The Arizona Cardinals, it goes without saying (but oddly enough, I'm going to say it anyway), have been less effective this season than the days of yore when Kurt "Graybeard" Warner wandered the gridiron, whose Jesus-powered throwing accuracy and pocket awareness helped the Red Birds to true franchise glory.
The moment Kurt decided pro football was no longer his bag, everyone in Arizona knew the Cards were going to be slogging through some thick, smelly poop to get back to the playoffs. However, going into the season, a lot of us felt the team had the necessary talent to overcome uncertainly under center.
But, six games in, most of that peripheral talent has wilted, waned, or otherwise underperformed relative to expectations. Here's a list of notorious slackers:
Calais Campbell, DE. Calais had a strong showing in his first season as a starter, corralling seven sacks, 35 tackles, and a couple of blocked field goals. He appeared to be on track for a 10+ sack season, but so far he's only stuffed the passer twice. If he continues at this rate, he'll end the year with five or so sacks, which is thoroughly blah for a player with his physical gifts. Even worse for Calais, his backup Alan Branch seems to have switched on the proverbial light bulb in his limited playing time. He caught up with Campbell in the sack department just last game, smothering Seattle's Matt Hasselbeck two times on his own. Is it possible that Branch should be starting over Campbell? Probably not, but more is expected of Calais than he's providing.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CB. DRC may have been a Pro Bowler last season, but he's looked anything but so far this season. He was torched by Seakhawks wideout Mike Williams all day long last Sunday and teams, in general, seem perfectly fine throwing his way, making one-time talk of Rodgers-Cromartie being a shutdown corner seem ludicrous. Last season, DRC had six interceptions and 25 passes defensed. So far in 2010, he's got one interception and eight PDs, putting him on pace for three interceptions and 21 PDs, a dip from last season. DRC's always been a risk-taking mixed bag of brilliance and boredom, so it's unrealistic to expect a ton of consistency, but so far, the risks haven't been producing the rewards.
Darnell Dockett, DT. Dockett -- who, after signing a big-money extension this past offseason, famously proclaimed his goal was to outplay his new contract -- hasn't really made much progress to that goal just yet. He hasn't been too terrible, but he finished last season with seven sacks and only has one so far, which will leave him with around three for the year if he doesn't pick up the pace. That's a very low number for such a richly paid defensive end. He's made good on his efforts to be a leader and a dirt worker, but he's paid to be a playmaker, as well, and hasn't made a lot of them yet.
Joey Porter, LB. Although there were a lot of folks that believed Porter was past his prime and really only effective as a pass rusher, Porter insisted he was not and, as late as last week, predicted he'd have a double-digit sack total despite having only two with 10 games remaining. He's got a lot of work to do to reach that goal; having one sack every other game will not get him there, despite all of the chitty-chatty about sitting pretty at the end of the season with 12 sacks. I don't think anyone expected him to actually get to 10+, even before his promises, but seven or eight would be nice, Joey.
Beanie Wells, RB. Almost every Cardinals fan in existence thought Beanie would be the starter this year, get the vast majority of the carries in a more balanced offense, and rush for over 1,000 yards on the season. So far, he's averaging 13 carries a game for 45.75 yards a game; his carries are up (a wee little bit), but his yards are down. He's rushing for 3.5 yards per carry versus 4.5 last season. Now, Beanie missed two games with his knee surgery, but he's still having some trouble getting traction. Some of the fault lies on coach Whisenhunt's inexplicable resistance to starting Wells and giving him 20 or so carries a game. Maybe his pass blocking and blitz pickup is a little suspect, but in an offense as anemic as this one, you need to utilize the weapons you have.