With Sunday approaching, the only thing standing between the Arizona Cardinals and their first playoff game since 2015 was the Los Angeles Rams rivals. Not even the completely healthy Los Angeles Rams team – but the one that was starting Former quarterback AAF Behind the center. Instead of taking advantage of their opportunity, the Cardinals lost their fifth time in seven matches and ended a once promising season, leaving the team facing more questions than answers.
Sunday’s competition presented a win scenario for both the Rams and the Cardinal, and each squad entered with major injuries. Arizona without recipients Larry Fitzgerald (thigh) and Christian Kirk (COVID-19 list) entered the squad, starting QB Kyler Murray had a lower leg injury suffered late last week from losing the 49ers. The Ram, meanwhile, was untapped by QB Jared Goff, who broke his right thumb last week against the Seahawks. So Los Angeles turned to reserve midfielder John Wolford, who had never appeared in an NFL match before Sunday.
But the Cardinals’ QB advantage quickly faded. Murray was knocked out early in the first quarter after injuring his ankle in the opening series of the match. Then Arizona switched to backup Chris Strefeller, Who previously played in the Canadian Football League and helped Winnipeg Blue Bombers Lift the gray cup In 2019. In three minutes, a playoff game suddenly fell into the hands of players who weren’t on the NFL roster last year.
Wolford’s first pass of the day was an interception, which constituted the only offensive touchdown for the entire match: a pass from Streveler back to Jonathan Ward, which gave the Cardinals an early 7-0 lead.
After that, the game became the property of defenses. Wolford had some success, completing 22 of 38 passes at 231 yards and picking one while adding six carriers for 56 yards. But Streefeller and the Cardinals’ attack seemed mostly stagnant, completing 11 of 16 passes for 105 yards, one drop, and an 84-yard pick-set scored by Troy Hill Rams. The Los Angeles rotation gave 12-7 lead entering the first half.
The Rams extended their lead to 11 early in the fourth quarter after a pair of field goals. Although Murray eventually returned and led the Cardinals into the red, driving was halted and Mike Nugent’s attempt to shoot field targets over 37 yards was blocked. It was a fight as much as the Cliff Kingsbury squad put in the rest of the afternoon, and their playoff aspirations – which seemed so realistic a few weeks earlier – were quietly faded.
With the season approaching, Murray was a favorite to be the premier league player due to how strong Arizona has appeared in its last three games of 2019. However, at the conclusion of the 2020-21 season, the opposite could be said of the Cardinals. Now the questions surrounding the Kingsbury team – along with his tenure – are mounting.
Kingsbury’s merits as head coach of the NFL were called into question when he was appointed in 2019, largely due to his track record as a coach for Texas Tech. He had amassed 35-40 career records but was counted due to his attacking acumen, It boasts high-powered airstrike crimes It was once led by the likes of Patrick Mahomes. Kingsbury’s first year indicated he was worth the adventure, due in large part to Murray’s development. And during the first seven matches of the season, when the Cardinal sped 5-2, that was true. But the Arizona Crime restrictions were also apparent during this stretch. And after the eighth week of the Cardinals, these restrictions became discouraging. Arizona went 3-6 in their last nine matches to finish the season 8-8.
As if the Cardinals’ record wasn’t already questionable enough, they scored four wins over humble NFC East and one more victory over airplanes. Arizona Week 7 Overtime victory over the Seahawks And him The tenth week is a victory over the Bills It was impressive, but the club’s level of play fell dramatically after that. The Cardinals entered Week 17 at number 20 in Outsiders Football DVOA Offensive Metric and 10 inches DVOA Defensive.
There is justification for allowing Kingsbury to continue to grow in the job. Such as SportsmanTed Nguyen Notice recently, the 41-year-old right away It restored the crime of cardinals to competence In his freshman year. Due to the shortening of the season, he didn’t get the time to build that momentum like he usually does. And while his crime made An impressive acquisition of large-scale star DeAndre Hopkins Last spring, his unit lacked any other prominent game makers and the offensive line wasn’t consistent. However, these cases are not exempt from Kingsbury’s playing slips, such as the fact that he is Hopkins is almost exclusively lined up on the left side of his formations It depends heavily on Murray Tracksuit. Sunday, in the third and 18th showdown of the 48-yard Los Angeles streak with five minutes remaining, Kingsbury requested speed option Murray immediately hit the ball back to Chase Edmunds, who swallowed it behind the goal line for a loss. Then, in a must-win game late in the 11th minute, Kingsbury shot the ball away. This kind of fatal game management bug has happened a lot this season.
“Part of it goes through it, and learns how to win,” Murray Tell Reporters after losing Sunday. “There are some other reasons I’m not interested in breaking down at the moment. [Missing the playoffs] It feels ugly. ”
Regardless, Sunday’s game – and this season – proved that the Cardinal still fell a step behind their NFC West peers. Playing quarterback in a must-win is something that few teams and coaches prepare for the mid-game. But judging by the start of Arizona’s season, and the relative ease of its schedule in the second half, it probably shouldn’t have found itself in the scenario it did. This Offseason offers an opportunity for Cardinals to upgrade their roster and continue building their attack around Murray. But whether or not they should be patient with Kingsbury is a fair question that should be asked. Expectations have been raised for the club. Kingsbury is a major reason this is, but this is also the reason why he will have to live up to these to get going.