In a “must win” game the Cardinals fell flat on their face, got up, fell on their face again, got up again and then ran into a wall full-speed, leading with their face.
I think that best describes the game. At least the game I watched… During the game thread I was very vocal about the horrendous refereeing. I’m not going there today (though it was HORRIBLE), as Gungus and other more emotionally stable fans pointed out, it wasn’t the refs that let the most dangerous return man in the NFL get free, or the referees who threw a 100-yard INT (though they didn’t help missing an obvious call, but Palmer gonna Palmer, and throw into double coverage).
I instead will blame a poorly coached Cardinals team. I am not putting this loss solely on the shoulders of the coaches, Bruce Arians didn’t throw two INTs, give up the return TD or get worked by trick plays, that’s on the players. But Amos Jones’s special teams helped the Cardinals lose another game. A terrible opening punt and the aforementioned kickoff return were daggers in the back of the Cardinal’s playoff hopes. James Bettcher wasn’t prepared for the trickery and didn’t adjust well in the second half (wasn’t the first time the Vikings had used some wildcat this year). Arians, and in part GM Steve Keim, failed the team Sunday, again being outcoached by a team on the ropes (ala the Bills week 3).
The Vikings horrendous offensive line was less horrendous than the Cardinals offensive line, protecting Sam Bradford relatively well. One of the worst rushing games in the NFL found just enough success against the Cardinals run defense to put the Vikings in favorable third downs, which they capitalized, converting near 50% on the day.
So what did we learn? I think we learned that the Cardinals coaching staff, stacked with veteran coaches, aren’t doing a great job. Be it talent evaluation (picking a long-snapper who contributed to several losses), or going with Butler at punter, neglecting special teams, struggling to find talent on the offensive line, struggling to get the offense scoring (they move the ball well but suck in the red zone), and much more.
It leaves a sour taste in the mouth. If this team was supposed to be better than last year’s team, what will next year’s team look like? With playoffs still mathematically possible, maybe there is hope, but that requires a lot of teams to lose and some favorable luck for the Cardinals and with how this team has been so inconsistent and maddeningly error prone, it doesn’t seem likely the Cardinals will see the post-season this year.
What’s next for the Cardinals?