In what was a must-win game for both the Arizona Cardinals and the Kansas City Chiefs, the Chiefs came away with a blowout victory. Big plays by Dwayne Bowe, Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones were the difference in a game where statistically there was not a lot of separation. Matt Cassel threw for 193 yards and two scores, Jones rushed for two scores, and the Chiefs defense kept Larry Fitzgerald and company out of the endzone until the final play of the game, when the game was already decided.
Like the previous four games, Ken Whisenhunt began his postgame press conference calling Sunday "a very disappointing day." That has sadly become an awfully repetitive thing to hear. According to the coach, right now the Cardinals are a team that is "not making the plays when [they] have the opportunity to make plays that can change the way a game goes."
"Disappointing" is the only way to describe it. The Cards drove down the field in their first series and looked like they were going to make a game of it. The defense looked, at least early on, that it was going to give the offense a shot to get in a groove, but it was not to be. KC was able to run the ball for 159 yards, averaging 5.5 yards per carry.
There were some interesting comments made by Whisenhunt and other players. Coach Whiz pointed out three issues in particular as being problems: penalties, dropped balls, missed assignments. He also said this, which was interesting:
"One of the things we've always been able to feed on is certain individuals...making plays. And we had our chances to do that, and we had more dropped balls today than what I can remember with this football team."
In part this can be referring to the quarterback play and the fact that they can no longer rely on Kurt Warner to make plays, but they have not been able to rely on that all year. Since he mentioned dropped balls twice, you would have to think that he was referring to, at least indirectly, Larry Fitzgerald. Other players that in the past were counted on for making plays were Darnell Dockett and Adrian Wilson. Neither have been impact players this season. Again, this could be more of a reference of changes in personnel, but it seemed to me he was calling out his stars, at least indirectly.
In his postgame comments, Whisenhunt described the Cardinals as "not a real confident team right now." Tim Hightower somehwat disagreed, stating that it is "we don't play with a lot of confidence at times," and that the team looks great at times and then other times he doesn't even know who the team is.
One other interesting comment was from Adrian Wilson. He said this:
"What the point of doing that (talking to other players) if they're not going to listen? It will just fall on deaf ears and you'll be right back to square one. Guys have to be their own motivator. You can't motivate somebody else to play and to not make a mistake."
This sounds a bit like there are players on defense who are tuning out the team leaders (and probably coaches). Perhaps Wilson's standing as a leader and example has taken a hit with his diminished performance on the field. Perhaps it is just players who are not all in.
Who is he calling out? Is it Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who has shown the tendency to rely more on physical ability than smarts or effort. Is it newcomer Kerry Rhodes, who has been effective, but has had a "Hollywood" reputation? Is it the veteran Gerald Hayes, who has committed dumb deadball penalties in two consecutive weeks? Is it the young rookies, or even Darnell Dockett, who has not done much since getting his new contract extension? Maybe it was simply a statement of a need for personal accountability on the team. Whoever it is or whatever the reasons for those comments, there are issues on the defensive side of the ball.
Derek Anderson struggled all game with his throws. He did not turn the ball over and threw for 295 yards and a late TD, but he was consistently high on his throws. Early Doucet, who left the game after being hit hard on one such throw, was hit a couple of times when having to elevate to catch the ball. Yes, it was windy, but Matt Cassel did not seem to have any issues.
It reminded me of what I read earlier this year in May about how both Anderson and Matt Leinart were working on their mechanics with QB coach Chris Miller. Anderson, being as tall as he is, struggles with high throws when he steps too far into his throws. Miller worked with him on taking a much smaller stride to avoid the throws that sail high. It might be time to focus on that again.
Penalties were an issue. The Cardinals were flagged 11 times for penalties, many that were drive killers. With as many veteran players as there are on this team, this is unacceptable.
At this point, even in this division, I think we all can agree that, while the team is not mathematically out, we can stick a fork in these birds (kind of fitting for the week of Thanksgiving). It is going to take eight wins to win the division (likely nine for the Cards, as they have lost twice to Seattle) and at 3-7, winning five out of six games or all six remaining games seems silly, even when there are some very winnable games left.
It may not yet be time to have John Skelton start, but that time does not seem too far away.