49ers vs. Cardinals: Arizona's Biggest Winners and Losers from Week 17
After three dreadful months, the Arizona Cardinals' season ended nearly the same way their previous 12 games did.
A double-digit loss to San Francisco puts an end to what was another disappointing year.
The Cardinals had a lead early in the contest, and it was just a one-point game at the half. The 49ers would pour it on in the second half, however, clinching the division and earning a first-round playoff bye.
With nothing but pride on the line, we were able to see a lot of new faces in this one. Some of them played well, while others played like second and third-stringers.
Here are the Cardinals' biggest winners and losers coming out of their 27-13 loss to San Francisco.
Winner: Brian Hoyer
The quarterback carousel that has taken place in the desert over the past few years has been flat-out embarrassing. Every possible statistic that you don’t want to see for your team is in the books for the Cardinals.
Arizona has gone through many guys as of late, and its most recent signal-caller is former Patriot and Steeler backup Brian Hoyer.
Prior to this week, the 27-year-old had not started a game in his four-year NFL career. He has had a few reps in the past, but had thrown just one pass since the start of 2011 before coming to the desert.
Although he did not light up the stat sheet, Hoyer put up respectable numbers for his first career start and played much better than what we have seen over the past few weeks.
Brian Hoyer went from free agent to starter, played better than expected, ended his year on a positive note and deserves to be in the winners column this week.
Loser: Beanie Wells
Facing the media is never an easy thing. Players are asked questions that are meant to make them say something controversial.
I have no problem with someone making a sarcastic comment or a joke to a reporter, but it gets to a point where players are talking out of place.
Arizona running back Beanie Wells is a prime example of this.
Last week, he was asked if he thought his days in the desert were numbered. Wells responded by saying “oh, without a doubt. It’s inevitable.” He would also add that he would be “auditioning for a job somewhere else” in Week 17.
That audition would never come for the former first-round pick. Beanie stood on the sidelines and watched William Powell carry the load.
Have fun finding a new job, Mr. Wells.
Winner: Michael Floyd
Statistically, it has been a rough year for Michael Floyd. Many fans were expecting a big year from the rookie, but he has not delivered.
Heading into this week, the 23-year-old wideout had just 37 receptions for 396 yards and a touchdown.
People were starting to look at him as a bust and failed to realize the contributions he made and how much he progressed each week.
His quality run blocking and a couple of circus catches highlighted the season for Floyd going into Week 17.
The Notre Dame standout would prove worthy of that first-round pick, shredding the San Francisco defense in this game.
He was targeted 14 times this past Sunday, caught eight passes for 166 yards and scored the Cardinals' only touchdown of the day.
With Floyd, Larry Fitzgerald and Andre Roberts, Arizona has a lot to look forward to at the wide receiver position heading into 2013.
Loser: The Pro Bowl
There is no way around it: The Pro Bowl is a joke. The game being slow paced and high scoring is expected, but the selection part of it has a ton of room for improvement.
Each year, there is a list of snubs from each conference, some of which are obvious. This year, the obvious snub is Cardinals linebacker Daryl Washington.
Sure, the team struggled and there is a lot of competition at his position, but he was arguably the best inside linebacker in the game this year, and it is a shame that he was not invited to Hawaii.
Washington finished third among all middle linebackers in solo tackles, forced two fumbles, recovered one, had five passes defended and an interception.
What sets him apart from everyone else is his pass-rushing ability. He finished first at his positions in sacks for the second year in a row.
He had 5.5 in 2011 and nine this season. This is three more than the second-place Lawrence Timmons and twice as much as the third-place Dannell Ellerbe.
Daryl Washington capped off the year with a huge performance in Week 17. The NFL should go back to the drawing board and reconsider its strategy when it comes to who gets in the Pro Bowl.
Winner: Dave Zastudil
It really is crazy how things change in the matter of a year. Last season, Dave Zastudil was just your average run-of-the-mill player. Fast forward 12 months, and he is one of the best punters in the NFL.
He has set career highs in punts (112), yards (5,209), punts inside the 20 (46) and average yards per punt (46.5). He also had the longest punt of his career this past Sunday, sending one down field for 70 yards.
Zastudil had another solid game in Week 17, punting the ball six times with an average of over 50 yards per kick. He had a touchback and two punts downed inside of the 20 as well.
At 34 years old, the Cardinals punter has been around the NFL for a while. He has played for three teams over 10 seasons and should be around for a lot longer if he keeps it up.
Loser: Ken Whisenhunt
It is one thing to have a bad season; it happens. However, it is much different when you lose control of a team the way coach Ken Whisenhunt has this year.
Starting with the larger-scale incidents, we have had three starters lose faith in Coach Ken and come out and say that they are unsure of their future in Arizona.
As mentioned earlier in the article, Beanie Wells talked about auditioning for other teams and also said that he did not agree with Whisenhunt's call to bench him. Adrian Wilson and Darnell Dockett have also questioned their roles on this team.
Whiz has a history of having beef with certain players, but this year, it has gone much deeper than that.
Former Cardinals quarterback Rich Bartel has taken to Twitter recently to express his feelings on the current state of the club. During the 49ers game, he had this to say:
if the backups are the excuse for the terrible season, then the man who picks the backups and the men who coach the backups are accountable.— Richard Bartel (@RichBartel) December 30, 2012
These type of comments show that the problems on the Arizona coaching staff go much deeper than with just a few of the players. Your time is up, Ken.