How the Grinch stole Christmas for the Arizona Cardinals
A division rival made the holiday season an incredibly disappointing one for the Arizona Cardinals organization and it’s fans
It would be fair to say that the Arizona Cardinals and their fans weren’t asking for anything outlandish to be under their Christmas trees this year. After all, a victory over a banged-up San Francisco squad seemed like a fair request for an incredibly-giving character like Santa Claus. As we now know, that solicitation was denied, which leads one to believe that the Cardinals must have been a naughty team in the eyes of “Old Saint Nick”.
Exactly one day after the 2020 Christmas holiday, the Cards dropped a 20-12 decision to a severely-undermanned 49ers club. When it came down to it, San Francisco’s coaching staff more than made up for their lack of talent on the field. Throughout the afternoon, head coach Kyle Shanahan and defensive coordinator Robert Saleh took turns impersonating the “Grinch” who stole Arizona’s Christmas.
To put it simply, both Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury and defensive coordinator Vance Joseph had no answers for what the 49ers were dishing out. As early as the first quarter, you couldn’t help but feel that the Redbirds could lose this matchup. And when the smoke had cleared, the Cards may have blown what once appeared to be a solid chance of making this season’s postseason tournament.
The fact that Kingsbury’s “Air Raid” attack generated just 12 points against the now 6-9 Niners was particularly alarming. Saleh, who will be one of the NFL’s hottest head-coaching candidates in 2021, engineered a unit that completely frustrated quarterback Kyler Murray and his teammates. Arizona did manage to rack up 20 first downs and 350 yards of offense, but points were extremely difficult to come by.
Meanwhile, Joseph showed on Saturday why he should’ve been relieved of his duties at the conclusion of the 2019 campaign. The fact that his crew yielded 227 rushing yards to San Francisco in such an important contest was nothing short of disgraceful. Don’t be fooled by the improved statistics this fall, the unit that Joseph is presiding over is miles away from being a good defense.
The truly uninspiring performance turned in by the Cardinals in week 16 certainly put a damper on such a festive time of the year. A win over the 49ers, who excelled in their role as the “Grinch”, was not too much to ask for. Any Cards followers who had that on their Christmas list deserved so much better.