QB just 1 of the avalanche of woes for Cardinals
Sure, the Cardinals miss Kurt Warner. Everybody knows that.
Yet quarterback is only the most obvious of the plentiful
problems – running back Tim Hightower prefers to call them
”football issues” – in Arizona. Remember, Anquan Boldin, Karlos
Dansby and Antrel Rolle are gone, too, from the team that won the
last two NFC West titles.
These rebuilt Cardinals are struggling on offense and worse on
defense. Of the three teams that have scored more than 40 points in
a game this season, two of them did it against Arizona.
Through four weeks of the season, the Cardinals rank 29th in
total defense, 30th in run defense and 31st in total offense.
Against that backdrop, with rookie quarterback Max Hall thrust
into his first NFL start, the Cardinals play the Super Bowl
champion New Orleans Saints on Sunday.
”I think that we have a number of guys who have a lot of pride
and they are disappointed in the way they’ve played,” coach Ken
Whisenhunt said. ”I think that is all you can do. Some of our best
players haven’t played as well as they need to play. We’ve made
Whisenhunt didn’t name names but safety Adrian Wilson and
defensive tackle Darnell Dockett are likely suspects.
Wilson has acknowledged he needs to play better. Dockett, the
defensive team captain who didn’t have a tackle in last Sunday’s
41-10 loss at San Diego, isn’t talking to reporters during the week
anymore. Why? ”Because I don’t want to,” he said after Thursday’s
Despite the ugly statistics, Arizona is 2-2 and tied for the
lead in the weak-as-ever NFC West. The victories came with a late
touchdown drive to win at St. Louis in the season opener 17-13 and
a 24-23 squeaker over Oakland when the Raiders’ Sebastian
Janikowski missed a 32-yard field goal as the game ended. The
losses, both on the road, were 41-7 against Atlanta and 41-10
against the Chargers. For those counting, that’s an 82-17
The Cardinals trace their defensive woes to a lack of
discipline, with too many players trying to make a big play instead
of sticking to their assignments.
”That’s exactly what our problems are. Everybody’s so eager
that they try to do more than their job,” defensive end Calais
Campbell said. ”If we go out there and do our job, make the plays
that we’re supposed to, we’ll do just fine.”
The newcomers, for the most part, have not been the biggest
culprits. The Cardinals have been pleasantly surprised by the play
of NFL nomad Paris Lenon in Dansby’s inside linebacker position.
While the team also misses inside linebacker Gerald Hayes, out
while recovering from back surgery, rookie Daryl Washington brings
speed and talent in his place.
At safety, Kerry Rhodes has been steady in Rolle’s spot. Outside
linebackers Joey Porter and Clark Haggans haven’t been as
disruptive as pass rushers as they could be, largely because
Arizona has been especially generous against the run.
When Atlanta’s top two backs were out with injuries,
third-stringer Jason Snelling ran for a career-best 129 yards. The
following week, Oakland’s Darren McFadden rushed for 105. Last
week, San Diego’s Mike Tolbert had his first 100-yard rushing
”We’ve got to get better,” Porter said. ”To stop the run is a
want-to attitude. It’s all 11 guys wanting to tackle and wanting to
get a guy on the ground. That’s all it is.”
The lone bright aspect of the Cardinals’ game has been on the
ground, where the team is averaging 5.4 yards per carry. But they
have had only 74 running plays to their opponents’ 140, a fact that
led Beanie Wells to complain publicly about a lack of carries this
week. But when a team falls behind by three touchdowns or more, the
running game is abandoned.
That happened last week, and Arizona quarterbacks were sacked
Whisenhunt finally had seen enough of quarterback Derek
Anderson’s errant throws and has replaced him with Hall, the rookie
out of BYU.
Like Warner, Hall was not drafted. He inherits a passing game
that is rated 30th out of 32 teams. To make matters worse, injuries
to Steve Breaston and Early Doucet have left three rookies, two of
them undrafted, in the spots behind No. 1 receiver Larry
Fitzgerald, who talks like a ”glass half-full” kind of guy.
”We’re leading the NFC West division right now, that’s where we
are,” Fitzgerald said. ”Obviously we’re not playing the kind of
football we’re capable of, but things could be a lot worse. We all