Inside The Numbers: A Look At The Arizona Cardinals Collapse

There’s an old saying in football that says no matter how bad a team is, they always get up and play their hardest in games against division rivals.

Apparently, the Arizona Cardinals never heard that saying before. Or they did and just didn’t care about it. Whatever it is, the Cardinals should be absolutely embarrassed for Sunday’s performance against the Seattle Seahawks.

It’s one thing to lose big on the road, it’s another to not even show up to play which is essentially what Arizona did yesterday.

The Cardinals are a far cry from the team that surprised a lot of people and started the season 4-0. They have lost nine straight games and have an offense so anemic that a Pop Warner team could seemingly shut them down.

But before we look at this unbelievable string of losses, let’s look at just how they managed to start 4-0 in the first place despite being so bad.

It’s not like the Cardinals just started playing poor during the season, they’ve been bad since week one.

Dec 9, 2012, Seattle, WA, USA; Arizona Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt walks off the field following a 58-0 loss to the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

In the first four games, the Cardinals, despite being out-gained by an average of 357-271 per game, somehow outscored their opponents approximately 23-15. They hit the 100 yard rushing mark once, and passed for more than 200 yards twice in their four wins. So how did they win anything?

Some will say it was defense, but despite the few breaks they got with takeaways, Arizona’s defense wasn’t that good either.

They gave up 101 rushing yards per game in the first four weeks, and allowed 256 passing yards per game as well. Aside from some takeaways at random moments of the game, and often with the game in hand, saying that the Arizona’s defense played well in its wins just really isn’t the case.

The real reason they actually won some games? They were getting the breaks and bounces to go their way when they needed them the most.

The prime example being week two against the New England Patriots.

The Cardinals tried their hardest it seemed to lose that game. Whether it was allowing the Patriots to score 9 straight points in a four minute span and needing to stop a two-point conversion to maintain the lead, or Ryan Williams fumbling on 3rd and 13 with 1:10 remaining to give the Patriots the ball at the Arizona 30 with a chance to win on a field goal, Arizona just seemed to want to give games away. But for whatever reason, the breaks went the team’s way, and they were able to put together a 4-0 start to get their fans hopes up after the team won five of their last six games in 2011 to finish 8-8.

Now, the team has lost nine straight games by an average score of 26-11, and it’s not as if the stats have some drastic downfall. In fact, they’ve had more games in which they’ve totaled more yards on offense (four) than they had in their four wins (zero). So, the reality is that the offense actually played better in four of the team’s losses than it did in all four of their wins.

Still, they are the league’s worst ranked offense in terms of points, yards, and rushing yards. They are 28th in the league in passing yards, and have only thrown for more than 300 yards once this year — week 12 against St. Louis.

Arizona has given up 158 rushing yards per game during its nine game skid. That’s 57 more yards per game than they gave up on the ground in its first four outings. However, they have only giving up 171 passing yards per game during this stretch, 85 yards fewer than in their wins. A lot of that has to do with Patrick Peterson turning into a solid cornerback. But other than that, the defense is just as bad, if not, worse than what is was when it was winning.

They are no longer getting more takeaways as their opponent, as their turnover margin is minus-4 during their nine game losing streak. They were a plus-4 over the first four weeks.

Blame it on coaching, personnel, luck, or whatever. The fact of the matter is, the Arizona Cardinals are an awful team that, if they played, could probably lose to the lowly Kansas City Chiefs.

 

Topics: Arizona Cardinals, NFC, West

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