As a child, years ago, I picked up a catchy saying that would wind up staying with me for the rest of my life. The saying goes: "If If’s and But’s were Candies and Nuts, oh what a Christmas we’d have!" I often find myself saying this to friends when they explain to me that, "If only the Cardinals had done this better…" or "if only they hadn’t gotten lucky then maybe..." So, in the spirit of catchy phrases and a long history of Arizona Cardinal If’s and But’s, each week I will bring to you my four festive categories appropriately titled: If’s, But’s, Candies, Nuts.
Here we go…
IFs: Honestly, I could probably write a thesis for my Master’s Degree entirely about all of the "If’s" surrounding the Arizona Cardinals’ lackluster performance in Week 14. I’ve been reading all about them since the moment the game ended. If only we hadn’t turned the ball over seven times. If only the referees had ruled Larry Fitzgerald’s catch on the one yard line as an actual catch. I could honestly go on and on. However, I have a brand new IF of the week (which I suppose may not be saying much since this really is my first post of this category, making all IF’s brand new) which I’ve never heard suggested but would love to see tried.
If only our offensive coaching staff were made to stand in the pocket and attempt a pass, while simultaneously being crushed by Patrick Willis!
Maybe, just maybe, this would open their eyes to the need for better protection. Obviously, the coaching staff is aware that protecting the quarterback and opening holes for the running back is going to be a major key to victory in every game. I just don’t believe that they understand how to make this a priority week in and week out. I’m willing to bet, though, that a few hits from a Pro-Bowl Middle Linebacker would probably clear things up. The fact is that we have a great core of lineman to work with, as well as a great blocking back in Tim Hightower. That being the case, we can not leave any of those pieces on an island by themselves and expect them to survive. The best lineman in history couldn’t protect a quarterback without the rest of the line. Similarly, the best offensive lines in the league are still at a disadvantage when not provided with enough help from a solid blocking tight end. The Cardinals proved in Minnesota that they can put up points while still running two tight-end formations. Now, I’m not saying this should be an every down formation, but a majority of our plays need to start featuring at least one tight end to help with protection.
BUTs: But we’re still going to clinch the division, right? Don’t count your chickens before they’ve hatched. You see that? I’m using more catchy phrases during my catchy phrase descriptions! Sure, if I were going to pick two teams in the league against whom I’d want to play the next two weeks, those teams would undoubtedly be Detroit and St. Louis. That being said, do not expect either team to roll over and play dead. Detroit has shown flashes of being able to put up points in bunches and will do so quickly if we become turnover happy. St. Louis has been scrappy in plenty of games this year and, while I’ll be the first to admit that Steven Jackson is the offense, they could come out fired up after seeing how San Fran just smacked the Cards around.
In all likeliness, the Cardinals will have the division wrapped up following a win over both Detroit and St. Louis. I just want to make sure we aren’t doing the playoff dance prematurely. Focus on the task at hand, or I’ll be writing about this very same ‘BUT’ next Tuesday.
CANDIES: Did you see Derrick Mason get sandwiched on…wait, sorry, this is supposed to be the CARDINALS’ Candy plays! Sadly, while siphoning through Monday’s game to try and decide just which sweet play was going to be my delicious Candies Play of the Week, I realized the Cardinals’ bag of treats was nearly empty. However, I do have one piece of candy that deserves some sweet recognition.
The purveyor of Week 14’s Candies Play of the Week: Darnell Dockett
After a sloppy, penalty filled start, Darnell Dockett put on display a shocking vertical leap to "tip" an Alex Smith pass (he was up so high he probably could have kicked it through the uprights while he was at it). He didn’t stop there though. Dockett quickly recovered and managed to intercept the ball as well.
Congratulations Darnell Dockett aaaaaaaand Suck on that piece of candy Alex Smith!!! (Of course the Cards would then proceed to offer 7 pieces of candy back to the Niners)
NUTS: This is a no-brainer! Week 14’s NUTS goes to the Arizona Cardinals Offense! This is not a good thing. Somehow, we managed to lose 5 fumbles from five different players. Tack on two more interceptions and we almost pitched a complete game! If only we’d given up a safety I could have awarded a hat trick. Maybe next time, guys.
As a side note, I’d like to provide Cowboys Stadium with a "Nuts Honorable Mention," literally. I spent my Sunday afternoon enjoying the Cowboys/Chargers game completely mesmerized by the incredibly enormous, high-definition screen hanging above the field. In fact, everything about that stadium was enormous except for the nuts! My cohort and I each broke into a pack of Cowboys peanuts and found the tiny nuts completely lacking.
I guess NOT everything is bigger in Texas.