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Rapid Reactions: Cardinals roughed up in blowout loss to Rams

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray sits on the turf after a sack during the first half of an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Rams, Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

From start to finish, the Arizona Cardinals were outplayed by the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday.

Falling 34-7, the Cardinals were stymied on both sides of the ball, posting their worst offensive output of the season, while the defense was shelled by a Rams team coming off a blowout loss to the Baltimore Ravens in Week 12.

The defeat also marked one of Kyler Murray’s worst performances as a pro, throwing for just 163 yards and an interception for a 56.4 passer rating, as the offense managed to convert just two of its 13 third-down attempts.

Here are the rapid reactions from the 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station staff:

Doug Franz, co-host of Doug & Wolf

Patrick Peterson got blocked by a quarterback.

Another tight end set a career high in yards.

The offensive line was offensive.

The Rams GM put better players on the field than the Cardinals GM. The Rams coaches put their players in better position to make plays than the Cardinals coaches. The Rams players cared about doing their job more than the Cardinals players did.

Remember when the Cardinals lost to the Panthers in the NFC Championship game? That was the end of the 2015 season and the Cardinals haven’t been above .500 since.

John Gambadoro, co-host of Burns & Gambo

That was pathetic. A complete and utter embarrassment. That was the gameplan you came up with off the bye week? I think I say this every week — this defense is Trash. But this time the offense joined the defense. I guess misery needs company. Both units were so awful you have to question if there was any desire to play today.

I mean the reality is the Rams aren’t that good this year. They were clobbered on MNF by the Ravens last week. They likely won’t make the playoffs. Goff was being questioned so was McVay. I guess all they needed was a heavy dose of some Cardinals defense to make everything right.

Look Arizona has been competitive in almost every game this season so this may be an outlier. And even with the record there has been a belief that some good things are happening, that the future is bright. But a clunker like that is hard to ignore. Is this the game that can cause heads to roll? The Cardinals situation is delicate — a work in progress for sure — but delicate. It has to be when you are 3-8-1 and on a 5-game losing streak. This team can’t afford to not play hard with that record. The truth is there are still more questions than answers for the Cardinals going forward.

This performance was unacceptable. Fans pay good money to watch this team compete and today the Cardinals did anything but. Next week better be better.

Vince Marotta, co-host of Bickley & Marotta

Coming out of a bye week, the Cardinals were eager to let everyone know what the coaching staff and front office would be looking for over the last five games of the season.

This wasn’t it.

In easily the worst performance of 2019 (and one, quite honestly, reminiscent of the nightmarish 2018 season), the Cardinals were manhandled in every possible way by the Los Angeles Rams 34-7 — and that score didn’t even indicate the level of dominance they reached on Sunday.

The Cardinals did nothing well. Their offense managed less than 200 yards and a single garbage-time touchdown.

On the other side of the ball, this continues to be the least resistant pass defense we’ve maybe ever seen. Jared Goff easily threw for 424 yards and two touchdowns. Receivers and tight ends ran free through the defense and Arizona did nothing to stop it.

If this last five-game stretch is supposed to be about evaluation, let’s evaluate. Here’s a question: outside of the quarterback (and Kyler Murray isn’t exempt from criticism — he was awful against the Rams), what other position do you feel confident that the Cardinals are set moving forward? The answer very well could be ‘none’ and considering this is the fourth consecutive ho-hum or worse season for this organization, that doesn’t bode well for the architect, general manager Steve Keim.

Maybe it’s time for the Cardinals to stop the generous running clock on the GM, thank him for making the Kingsbury-Murray thing happen and instead identify the next man that can build this team, which has another high first-round draft pick and oodles of free agency cap space to work with this offseason.

Dave Burns, co-host of Burns & Gambo

First things first: It had seemed over the last couple of weeks that the Cardinals would be inclined to keep defensive coordinator Vance Joseph for the sake of continuity. Today’s lackluster showing might have changed all that. This is not meant to absolve the offense in any way. Nor is it meant to absolve Steve Keim from his responsibility for putting this subpar collection of players on the field. But two weeks to tinker and prepare and this is the clunker that pulls off the lot? The Cards were the defensive equivalent of a slushee in the face of a Rams offense that had hit the skids as of late. Vance Joseph’s status just downshifted into questionable at best.

