While we wait to see if the Cardinals can make that final push down the stretch for the Playoffs, some questions have arisen, surrounding the team and the league in general. The Writing Staff took their shot at answering three of these.
Don't forget to answer the questions yourself in the comments below!
1) What do you think about the team's decision to cut D.C. Jefferson and sign Jake Ballard?
Khodder: I don't mind the decision at all. Even from a pure football perspective. Jefferson was not providing the team with anything now and also had limited upside. Ballard gives the team a marked improvement at a position the team had been struggling at. Then you throw in the off field issues with Jefferson and it just makes the decision seem smarter.
Cdeveau: I have no thoughts on it. Jefferson appeared to have nothing to offer and hurt his value by getting the DUI. Ballard was good prior to injury, but after the injury requires me to reserve judgement.
Jesse Reynolds: It seems like a good move to me. Jefferson was a 7th round pick who couldn't make the transition and Ballard, if healthy has shown he can be effective as a TE. One wasn't playing and had no future the other won't play immediately but has a future.
D.L. Parsons: Jefferson made no impact on the team whatsoever, so cutting him made no impact. Perhaps he will be picked up by Dallas, since they rated him a second or third round pick in the Draft. Before I answered this question, I looked up Ballard's record. 4 TDs over 16 games, eh? So, every 4 games we can expect some production? Sounds about right for the current set of TEs on the team. If Ballard has recovered sufficiently from the knee problem, perhaps he can motivate Housler with the competition.
Alex Mann: I think it could be an excellent move. Ballard look good prior to the injury. Hell he even played in the SB on his torn ACL and looked good, until it finally gave out. I'll reserve judgement until we see him play, but if the injury bug is behind him, he could be a solid TE in this unit.
2) As we enter the second half of the season, how would you rate Bruce Arians' performance as Head Coach?
Khodder: It is really tough to rate the performance of someone as a Head Coach because so much of what they do is behind the scenes. I will say this, so far his control and operation of the offense in his defacto role as the offensive coordinator would draw a failing grade from me. He has plenty of talent on the team and while there are limitations to what he can do on offense based mostly around the offensive line it amazes me that he takes so long to make adjustments to his offense and to involve players who are clearly playing superior football.
Andre Ellington is a key example of this, but there is also the fact that it took Arians 4-5 weeks to realize that 7 step drops behind this offensive line is just not going to work. Anyone with half a football brain should have been able to figure that out about half a game into the preseason.
The way the offense operated against the Falcons could indicate a step forward in the development of the offense under Arians, but it could just as easily prove to be an aberration. I think however the fact this team is 4-4 and holds wins over two tough side in Detroit and Carolina as well as a win over a talented team in Atlanta ultimately shines favorably on the Head Coach.
Cdeveau: C-, lucky he didn't get a D. He brought in his guys, implemented his offensive system and what do we have to show for it? A 4-4 record that the offense had little contribution in and a coach that sticks with his guys even when that isn't the most effective strategy.
Jesse Reynolds: C+. My gripes with his offense scheme are well documented but he does have some big hurdles inheriting a line with holes and injures as well having a QB that is as mobile as a cactus. Overall his second half adjustments have been very good and he can't be to blame for Palmers INTs that have killed the offense.
D.L. Parsons: C-, damn near an F. In my humble opinion, give Whisenhunt today's current team, especially Palmer, and his record would have been no worse. Arians is doing an impressive imitation of Whisenhunt of 2012, sticking with "his" guys in the name of "confidence building", not playing rookies simply because they ARE rookies, and not sooner realizing that he needed to 'dumb down' the complicated offensive system until the personnel ingested, and caught up to it, mentally. Arians needs to channel his 'inner Jimmy Johnson", in that he must hold accountable those players who do not produce in a swifter, more timely, manner. Bench Mendenhall in favor of Ellington is the most egregious example. There is plenty of depth behind Ellington if he physically falters. I could go on, but that's grist for another column...
Alex Mann: I think we have seen glimpses of excellent play calling, but also glimpses of a "What the (expletive)?" play calling. There were a few plays that we were 3rd and 1 with Palmer in the shotgun and Taylor in on the play. I distinctly remember this because that week before Arians called Taylor the short yardage back, but on 3rd and less than 1, we lined up in a shotgun formation and couldn't convert. I'd rate him as a C- at the midway mark.
3) The Richie Incognito - Jonathan Martin story has raised an interesting question surrounding the NFL's widely accepted ritual of hazing. What is your take on the practice of hazing?
Khodder: Personally I hate it. I don't see any reason for it whatsoever. There are people (Like Martin) who even if the act was not done with any malice (Such as Darnell Dockett vs Tyrann Mathieu's hair), would take it very hard and very personally. If I was in charge of a football team any practice of hazing, would be completely and utterly banned.
Cdeveau: I've been involved in many arenas where hazing is common. Football, wrestling and boxing from the time I was six until I washed out due to injury. I've also pledged a frat and served time in the US military. Pink bellies when you were bridging in wrestling. Yup, done that. Picking up towels on laundry duty cause I was the new guy. Yup, done that. Been tormented by frat brothers while pledging, yup, done that. Hazing in the military, yup, done that. Most of it was done in the vein of make you tougher, although college frat was less about toughness and just them trying to push those who didn't want it bad enough out the door. My thoughts, everyone is hazed. If you have an older sibling they most likely practiced some art of hazing on you. I know my younger siblings experienced that. What I've learned about hazing in all this time is that aside from frats, hazing is approached with the intent to pop the newbie cherry, see what their made of and incorporate them into the fold. (My $.02)
Jesse Reynolds: I like the rookie initiation and fun, team oriented hazing. It's harmless and anyone who has been in a football locker knows that good teams don't take it too far and it can be a bonding experience.
What Incognito did was not hazing but straight up harassment. I don't blame Martin for finally losing his cool when it seems everyone in the locker room had Incognito's back then and even now. If Riley Cooper had to see treatment for dropping the bombs he did so could Incognito.
D.L. Parsons: Hazing has been around forever. I experienced it, like many of my peers, in high school wrestling and football, in the Army, etc. Just because we've experienced it doesn't make it right. Hazing can (and frequently does) go too far, as illustrated in the Dolphins case. There is no room in good-natured, welcome-to-the-team-rookie hazing for racial slurs (especially in 2013), and repeated financial abuses. The Cardinals' stated policy is a good one, and should be mirrored by all other teams. This problem I lay directly at the feet of the coaching staff. They spend 99% of their 'coaching' time around those players. They should have picked up on the abuse, and stomped it out on the spot. On a personal note, I once has a long term relationship with a woman who had two sons who played football at Mountain Ridge with Incognito. All three of them reported that he was the same way then as he is today. So, I'm not surprised that he continues to act the same way, when his behavior is tolerated, even tacitly encouraged.
Alex Mann: Hazing is fine... To an extent. We don't know the extent of the story in Miami, but if the reports that the coaches told Incognito to toughen Martin up are true, then Incognito thought he was getting a special pass. It's a juvenile thing (Ironic that it's coming from a Juvenile himself.. Ha). It's a right of passage in the NFL for rookies, but some guys don't know where Hazing ends and harassment begins.