TEMPE, Ariz. – Ken Whisenhunt is the only coach in Cardinals history to coach in a Super Bowl. He’s the only Cardinals coach with double-digit playoff wins in franchise history, and he has four of the club’s six postseason victories.
Unless Whisenhunt can work some magic with an offensive lineup that borders on tragic, he’s about to equal – and maybe soon surpass — an unwanted additional record.
If the Cardinals lose to the Jets on Sunday, it will mark their eighth consecutive defeat, tying Dennis Green’s 2006 club, Joe Bugel’s 1991 club and Bud Wilkinson’s 1978 club for the longest franchise losing streaks in a single season since the Super Bowl era began.
It is a monumental feat to equal or set Cardinals futility records. This franchise wrote the book on serial losing.
The longest single-season losing streak on record came in 1943, when the Cardinals lost all 10 of their league games and one non-league game against Washington that didn’t count against their ineptitude.
The longest losing streak over consecutive seasons was 23 from 1942-44, again, discounting 1943’s non-league loss to Washington, a non-league loss against the Giants in 1944 and the fact that the Cards and Steelers combined franchises in the 1944 season.
But the franchise’s Arizona history marks some of its darkest hours. The Cards have posted 10 losing streaks of six games or longer since moving to Arizona before the 1988 season. Ten in 25 seasons!
How badly do the Cards need a win?
“Seven weeks, the urgency is like if you would be drowning,” receiver Larry Fitzgerald told reporters on Thursday. “You ever been in the pool and you’re struggling for air? How hard do you fight to get to the top? That’s kind of how we all feel right now. We’re struggling and fighting and doing anything we can to get to the top.”
If the Cardinals are to break this streak before it leaves bodies in its wake, the Jets represent one of their best, final chances.
The New Yorkers have been equally disappointing this season, limping to the same 4-7 record as the Cardinals behind poor quarterback play, a key injury to receiver Santonio Holmes and the league’s 30th-ranked run defense (142.8 yards per game).
New York’s wildcat quarterback, Tim Tebow (fractured ribs), won’t play Sunday, so the Cards will be able to zero in on starter Mark Sanchez. Sanchez has been particularly susceptible to pressure this season, and Cards defensive coordinator Ray Horton loves to bring pressure from all over his defense.
“We’ve got to hit the quarterback,” Horton said.
If they do, they could get turnovers. Sanchez has thrown 10 interceptions and has fumbled 10 times, losing five. The Cardinals forced six turnovers against Atlanta and still lost, but the Jets are not the Falcons, so hope springs eternal for a breath of air in this long, slow season of drowning.
“If we’re close enough, I’ll pull you down to get to the air,” Fitzgerald said.