I started writing this post right after the win vs NO because I was so furious over the play calling in the 4th Q. But since it was a win and we were going into the bye week I thought I would hold my tongue. I wanted to continue after the atrocious performance vs Seattle, but didn't. But after this game, I can hold my tongue no longer.
I want to start off by saying, I know I had said in the game thread that I wanted Whisenhunt fired(I will never refer to him as WIZ again), but I was just trying to be sarcastic. I don't think he should be fired...yet. He did take us to the Super Bowl but if he loses this divsion title this year it speaks volumes as to how much credit he actually deserved for the earlier success. I'm just starting to think that because the quick success and unquestioning adoration he has received from the fans and media, it has created a situation that is not condusive to winning. He has made some terrible decisions both on and off the field and he needs to be challenged.
But I also write because of my previous, 'similarly titled' article. As far as I'm concerned, I'm entitled. So here we go...four reasons why Ken Whisenhunt IS A DOPE!
#1) Because this QB situation did not fall into his lap, he CREATED this
Alright, we all know that it is clear that Matt Leinart was never Whisenhunt's guy. OK...I get it. But why, for the last 3 years was nothing done to address the eventuality of KW retiring? If ML wasn't going to be the guy, we didn't just need 1 QB, we needed TWO. I mean, how in the hell do you turn over a playoff team to a man of such dubious credentials as Derek Anderson? And then his backups are 2 late round/undrafted rookies?? As I had stated before ML was cut that, not only should he have been kept, but that he still should have been the starter. He knew the players, the system....what did we have to lose? IF ML screwed up, at least you would've had a veteran to take his place. He was the veteran on this team and he should not have lost his job because of what happened in the preseason. You lose your job because of what happens in the REAL GAMES. But I truly believe arrogance got in the way of what is right for this team and I only hope the damage is not long term.
Just some stats to mull over:
MAT LEINART: in 17 starts was responsible for 17 TO's - 16 INT's and 1 fumble lost. Team: 17 ML starts 24 TO's
Games team had more than 2 TO's - 2: Pick Sixes -1(in the meaningless game in week 17 vs GB last year.
Sacks Taken: 25*(only 13 sacks taken in last 13 starts)
DUMB AND DUMBER: 7 games 14 TO's - 11 INT's and 3 fumbles lost: Team: 7 games 23 TO's
Games team had more than 2 TO's - SIX: Pick Sixes - 3
Sacks Taken: 26
Now considering our record, including playoffs, under Whisenhunt coming into the season was 31-3 when we either won or were at least tied in the TO margin and 1-24 when we lost the TO battle, was it really wise to turn the team over to a guy like DA? And then to a rookie FA?? There are a lot of things ML is not good at; but he was NOT a TO machine in his starts in AZ. And since I thought we were going to be a grind it out type of running offense, wouldn't it have been smart to have a guy who generally takes care of the football lead the offense? Ahhh, but that is for later.
#2)BECAUSE HE IS NOT AS GOOD A COACH AS HE THINKS HE IS
You know, they say that a QB gets too much of the praise when a team wins and too much of the blame when a team loses. Well, It is quite clear now that goes for head coaches also, at least in the case of Ken Whisenhunt when it comes to winning. Yeah, I know, all the personnel changes yadda, yadda, yadda.....Kerry Rhodes has been an upgrade over Rolle, this last game notwithstanding. Boobsie's production in his 4 games is on pace to surpass what Boldin did last year. Lenon, while not an upgrade, has been solid enough and is certainly not the problem on defense. Porter has been a solid upgrade over Okeafor and BB and Faneca is starting to look better. That leaves the QB. Now obviously our production was going to drop, but did anyone expect us to be last in passing? But that is how much KW meant to this team.
But it is more than that. The loss of Todd Haley has really hurt this team. Remember, this offense didn't really take off in 2007 until Haley started making most of the play calls and was lights out in 2008 when he did all the play calling. But our 2009 points output dropped by 28 in 2009 and was only slightly better than our 2007 output(3 pts.) and that was the season ML had 5 starts and Tim Rattay had one. So you would think that Wisenhunt would have brought in an experienced play-caller to run things allowing him to manage game situations. But, again, here is where his arrogance has gotten in the way instead of doing what is best for the team. And, boy, has it shown up on the field.
There have been others, but I will go with the two most recent, the TBay and NO games. First NO. It wasn't just calling that pass with 59 seconds to go, (which, btw, I challenge anyone now to find another coach with the other team having no TO's left, winning by 3 and under a minute to go who has thrown a pass in that situation) but everything before and after that. After Toler's INT. We get the ball with 9:04 to go and run the ball twice for 9 yards. And on 3rd and 1 we go empty backfield! EMPTY BACKFIELD??? ARE YOU KIDDING ME???? YOU ARE NOT EVEN GOING TO TRY TO DISGUISE THAT IT IS A PASS PLAY????? Then we throw an out pattern into press coverage where, if it wasn't tipped at the line would have been a pick six(don't believe me...look at the tape). You have to see Sendlein's reaction after the incompletion...a kind of, WTF are we doing! type of thing, and that will be addressed later, also.
