As the Cardinals have hobbled through seven consecutive losses, more and more people, media members, and bad fans have begun to let a horrifying former saying of the Arizona Cardinals franchise back into their lives: Same Ol' Cardinals. Not to pick on my boy Seth Pollack or anything, but a tweet he sent during the second half of the Cardinals' loss to the Rams yesterday really hit home with me.
Somehow, having a bad football team in Arizona again just feels natural. #WarnerFlukeEraOVERBackToNaturalOrderOfThingsSUCK
My stance? Losing is not acceptable anymore and fans shouldn't stand for it.
Obviously, at this point, we're looking at a completely lost season. I keep thinking this team has hit rock bottom, but each week they find new ways to show me that they have not.
A myriad of problems exist with the 2010 version of the Arizona Cardinals. It's almost too long a list to recap -- I said "almost."
The defense has had a load of issues, including tackling, rushing the passer, and just flat out blown assignments. The normally strong special teams have even begun to falter, allowing large return after large return the previous two weeks and somehow putting 12 guys on the field for a Rams field goal attempt and then being forced to burn a timeout when only 10 were on the field for a second attempt just three plays later.
And then there's the offense. Remember offense? Though they've shown brief flashes of competence, both the running game and the offensive line have proven incredibly disappointing. I'd also pin some disappointment on the receivers, but as any idiot knows, the struggles of the Cardinals offense begins and ends with the quarterback.
Derek Anderson has been pretty much exactly as advertised when he was run out of Cleveland before this season -- well below average. Beyond the embarrassing blow up with Kent Somers last Monday night, the guy is a overthrowing, underperforming clown.
But no matter how much you hate Anderson, the backup plan has been even worse. In his six games as a Cardinals, undrafted rookie Max Hall has completed 39 passes, and been intercepted six times. He's also got the lowest QB rating of any Phoenix/Arizona Cardinals quarterback ever to start a game -- worse than all these guys, and by a significant margin. Fun fact: Hall ranks 81 in the NFL in QB rating this season (of anyone to have thrown a pass).
Now that Hall suffered what's probably a season-ending shoulder injury, it's likely going to be John Skelton time. Though Skelton had a couple of good throws yesterday, if you're counting on the fifth round pick from Fordham to be a savior, then you're probably a hapless optimist. Do I want to see what he's got? Sure. Do I want the Cardinals 2011 on his back? Lord no.
For too many years we've watched the Cardinals play like this.
Things are so terrifyingly messy right now that I'd be surprised if they won another game -- and yes, I realize that the one-win Carolina Panthers are on the schedule. If the team should manage to pull off losses in their final four games, then they'll actually tie the 2000 Cardinals for the most losses in franchise history.
Think about that for a second. All the awful, playoff-less seasons in dreary Sun Devil Stadium, and this year has a chance to be worse than almost every other.
This year. With a team coming off two NFC West titles in a row, and returning multiple Pro Bowlers on both sides of the ball. The bar has been raised. This simply will not stand.
A few weeks ago, Larry Fitzgerald responded to a question about how he is handling the current losing by the Cardinals by saying that he'd tasted the caviar and that eating out of the garbage is not where he wanted to be. I'm with him on that one as should all my fellow fans.
In the past few years, the Cardinals have moved to a swanky new pad in Glendale, hired a coach from a winning organization, and put banners up in said new pad. In fact, almost everything that made the Cardinals a laughing stock has flipped in recent years.
Money is now being invested into this team and fans have responded with their own dough. In fact, since University of Phoenix Stadium opened in 2006, there have been 51 consecutive sell-outs. I don't really have the energy to do the research right now, but I'm not sure the Cards had 51 sell-outs in their entire stay at Sun Devil Stadium.
Fans care about this team and I can never recall them being so relevant in the community.
The idea of the same ol' Cardinals sailed away when Tim Hightower took a screen pass from Kurt Warner in the 2008 NFC Championship game and cruised into the end zone to put the Cardinals on their way to a Super Bowl. Do yourself a favor and bury that tired saying.
I think this is all relatively fixable. As I see it, the 2010 Cardinals were a vanity project from a coach who didn't like a quarterback that he didn't draft when the organization at large was trying to ram him down his throat. But I'll take the three years of Whisenhunt as a success that I saw against the one year of massive failure.
Perhaps I'm naïve, but I think Ken Whisenhunt will make the proper adjustments to get this team back where it belongs -- and in the playoffs is where it does belong. You know, things like hiring an offensive coordinator, getting a real live NFL quarterback, and maybe figuring out whether the defensive problems are talent- or scheme-based.
But if 2010 was not a bump in the road and the Ken Whisenhunt era really was just a mirage perpetuated by Kurt Warner's magical right arm then the plug should be pulled quickly.
If by next year the Cardinals are still being embarrassed by bad teams (yes, offense is meant to Seahawks, 49ers, and Rams fans), both at home and on the road, then change needs to and will occur. Losing can't become the status quo again.
The booing that's become standard following a Cardinal three-and-out will only be the beginning. If this team keeps losing like they have been for the previous seven weeks, the sellout streak could come to an end, the crowds could shrink to '90s levels, and worst of all, apathy could again set in.
I'm not ready for any of that and nor should you be. The Cardinals have already played one meaningless December game this year and I can already tell I don't have the taste for it anymore.
So stop hiding behind the crappy "Same Ol' Cardinals" phrase at the first sign of failure. We as fans should demand more and by doing so we might just get more.
We've seen this can be a winning franchise and have seen what it takes to get to the mountain top.
It's just got to turn around because I'm really sick of writing about how the Cardinals suck.