The Cardinals lost a disappointing game to the Rams yesterday 32-16, in a game that they had managed to keep close all the way into the 4th quarter only to watch a blocked field goal all but sink their hopes of crawling back into the game.
Who were the day’s biggest winners and losers? Let’s take a look below:
Josh Bynes, who wears jersey number 57, had an outstanding game in filling in for the injured Deone Bucannon, with 8 solo tackles and was solid in coverage despite not having any pass breakups. The “Keim-Time sign” award of this year will likely go to Alex Boone as their starting left guard, but Bynes could be a close second.
At 5-7 not only can we kiss the Cardinals’ playoff chances good bye (they’d have to win out to hit 9-7 which still probably wouldn’t get them in) but we can also say definitively that this Cardinals team doesn’t seem to have the moxie to get back to a .500 record this season.
In each game that the Cardinals have had a chance to get back to that record, they’ve won that game each time leading up to the Texans game. After that game, they’ve lost each opportunity they’ve had to get back to .500. The schedule might be part of it but the fact that the Cardinals are still being a competitive team in these games and now seem to be finding ways to lose is discouraging.
Winner: Jared Goff
Goff had a solid game despite a strong defensive outing from the Cardinals. He looked nothing like the hapless QB the Cardinals dominated in their season finale in Los Angeles in 2016.
Good for him. Bad for...
Loser: Blaine Gabbert
Gabbert had arguably his worst game as a Cardinal but it, honestly, still wasn’t all that bad. He threw for over 200 yards and a TD (sadly overthrowing Ricky Seals-Jones for a chance to have three multi-TD games in a row for the first time in his career) but yet again he had two turnovers in the game and for the 2nd week in a row they led to points for the opposing team.
Gabbert looks good enough to be an NFL starter...but he’s nowhere near the franchise quarterback or quarterback of the future that the Cardinals so desperately need right now. His play seems to have taken a step back this week.
Winner: Kerwynn Williams
Despite playing with cracked ribs, Williams had 97 yards on the ground in place of the injured Adrian Peterson and was effective with big gains as the Cardinals shifted to a more “run-heavy” attack in the second quarter following two turnovers by Blaine Gabbert, he was one of the top contributors in the game and had almost an entire scoring drive manufactured for AZ by himself (with, albeit, some gaping holes blocked for him by his offensive line)
Loser: Zone Defense
When Patrick Peterson noticably threw up his head groaning a few weeks ago as Texans WR Deandre Hopkins went into motion due to the fact that Peterson couldn’t move along with him, it was caught by several and posted to Twitter.
It turned out to be a foreboding of the things to come. Despite the fact that the defense has been playing better of late as Tramon Williams and Budda Baker have been starting in addition to Tyrann Mathieu getting into form...there are still far too many easy yards on the field.
Cooper Kupp and Jared Goff easily exploited Arizona’s zone defense and while some of the man-to-man coverages didn’t work
Winner: Sean McVay's Adjustments
Speaking of James Bettcher...McVay was fantastic in calling his game. There were times when Bettcher blitzed that McVay seemed to anticipate it and despite him and Goff not always being on the same page he made adjustments to what Arizona ran and found ways to get the ball into Todd Gurley’s hands or find wide open players by exploiting zone.
For much of the game, outside of the redzone there was a lot that was taken out of Goff’s hands as he was well-protected for most of the day and was able to make solid, accurate throws and took advantage of the Cardinals’ mistakes despite their defense playing a relatively solid game overall.
Loser: Amos Jones and the Special Teams (Again...and again...and again)
Boy, how many weeks will I keep putting the special teams unit as a loser this year? The game was in hand until special teams lost it, on both some returns by the Rams and the infamous blocked kick.
But the Cardinals also missed an extra point as well that could have given them a chance to get back in the game only down by 6 in the 4th quarter had the Rams not blocked the kick. Every since the Cardinals’ past special teams coach left it’s felt like Arizona’s gone from a team that WOULD block those kicks (with Calais Campbell) to one in which we’re EXPECTING them to mess it up.
Steve Keim was not impressed in an interview with the special teams early this morning and it will be interesting if Jones can survive the season.
Winner: Larry Fitzgerald
Fitz caught a TD pass as well as 9 other passes from Blaine Gabbert on all 10 of his targets, became the fastest to 1,200 catches (ahead of Jerry Rice) and moved into the #4 all-time in receiving yards this season.
Not a bad day at the office for the future Hall-of-Famer.
Loser: Fans of the 2017 Arizona Cardinals
Fans started leaving the stadium in droves after that blocked kick, despite the fact that the Cardinals were only down 10 points with plenty of time left.
It just...never felt like they had a chance in this game, or had the ability to come back in the game unlike last week against Jacksonville.
It’s disappointing watching Arians getting all he can out of Blaine Gabbert and a rag tag group of OL and receivers only to watch Bettcher and Amos Jones get out coached every week.— Blake Allen Murphy (@blakemurphy7) December 4, 2017
And as a result fans are torn not knowing whether they should be embracing each loss this team takes as a step toward perhaps finding a quarterback or whether there are deeper, underlying issues with this football team that are only starting to scrape the surface as to why they can’t seem to win close games like they used to be able to do.
And it’s a question that won’t likely be answered until 2018, and maybe longer.
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