Can you relate to the biblical account of the Israelites wandering through the desert for 40 years in search of the promised land? If you are a Cardinals fan then you probably answered yes. For a brief stint of two years football was relevant in Arizona and the desert finally transformed into the promised land. Arizona Cardinals fans got a small taste of what it felt like to cheer for a real football team.
The duration of levity in Arizona has been short lived. What once appeared to be a desert oasis, now seems more like a fleeting and ephemeral mirage of success gone just as quickly as it arrived on the horizon.
Many people thought that Ken Whisenhunt was the Cardinals incarnation of Joshua. A guide sent from heaven to lead us across the threshold to paradise after our arduous journey. He now boasts a career 30-28 regular season record which is tending toward mediocrity and questions are already rising about his decision making, play calling, and ability to evaluate talent. Maybe Kurt Warner was really Joshua and Whisenhunt was more like Moses. Now that Warner is gone we’re stuck back in the desert and Moses is lost.
I want to drink from the oasis of success, I’m sick of choking down sand.
A joke asks “Why was Moses stuck out in the desert for 40 years?” The answer – “Because men don’t like to ask for directions.” We have seen this ugly character trait reveal itself in Whisenhunt. He tends to be somewhat bumptious with the way he carries himself and has made decisions that are presumptuously arrogant. While Whisenhunt may be smart, he is not infallible. He tries to do too much and assert his influence in areas that don’t seem to play to his strengths. If men don’t like to take accountability for their mistakes, then Whisenhunt would fit that criterion as well. The ability of a coach, or any person for that matter, to take a step back and realize when they’ve been wrong is important. Problems can’t be fixed if their existence is denied. That’s right Whiz, the first step is admitting you have a problem. Here are a couple of examples of things he hasn’t owned up to and hasn’t been held to the fire for.
Cutting Leinart just days before the season was obviously a mistake. Leinart may not have been a vast improvement upon Anderson or Hall. We will never know. He still had a promising future when Warner wrestled the starting job from him. He did a serviceable job in his last start at Tennessee on a moment’s notice due to a Warner injury. Leinart will most likely get a chance to start for another NFL team next season and will succeed or fail based on his own merits. The puzzling series of events from this preseason may never be fully understood. That being said, if he wasn’t going to be the starter for the Cardinals this season, he shouldn’t have been on the roster to start training camp. Good organizations don’t cut top 10 quarterbacks and get nothing in return. That’s how bad organizations stay bad. Either the timing was wrong or the evaluation was wrong, but either way this situation was flat out mishandled. No other single incident has been more defining of the greasefire this season has transformed into.
Not hiring an offensive coordinator has been a mistake. Whisenhunt has made several questionable play calls in specific situations (Anderson’s interception to seal the deal against Tampa) and is pass happy overall (64% passes to 36% runs). When Haley left after the Super Bowl, Whisenhunt took over the duties. After a first year of running mostly the same system that Haley left, the second season has been disastrous. Does anyone besides me consider it more than a little ironic that the Chiefs now sport the #1 rushing offense in the NFL and the Cardinals have the lowest number of rushing attempts in the league? Pittsburgh Steelers West my ….. It’s time to rectify this situation and hire an offensive coordinator.
The talent evaluation and acquisition have been filled with mistakes. Whisenhunt shouldn’t shoulder this burden alone. Other front office personnel should also be taken to task for the exodus of talent. There has been a dearth of newly acquired talent during Whisenhunt’s tenure. A couple years ago, the Cardinals cupboard was full. The team had pro bowl caliber players in spades. Warner, Boldin, Fitz, Breaston, Dockett, Dansby, Rolle, Wilson, and other players who showed promise filled the roster. Now many of these players are either gone or a shell of their former self. Wilson looks like father time has caught up to him. Dockett looks like Benjamin Franklin has caught up to him. Breaston is the only young player realizing the potential the Cardinals brass envisioned. The Cardinals may only have 5 or 6 players on their roster that a winning team would even be interested in. The Cardinals need help at qb, running back, offensive line, tight end, defensive line, and secondary. In summation, that’s pretty much everywhere.
The media and fan base in Arizona perpetuates an inferiority complex. I’ve heard from multiple sources that we should be glad that we had our run but that all good things must come to an end. Look how great things were for a couple years compared to how they used to be. This is not acceptable. The team should be expected to put a competitive product on the field EVERY year. Failure should not be put up with. If we accept the team’s failure, we are enabling future failures. Well I’m angry as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.
The puppet show put on this season by our coaching staff and front office should not be tolerated. Real NFL cities like Dallas and Minnesota have shown their coaches and fan base that failure results in termination. Wade Phillips (34-22 through 3-1/2 years in Dallas) gone. Brad Childress (39-35 through 4-1/2 years in Minnesota and one year removed from the NFC Championship game) gone. That’s right, both of them had better records than Whisenhunt. Lovie Smith, Tom Coughlin, and John Fox have all felt the heat recently for underachieving and all have a more proven track record than Whisenhunt with their respective teams.
I’m not saying that Whisenhunt should be fired. I think he has earned at least one more season to clean up his mess. What I am saying is that accountability starts form the top and that just in the same manner that players are being evaluated, the front office and coaches should face the exact same scrutiny. Being the head coach of an NFL franchise carries certain advantages and drawbacks. One of the drawbacks is that the success or failure of the team is squarely laid at the coach’s feet whether or not it is entirely his fault. If the team finishes with 4 or 5 wins this year and follows it up with a repeat performance then I’ve seen enough.
I implore the media and other fans not to accept our team taking the declivitous descent back to the “Same Old Sorry Ass Cardinals”. I like the winning Cardinals. The Cardinals I can be proud of. The Cardinals that enthralled me every weekend of the football season. The Cardinals who made me daydream about Sunday all week long. The Cardinals that made me pine for football season in the middle of March. I can’t go back to the years of misery I’ve endured. Please help me let the organization know we won’t put up with a return to those losing ways. I’ve changed. I’m not inferior. I deserve better. I've upped my standards. Please help me tell the Cardinals they need to up theirs.