It's hard for me to elaborate on the hot, stinking wet turd the Arizona Cardinals took on the national stage last night against the San Francisco 49ers on Monday Night Football. A lot of people have a wealth of angry passion after losses like this, but I tend to wallow in a deep black pool of nihilism that saps my creativity. Needless to say (though I will say it anyway), that was embarrassing for everyone involved.
If the Cardinals can't get themselves together for a Monday Night Football game against their hated rivals in the (supposedly) friendly confines of University of Phoenix Stadium, then I don't see how this team will get themselves together for the remainder of the year. This is a team, my good blog e-friends, that will finish 3-13 barring some kind of disaster that shatters their sweet dreams of Andrew Luck. Yes, I believe they will lose to the Carolina Panthers.
I realize that bloggers are often prone to hyperbole, especially when discussing a hyperbolic league like the NFL, but there was literally nothing good that came out of Monday's game, as far as the Red Birds are concerned.
- The Cardinals couldn't even last one play from scrimmage without failure. On their very first offensive play, Derek Anderson fumbled a handoff to Beanie Wells (or vice versa). Either way, after forcing the 49ers to attempt a field goal on their opening drive (which they missed), Arizona could not make anything of it. And guess what? The 49ers scored a touchdown on the first play after the fumble recovery.
- It what is perhaps the most astounding stat of the game, Arizona gained only 13 total rushing yards on 11 rushing attempts, for an awesome 1.2 yards per carry. That includes five runs for zero yards for Tim Hightower. And Beanie "I Need The Ball More, Guys" Wells, although only getting the ball five times, managed only 13 yards. As a nice little contrast, the 49ers nabbed 261 yards on 47 carries, including 136 yards from zombie Brian Westbrook.
- Is it possible to take anything meaningful from this season? By that, I mean is it possible to accurately gauge the talent on this team, given that everything seems to be spectacularly falling apart from every which angle, no matter how obtuse or acute? To the outside observer, it would seem that the roster should be completely blown up. Almost everyone on the team has been severely under-performing. I'll give passes to Steve Breaston, LaRod Stephens-Howling, Paris Lenon, Jay Feely, and Ben Graham -- there's maybe a couple others. But really, the entire team can't be as terrible as this team's collective play would suggest. GM Rod Graves and coach Ken Whisenhunt are going to have a hell of a time evaluating this team after the season is over. They should probably take hard, heady looks at previously-valuable Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Beanie Wells, Calais Campbell, and Levi Brown, in particular. All of those guys have failed to live up to hype and expectation. I would hesitate to add Darnell Dockett and Adrian Wilson to that list, but they've been pretty ineffectual, as well. What was once expected to be a talented core has been rotten this year. How much is the personnel and how much is the situation? Have fun, FO.
- The team's leadership remains absolutely suspect. Arizona's veteran leadership was lauded prior to the season, particularly on defense where Dockett, Wilson and Joey Porter were expected to keep things running. Well, all leadership for this team has corroded and collapsed. There is no fight, no will, no instinct for self-preservation any longer. That falls on Dockett, Wilson, Porter, Anderson, Larry Fitzgerald, Alan Faneca, Lyle Sendlein, Ken Whisenhunt and Bill Davis. They've all failed as tourniquets for the excessive bleed that is the 2010 season.
- So far, so close after the painful loss, Whisenhunt is pointing to the short week before Sunday's game against the St. Louis Rams, and indicating that there will be no changes in personnel. At this point, I don't see how you can keep starting Anderson. He's a mess and the Cardinals season is essentially over, as far as the postseason goes. Anderson will not be around next year. Will Max Hall or John Skelton? Time to find out. Right now, you can't worry about trying to win out, because it doesn't matter. The only place it will get you is to a purgatory between drafting high and making the playoffs, where you get neither. The final five games of the season should be played with an eye toward developing talent. But, this season, Whisenhunt seems especially resistant to facing reality.
- Even though this blog has been pretty negative, I'm surprisingly okay with Anderson and Deuce Lutui laughing on the sideline. You have to maintain some levity in situations this bad, and some gallows humor is not inappropriate. Maybe I'm wrong; maybe they were laughing about how unflattering gold looks on Patrick Willis, but I'm pretty sure they were just trying to keep their heads out of the black hole this team is swimming in. It is just a game after all -- fans tend to feel that sports are their lifeblood and that the wealth and power of countries and the health of their families are dependent on the outcome of MNF. Alas, that is not the case. But, regardless, Anderson's post-game rant was a little ridiculous. Stop being a baby. You can't whine about criticism when you're so poor at your job.