Usually I’m the movie guy; always at the ready with a line, character or scene from a flick that tries to sum up the typically misguided point I’m trying to make.
Today though, the Arizona Cardinals have me quoting Springsteen:
“You’ve got to learn to live with what you can’t rise above if you want to ride on down, down in through this tunnel of love.”
The song “Tunnel of Love” from the album Tunnel of Love is one big, giant metaphor for…well…love. But after the Cardinals lost to the Bills, it’s a line that also applies them and their fans. The Arizona Cardinals have to learn to live with what they can’t rise above. Cardinal fans have to learn to live with what they can’t rise above.
That would be the offense.
Oh I suppose if you want to bust out the microscope you could focus on the o-line. In the span of three weeks, they’ve allowed 22 sacks. Twice, in the span of six games, the cart was on the field to take the quarterback off it (though Kolb walked off on his own). If you pine to see Ryan Lindley in a game, rest assured, behind this line you’ll probably get your chance.
But it goes beyond just the line. It’s that entire unit. The constant struggle to get Larry Fitzgerald the ball. The fight to a) commit to running the ball and then b) actually running it once you have. The dropped passes. The poor passes. The wouldas squared plus the couldas squared equal the shouldas squared.
Think about it — the Cardinals scored 16 points against the Bills. Three came on a 61-yard field goal, three more on a short field after a fumble to start the game. Ten points against a defense that in the previous six quarters gave up 90.
The Cardinals are going to have to learn to live with what they can’t rise above, and what they can’t rise above is their offense. After the Patriots game I advised Cards fans to get comfy; this was how it was going to be all year long. The Cardinals offense simply wasn’t consistently good enough for it to be any other way.
Here we are a month later and nothing has changed. This is who they are. You want to love them? You’re gonna have to live it.
The easy path is to look at their schedule and project a slide. I said a week ago; the Buffalo game is the most winnable game on the Cardinals slate for the next month. Lose, and you’re standing at the edge of a cliff ready to plunge. And yet in a league where it feels like every game comes down to two or three plays I’m not so sure that’s the case.
A week ago the Niners were the BEST TEAM IN FOOTBALL. Today? Licking wounds. The presumed struggling Packers crushed the undefeated Texans. The Patriots couldn’t hold a huge lead against Seattle. The Falcons barely hung on against the lowly Raiders. The Cowboys statistically mauled the Ravens but lost. Everything about the Philadelphia Eagles defies a prediction. The entire AFC East is 3-3. The Cardinals use a 61-yard field goal to tie the game but can’t make a 38-yarder to win the football game.
This league is an Etch-A-Sketch. Draw a picture, shake it up, start over next week.
Predicting what will happen in this league isn’t like finding a needle in a haystack, it’s — as Tom Hanks said in Saving Private Ryan — finding a needle in a stack of needles. Based off this last weekend it would be foolish to think the Cards won’t win at least one of the next four games.