ARIZONA CARDINALS

One word for the 2016 Cardinals: Disappointing

Dec 11, 2016, 5:27 PM

Arizona Cardinals inside linebacker Sio Moore (54) tackles Miami Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi (2...

Arizona Cardinals inside linebacker Sio Moore (54) tackles Miami Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi (23), during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 11, 2016, in Miami Gardens, Fla. The Dolphins defeated the Cardinals 26-23. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

(AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

It’s officially over; what a disappointment. It’s hard to believe that this Cardinals team that made it to the NFC Championship game last season and entered this year as a Super Bowl favorite, will not be playing meaningful games in the final three weeks of the season.

Next week’s home game against New Orleans means nothing.

The following week at division rival Seattle means nothing.

The finale at the Rams? Wake me when that one is over.

We are left to figure out what went wrong, how it went wrong and why it went wrong. Plenty of blame to go around, including coaching. But let’s be honest: the 2016 Arizona Cardinals team was just not very good. You can say all day long that they had the talent, but plenty of teams have talent and don’t win. The Cardinals are now just another one of those teams.

Obviously, the “un-special” teams was a disaster again Sunday. No play summed up the Cardinals season more than a bad snap, blocked extra point that was returned for two points by Miami after the Cardinals had closed within 21-15.

Someone needs to lose their job over what is without a doubt the worst special teams unit in the National Football League. Heads need to roll. This is inexcusable and I don’t care how long Coach Bruce Arians has been with Amos Jones – his time is up.

There was an extra point missed, a 41-yard field goal that was no good when it hit the upright, the blocked extra point returned for two points and, of course, the huge 20-yard punt return by Jarvis Landry that gave Miami the ball inside Cardinals territory with 1:30 left that set up the game-winning field goal.

Miami tried to give the game away. The fact that the Cardinals had the ball and a chance to win with under two minutes left was a miracle.

Landry ran into his own player on a punt return to cough up the ball at midfield when the Dolphins were about to put the game away ahead 21-9, and getting great field position. Then, with Ryan Tannehill knocked out of the game and for the season after a low hit by Calais Campbell, the Dolphins got conservative with backup quarterback Matt Moore and had two consecutive three-and-outs. That was enough for Arizona to score two touchdowns and a two-point conversion to tie the score.

After a third consecutive three-and-out with Moore behind center, Arizona had the ball at their own 25 with 1:55 left and a chance to steal one on the road to keep their slim playoff hopes alive. But on the first play, Carson Palmer fumbled the ball for the third time in the game for a loss of six-yards, putting the Cardinals in a huge hole that led to a three-and-out, giving Miami a final chance.

With that final chance, Miami turned Moore loose on Justin Bethel — smart! Bethel may be a great special teams player, but he can’t cover anyone.

Moore hit Stills for 12 yards with Bethel covering him and then hit Stills again for 29 yards with the same coverage.

Still, Miami almost choked it away.

They ran a play from the Cardinals three-yard line with 10 seconds remaining in which Moore fell down on the hand off to Damien Williams, who then used up about eight seconds going nowhere. Miami was fortunate to get a timeout with one second left.

The Cardinals got a lot of breaks in this game, but they didn’t get the last one. Chip shot field goal by the Dolphins, and it was game, set, match.

No need to scoreboard watch anymore. It doesn’t matter what the Giants, Redskins, Lions, Packers, Vikings, Bucs, Falcons or anyone else does. The Cardinals are no longer in the column that reads “In the Hunt”.

Arizona will need to play hard against Seattle, because they are playing for something and you owe it to the teams that are chasing them for the No. 2-seed.

There’s no need to go all out versus New Orleans or Los Angeles, but that doesn’t mean you don’t play to win. However, it does mean you sit Tyrann Mathieu and anyone else who has a serious injury for the rest of the season, you limit some of the load from David Johnson, you play Drew Stanton some to take some of the hits off of Palmer, you experiment with a new punter and allow some of the rookie class to get some reps.

Palmer has not been good this year. He has been hit way too many times. Give him all the credit in the world for hanging in there and playing tough, but he has made bad decisions all year long. Not just the turnovers, but on Sunday he took an unnecessary sack for a 10-yard loss on 3rd and 2 that led to Catanzaro’s miss from 41 yards. Too many times he has held onto the ball instead of playing smart and throwing it away.

This season was supposed to be special. Now, all we are left with is the possibility that this was the most disappointing season that any Arizona professional sports team has ever had.

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One word for the 2016 Cardinals: Disappointing