Sunday, December 28, 2014

I Have No Real Reaction To This Result

So Arizona lost to the 49ers, 20-17. It doesn't really matter. Seattle dicked around for the first 3 quarters, but ultimately beat the Rams going away. So that, combined with Green Bay beating Detroit (because that's what the Packers do), locked Arizona into the 5 seed regardless.

On the positive side, Ryan Lindley had, by his standards, a not horrible day. He completed 23 of 39 passes, threw for 316 yards, and yes, kickstarted the Apocalypse by throwing 2 TDs. It only took him 230+ pass attempts, but he finally threw a touchdown. Of course, he also threw 3 INTs, so he was hardly spectacular. Arizona's run game didn't help too much, 98 yards, at less than 4 yards a clip. But the real culprit was the defense. San Francisco ran for 206 yards, and they let Frank Gore average 5.8 yards per carry. Larry Foote missed the game, but I can't believe that alone was the problem. I don't know if all the injuries are finally catching up, the guys left are just gassed, offenses have figured out what to exploit, or if they've lost hope. It's got to be draining to know you have no margin for error, because if you give up more than 14 points - and hell, against a team with Seattle's D, it's more than 7 -, you're probably going to lose, because the offense is mostly garbage.

Arians had originally announced Logan Thomas as the starter, then changed his mind by Friday. I don't really understand it. Sure, there's a good chance Thomas will be an awful QB - the great majority of quarterbacks drafted in the NFL are - but there was at least the possibility he'd be good. This is far and away the best performance of Lindley's career, and it was mediocre at best. Why not take the chance on the rookie? I mean, he's supposedly been learning this offense since you drafted him, how does he not know it well enough by now to start in an essentially meaningless game (seeing as Arizona had no real shot at getting the division title)? Seems like either a damning indictment of Thomas, or the coaching staff, if he's so shitty they think Lindley is the better option.

Anyway, it's off to Carolina, who absolutely trucked the Falcons in Atlanta to win the NFC South. The Panthers are on a 4-game win streak, but I don't know quite what their strategy is. Run a lot and trust the defense, I guess. Their defense returned two Matt Ryan INTs for touchdowns, and recovered a fumble. The Panthers had no defensive return TDs before this game, so they can't necessarily count on that helping them against Arizona. But if Arizona's run defense doesn't get back on track, it won't matter, because Carolina will just run all over them.

The Cardinals are going to be the underdog, and they're certainly capable of losing. They've done it 4 out of their last 6 games. But Carolina's hardly an unstoppable juggernaut. If Lindley (who I assume will still be starting) can replicate whatever produced the TDs, and eliminate whatever is the cause of his interceptions, Arizona might have a chance. I don't have the ranks updated for this week's games, but Carolina's was ranked 8th in rushing yards and 16th in yards per carry on offense, their defense is 19th and 28th, respectively in those categories. So maybe a lot of Kerwynn Williams (assuming Ellington isn't going to be ready). Carolina's pass defense is only 9th in yards allowed, and 18th in passing TDs allowed, so yeah, not sure I love Lindley's chances against that. But I wouldn't love his odds against a college defense. Oh, and tight end Greg Olsen is one of Carolina's two top pass catchers (the other being Kelvin Benjamin), and we all know how much trouble tight ends give Arizona's defense. We'll see if I'm pleasantly surprised.


Monday, December 22, 2014

Well That Sucked

I felt Arizona could win last night's game against Seattle, but to do so, they would probably need to replicate the formula they used in last year's Week 16 win over the Seahawks. Meaning the defense and special teams would need to make some big plays, the running game would need to be productive enough to control the clock, and there would have to be a couple of big (positive) plays in the passing game. Yes, the Cards had Palmer for that game last year, but he threw 4 INTs, and I was really only asking Lindley/Thomas to make a couple of good passes.

As it turns out, none of that happened. The defense got torched, the special teams did nothing special, the running game was non-existent, and Lindley made no plays, and was so bad people were joking he was too inaccurate to even be intercepted.

A blowout loss to a good team probably shouldn't be as depressing as it is, but it is. For one thing, I've been increasingly irritated by Seahawks' fans who were treating it as a given their team was going to win the division. It's actually impressive that it only took one championship for them to become as arrogant, entitled, and generally a bunch of dipshits as Patriots' fans. But now they probably are going to win the division, unless Arizona can beat a 49ers team that has largely rolled up its tents, and Seattle somehow loses at home to the Rams. I suppose the Rams could always replicate their dirty play from yesterday's game against the Giants. Maybe if they injure enough Seattle players, they could win. One can always hope, and yes, I've officially reached the point where I hate Seahawks' fans enough to want their players to get hurt, just to make them sad. Which isn't quite the level of hate I had for Dallas back in the '90s, since I actually disliked their players and coaches, but it's closer than I expected the Seahawks to get.

