After sitting at 6-3 and in first place of the NFC West, the Arizona Cardinals have now returned to their usual habitat
Why did we take the bait, Arizona Cardinals fans? Why did we buy into the hype after a hail mary win, even though this team had problems with it’s infrastructure that were hidden by winning? The reason is because of the head coach, Kliff Kingsbury. We were promised a new era and age of competitiveness this year due to a returning quarterback and other key offensive players.
On top of acquiring Deandre Hopkins, it seemed like the playoffs were a lock. And we got all of that in spurts. Arizona came crashing down in embarassing fashion against the San Francisco/Arizona 49ers this week.
There was and is no urgency from this team. Early on in the game on a 3rd and 18, they ran a bubble screens which got blown up. This game basically decided the season, and aside from going for it on 4th down as much as they did, I could not see or sense any urgency from the team.
Not to mention more pre-snap penalties on the team, including two more on Mason Cole, who after this game should be on his way out.
Some fans gave me smoke about my opinion on him last week, and now it proves my point. The interior line was terrible in pass protection, Cole was looking lost out there and Kyler Murray suffered on top of it. There is no saving grace in mentioning that the Cardinals had the league’s #1 offense at one point either.
Now some of these calls were very controversial, however if they’re called- they’re called. Maybe it’s time for just a simple vocal cadence instead of a hand clap/whatever it currently is? Where has the discipline been from the head coach? Arizona has been historically inept in preventing penalties this year, and nothing has changed.
Kliff has continued to play this stoic-like figure on and off the field. I can only remember one time this year during the Patriots game that he got in Kyler’s face. There has been no “2008 Christmas day” moment that has woken up the Cardinals. There are only so many times he can say “we/I have got to be better”.
There is no passion or accountability from Kliff. It trickles down to even the quarterback. Murray has been absent in trying to motivate this squad. Instead we find images/cuts of the camera of him just sitting on the bench with a thousand-yard-stare like he was in the battle of Verdun.
I have yet to see others hold KK to as much of a critical standard as I have throughout this year, but that may change now. If there’s anything that Super Bowl XLIII taught us, it’s that when you get your chances to get in the dance, you better make the most of them, as you’ll never know when the team will get back.
The game within the game
Kliff has also not learned simple game management. The New England, Miami and Detroit games has just left his team on the losing end in frustrating fashion. He doesn’t know when to go for it or not.
Sometimes he leaves the offense out there early in the game and will go for it, only to attempt a field goal when the games on the line in the 4th. Heck, even take today in the 2nd quarter with 8 seconds to go and a timeout in hand. The sequence was an incomplete pass, and a short 5 yard pass instead of a hail mary attempt. What is that thought process?
Acknowledging the fact that he is a young coach and so is Murray, only buys them so much time. This is year 2, the year where recent draft picks have the magical year. Mahomes, Watson and even Russell Wilson had huge years. So why can’t Murray and Kliff get rolling the way they need to?
No doubt there has been a 3 win increase from last year. But besides maybe the Dallas and Jets game, has this team ever given anyone confidence in that they’ve turned the corner? There is no more time to defend Kliff- he needs be held accountable from all phases of the organization. It must be playoffs or bust, if not this year, then next for sure.
Kliff’s Playcalling and timeouts
I could write an entire article about how ineffective Kliff has been at getting his play calls into the huddle.
For someone who’s offense has run more hurry-up plays than anyone else in the league, how hard is it to get a call to the offense within 18 seconds? There has been so many times this year where timeouts have had to be burned because of whatever reason delays the play.
Is personnel not in the right spot? Is it the radio having problems? It certainly can’t be crowd noise this year. I could almost argue that I’ve seen hurry-up offenses in D2/D3 college football run it better than what Arizona does.
What is there even left to say about Kliff’s team?
I feel so bad for this defense. They play their tails off, and even despite injuries, they were able to hold up enough to give the offense chances in so many games. Vance Joseph could actually be an under the radar candidate for a head coaching role. They’ve come a long way since last year and with Chandler Jones returning next year, this will be a fun group to watch.
Now Cardinals fans are forced to accept the soul-crushing truth that a team who had a 6 game losing streak, and ownership that suffers from borderline nepotism and is lead by Mitch Trubisky of all people will most likely steal their spot in the playoffs.
The Jaguars aren’t going to play James Robinson, and unless Jacksonville continues to play competitive games against NFC North opponents this year, then the Cardinals will need a miracle to get in next week.
There has been progress, yes- However it has been excruciatingly painful at times. And just when we thought we could trust this team, the rug was pulled out from under us. I leave you with one last fleeting hope.
17 years ago the Cardinals eliminated the Vikings in the last week of the season to push the Packers into the playoffs. Maybe, just maybe, the world comes full circle and Green Bay helps deny Chicago a spot in the final week with a miracle win from Arizona.
Perhaps 2020 has one more twist for the NFC playoff race.