The past couple of days have been interesting for Cardinals fans when it comes to running back Beanie Wells. He has not had a good year.
After missing almost all of training camp, recovering from offseason knee surgery, he started the season slowly. He then hurt his toe and missed the next two months. Upon returning, he has not been great, althoug he did score three touchdowns against the Lions. He has only 234 yards rushing on 88 carries, good for only 2.7 yards per carry. He has scored five touchdowns.
But against the Bears on Sunday, he made Mark Sanchez and his buttfumble look skilled. He took a handoff, and promptly slipped and fell without contact. But that wasn't all. He lost the football and the Bears picked up the fumble in the end zone for a touchdown.
He got one more carry the rest of the afternoon and Ken Whisenhunt was seen on the sideline having an animated conversation with Wells.
After the game it didn't get better. Whisenhunt, when asked if Wells could explain what happened, said, "No, he really couldn't."
Wells, when asked about the conversation with Whiz, said simply, "It is what it is. Who knows how it's going to turn out from here."
There was no contrition. There was no apology. It was, "whatever, the season sucks anyway."
Contrast that with Brian Hoyer, who had a pass intercepted on Sunday. "I can't take my mind off that interception," he said. "It was a dumb decision. I tried to force it. Tried to pump to the underneath guy and hit behind, and that one will stay with me for a few days."
On Monday, it did not get better.
Whisenhunt talked more about the fumble and Beanie's benching, as noted on the official team page.
"If you have the ball, that's your responsibility," Whisenhunt said. "You can't turn it over. I don't care who you are. I don't care what position you play. In the NFL, if you turn the ball over, you're not going to play. That's the way it goes. And that's through history. There are guys who are good players who can't hold on to the football. Turnovers are something you can't overcome."
Wells said the interesting thing of the day. He said that his departure from the Cardinals is "inevitable." As noted on the official team page, he has not had any conversations with the coaching staff or anyone on the team about his future, but "just how things have gone," he believes he will be playing his last game for the Cardinals.
"I'm auditioning for a job somewhere else," Wells said. "That's my mindset, you know. Just going out there, putting my best foot forward for all 31 other teams that's watching.
"It's a performance-based business and I don't know if I've done things up to our organization's standards here. Maybe it's a discussion we'll have later on."
Clearly, every player's days are numbered with a team. That's how the NFL works. Teams are always trying improve their team and other players are always looking to take roster spots.
However, if there is a player that seems to have given up on the year, it is Beanie. I was there in the locker room. He didn't care. He slipped, fell, fumbled and gave seven points to the Bears. Then he was apathetic. It is what it is? Try owning up to the play, or saying that it was unacceptable, and that you can't do that. Hoyer did that.
Beanie has turned into another first round bust for the Cardinals. When he fell to the Cardinals, other than when Matt Leinart went to the Cards, I was never more excited about a draft pick. But after seasons of injuries, he has lived up to the critics' scouting reports. While he did prove his toughness last year, he is injury prone. He has bad feet, bad balance.
But the thing is, it is no slam dunk that he is out of here. He still is, unfortunately, the team's best back. LaRod Stephens-Howling is an unrestricted free agent, Ryan Williams has suffered season ending injuries in both of his seasons in the pros. Beanie still has one year left on his rookie contract, and his salary is $1.157 million, according to Mike Jurecki. That is not bad.
However, if there is one thing that is pretty clear, he cannot shoulder the load as an every down back. Not many backs do that anymore, but he is not reliable nor durable enough to live up to his draft status or his potential.
With all that has happened in his four seasons here, the one thing that bother me the most is his attitude. He was coy about his offseason surgery. He downplayed being part of training camp. He turns the ball over and says it is what it is.
He also talks about auditioning for other teams. What kind of audition does he think he is giving?
Does he need to go? Probably. But considering the Cardinals' offensive situation, it might not make sense to cut ties with him right away.
So is his departure inevitable? Of course...but is not necessarily an inevitability that he is gone this offseason.
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