I really hate the bad timing. Why did this Arizona defense get saddled with this offense? Why couldn't their defense have been this good when they had the Warner/Fitzgerald/Boldin squad? This defense combined with that passing game would have obliterated that stumbling manchild mental defective/serial sexual assaulter that plays QB for the Steelers. But no, it's 2012 all over again, right down to Ryan Lindley's ineptitude. Bill Barnwell was suggesting the Cards might as well throw Logan Thomas in against San Francisco this week, just to get him ready, because at least Thomas has the arm to make the deep passes Arians' offense run on. Sure what the hell. He can't be any worse than Lindley, right?


Sunday, December 14, 2014

This Is Starting To Feel Like A Bad Joke

Good news, Arizona beat the Rams, 12-6. Kerwynn Williams and Stepfan Taylor combined for 29 carries and 136 yards. The Cards didn't turn the ball over, and forced 2 turnovers (though the second one was an INT on the final play of the game). Chandler Catazaro rebounded from missing two field goals last week, to make all 4 attempts this week. The defense held the Rams to 280 yards, 13 1st downs, and just four conversions on 15 3rd downs.

Bad news, Drew Stanton partially tore his ACL and MCL, so he's out for at least a month. And thus, the Lindley Signal went up! All other bad news is irrelevant next to that nightmare. The return of the guy I think is the worst Cardinals' starting QB of the last 22 seasons. Maybe that's an exaggeration, Arizona has had a lot of bad QBs. Max Hall, Horse Balls Anderson, John Navarre, Stoney Case, Shaun King, the dessicated remains of Jim McMahon. But at least those guys all managed to throw a TD pass occasionally, which is still not something Lindley can say.

I never wanted to see him on the field in a Cardinals' uniform again, but here we are. It's him or Logan Thomas. The kick in the nuts with a steel-toed boot, or the stomp on the nuts with golf cleats. Neither of those are very appealing options to face Seattle with next week, let alone lead them into the playoffs, but it's what they have. Thanks to the 49ers' inability to actually beat the Seahawks, the Cardinals' division lead is still only one game. The Cards understandably want homefield, and that bye week. The only way they get either is if they win next week, since a loss gives Seattle the tiebreaker over Arizona.

I guess technically Arizona could still pull it off if they went to San Francisco and won in Week 17, and Seattle lost at home to the Rams that week. Which. . . does not seem like the kind of series of events you want to bank on. I mean, San Francisco might roll up their tents by then, and the Rams will certainly play hard, but it's not optimal. So a must-win against the team playing better than anyone else in the NFC right now. No pressure or anything defense, but you really need to beat Russell Wilson to a pulp. Even more than you did a month ago.


Monday, December 08, 2014

Slightly Less Worried Now

OK, Seattle won, pretty easily in fact, but Arizona maintained the one game lead in the division by beating Kansas City, 17-14. Not a pretty win, but it seems unlikely that winning pretty is in their forecast at this point.

Arizona still only scored one touchdown, their normally reliable field goal kicker Chandler Catazaro, missed two field goals. They ultimately only held on because the refs said on review, that Travis Kelce fumbled before scoring a touchdown, and Arizona recovered the ball. Whatever works, though, right? The Chiefs did run for 126 yards, but 63 of those were on one Jamaal Charles touchdown run. Which means the Chiefs still averaged about 4 yards a rush on their other 16 carries. The run defense is starting to worry me a little. Maybe guys are tired, or the injuries are becoming too much. Or maybe it's just the quality of backs they're facing lately. The defense did pick off Alex Smith once, and sacked him 5 times, and they did not become the first team to let a Chiefs wideout score a touchdown this year.

Stanton, well, he only completed half of his passes, but he threw for over 200 yards, so the Cards remain committed to chucking the ball downfield. Too late to change even if they wanted to, I guess. The real good news offensively was they ran for 141 yards. Kerwynn Williams ran for exactly 100 yards on 19 carries, which isn't something I expected, to put it lightly. We'll find out shortly whether that was a fluke, because they face the Rams in St. Louis on Thursday night. The Rams are doing quite well, and Arizona barely beat them last time (score to the contrary), so this could be rough.