The Arizona Cardinals began the 2012 season 4-0. Since then they have lost five straight. What happened to the Cardinals?
First, Arizona was going to lose a game. The Cardinals have only had two winning seasons since 1999. Arizona’s 4-0 start was fool’s gold and most football experts knew it. Still a five game losing streak could not have been seen by anyone.
The Cardinals won early by playing strong defense and taking care of the ball on offense. Arizona held their first three opponents to under 20 points which is pretty good in today’s NFL. The Cardinals went into Foxboro, Mass. and dominated the New England Patriots in week two.
Despite their success, the Cardinals were living on the edge. With the exception of a victory over the Philadelphia Eagles all of Arizona’s wins had been close games that could have gone either way. The Cardinals were not playing well offensively as quarterbacks John Skelton and Kevin Kolb struggled. It was only a matter of time, before Arizona fell back to earth.
The Cardinals have fallen hard. The breaks that went for them in September did not in October. Skelton and Kolb have both been injured and an already shaky quarterback situation has gotten worse. With games against the 6-2 San Francisco 49ers and 6-3 Green Bay Packers, Arizona’s competition got a little tougher, also.
Some of the Cardinals struggles should not come as a surprise. They are not as good as San Francisco and Green Bay so probably were not going to beat them. Arizona is not a great team on the road and their first loss to the St. Louis Rams came away from home.
With that said, Arizona had put themselves in a very good position at 4-0. All they had to do was go 6-6 the rest of the season to win 10 games. A .500 record from October through December would have given the Cardinals a good shot at making the NFC playoffs.
By losing five straight all of that goes out of the window. The Cardinals now have a losing record and must concentrate on getting back to .500 before even thinking about the playoffs. By season’s end Arizona may be proof positive that a 4-0 start does not guarantee a playoff birth.
The Cardinals do not seem to have the answers for turning things around. Skelton and Kolb are not being protected by their offensive line. When they are the passing game is not clicking. The defense is doing its best, but has too much pressure being placed on it. This has been the story of Arizona football every season except for 2008 and 2009 when Kurt Warner was their quarterback. Warner hid a lot of weaknesses that existed before he arrived and have never been fixed.
The Cardinals 4-5 record should be no surprise. The team was going to fall back to the pack sooner or later.
The question probably should not be what has gone wrong, but how did the team ever start out 4-0?