clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Why The Arizona Cardinals Have Not Acquired A No. 2 Receiver

OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 11:  Stephen Williams #18 of the Arizona Cardinals celebrates scoring a touchdown against the Oakland Raiders at Coliseum on August 11, 2011 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 11: Stephen Williams #18 of the Arizona Cardinals celebrates scoring a touchdown against the Oakland Raiders at Coliseum on August 11, 2011 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Getty Images

Once the move was made to acquire Kevin Kolb to start at quarterback for the Arizona Cardinals, perhaps the biggest topic of debate has been who would be brought in to play the number two receiver. Larry Fitzgerald is set at number one, but with the departure of Steve Breaston, the team has a young core of unproven guys -- Early Doucet, Andre Roberts, Stephen Williams, Max Komar and DeMarco Sampson

We have discussed a lot of names as possible targets for Arizona to come in and give the team another threat. Braylon Edwards, Lee Evans, Malcolm Floyd, Jerricho Cotchery and even Randy Moss. However, at the end of the day, they have decided to roll with the young guys.


Ken Whisenhunt clears the air a bit in explaining his reasoning in a couple of interviews. Here is the bit found on

"We ask our receivers to do so many different roles, and just to have guys that you can believe in to do it, that's the purpose of building a team is," Whisenhunt said. "That's why you draft guys, that's why you develop guys. At some point, they have to step in and play.

"It would be kind of counterproductive if we didn't continue to try and bring in (young) receivers and develop them. I don't understand what people think from the outside about how you build your football team. You don't just go and get a receiver in free agency (every time) when you lose one. At some point, you've got to have young players that step in and play well."

As for Lee Evans in particular, Whiz said this (hat tip to ESPN's Mike Sando for transcribing the interview on XTRA910):

"Lee Evans is a good player and I like Lee Evans, but Lee Evans is an 'X' [split end]. Lee Evans is not a 'Z'. When you talk about a Z, his responsibility is blocking and being able to do some things that play off of the X receiver. Now, he has been in the league a long time, but when you talk about a receiver at that position being able to come inside and block inside the line or be able to do some of the things that we ask of our Zs, it's not necessarily always a good fit.

"I'm not saying Lee Evans wouldn't have been a good fit, but when you talk about that position, you know it's great to say that this guy is a good receiver, but if you have two of the same kind of receivers, then you're going to be struggling to find ways to get them the ball because they are the same positional guy. And what I mean by that is, Xs are more geared toward running some of the outside routes, the big ins, the gos, the posts, those kind of things, where the Zs are more into the crossing routes, the curls, the inside stuff where they have to make the tight catches.

"And so when you are assessing your team and you talk about a No. 1 or a No. 2, we don't really talk about No. 1 or No. 2. We talk about the role that these guys are going to play and what we're trying to get done. Can the guy play the slot? Can he block? Can he do all these other things? Because that all has to integrate."

So we see a two-fold reasoning. One is the simple fact that you draft players to develop and play. Arizona has Doucet, Roberts and Sampson who have been drafted by Whisenhunt. To not give them a shot would be to essentially have wasted those draft picks. 

The other is that putting a team together offensively requires more work than simply assembling a fantasy team. The player that the Cardinals sign would have to be able to play the 'Z' and do all the things that were asked of Breaston. Just as there are many here in the community who (understandably) balk at signing a veteran on defense that has not played a 3-4 scheme in the past, the same caution, thought and scouting should go into moving a veteran receiver from one role to another. 

What would have happened if a guy like Evans had been brought in? What if he struggled at the position? That would look terrible. 

Honestly, it makes more and more sense to stick to the guys playing in the system at the position. We were spoiled having had Anquan Boldin and Breaston to complement Fitz. That doesn't happen most of the time. Boldin and Fitz were already established. Breaston emerged. Usually, the other receiver opposite of a star emerges. 

So with the Whisenhunt quotes, are you seeing the receiver situation any differently? I am. Not being a football X's and O's type of guy, the receiver positions slipped my mind. Even then, I was confident enough in relying on the young guys. 

Now did I say yes to Braylon Edwards? Yes. But that does not mean that I have no faith in Roberts and the young guys. 

Based on these quotes, for better or for worse, we can expect to see (or at least hope to see) one or more guys step up and take the role over that Breaston left. 

Are you going to be okay with that?