Is Whisenhunt status shaky as bad season worsens?
The Arizona Cardinals offense has been bad this season, but
never worse than it was on Sunday.
Its performance in the 7-6 loss to the New York Jets was among
the worst in the team’s history, and that’s saying something for a
franchise that’s had a lot of bad Sundays.
The team had five first downs, tied for fewest in franchise
history, was 0 for 15 on third-down conversions and gained 137
yards, 40 of them on a fake punt. The Cardinals gained 22 yards in
the second half.
Still, coach Ken Whisenhunt stayed with rookie quarterback Ryan
Lindley, refusing to reinsert John Skelton, benched by the coach
three games ago.
Now the Arizona losing streak has reached eight games, matching
the franchise’s longest in 68 years.
Exceedingly popular among fans for bringing the Cardinals to the
Super Bowl in the 2008 season, and to the NFC West crown the
following year, Whisenhunt finds himself the subject of the fans’
wrath. Speculation is mounting that he might not return for the
final year of his contract.
He said Monday that he has too much else on his mind to be
concerned about his job status.
”It takes enough energy focused in trying to win, to turn it
back around,” Whisenhunt said. ”You can’t worry about things you
Team President Michael Bidwill, the owner’s son, has not spoken
publicly about the situation.
Whisenhunt is among the highest-paid coaches in the NFL, due to
make $5.7 million next year, and the Bidwill family is not known
for tossing around that kind of money, although the ownership has
proven to be far more generous recent seasons, especially since the
University of Phoenix Stadium opened in 2006.
Arizona has sold out every home game since then, but the fan
base is shaky and that string is in serious doubt, if not for the
next home game against Detroit, then certainly for next year.
The team’s offensive woes this season have stemmed in large part
from injuries, particularly to left tackle Levi Brown, quarterback
Kevin Kolb and, most recently, center Lyle Sendlein, who was sorely
missed against the Jets.
Yet with the defense playing so well, it’s particularly
maddening to fans to watch the offense stagnate.
Lindley completed 10 of 31 passes for 72 yards with one
interception and, obviously, no touchdowns. Twenty-three of those
yards came on a pass to Larry Fitzgerald the second play of the
game. Fitzgerald never caught another pass all day.
On Monday, Whisenhunt wouldn’t commit to staying with Lindley in
next Sunday’s game at Seattle, against one of the NFL’s best
defenses in one of the league’s toughest environments for a
”We’ve got to look at it with the players today and understand
why we had the breakdowns we did,” he said, ”why we weren’t
successful on some of these plays, and then we will decide from
The best scenario would be the return of Kolb, who was the
quarterback when the team got off to a 4-0 start but who went down
with a rib injury that has sidelined him for six games. Kolb has
practiced on a limited basis the past two weeks but the injury, to
cartilage at the top of his rib cage, is particularly iffy.
Asked if there was any realistic chance of Kolb playing in
Seattle, Whisenhunt said, ”the only way we will know is when he
can do it in practice.”
”He is making progress,” Whisenhunt said. ”Until we can get
out there and see that he can make the throws and be able to do
those kinds of things, then we’ll know.”
Skelton, who beat out Kolb for the starting job in the preseason
only to go down with an ankle injury in the opener, said he hopes
Whisenhunt hasn’t lost confidence in him. Skelton said he was ready
to come into the game whenever the coach told him to on Sunday. As
things got worse on the field, his desire to play grew, he
”Every bit of my being I wanted to play, that was going into
the week, too. It’s not just on Sunday,” Skelton said. ”I think
anyone in the locker room wants to play. No one wants to sit on the
sideline. When you see things going the way they did, it kind of
makes you champ at the bit a little more.”
Whisenhunt said he thought about switching quarterbacks, but
decided Lindley gave the team the best chance of winning. Others
watching the game found that conclusion hard to understand.
The team that did switch quarterbacks, the Jets, mounted the
game’s only touchdown drive with backup Greg McElroy at the
Whisenhunt said he understands the fans’ ire about the
”But we didn’t help Ryan out very much yesterday,” the coach
said. ”We had a lot of areas where we had problems. We are looking
for the right combination to be more effective offensively. We
talked about on the sideline, we talked about what was going on in
the game, and we felt it was a combination of a number of things,
not just the quarterback.”
Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and
Follow Bob Baum at www.twitter.com/Thebaumerphx