So we go 3 and out and take 1:40 off the clock and NO gets the ball back and goes 3 and out and UNBELIVEABLY takes 2:15 off the clock. THEY'RE DOING A BETTER JOB OF RUNNING OUT THE CLOCK THEN WE ARE!!! I mean, you can't make this up. So, since throwing one pass on the first drive wasn't enough, we get the ball back and throw twice on the 2nd drive and, again on third down we throw a swing pass to a blanketed Hightower that actually hits the defender in the back shoulder, again almost a TO, and falls inc stopping the clock, still preserving NO only timeout they have had left since the 3rd Q. At this point you have to wonder if Whisenhunt is even aware of their TO situation. They take the ball and drive 80 yards in 1:36, still not using a timeout and get within 3. We get the onside kick and since the Saints STILL have 1 timeout left, we can't just take a knee, but still, there isn't much they can do, unlessssss...........
You know what the definition of insanity is? Doing the same thing over and over again and hoping for a different result. THAT'S FRIGGIN' INSANE! OK, let's do the math: the first 2 plays were runs that took 4 seconds and 5 seconds. Let's say you run and take 4 seconds off the clock which takes you to 55 seconds, then the 40 second clock starts. You let it run out and take the 5 yard penalty; there is now 15 seconds left. You punt. The punt in this game took 10 seconds before play was stopped. That leaves 5 seconds. One play and the game is over. But, nooooooo! Whisenhunt, obviously smarter than every other coach in the league, rolls Hall out giving HIM the option of run or pass. Really coach? You are letting a rookie in his first start against the defending Super Bowl champions make a decision on the move whether to run or pass, after almost throwing 2 INT's in his previous forays? Genius! I love going back and listening to the call from the announcer: "Max Hall's gonna "THROW IT'....AND IT'S STRIPPED AWAY!!!!"
But it's not over yet, no, no, no. I know I didn't catch this until after watching the replay because I was too busy calling Whisenhunt an asshole for the play call. Right after the fumble there is panic everywhere. On the Az sideline(you gotta see the look on Hightowers face), on the NO sideline, the refs don't know what is happening(that is how ABSOLUTELY RADICAL the call was)The call on the field was that the ball was saved in bounds and recovered by Fitz, but since the offense cannot advance the ball forward on a fumble in the final two minutes the play is brought back to the spot of the fumble. The clock is stopped momentarily to respot the ball and then restarted once the ball is spotted, this would then also start the 40 second clock at the 51 second mark which should have taken the clock down to 11 seconds before we had to punt. But they don't. The 40 second clock has been running and has only 23 seconds left when the game clock starts. This could have been easily rectified with just a little calm on the sideline, and you can see a coach on the sideline CALMLY telling Whisenhunt to let the clock run(rolling his hand in a circular motion), but by this point Whisenhunt is a mess and he rushes the punt team out onto the field and they punt the ball with 6 seconds STILL on the play clock. Not only that, but instead of max protection, they line up in punt coverage and send two guys out wide and kick the ball in bounds and, luckily for us, NO inexplicably sends out the return team instead of going for the block. But, again, I have to ask why? Why are you rushing the punt team out? Was Whisenhunt afraid of getting a 5 yard penalty in that situation? Why are you kicking with 6 seconds left on a running clock? Why are you not max protecting the kicker? Why are you kicking the ball inbounds? The 4th quarter of this game was a disaster waiting to happen and we won IN SPITE OF the coaching, not because of it.
Now the Tampa game. Although not nearly as egregious as the New Orleans game, something still needs to be pointed out. Forget abandoning the running game, that's for later. Once the cardinals got into FG territory, clock management should have come into play and it didn't. TB had no timeouts left. This was late in a game filled with alot of emotional swings and you got the feeling the defenses were pretty much drained. RUN THE GD BALL!!! Now I am not going to kill Whisenhunt for this(although he deserves it) for two reasons. #1, both Wells and Hyphen did not return after their injuries(but why are you running Hyphen over the middle underneath the LB's...are you trying to get him killed?) and #2 you had to go with Hightower whom you had benched the whole game. But, cmon, you have to run the ball in that situation. It was 1st down at the 20 yard line. I don't know, maybe coach forgot that Rackers was playing in HST now. Force them to stop the run. Take some time off the clock. Worst case scenario, you run the clock down take the easy FG and go into OT. Even if you score on that pass, you give TB the ball back with more than two mins to go to a hot QB going up against a tired defense. It was well documented before the game that Freeman has had a penchant for late comebacks. Why would you take a chance of giving him the ball back with time on the clock? One more thing I wanted to point out in that fourth quarter. When we took the lead, you would have thought that a young team with a young coach would have started to panic, but they didn't and that starts at the top. Remeber, they had no timeouts left and had to start to think that they probably only had 1 or two chances left and they needed a touchdown, a FG did no good. But did they abandon the run? Nope! Here is their play selection: Run-Pass-Run-Pass-Run-Pass-Run Touchdown
Then we get the ball back. Our play selection: Pass(INT). Next possession: Pass-Pass-Pass-Pass-Run-Pass(INT). Now remember, we still had 2 TO's and started on our 43 and we only needed a FG. You needed to mix it up a little, keep the defense honest. But we didn't and we lost.
