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What Remains of the 2010 Season for the Cardinals

Many people will want to blame this season on Derek Anderson's inability to move the offense, but the entire team is on the hook for this season's shortcomings

I’ll be honest.  I thought the Cardinals were going to win the division.  I’ll go even further and admit that I believed the Cardinals would be a 9-7 team, even after Derek Anderson took over for Matt Leinart.  It’s not that I had confidence in Anderson, I thought that the remaining players that Arizona had left over from the 2008-2009 Super Bowl team would be able to compensate for the team’s shortcomings.  I had faith in a core comprised of Darnell Dockett, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Adrian Wilson, Larry Fitzgerald, and Steve Breaston.    Instead of these leaders lifting the team up by picking up the slack, the team collectively compounded the shortcomings of this year’s squad.

When the Cardinals lost the heart-breaker in Minnesota in Week 9, you could at least say “Hey, they jumped out to a lead, but let a veteran legend at quarterback storm back and take the game away.”  When the Seahawks came into University of Phoenix Stadium the next week and gutted a heartless Cardinals team, it was clear that the season was forfeit.  Since that game, it’s seemed like a huge beating all rolled into one endless game.  Now that the Cardinals are 3-8 with no possible way to salvage their bid for a third straight division title, Arizona will be grasping to find some sense of accomplishment throughout the remainder of the 2010 season.

Apparently some of the Cardinals know what the rest of the season means and some don’t.  “It’s tough because you don’t know what you are playing for,” Darnell Dockett said.  “We are used to trying to get into the playoffs.”  Dockett’s lamentation about missing the playoffs is understandable, but anyone playing a competitive sport should never be confused about why they are playing.  Running back Beanie Wells apparently understands a little more than Dockett does.  “It’s about finishing strong, going out with a sense of pride,”  Wells said.  “Not letting anyone walk over us.”  Up until this point, however, that’s exactly what the Cardinals have allowed opponents to do.  Last night, the 49ers did anything they wanted on both sides of the ball.  If San Francisco played a cleaner game, the score would have been much more lopsided than it was.  It should have been.

Although the Cardinals aren’t mathematically out, they have no realistic shot at making the playoffs, weak division or not.  Obviously, the post-season is the only goal a team should have in mind, but with that out of the picture, the Cardinals must focus on other short-term goals.  They should include:

  1. Re-establishing a sense of pride.  This franchise has taken great steps forward under Ken Whisenhunt’s reign as head coach.  During the course of three quarters of one season, the winning attitude engendered in Arizona has been flushed down the toilet.  The Cardinals have reverted to taking the field once again with a losing frame of mind.  They don’t expect to execute and they don’t.  They don’t play with intensity and it shows.  For the remainder of the season, these Cardinals have to dig deep and at least play with a competitive edge.
  2. Give Max Hall a String of Starts.  I understand Whisenhunt’s reasoning not to make the switch to Hall on a short week, but clearly there’s no reason to start Derek Anderson beyond Week 13.  If the Cardinals don’t want to repeat the same mistake of heading into a season not knowing how they feel about a quarterback as they did with Leinart, Hall should get a nice long audition down the stretch.  If Hall starts Weeks 14-16, Whisenhunt and the Cardinals should get a good feel for exactly what Hall will bring to the table with a full off-season worth of preparation under his belt.  If they like what they see from Hall he can be their number one guy heading into the off-season.  If they don’t, there’s no reason to play around with Hall like they did with Leinart.
  3. Give Beanie Wells his carries. It’s also time to find out if Wells can be the 25+ carries running back.  There’s no reason to rely on passing the ball now.  In addition, there should be less emphasis about the score and racking up wins because there’s no way the Cardinals can run the table and get to 8-8.  As a result, it’s a great opportunity to give Wells plenty of carries to see what kind of production the Cards can get out him.
  4. Throw O’Brien Schofield and Daryl Washington back into the lineup.  Get those guys some game experience.  Schofield has been impressive in limited action.  Washington was thrown into the fire early in the season, but with the return of Gerald Hayes, Daryl has seen limited action in recent weeks.  Clearly, Washington and Schofield are the future of the linebacker core whereas Hayes, Lenon, Haggans, and Porter are aging veterans.   Arizona should give Schofield plenty of snaps to make up for the time he lost due to injury, assuming his ACL can handle it.  The same goes for Washington, who’s injury free.  Paris Lenon left Monday’s game with a bruised right knee anyway.  He’s been nicked up for the past few weeks.
  5. Audition someone other than Whisenhunt as play-caller.  Coach Whiz has not been so wizard-like in his play-calling this year.  In fact, it’s been down right terrible at times.  Why not give quarterbacks coach/passing game coordinator Chris Miller or offensive line coach/running game coordinator Russ Grimm a shot at play-calling.  If it works out, the Cardinals could possibly promote one of them to offensive coordinator for the 2011-2012 season.

These are just some of the goals that the Arizona Cardinals could accomplish during an otherwise “lost” season.  I think first and foremost the Cardinals must establish a sense of pride.  It’s no mistake that it’s listed first.  I understand that the Cards would like a high draft pick, but you never want a team to continue to roll over week after week.  It’s just not good for the franchise.  Hopefully, Arizona can find meaning in what remains of an extremely disappointing season.

Do you agree with my list of short-term goals?  Have any other ideas?  Let me know in the comments.

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2 Responses to “What Remains of the 2010 Season for the Cardinals”

  1. Larry says:

    I do thinkyour analysis is spot on but i would expand by revamping the coaching structure. they desperately need a good offensive coordinator and bill davis is not the answer on defense. I would also try to get Kolb from philly. I also think this team needs a taskmaster as a coach. not someone who understands so well. Would there be any laughing on coach Lombardi’s sideline if the packers were losing like that or would there be any losing like this at all??

  2. Will Brodsky says:

    Getting Kolb from Philly would probably be the best case scenario at quarterback, but I don’t see what the Cardinals could offer to make Philly bite. Is any amount of draft picks worth a possible franchise quarterback? Who could the Cardinals give up in terms of guys already on the roster?

    As far as Whisenhunt’s style, he’s definitely not a Lombardi type. He’s pretty emotionless as far as head coaches go. I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing, but it’s hard to deny that he’s lost most of the players at this point of the year. I only blame Whisenhunt for riding the fence on Leinart for so long. Most other problems this year are just what happens when you lose a hall of fame quarterback and a few other things go bad.

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