Let's get this out quickly, we're not going to rant about the what if's, and how if a few things changed the Cardinals would be as good as 12-4. We're not going to focus on the Rams, 49ers, and Eagles games. We're not going to look at the performance of the past two weeks and how the Cardinals beat one and nearly beat another of the best two teams in football. We're not going to rant about that. We're not going to rant about how good this team could have been in the post season or about how the NFC West is the best division in football and should have three playoff teams contending for the crown. While that may seem like we just ranted about it, we didn't.
Instead, we're going to talk about how this season ended with a bang! The final game of the Cardinals 2013 season ended with one of Carson Palmer's best days in the NFL. Palmer put up gaudy numbers against of the best defensive units in football and came within seconds of taking the team to overtime to beat a bitter division opponent after all chances of the playoffs were out of the question. Unfortunately, this game started out so one sided too many of us were wondering if it was better to turn over to movies starting on other channels to avoid the further chest pains after the first half. But for those who stuck with the Cardiac Cardinals they were rewarded with one of the best games of the season. So, as always, let's rant about it.
Jay Feely - We have to get this out of the way early -- Feely cost the team the game. Was it that simple? Should we move on? Heck no, we're talking about a guy going 2/4, making one puts the game in overtime, making two and the game is won. He can blame this performance on anything that he wants to, we'll give him a free one with the slippery playing surface to start with, but the fact is Phil Dawson not only used the same surface, but thrived in it kicking a 56 yarder which was his season best. When Dawson's team needed three points they turned to him after missing one and he followed through like an NFL kicker should, and had plenty of distance left on the kick. I'll state the obvious, Feely's done. His kick offs are short, he's missed some very big points this year which would have turned the fate of the season and then in this the Cardinals Super Bowl he spent a lot of time sitting by himself on the bench because he didn't have the leg to perform at this level anymore. Sorry to be so blunt, but Feely will be looking for work very soon.
First quarter defense -Who were those guys? They gave up 17 points in the first quarter. Let's make sure we never see them again.
Second half defense - Olympian gods? That may be a stretch, but holding a great team to six points in three quarters and playing like a top three elite defense. That's not so far of a stretch. Daryl Washington was fooled by Colin Kaepernick's QB keeper, just once. That play fooled everybody and it resulted in a long run by the young 49ers QB, but we all saw him shake his head after that play as if to incline he would not be fooled again. Sure enough, our young sometimes misguided MLB sniffed out the second time Kaepernick tried the QB keeper trick and ended up getting a face full of Washington and a personal introduction to the University of Phoenix Stadium grass. We can all agree, it was an impactful meeting. There were so many great plays by the defense in the 2nd half, I know I'll just watch that portion over again a few times during the offseason just to laugh. Big Dan Williams got his first sack as he played inspired football and we saw the NT block passes and push the 49ers offensive line back deep enough for Williams to get his first sack of the year and continue to harass the middle of the line. I could go on, but you catch the drift here.
Rob Housler - Bah! Bad Rob Housler! What the hell were you doing for 95% of the game! You nearly tipped the ball that was a catchable TD up into the defenders hands in the first quarter? If you catch the ball like you're supposed to, like you're paid to, that's a TD and not a missed FG, which is then a win later. A win ladies and gentlemen. Housler realized that he was a few plays from trying to make someone's walk on squad when he suddenly remembered how to use those clubs of hands he has and hauled in two incredible catches at the end of the game. Who is this guy? Where was he for three games? Housler is so hit or miss. The Cardinals need to bring in another vet and make this guy fight for his job next year. He could be great, or he could just be a waste of a roster spot. But right now I'm happy the Cardinals have Ballard and Jim Dray, and I'm thinking they'll bring in a vet to push the 3rd year TE into shaping up, or shipping out.
Cardinals Secondary / Coaching - Does the team not know how to adjust its personnel to the capabilities of the team they're playing? The answer seems like no. Here's the reason, why was Boldin being covered by the 12th man most of the day? How does Vernon Davis not warrant bracket coverage? There are a few minutes of game film on him right? Cardinals coaches, you do remember earlier this year when Davis continued the TE saga against you? You know the saga, TE's ALWAYS score touchdowns against the Cardinals. I can point you to the stats if you'd like, but I don't want to ruin the holidays. This was just ridiculous. But while we're here, Boldin still has some magic left, and there's no denying that. Best 6th round pick the 49ers will ever spend.
Larry Fitzgerald - Finally, I have to end on a high note, I'm already over my time, but this one warranted a little extra ranting. Fitzgerald is a special player. He played incredibly well, catching six of 11 targets for 113 yards. His longest catch being 49 yards and igniting the team twice in the game when the momentum seemed all but gone. He ended the year with 954 yards, just shy of breaking the 1,000 milestone and 10 touchdowns. We don't know what is going to happen to Fitzgerald in the offseason, his contract is something that will need to be looked at but the value of Fitzgerald is so immense, that it can be shown with just those two plays. The two that ignited the teams spirits when they came out flat and were being man-handled at home with a playoff berth on the line. If you're looking for a face of a franchise and a career professional who can give you that focus and fire when you need it most, then you need someone like Larry Fitzgerald. The proof is on the tape, in the stands, on all of those jerseys, and on the scoreboard. I'm sure Keim recognizes Larry's value, and I'm absolutely positive Fitzgerald will return as a Cardinals after the success this team has produced this past year. So with that, let's see what Larry can do next year when the team is reloaded and ready to contend for the NFC West crown!
Thank you guys for reading my rants throughout the year. I can't wait to rant next year!
What's your rant?