good, pass rush has been hard to come by, and the secondary has had some pretty ugly games. The weaknesses of the Cardinals didn’t just appear out of nowhere on November 23rd.

The team and its fans have become used to these flaws simply being outweighed by the good things. The Cardinals kept opposing running backs in check, the offense produced enough points to keep pace, and the team limited its turnovers while maximizing takeaways. None of that has shown up in full over the past two games, and this is the result.

It may not be time to go into full crisis mode just yet, though. It’s easy to say that this is just attempt to rationalize the end of the Cardinals successful season, but maybe this is what they needed. After a 9-1 start, an  ugly 0-2 skid may be humbling. Maybe the gloom and doom predictions of the NFL world will light a spark back in the team. There’s no guarantee that’ll be the case, but it’s worth noting the possibility that this gives them motivation.

Keep in mind too that a lot of teams go through tough stretches and there is an overreaction. Remember at the beginning of the season when Tom Brady hit a really rough patch and everyone speculated that he may be in the twilight of his career? That turned out to be premature. Again, this isn’t for sure, but two games is a little early for everyone to jsut throw up their hands and predict a 9-7 finish

After their 3-0 start, I argued that the Cardinals had proven their ability to compete as an elite team. I believe that was true, but with a list of injuries that’s getting longer and longer and an offense marred by inconsistency, they certainly don’t look it now. That doesn’t mean all is lost though.

It does mean that this Sundays game against the Chiefs is critical. The Cardinals as  a team need to prove themselves, as do Drew Stanton, Patrick Peterson, and other key players. If they can get it done, they might be able to starting setting the ship right. The possibility that that could happen is why Arizona Cardinals fans and NFL analysts shouldn’t all just run to the lifeboats quite yet.