There's nothing pretty about 45-14, or even 51-45 for that matter, but we as Arizona Cardinals fans have two choices. We can either sit back in the lazy boy and sulk over another tub of Ben and Jerry's or, as others have poetically suggested, we can take a step back and appreciate not only this season of football but also the past three seasons under Ken Whisenhunt. Losing in the playoffs sucks, there's no way around that fact, but it sure beats finishing 5-11, if you ask me. With all that being said here's my post-post season randomness....
- Obviously the Rod Graves and the Bidwells have a ton of decisions to make this off season, but the very first move should be to sign Ken Whisenhunt to a long term contract. The Whiz needs to be in the desert fo the forseeable future and he needs to be paid like top 10 coach. He's not perfect but lets not forget he's produced three non-losing seasons and won four playoff games in three seasons. Considering that the last time we went three full seasons without a losing record was 1975 through '77 and that we'd had just two playoff victories when he arrived, I'd be ecstatic to call him Coach for another decade or so. Oh and resigning Strength and Conditioning Coach John Lott should be second.
- As for the past two playoff games, there's not alot to say really. The defense got torched and the offense was able to compensate in one game but not the other. If the defense had played better against the Packers than I think we could chalk Saturday's embarassment up to injuries, but both games combined just proves that this defense still needs some work (more on off season needs in a second). One thing that did really stand over the past eight quarters, and a short overtime period, is that Billy Davis, at least for now, isn't a great defensive coordinator. Anytime an opposing offense can consistently isolate favorable matchups against your defense, you're pretty much doomed. Karlos Dansby should never be covering Marques Colston one on one. That's just one example but if you watched the matchups you could see that the Saints and the Packers were able to get their playmakers matched up against our reserve players on a fairly consistent basis. That combined with the complete lack of in-game adjustments has me wondering how long Davis will be the defensive coordinator.
- One guy that I hate to say anything bad about is Adrian Wilson, but in this case I've got to make an exception. A-dub simply isn't able to cover an athletic tight end anymore. Whether he's lost a step or his overall skills are starting to erode, it seems pretty clear that he shouldn't be matched up in one on one coverage with a tight end. Let him play zone or blitz or just freelance like Troy Polamalu but don't line him up over Jermichael Finley or Jeremy Shockey ever again.
- One more guy to rip on real quick is Bryant McFadden. I'll be the first to say that I praised the front office when this signing went down because I thought he was a very good and physical cover corner, but I couldn't be more wrong. After starting out the season reasonably well, seven pass defenses in his first six games, I think the rest of the league figured out that he wasn't very good. Teams started to target him instead of testing Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and he wilted under the pressure. He broke up just seven passes over the remaining twelve games, post season included, and was torched unmercifully by the Packers and Saints. I was hoping McFadden would step up a bit once DRC went down on Saturday but instead it was Greg Toler who looked like the best corner on the field and flashed some real potentional. I, for one, miss Rod Hood.
- One very positive note I'll take from this season is that this team is set at running back for quite a while. Beanie Wells is a legit franchise back and Tim Hightower is a very versatile and still fairly dangerous #2. When you add in The Howler at #3, you've got a very good and extremely young stable of backs who could very well be the future of this offense. If you combine the regular and post season stats, Wells and Hightower both had over 700 yards rushing while also averaging at least 4.5 yards per carry.
- If I take one thing away from the past two post season games, it's that Anquan Boldin will not be an Arizona Cardinal when this year's draft rolls around. Don't get me wrong, I love the way he plays the game. I love his heart, his desire and the way he positively influences everyone around him, but why would we pay a guy like a #1 wide receiver if he can't stay healthy and the team doesn't take a nose dive when he's on the sidelines? Boldin has played a full 16 game schedule twice in his seven year career, and over the past two seasons he's missed half of the team's playoff games. I won't go as far as saying that he's easily replaceable or that Early Doucet can completely fill his shoes, but the dropoff isn't catastrophic. When you factor in the possible value we could receive in a trade, it seems pretty clear to me that he'll be wearing another jersey by April.
- Looking forward to the offseason, with an eye mainly on the draft, I think we need to be very defensive when April comes around. We've got legitimate concerns at ILB, OLB, NT and CB, but on the offensive side of the ball the only real area of immediate need is offensive tackle. Unless a very good OT falls in our lap I could see the first three or even four rounds being used to improve the talent, and most importantly the depth, on the defensive side of the ball. We need OLB's who can rush the passer and guys in the secondary who can hold their own when the pass rush doesn't get there.
Lastly, this should be a very entertaining off season and quite frankly I'm looking forward to it. I think we'll see movement in the Q situation. I think we'll see something done with Antrel Rolle and Darnell Dockett and I'm holding out hope for a 12th hour push to keep Karlos Dansby. One thing I'm sure of is that all four of these guys won't be wearing Cardinals' red next July, but it'll be interesting which ones are. Just remember guys, it's easy to hang your heads but let's also remember how far we've come if a divisional round loss in the playoffs has us bummed out. Go Cards!!