Two keys to a successful NFL offense are continuity and consistency.
Neither of those adjectives will be used to describe the 2012 Arizona Cardinals and it was never more evident than Monday’s lopsided 24-3 loss to the NFC West-leading San Francisco 49ers (6-2) at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale.
In dropping their fourth-straight, the Red Birds (4-4) never found an answer to the Niners aggressive defense which help Arizona to just seven net yards rushing.
“We’re not going to do very well if we keep running the ball like we did [Monday],” head coach Ken Whisenhunt told the assembled media. “We missed guys [to block] in the run game and you can’t do that. We have to get it corrected.”
The 49ers jumped out to a quick 17-0 halftime lead, essentially making the Cards one-dimensional for the entire second half. LaRod Stephens-Howling averaged less than one yard per carry on his eight attempts, netting only six yards.
“It was tough,” Stephens-Howling explained. “Their front seven did a great job and they had safeties in the box sometimes, so it was hard for us to adjust to it.”
It was also tough for quarterback John Skelton who sacked four times and under constant duress against one of the most talented fronts in the NFL. He finished with 290 passing yards, but threw 52 times, far too many for the balanced attack Whisenhunt prefers. Of the Red Birds 61 offensive plays, 52 were passes.
“It’s frustrating having to abandon the run game because they’re going to just drop back and rush four,” Skelton explained. “It’s frustrating. We’ve got to find a way to run the ball, even if it’s not effective. At least we’re keeping them honest.”