For Arizona Cardinals fans, waking up on Sundays in the fall is like Bill Murray waking up on February 2 in Groundhog Day.
Even if you didn't watch the Cardinals lose to the New Orleans Saints 31-7 yesterday, you've probably seen this game already -- many times. See, Bill Murray eventually wakes up on February 3, but here's how to recognize the Cardinals' Groundhog Day:
So, the Cardinals don't lose every game, but they do lose most of them. No team in NFL history has lost more than the Cardinals (712), and only one team has a worse winning percentage in NFL history. With exception of the three-year Kurt Warner era, the Cardinals have had one winning season since moving here for the 1988 season. In other words, in 25 years in Arizona, the Cardinals have 19 losing seasons, three winning seasons, and three 8-8 seasons. Cardinals fans know all about losing.
4.) Mediocre quarterbacking
Unless Carson Palmer suddenly starts playing stellar football, he'll join the long list of QBs who have been disappointing since the departure of Kurt Warner: Derek Anderson, Max Hall, John Skelton, Kevin Kolb, Ryan Lindley, and Brian Hoyer. We won't even mention the quarterbacks who played between Warner and Jake Plummer, who left town after the 2002 season.
Yesterday, Palmer was 18-for-35, with 187 yards, no touchdowns, and two interceptions. That's not exactly how football games are usually won.
3.) A one-man pass defense
Yet again, Patrick Peterson did mediocre-to-good as the Cardinals top cornerback. His primary matchup was Marques Colston, who had five catches, 71 yards, and no touchdowns. He was targeted eight times. Not bad, considering Drew Brees threw 46 passes, completing 29 for 342 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception (to Honey Badger). As usual, that means everyone else in the secondary got lit up. Jerraud Powers got smoked by Robert Meachem for a touchdown. Everyone who tried to defend tight end Jimmy Graham got smoked, as Graham had 134 yards receiving and two touchdowns.
As you may recall, before Patrick Peterson, the Cardinals had this same situation. Anyone remember who played the other cornerback spot opposite Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in the Super Bowl year? Anyone? (Roderick Hood.)
2.) Running doesn't work
A good day running the football for the Arizona Cardinals is about as rare as Bigfoot. Yesterday, the running game actually worked well, but there were only 16 rush attempts, for 86 yards. Six of those rushing attempts were on the Cardinals' only touchdown drive. Imagine that.
The Cardinals had 10 more drives the rest of the day, and five of them featured zero rushing attempts. That's not how you keep a defense off the field.
Most of the time (like, for years now), the Cardinals haven't rushed the football because they couldn't. But no matter what, there's never a good day rushing by the Cardinals. (OK, OK, November 27, 2011.)
1.) Offensive line play (Surprise!)
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Bet you didn't expect this one (kidding). The O-line has been horrible for quite some time. If you were to check out both of Palmer's interceptions yesterday, you'd see that there's a Saints defensive lineman inches from Palmer, and a Cardinals offensive lineman several feet away from him, with that Steve Urkel "Did I do that" look to him.
Perhaps all of these bad quarterbacks have been unfairly judged because they don't have more than a few nanoseconds before they're about to be eaten alive on every play. We'll never know.
Our prediction for next week: The Cardinals, playing in Florida against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, have a decent chance of losing, but you can definitely note that Carson Palmer will be just fine, Buccaneers receivers not named Vincent Jackson will do pretty well, the Cardinals will rush for a few yards, as the offensive line holds up like a shower curtain against a pack of raging bulls.