Bears vs. Cardinals: Turnovers and Poor Execution Plague Arizona at Home

Tyson Langland@TysonNFLNFC West Lead WriterDecember 23, 2012

Dec. 23, 2012; Glendale, AZ, USA: Arizona Cardinals running back Beanie Wells (26) fumbles the ball in the first quarter against the Chicago Bears at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

After two defensive touchdowns last week, the Cardinals cruised to a 38-10 victory over the Detroit Lions. Today, it was the opposition who did all the cruising—Beanie Wells fumbled six points away in the first quarter and Ryan Lindley gift-wrapped the Bears another six points with a poor third-quarter throw that Charles Tillman took to the house.

Fourteen points from the Bears defense would have been enough, considering the Cardinals' offense only managed six points on 14 offensive drives. Lindley played poorly enough to get himself yanked after his pick-six, and Brian Hoyer looked like a guy that they had just picked up off the street on December 10th.

Yet, in a two-week crash course, Hoyer actually played better than the rookie out of San Diego State. At times, he looked poised and under control of an offense that has seen awful quarterback play since Kevin Kolb departed in Week 6.

When he left during the Bills game he had eight touchdown passes and three interceptions. Since his departure, John Skelton, Ryan Lindley and Hoyer have combined for two touchdown passes and 17 interceptions. It's hard to win many games when the quarterback position has brought a whole new level of futility week in and week out.

Based on limited action action in today's game, it would be wise of the Cardinals to start Hoyer heading into Week 17. But head coach Ken Whisenhunt hasn't made a decision in regards to next week, so we probably won't know who will be under center against the 49ers until late next week:

Whiz said coaches need to process QB showings before making decision on starter for SF.

— Darren Urban (@Cardschatter) December 24, 2012

In addition to a dreadful passing game, Arizona was unable to get anything going on the ground against one of the league's best run defenses. Coming into Week 16 the Bears were allowing 109 yards per game on the ground, but that mark is set to improve after the Cards only managed a measly 29 yards on 19 carries.

Wells disappeared and was eventually banished to the bench after gaining three yards on four carries. Surprising considering he ran hard last week in a three-touchdown showing, but in true Wells fashion his inconsistent play crept to the forefront. 

The one and only bright spot came from wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald who posted his first 100-yard receiving game since Week 3. He saw a team high 12 targets and caught eight of those targets for 13.9 yards per reception.

With a stat line like that, all Arizona's coaches need to do is see who is tossing him the rock. Getting Fitz involved is the only thing Matt Miller's offense has going for it right now, yet it won't be able to score points and sustain drives without converting third-down opportunities—something it fails to do weekly.

On the season, it's the league's worst third-down offense at a 25.6 percent conversion rate, and today didn't prove to be any better as it went 3-of-15 on third-down conversion attempts.

Heading into Week 17, the Cardinals will be traveling to San Francisco to take on a 49ers team that is coming off an embarrassing loss on Sunday Night Football.

Will this be Ken Whisenhunt's last game in Cardinal red, or will he be back with the hopes of a turnaround in 2013?


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