Originally this was going to be a post constructed solely around my random thoughts and feelings -- then I watched the Cardinals-Buccaneers game. Considering that disaster of a game, I can assure you that my column -- which was going to be a delightfully funny bundle of thoughts -- will instead be a furious rant about a game the Cardinals had no business losing. Here we go.
Where else would I start? I get that he's an adorably scrappy little local guy who gets all pumped up after any sort of big play (which means 10 yards or more), but at this point, let's just tell it like it is: he is not an NFL level quarterback.
Earlier in the week, Ron Jaworski basically took a blowtorch to the physical ability of Hall, saying (hat tip to our old pal, Greg Esposito):
"The one thing we've heard about Max is the moxie and the leadership," Jaworski said. "Those are all wonderful attributes for a quarterback but the attributes you have to have week in week out to be successful over a long period of time is the ability to throw the football accurately and with velocity. When I look at the tape, I don't see either of those."
So that's it. Max just lacks the physical skills to be a quarterback. Is that an important thing?
As Jaws said, the big thing about Hall is supposed to be his moxie and leadership, and just to be sporting I'd probably add decision making. But if you look at his performance in the Cardinals 38-35 loss to Tampa Bay on Sunday, you saw approximately none of that.
Hall was 8/16 for 71 yards and a touchdown, but also threw two interceptions for touchdowns that absolutely defined the game. Sure, they were both in the first half, but a game that the Cardinals should have been in control of turned into a Bucs lead because of the poor decision making of Hall.
"When we saw (quarterback) Max Hall in the first drive, I just said, 'We're going to get him three times, and I'm going to get two of them, Ronde.' Really, just joking, but it happened so I can't complain."
I'm not saying Derek Anderson is some sort of ultra star here, particularly after throwing an inexplicable interception that cost the Cardinals a chance to tie the game with just over two minutes remaining, but what he gives you has got to be better than Hall at this point.
It's a cute story and it was fun in the preseason when he was lighting up the Redskins fourth string defense, but Max Hall just doesn't have it. Plain and simple. He's inaccurate, slow, has a weak arm, and makes poor decisions. Besides that, he's great.
38/75, 360 yards, one TD, five INT, two fumbles lost. The numbers stand for themselves. Whatever this guy shows in practice, it certainly doesn't show up on Sundays.
I absolutely hate to do this to the guy who has led the Cardinals to back-to-back NFC West crowns and the Super Bowl in early 2009, but I'm beyond wondering what Ken Whisenhunt is thinking in certain situations. There were a few glaring things that stood out to me in this one.
I won't delve into it, because I just spent a few hundred words panning him above, but why start Max Hall? Why does a guy who goes 4/16 the week before even deserve a leash, even if it's a short one? I recognize the limited options available to Whisenhunt, but is that really the only reason? I'd accuse him of stubbornness, but he hasn't hesitated to pull Hall in either of the last two games.
Beyond the starter, in watching Whisenhunt's playcalling in certain situations, you'd think he still has Kurt Warner instead of the pairing of bad tall QB and short awful QB. Major example: why are the Cardinals throwing the ball on first-and-10 on the Tampa Bay 20 when they're down three with 2:10 left?
Other play calling mysteries:
- With the Cardinals in a third-and-2 situation on the first drive of the game near midfield, why does the ball not get handed to Beanie Wells? Now, in this situation, I realize that Beanie dropped a first down pass, but I don't see why the team is passing in the first place when Max Hall had done nothing to inspire confidence.
- On Derek Anderson's first drive, the Cardinals trailed by a touchdown and found themselves at the Tampa Bay three-yard-line facing a fourth-and-2. Arizona went for it and DA threw an incomplete pass. Obviously, it's too convenient to see a missing three points and apply it to the final score, but as with Hall above, what had DA done that led Whiz to believe he was going to convert? The way I see it, the Cardinals surrendering a field goal drive just before halftime was a direct result of the offense's inability to put points on the board after that drive.
I'll continue to be an ardent Whisenhunt supporter -- he obviously has earned that from a lifelong Cardinals fan -- but if he's not careful, he's going to lose the confidence of this team with such suspect decision making that doesn't seem to take the strengths of his team into account.
Do I know what the solutions are? Of course not, but I'm not paid millions of dollars to make them.
NFC West Race
All season, I've been relatively confident in the Cardinals chances to win the NFC West. Well, after Sunday, I'm about as close as possible to waving the white flag.
I know the standings say the Cardinals are just a game back of a Seahawks team that just took a 30-point loss to the Raiders and a half game back of a Rams team that the Cards beat, that hasn't won a game on the road and has four of their next five away from the Edward Jones Dome, but this is about the Cardinals, not their division foes.
Though I still don't think the Cardinals schedule is anything to be afraid of, I'm just done thinking they can win with play like this at the quarterback position. I don't mean for that to be an indictment on the rest of the team, which is actually quite talented, but when you get the worst QB play in the league, the margin for error everywhere else is razor thin.
Look at the way the defense responded when Max Hall threw his pair of pick-sixes or when the Cardinals failed to convert the fourth down attempt at the Bucs three yard line. The body language immediately turned negative, while the level of play suffered.
We've seen it in games leading up to yesterday and we'll continue to see it the remainder of the season unless Derek Anderson somehow reverts to his 2007 form or Max Hall gets way, way better at football.
Have a wonderful week, sports fans.