The Arizona Cardinals were disappointed to get knocked out of the NFL Playoffs despite how thin their chances were after a 1-6 start to the season. Head coach Ken Whisenhunt is pleased with the fight and resiliency his team has shown this season but is still searching for ways to get off to better starts in games.
The Cardinals have one final game left on the 2011 NFL schedule, a Week 17 home game against the Seattle Seahawks. Both teams are 7-8 and fighting for second spot in the NFC West.
While it's only symbolic at this point, Whisenhunt is highly motivated to see his team finish with a .500 record and thinks it can help build momentum headed in to the offseason similar to what happened in 2007. That team hovered around .500 all season and then came back the next year and went to the Super Bowl.
With that in mind, Whisenhunt will approach the game will full force and use all his healthy players.
CB Patrick Peterson injured his Achilles tendon on Saturday and had an MRI Monday. The results of that test, along with how he responds, will determine if he gets the chance to set an NFL record by returning his fifth punt for a touchdown.
QB Kevin Kolb is still day-to-day. Last week he was still having "little symptoms" come up and on Saturday didn't feel good when he got to the field in Cincinnati. There was concern about the bright sun and the stadium noise so he was held out.
"Most of the time he's good (but) he has his moments where he doesn't feel great. Whether it's the installation meeting, one day he'll not feel good doing that or it's out there on the field and other days he doesn't have those (symptoms)," Whisenhunt said. "We're adhering to what the policies are, which I agree with, and that is that we're going to make sure we're conservative or cautious with it."
So, once more we enter a week not knowing who the starting quarterback for the Arizona Cardinals will be.
John Skelton had three interceptions and played poorly for this first three quarters before finding a groove and getting himself and the team going. The team has tried all sorts of things to get him going, including earlier use of the no-huddle offense.
Whisenhunt (and presumably Skelton) are as frustrated as anyone with the slow starts but according to the coach, this isn't uncommon for a young quarterback with less than a full season's worth of starting experience.
"The one thing I'll take over all of it is the ability to make plays in the fourth quarter to give you a chance to win games. When you have six games, five that he's been involved with, where you come back and won at the end, that's pretty strong," Whisenhunt said, reminding us that quarterbacks have been judged through history for their ability to finish games.
At the same time, "If we can get John to start faster, it would be a pretty good thing."
Fan favorite Deuce Lutui saw action for the first time this season outside of special teams. He played right guard in the second half of the Bengals game in place of Rex Hadnot. Whisenhunt said Deuce played "OK" and than he came in the game due to knee and back issues that Hadnot has been dealing with.
Whisenhunt reacts to Jerome Simpson TD flip
"It's a great, athletic play by the guy. Am I impressed by that? I'm impressed every day with what I see these guys do," Whisenhunt said.
"I don't like it that it happened against us, obviously, but the guy is a tremendous athlete and made a good play. And listen. it's great that people are excited about it, it's great for our sport, it gets more interest in it.
"Hopefully, somebody will make a play and we won't have to see that going forward because it certainly doesn't bring back good memories of the game. Now, if we'd have pulled it out and won another one of those close games at the end, I'd be okay with that. That's the emotional part of the game that we have to go through."