How the Arizona Cardinals Completely Self-Destructed in 4 Weeks

Jamal CollierAnalyst IIIOctober 30, 2012

GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 11:  Quarterback John Skelton #19 of the Arizona Cardinals fumbles the football as he is tackled by Aldon Smith #99 and Dashon Goldson #38 of the San Francisco 49ers during the second quarter of the NFL game at the University of Phoenix Stadium on December 11, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Arizona Cardinals started off the 2012 NFL season with an impressive four-game winning streak over the Seattle Seahawks, New England Patriots, Philadelphia Eagles and Miami Dolphins.

That all seems so distant after four straight losses against the St. Louis Rams, Buffalo Bills, Minnesota Vikings and San Francisco 49ers.

The four teams that Arizona beat this season have a combined record of 16-14; the four that the Cardinals lost to have a combined record of 17-14—not exactly a huge difference.

What has been the difference for the Cardinals this season was the presence of Kevin Kolb under center. John Skelton won the job in the preseason, but was injured in the first game of the year. Kolb took over and led the team to victory on 6-of-8 passing for 66 yards and a touchdown in relief duty.

After three more wins, Kolb was roughed up by the Rams, getting sacked nine times on Thursday Night Football in Week 5.

That’s where the wheels fell off, and more quarterback instability has plagued the Cardinals ever since.

Arizona gave up five sacks at home in the following week, eventually losing Kolb to injury in the team’s loss to the Buffalo Bills.

Skelton wasn’t sacked, but he went 2-of-10 passing with an interception and the losses snowballed from there. The defense essentially stopped stopping people and the offensive line hasn’t stonewalled any team’s pass rush.

Adrian Peterson continued his ACL Comeback Tour against Arizona in Week 7, rushing for 153 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries. The Cardinals gave up 5.5 yards per carry combined against the Bills and Vikings in back-to-back weeks.

Skelton was sacked seven times by Minnesota and four more by the 49ers on Monday Night Football in Week 8. He hasn’t had a turnover-free game yet this season.

Arizona then abandoned the run in a comeback effort against San Francisco and finished the game with just seven rushing yards as a team—on an average of 0.8 yards per carry.

Meanwhile, Alex Smith enjoyed one of his finest days as a pro. The former No. 1 overall pick finished with 18 completions on 19 attempts for 232 yards and three touchdowns.