As for Keim, his personnel mistakes on defense get masked only when his offense is performing at a tantalizing level. That was certainly not the case Sunday. The Cards looked like a bunch of kids on the first day of school who forgot everything they learned during summer break. Kyler is still the quarterback and as long as he and Kingsbury continue to click it buys Keim more time to fix what’s broke on defense. When it doesn’t, and it didn’t on Sunday, it puts the attention squarely back on the GM.

As for Kingsbury, he has to be crushed. A five-game losing streak was the iceberg that even last year’s sinking ship was able to avoid. His confident declaration that the last five games would be a season onto itself fell on deaf ears and that has to sting. He was sure his team was ready for such a task. Instead they looked like the worst kind of December football team; the kind that is counting down the days until it’s over.

Luke Lapinski, host of The Rundown with Luke Lapinski

It’s never a good sign when the other team brings Blake Bortles into the game out of pity. That’s a fairly strong indicator things have gone horribly wrong. And it’s exactly what happened today.

Jared Goff didn’t have a single touchdown in the month of November. He erupted for 424 yards and a pair of scores today though, even throwing an open field block on Patrick Peterson at one point. Tyler Higbee had 26 catches for 212 yards all season, but he’s a tight end so, naturally, he looked unstoppable on his way to 107 yards and a touchdown on seven receptions today. And for as talented as Todd Gurley is, he’s had an up-and-down 2019 campaign. But he promptly ran through the Cards’ defense to the tune of 95 yards while finding the end zone too. Even on the plays where he didn’t have obscene amounts of running room, he routinely peeled off five yards at a time.

On the other side of the ball, Arizona’s offense just looked miserable. Like 2018-level miserable. Yes, the Cardinals have the same number of wins that they had last season but — other than today — they’ve looked like a significantly better football team. So now we’re left to wonder if this was simply an outlier, or something to be concerned about. I tend to believe it was an outlier but, at the same time, it’s hard to just completely overlook the most recent game when you’re trying to sell progress.

I’m firmly in the camp that a couple wins in this final month would go a long way towards building some positivity heading towards 2020. I’m done with the whole tank-for-a-better-draft-pick mentality because I’ve seen it fail too many times with other teams. Specifically one in this city. But if the Cards play like they did today again, winning too much won’t be an issue anyway.

Kevin Zimmerman, ArizonaSports.com editor and reporter

What positives could be taken out of this one? Was there anything other than punter Andy Lee pinning four of his seven punts inside the opponent 20-yard line? I don’t think so. The day was certainly Kyler Murray’s worst as an NFL quarterback and probably the coaching staff’s worse performance on top of it.

Above all else, the Cardinals defense took multiple steps backward coming off a bye week. Communication issues cropped up by the play and one-on-one battles from the line to the backend added to the incompetence. I didn’t think Arizona would be making any big-picture moves regarding the coaching staff during the year or the front office looking ahead to the offseason. That game makes me unsure about that feeling.

Tyler Drake, ArizonaSports.com editor and reporter

The Rams looked like the team coming off a bye, not the squad that just got embarrassed at home by the Ravens.

From the start, the Cardinals looked out of sorts and out of the game. Kyler Murray and Co. turned in easily their worst performance of the season, totaling less than 200 yards of total offense, but it’s the defense that keeps suppressing any good that comes out of Arizona week to week.

The Rams looked like a Super Bowl contender in Sunday’s blowout win, not a 7-5 team that’s had some questionable losses to the Buccaneers and Steelers in 2019. Jared Goff threw for more than 400 yards for just the second time all season, adding two touchdowns and a 120.7 passer rating to the victory.

And how many times must we watch an opposing tight end unload against the Cardinals? Tyler Higbee marked the latest TE to burn Arizona to the tune of seven catches for 107 yards and a score, which continues to highlight the glaring issues of the defense. At this point, the touchdowns are expected, which is never a good thing.

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