Cardinals vs. 49ers: Arizona's Woeful Season Finally Comes to an End

Tyson LanglandNFC West Lead WriterDecember 31, 2012

December 30, 2012; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks (55) sacks Arizona Cardinals quarterback Brian Hoyer (6) during the third quarter at Candlestick Park. The 49ers defeated the Cardinals 27-13. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

It seemed like yesterday—the Arizona Cardinals were 4-0, their defense was outplaying its preseason expectations and Kevin Kolb was managing to do just enough to win games. Then reality set in after Kolb leaves the Cardinals' Week 6 contest against the Buffalo Bills. 

John Skelton comes in for a few weeks and manages to lose a few games. Ryan Lindley does the same for a little while before handing the keys off to Brian Hoyer this week against the 49ers. The best you can say about Hoyer is that he finally threw his first touchdown with the Cardinals. 

Frankly, it's just not a good time to be an Arizona quarterback.

Can you believe that the Cards won exactly one game after starting 4-0? That means they have lost 11 out of their last 12, downright atrocious numbers considering there were more than a couple winnable games during that stretch.

The problem was their offense couldn't stop turning the ball over nor convert a third down to save their life. If you can't score points, hold onto the ball or convert in crunch time, you might as well consider yourself dead in the water.

Coincidentally enough, those same problems plagued Ken Whisenhunt's team today against the 49ers. They lost the turnover battler 2-0, they were 3-of-12 on third down and they were out-possessed 36:03 to 23:57.

Mike Miller's offense was also 0-for-2 today in the red zone. Field goals won't cut it in this league, but it looks like that's what they have to settle for 60 percent of the time. Arizona finished the season with the second-worst red-zone scoring percentage at 40.0. 

Only the Kansas City Chiefs have a lower success rate, scoring a touchdown in the red zone a measly 27.03 percent of the time. Compare that to a top-flight offense like the Patriots, who have a 70 percent touchdown rate from within 20 yards.

Even though I could sit here and talk about Arizona's ineffective offense all night long, it wouldn't be completely fair because they still have a couple of young up and comers. Right tackle Bobby Massie has turned around his rookie season as of late and wide receiver Michael Floyd had a career game against a stout secondary.

Floyd was targeted a career high 14 times, and he caught eight passes for 166 yards. Moreover, he reeled in a 37-yard touchdown strike from Hoyer with under two minutes left to go. The touchdown grab didn't even end up being his longest catch of the day. 

Five plays earlier, he caught a 53-yard pass deep down the left side of the field. The big-play potential is there, but the million dollar question looms: Who is going to be playing quarterback going forward? Both Floyd and fellow wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald need someone who can simply get them the ball.

I don't feel as if Hoyer is the right choice heading into the offseason for Arizona. He may stick around in a backup capacity, but you get the feeling that they will bring a fresh face to the desert. That could be a veteran who hits the market or a young player they are sold on during the pre-draft process.

Chances are it ends up being a young player that wows them.

I'm not thinking first-round quarterback at this time; I'm leaning more towards a second or third-round type of quarterback. 2012 may prove to be a weak quarterback class, so the last thing the Cardinals want to do is over-draft and get burned yet again.