A reasonably reassuring first half soon gave way to a second half blowout for the Arizona Cardinals in Mexico City on Monday night.
The San Francisco 49ers took care of business and outperformed the Cards in every conceivable way in the second half and go back to California with a 6-4 record and in first place in the NFC West.
The Cardinals on the other hand have dropped to 4-7 and the chances of salvaging the season seem infinitesimally small at this point.
Disappointing performances across the board contributed to the collapse and ultimate loss and no position group will come out of this report card untouched.
Secondary - C
The Cardinals secondary on Monday was not playing at its best, but featured at least one highlight player that deserves credit.
Byron Murphy Jr. was out and the remaining cornerbacks actually played semi-decent football considering the series of failures happening all around them. In particular, Marco Wilson had what might have been one of the best games of his young career with 2 passes defensed. Wilson showed up around the ball at the right times for most of the night.
Despite finishing as the team's leading tackler, Budda Baker had an uncharacteristically bad night. He missed several key tackles that led to big San Francisco gains.
Linebackers - C-
In the first half, Zaven Collins and Isaiah Simmons were zooming around the field and showing off the athleticism that brought them to Arizona in the first round of back-to-back drafts.
By the second half of the game that enthusiasm faded and was capped by a Zaven Collins injury late in the third quarter.
Pass rush from the outside linebacker position was almost completely nonexistent. Markus Golden has the moves, but completely lacks the closeout speed to be an effective pass rusher without a big name opposite him.
The Cardinals failed to register a single sack on Monday night for the third time this season.
Defensive Line - D
The 49ers figured out the lack of run defense in the second half and never looked back.
The Cardinals defensive line looked completely incapable of two key components to winning games:
- Stopping the run
- Getting interior pressure on the quarterback
J.J. Watt had a nice deflected pass, but that was nearly the only good thing this position group did on Monday night.
Running Backs - D
Nothing, and I mean nothing, could seem to get the running game going for the Arizona Cardinals.
There is certainly an argument that no running back could get going behind the offensive line performance seen last night, but James Conner certainly didn't help himself.
Rather than relying on his traditional downhill-style, Conner was caught up in some strange David Johnson-esque search for holes that never appeared.
Darrel Williams did nothing to open up the running game either and it seems more and more like releasing Eno Benjamin was a giant mistake. Who knew?
Wide Receivers - B
Out of all position groups, the wide receivers probably performed the best.
Of course, DeAndre Hopkins alone could raise the average of the group by a letter grade and he put together yet another impressive performance with 9 receptions for 91 yards. He was called for a taunting penalty that ultimately killed a good drive, but I can't blame him too much for that one. Pointing at opposing players should not be a penalty and NFL officiating should be ashamed of themselves for that one.
Greg Dortch also had a stellar game after Rondale Moore left the game after injuring his groin on the second snap.
Dortch finished with 9 receptions for 103 yards and continues to show that he deserves a regular spot on this team.
Even A.J. Green was resurrected and had 5 receptions for 50 yards.
Tight Ends - D
Not sure how much is really the fault of the players, but the Cardinals continue to show an unwillingness to use a tight end not named Zach Ertz.
Trey McBride had a handful of grabs for 14 yards but recently elevated Maxx Williams was only targeted one time.
A tight end had the chance the swing the game in the favor the Cardinals early, but Stephen Anderson let a beautifully placed ball from Colt McCoy fall through his hands in the end zone. That alone lowers the grade for this group a whole letter grade.
Offensive Line - F
I honestly can't even talk about this position group without getting angry.
Watch the tape. Even an F feels too generous for this group.
Quarterback - C
I don't place this loss on Colt McCoy.
Backup quarterbacks should not be expected to come in and put a team on their back to win. They are expected to do what it takes to not lose while other position groups step up their game until the franchise QB is back in the fold. Unfortunately, the Cardinals did not have a position group capable of doing that on Monday night.
McCoy did have a bad pass to Dortch in the third quarter that could have kept hope alive, but the entire game didn't hinge on that moment.
For the most part, McCoy did his job as the backup and the rest of the team faltered under pressure.
Perhaps the only silver lining is that any talk of quarterback controversy can be quickly put to bed and the fans can look forward to the return of Kyler Murray.
Thank you for making All Cardinals your number-one choice for Arizona Cardinals news, updates, analysis, and more. Be sure to give us a like on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more Cards content.