Well, it is that time of the year, again. Getting ready for the SB and things are real quiet on the AZ football front, so I thought I would write one of my LOOOONG multi part posts. With this post, I am going to write about where we are at, how we got here, where we are(or should be-IMO) going and the long term odds of success. Those who know my posts know 2 things about me. 1)I am passionate about this team and want them to succeed in the worst way and 2) although I am opinionated, I do my research and try to back up everything I say with facts to support my opinions.
So let's start this first post with where the status of the team is at. Two words: WE SUCK! No great revelation there, but just how bad are we? Some feel with a better QB and a few moves here or there we will be just fine. Others feel we are a disaster. To me, it became pretty clear when we couldn't put the Vikings away, a team being booed lustily by their own fans for most of the game, a team in complete disarray in the middle of the Moss fiasco and a lame duck coach who the players were no longer playing hard for, that the Cardinals were a team with not only personnel problems, but also had become a team that no longer believed in one another. We've all seen teams make miraculous comebacks in the past. But to see a team in the worst stretch of a disatrous season make such a comeback speaks much more about the team they came back on than themselves as Minn. took all the momentum from that win to take consecutive drubbings the next 2 weeks, signaling the end of the Childress era in Minn. So as for my opinion on this team...I've been a fan for over 40 years and IMO, this is one of the worst teams I have ever seen, not because they don't have talent, because they do, but because they are one of the least competitive teams I have ever witnessed and the collapse of this team has actually been historic, even for the Cardinals. And the numbers back me up.
When I look at games, statistically, and I see one team outgained the other by 100 yards or more, that usually signifies that one team pretty much dominated the other. So I found it utterly shocking that the Cardinals AVERAGED getting outgained by almost 105 per game over the course of the entire 16 game season. That is the largest differential EVER in the 40 years since the merger by any Cardinal team. When you combine offensive and defensive statistics of the teams around the league the Cardinals ranked 32nd out of 32 teams. With all the bad Cardinal teams over the years since the merger, and I have seen some bad ones, that has NEVER happened. Our offensive rank? 31st is the lowest since the merger, also. Worse than the Gary Hogeboom led Cards, worse than the Timm Rosenbach led Cards, worse than the Josh McCown Cards. Hell, worse than the Tom 'freakin' Tupa led Cards...and he was a punter by trade for Criss Sakes!!! And there were no Larry Fitzgeralds on those teams or three-headed running attacks. No, no! There were guys like Ernie Jones , Gary Clark and Ricky Proehl(who I happened to like...but as a No.1 Rcvr?). And our running games were led by guys like Earl Ferrell, Johnny Johnson and Ronald Moore, not exactly household names in the annals of history.
Statisically, this team is most closely compared to the 2000 team that went 3-13. But in defense of that club(not that it deserves it), it was a team that was devastated by injuries, with starters losing 68 games due to injury. This 2010 team had no such excuse staying mostly healthy losing only 21 starter games due to injury. But even that pales in comparison when you consider that at least that 2000 team played in a division(NFC east) with only one team out of the other 4 with a losing record(Dallas) and the division played at a .563 winning percentage(18-14) sans our record + division games(which must end at .500 %) while the 2010 team played vs teams that racked up a whopping .300 winning percentage in games outside the division(9-21). That is bad enough, but the fact that we were absolutely dominated by these teams, getting swept at home by a combined 52 points, with our closest loss being 13 points, this team actually had a worse season than that 3 win team, which went 2-2 at home and lost by 5 to eventual NFC champion NYG on the road. Wins and losses are obviously the most important stat, but when you consider how weak our schedule was, 5-11 is a very ominous sign.
Do we have good players on this team? Absolutely! But if these players are not playing at their optimum level, AND playing as a team, what does it mater how many Pro Bowls they've been to or how much they are paid? If you watched the last game of the year vs SF as I did, you saw and heard 2 things that tell you how bad this team is right now. First, what I heard. Jim Mora, Jr. is commenting about about how SF is ripping us up in the 3rd Q and mentions how Alex Smith had told him that that is always the plan vs AZ since it is felt that once you get them down, and I'm probably paraphrasing, some players on that team will QUIT! Now it was shocking enough to me that a former coach would actually say that on the air, but to equate it to the QB on our 'supposed' No.1 rival, it sent shivers down my spine as a Cardinal fan. I almost thought he was going to start naming names. But just the simple fact that Alex Smith believes that, leads me to believe that he has good reason to feel that way, and that he may be right.
Next, what I saw. SF came out in the 2nd half and absolutely steamrolled us and played the game with pride, seeing the game for what it was, a litmus test as to who was the better team going forward. SF played with pride and we did not. Plain and simple. When we had 1st and goal from the 1 and SF up by 24, they played like their whole season was on the line and stopped us 4 straight X and later in the 4th, with under 2 mins to go, 1st and goal at the 3 and crushing us by 31, they still refused to allow even that meaningless TD. Meanwhile, we rolled over like lambs, practically conceding to SF that not only were they better, they were LIGHT YEARS better. Fitz said after the game, "We have to find a way to beat these guys". Maybe, if they thought we would fight for 60 minutes, it might be a little easier.
So where are we at right now? We are on the verge of collapsing back into the dark days of Cardinal football. The days of naming a new starting QB year after year. The days of not being able to hold onto our best talent. All the good feelings of the success of 2008 & 2009 seem like distant memories. There is a real bad vibe running through this team right now. And, I'm afraid, the teams in our division are smelling blood in the water.