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Cardinals’ playoff hopes ankle-tackled by the Rams and end the season

The Cardinals lost Kyler Murray, a playoff spot and perhaps confidence in their direction all to a backup quarterback on what was the final Sunday of the 2020 season

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Los Angeles Rams Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Man, what can you say? Everything seemed to be going Arizona’s way entering the game:

  • Jared Goff was out with surgery, leaving backup QB John Wolford as the starter
  • Cooper Kupp went onto the Covid-19 list
  • And then Michael Brockers followed him

Heading into the game, Fitzgerald was hurt and Christian Kirk was on the Covid-19 list as well.

Arizona drove down and got into close range and then....the game changed suddenly with one sack:

Ouch.

The Cardinals defense managed to find a way to keep it close, but the offense without QB1?

Oof, it was brutal.

A safety and a pick-6 (on a play that maybe could have been flagged as a free play but wasn’t)

3 and out.

3 and out.

3 and out.

Turnover.

3 and out.

It was a cycle of pain and there wasn’t as much reading or creativity from Kingsbury as Arizona couldn’t do much through the air or on the ground.

The defense held but...the offense giving up points before the half in a close game was terrible. Almost inexcusable.

The Rams with Wolford were driving on Arizona repeatedly but also got in their own way. And then? Kyler came back in with the season in the balance.

Arizona drove down to score down 11 and....the special teams and kicking issues proved they weren’t contained to Zane Gonzalez...

It might be too little, too late for the birds.

A missed field goal was....brutal. The team’s best chance went away and it became a game of clock.

Where do you go from here?

I think if you asked most Cardinals fans what they would do after the season—keep Kliff/Vance/Keim, keep Kliff/Vance, fire Keim, keep Keim, fire Kliff, or clean house...?

I think the majority of fans would feel:

Kliff ain’t bad.

Vance ain’t bad.

Keim’s been okay when dealing with Bill O’Brien.

But it feels like there’s been a lack of direction ever since Kyler Murray took the injury and we have seen Kingsbury and Joseph struggling to adjust or be able to develop a gameplan from there.

Arizona?

They’re 8-8.

And in that way, it feels fitting. It feels fitting that fans have zero idea of what to make of this team and its leadership.

They’re not awful...but not good either.

The reputation of the 8-8 Cardinals will be hinged on not the 6-3 start, but rather how they gave up well over 700 yards to backup quarterbacks and couldn’t score more than a touchdown in each game down the stretch.

What’s to come?

More questions. And a lack of faith in the front office, coaching staff and even some of the leaders like Kyler and more.

It means that this offseason is exposing, in my opinion, the fact that the Cardinals are still a team that never truly rebuild from 2018 where they needed to clean house, trade picks and players and put a premium on adding talent rather than trying to work with the dwindling talent they still had in Peterson, Johnson and Fitzgerald.

And if they’re going to get out of this labyrinth, they’re going to need more than what they have had right now.

It’s perhaps the most maddening team that Cardinals fans have had in recent years.

Dave Pasch: “This is the most heartbreaking season I’ve had in 19 years. There must be change.”

That about says it all.

And it goes without saying that if Arizona DID clean house...I don’t think fans would be mad given just how they’ve begged for accountability.

It’s about time they get it.