Bottom line from this season - Whisenhunt has not just been outcoached this season, he has been overmatched by some pretty pedestrian coaches. He CANNOT handle the job of head-coach and play-caller and we better get someone in place before next season. Or this year if someone decent gets fired.
3) BECAUSE HE PUT TOGETHER A TEAM BUILT TO RUN AND REFUSES TO USE IT
Even when AZ let ML go, I still thought that the offense could be successful because we were going to run the ball. I mean, did we pick up Faneca because of his pass-blocking ability? The loss of KW and Q to the passing game and the emergence of the run game at the end of the year(Az averaged over 5 YPC over the final 8 games including playoffs) led me to bellieve that there was only so much damage that DA could do. Then game one happens and DA throws 41X Uh Oh! And ever since that game, in blowouts and close games, it has been the passing game that has dominated the offense so much so that I have two of the most stunning stats that you are ever going to see..
After this weeks game, on 3rd down and 1, we have thrown the ball 70% of the time and run only 30%. I just can't believe, that this is the type of team we have become. Stunning stat #2 - 64.12% of our plays are now passing plays as compared to 35.8% running plays. In fact, last year with KW at QB we only had a 63-37% ratio meaning we are throwing more often by % this year with DA and Hall. Incredible! I know game situations dictate play-calling, but that 3rd and 1 stat cannot be defended. With this offensive line, this stable of RB's and the lack of a quality QB, we should be running 85-90% of the time in that situation, opening up the possibility of a big play when we do actually throw on 3rd and short.
But there is another maybe even more important reason we should be running the ball more that I have addressed before and it needs mentioning again. When you throw the ball as much as we have with two QB's as innaccurate as ours are you have alot of incompletions which leads to alot of clock stoppages which leads to longer games which leads to your defense being on the field longer. Our defense leads the league with 487plays while our offense has only run 393 a remarkable discreancy and worst in the league by far. And if you think that means nothing, than explain why our 3 worst defensive performances have come in games where our defense was on the field for 78, 79 and 81 plays the week before and our best performances came when we had 60 plays the week before, the first game of the season and after our bye week? If we can keep our defense on the field for less than 65 plays a week we should be in good shape. And it can be done. Teams like BLT, PITT, NYG all avg in the upper 50's and low 60's because they use their running game effectively. WE MUST shorten these games or our defense will not hold up. Not to mention all of the TO's in the passing game(15) as compared to TO's in the running game(3). Cmon, coach...this is common friggin' sense and our offensive line is built for leaning on people, not pass protecting.
#4)BECAUSE HE IS IN DANGER OF LOSING THIS TEAM
I know this one is mostly only opinion, but I am seeing it on the field. Guys throwing their arms up in the air after bad plays. Guys not giving their all late in games. And I'm seeing it in some of the leaders of this team. And if you lose guys like 90 and Fitz, you have lost the team. Not much more to say on this.
All this being said, the season is not done, but this weeks game is so critical as to how the rest of the season will go. And as winnable as last weeks game was, this one is even more so. Minnesota is just begging to cash it in for the rest of the season. They are just waiting for someone to give them a push. And the fact we are playing in their building is even better because I have no doubt that if we get off to a quick start, the crowd will turn on them in a heartbeat. Bank on it! But we CANNOT come in throwing INT's or muffing punts. Run the ball, sit back and wait for their TO's and then cash in. Sounds simple but this is the same scenario as Jacksonville going into Dallas last week and look what happened there.
As far as the QB situation...Max Hall seems like a nice guy and all, but he needs to be let go. If Whisenhunt has such a man-crush on him, fine. Cut him and resign him to the practice because NOBODY will put a claim in on him. Jacksonville is on a bye this week but they have 4 veteran QB's on their roster and will not go forward with all of them. They will let go either Patrick Ramsey or Todd Bouman. Whoever they let go we should just sign as our backup and go with DA as our starter for the rest of the season. It was a massive mistake handing the starting job to him. He has had one actual TD drive and thrown 2 pick sixes. ENOUGH! He is not and never will be an NFL caliber QB irregardless of what he did in preseason vs 3rd stringers. IT IS MEANINGLESS unless you can do it in the games that count. And he can't...period! And for those asking to see what Skelton has....his experience to this point is one step above HS football. He is a solid 2-3 years away from being NFL ready. You would destroy him and the team if you used him as your starter.
I'm sticking with Whisenhunt for now, but if his arrogance and stubborness doesn't right itself, I will be with AZ Retiree calling for his head. We are STILL the best team in this division and if we don't defend our title, it will fall squarely on the coach.