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Where Does The Cardinals’ Offensive Performance Against the Browns Rank Among The Worst of All-Time?

The Arizona Cardinals were on the road against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday. Going into the game it was understood that this would be an uphill battle for Arizona. Cardinals’ quarterback Clayton Tune was making the first start of his NFL career. This is a daunting task for any NFL player.

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Tune’s task was even more daunting than it already would of been because he was going against Myles Garrett and that Browns defense. Cleveland was only giving up 19.9 points per game going into this game against Arizona. The Cardinals were not able to climb that hill at all. They were dominated from the opening kick to the last second of the game. The Browns won the game, 27-0.

Clayton Tune Could Not Hit The Right Note

Tune went 11/20 for 58 yards and three turnovers. He was also sacked seven times for a loss of 41 yards. Tune only had a net gain of 17 passing yards. He finished the game with a quarterback rating of 20.8. The 32nd ranked player in quarterback ranking this season is New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones with a rating of 70.5.

The former University of Houston quarterback was not able to lead the Cardinals into a single scoring opportunity. Arizona did not attempt a field goal, there were no passes attempted in the red zone and no pass attempts that even fell incomplete in the end zone. How did Tune’s performance compare to some of the worst in NFL history?

Tune vs Ty Detmer

Tune turned the ball over three times against the Browns. This is not good but the NFL has seen much worse. On September 23,2001, the Detroit Lions took on the Cleveland Browns. Ty Detmer started that game for the Lions. He went 22/42 for 212 yards, one touchdown and seven interceptions. Yes, you read that correctly, he threw seven interceptions.

Detmer was going against a Browns defense that finished the year ranked 15th in the NFL in points given up. Ironically the Browns gave up 19.9 points per game that season which was the same amount this year’s Browns team was giving up going into the game against Arizona. Tune did a much better job of protecting the ball than Detmer did. Now, in fairness to Detmer, he was asked to pass the ball a lot more than Tune was. The coaches have to shoulder some of the blame as they continued to to put the ball in Detmer’s hands despite the turnovers.

Tune vs Ryan Leaf

Tune only completed 11 passes which is bad but not the worst. Ryan Leaf was the number two overall pick in the 1998 NFL Draft by the San Diego Chargers. In the third game of his NFL career it was clear that the Chargers made a mistake with that pick. Against the Kansas City Chiefs he went 1/15 for four yards and two interceptions. Leaf was only able to complete one pass!

Another thing that makes Leaf’s performance stand out is that their running back was good in that game. Natrone Means had 22 carries for 165 yards and a touchdown. Leaf had much more support in the running game than Tune did. Tune was the leading rusher for Arizona with 28 yards. The second leading rusher was Keontay Ingram with eight yards on nine carries.

Leaf was also protected more than Tune. Tune was sacked seven times compared to two for Leaf. Leaf had the help of a very good performance from his running back and good protection from his offensive line. Even with those advantages Leaf still only completed one pass for four yards.

The NFL has been around for more than 100 years and there are lots of bad performances to point to in NFL history. As bad as Tune was, this was not close to the worst performance of all-time from a quarterback. Ty Detmer and Ryan Leaf’s performances are just scratching the surface of all-time bad showings.

The Running Game

The Arizona Cardinals had 21 rush attempts for a total of 41 yards against the Browns. They averaged 1.86 yards per rushing attempt. 28 of those rushing yards came from scrambles by Clayton Tune. Keontay Ingram had eight yards on nine carries. Rondale Moore had four carries for three yards. Tony Jones Jr had three carries for two yards. How did this rushing performance compare to some of the worst in NFL history?

23′ Cardinals vs Old School

The Cardinals had one of the worst rushing performances of the modern era but it’s no where near the worst of all-time. The worst rushing performance of all-time happened on 10/17/1943. The Detroit Lions rushed for -53 yards on 33 carries against the Chicago Cardinals. The Lions actually won that game, 7-0.

The second worst rushing performance of all-time happened earlier that month. The Brooklyn Dodgers ran for -33 yards on 23 carries against the Phil-Pitt combine. The Dodgers lost that game, 17-0.

This was a different era in football where offensive yards were very hard to come by. How did the Cardinals awful rushing performance compare to some of the modern day performances?

23′ Cardinals vs  Mid 2000’s Lions

On November 11, 2007, the Arizona Cardinals held the Detroit Lions to -18 rushing yards on eight rushing attempts. Arizona won the game 31-21. The Cardinals’ defense was not good that season. They were 27th in points given up per game that season. Arizona was also ninth against the run. The Lions were having a decent year up to that point. The loss to Arizona was the beginning of a six game losing streak for Detroit.

That performance by Detroit was the worst of the modern era. Another game that stands out among the worst rushing performances of all-time was also the Detroit Lions. On 12/10/2006 the Lions ran for -3 yards on 10 carries against the Minnesota Vikings. Minnesota won that game 30-20.

In both of the worst rushing performances of the modern era, the Lions were able to score at least 20 points. How did the total offensive performance from the Cardinals compare among the worst of all-time?

Cardinals Total Offensive Performance

23′ Cardinals vs 79′ Seahawks

On November 4th, 1979 the Seattle Seahawks took on the Los Angeles Rams. The Rams defeated the Seahawks, 24-0. Seattle had a total of -7 yards in that game. Seahawks quarterback Jim Zorn went 2/17 for 25 yards and was sacked six times for a loss of 55 yards.

Seattle ran the ball 12 times for 23 yards. The Rams’ defense dominated the Seahawks offense unlike any other unit in NFL history. The Seahawks were only able to get one first down for the entire game. The Rams defense was good but not great that season. They finished the year with the 11th ranked defense. Los Angeles’ defense put it all together on that day to have the best defensive performance of all-time.

As inept as the Cardinals were against the Browns on Sunday. It was no where near as bad the Seahawks were against the Rams back in 1979. The Cardinals did actually gain 58 yards and get seven first downs. Tune was able to complete 11 passes compared to two for Jim Zorn. The physicality of the NFL game was a lot different back then so is there any offensive performances from this century that compare to what the Cardinals did on Sunday?

23′ Cardinals vs 21′ Bears

On September 26th, 2021 the Chicago Bears took on the Cleveland Browns. The Browns won that game, 26-6. The Bears gained a total of 47 yards in the game. Bears quarterback Justin Fields went 6/20 for 68 yards. He was sacked nine times for 67 yards. So, he passed for a net total of one yard.

Chicago also had lots of trouble running the ball. They ran for 46 yards on 13 carries. Unlike the Cardinals the Bears were able to gain yards with their actual running back. David Montgomery had 10 carries for 34 yards. Most of Arizona’s rushing yards against the Browns on Sunday, came from Clayton Tune scrambles.

As bad as the Bears were on that day, they found a way to score six points with no turnover help from their defense. Arizona was not able to get close to a field goal attempt against the Browns.

There are plenty of bad offensive performances throughout the history of the NFL. The Cardinals’ performance is definitely up there as one of the worst of all-time. They had the advantages of playing in 2023 where the rules of the game are made for offenses to flourish. They were also going against a defense that had given up 38 and 24 points respectively in their last two games. The Browns are a very good defense but not the 2000 Baltimore Ravens or 1985 Chicago Bears.

The Arizona Cardinals offensive unit should be ashamed of their performance. The coaches, quarterback, running backs, and offensive line. Anyone who had anything to do with this putrid display should be held accountable. This will forever be remembered as one of, if not, the worst performance by an offense in NFL history.

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