SAN DIEGO - OCTOBER 03: Arizona Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt looks on from the sideline during the game against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium on October 3 2010 in San Diego California. The Chargers defeated the Cardinals 41-10. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Yesterday the Arizona Cardinals season continued to plummet. Little went right in an important game against the San Diego Chargers. The Cardinals could have taken a significant lead in the NFC West with a win. Instead they're tied for first place, and while a 2-2 record looks okay from the outside, it's far from it.
If you have that uneasy feeling about the team and the season, don't worry, you aren't alone. The Cardinals defense hasn't been able to force a stop and the offense doesn't have an identity, let alone a quarterback. This season the Cardinals have been out-scored 58-118 -- an incredible difference in points. Escaping with two wins with that point margin has been a miracle at that. Things aren't looking up in a division that's open for the taking.
I'm not jumping ship, but speaking the truth. Many of you have already began to blame head coach Ken Whisenhunt for the team's issues. He's made mistakes this season -- there's little doubt about that. Benching and cutting Matt Leinart didn't sit well with many Cardinals fans. Now with Derek Anderson showing his
true colors or continuous colors, many are left wondering what Leinart could've done with the same opportunities that Anderson has had. Regardless, Whisenhunt's decision has been made. Matt won't be returning to the Cardinals anytime soon and Anderson won't stay the starter much longer. Who's to even say that Leinart would've experienced success? He didn't prove anything through the preseason. You could argue that he did little during his entire career. I'll admit that having him as an option right now would be nice, but that ship has sailed.
It wasn't just the loss of Leinart that hurt the team. Warner retired with a year left on his hefty contract. Anquan Boldin wanted out and wasn't taking no for an answer. Antrel Rolle and Karlos Dansby took the same paychecks with different teams. Keeping those players was a task that was too much to ask. In the end, Whisenhunt built this team. He lobbied for certain players and drafted others that fit his style. Some haven't worked out and some have. Teams make mistakes, and far too often they are blamed on the head coaches.
Remember that Ken Whisenhunt doesn't control the defense -- that's up to Bill Davis, and the defense has been atrocious. Davis won't have a job much longer if he doesn't adjust to opposing offenses. Chargers tight end Antonio Gates was given a free pass to roam the field on Sunday, which didn't help Adrian Wilson, who has notoriously struggled covering tight ends. Davis failed to make an adjustment at the half to account for Gates. He also failed to adjust to the Chargers rushing attack. Running back Mike Tolbert reached the 100-yard mark, often plowing through Cardinals' defenders. Had the game been closer, his stats may have ballooned higher. The defense hasn't been able to generate stops on third down or pressure the quarterback as well. What Bill Davis is or isn't doing is not working and hasn't been. If he doesn't make a dramatic change, someone else will.
I won't get started on the cries for Clancy Pendergast either. If you want him back that bad, send him some fan mail. He's no longer coaching in the NFL and would probably like to return if a team was crazy enough to take a chance on him.
So where does this fall on Whisenhunt's shoulders? I'll give you that he hasn't exactly mixed things up on offense. He's calling the plays. He knows how to call plays. But I haven't seen the same gadget plays that Whisenhunt likes to normally use. It could just factor down to him not trusting his offense. At some point he needs to take chances though. When the Cardinals are down 21 points at the half, something's got to give. A trick play or bomb to Larry Fitzgerald needs to be drawn up. To me however, that's not enough to call for his head.
The claims that Kurt Warner was the reason for success the last three seasons astonish me. Don't get me wrong -- Kurt was great and did everything for the Cardinals that he could. But don't forget that he was here since 2005 and couldn't beat out Matt Leinart until a he suffered a broken collarbone. Before that time, he was a ticking time bomb waiting to fumble the football. Whisenhunt righted the ship in 2007 and figured out a way to win with a Hall of Fame quarterback -- something the Rams couldn't do towards the end of Warner's career in St. Louis, and something the Giants couldn't figure out either. You can even say that Dennis Green failed to use Warner right. Let's give Whisenhunt credit where credit is due. He's still the head coach and isn't going anywhere. Let's cool this so-called "hot seat" that he's sitting on.
Expecting a dynasty out of the Cardinals with Ken Whisenhunt as the head coach sounds a bit ridiculous. Heck --dynasty and Cardinals in the same sentence sounds ridiculous too. We all should of expected an eventual losing season at some point. It's a matter of how quick the Cardinals can bounce back and get back to winning that's important. If that time never comes, then we can discuss Whisenhunt's job-security. For now, he's the head coach that showed us what a winning season in Arizona looked like, and he has the Cardinals currently sitting in first place despite the poor play. In my mind, he's still the Whiz.