On Sunday the Cardinals crossed a threshold. Not the pain threshold, goodness knows they crossed that one a long time ago.
No, they passed what I’ll call the “tomorrow” threshold. Today no longer matters; tomorrow is all that counts. It relegates the rest of the 2010 season to one giant audition. Who checks out? Who loses focus in the meeting room and on the practice field? Who is going to continue to give a damn between now and January 2nd? Who wants a job next year and who is willing to bust their butt to keep the one they’ve got?
For some, this threshold was breached weeks ago. Personally I called out the time of death on the Cardinals playoff hopes following the Seattle loss a week ago.
For the optimistic dreamers who refused to let go, Sunday’s 31-13 loss to Kansas City was the moment of surrender. A victory over Todd Haley’s Chiefs would have provided at least a token piece of evidence that the Cardinals were capable of remaining relevant in this putrid division.
Instead, they outgained the Chiefs, had more first downs, gained 5.1 yards every time they rushed the ball, committed no turnovers and still got pounded. There is no more hope to sell. The threshold has been breached; tomorrow is all that matters.
It’s next to impossible to see Derek Anderson as a part of that tomorrow. As further proof that numbers can be distorted, his actually looked decent. 295 yards passing, one touchdown, no picks. But if you were watching the game you know as well as I; Anderson was about as accurate as a TV weatherman. All those passes he left high were destined to get one of his WR’s killed. When he wasn’t missing them high he was missing them long. His touch and accuracy long since abandoned, his cool soon followed. A 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct on Anderson got the coach about as mad as we’ve seen him this season. It was hardly the only thing to get under coach Ken Whisenhunt’s skin.
11 penalties, including a personal foul on Lyle Sendlein and an unnecessary roughness on Gerald Hayes. Both of those penalties were followed by big gains by the Chiefs offense and ultimately Kansas City touchdowns. The defense was once again sporadic. And, oh yeah, Whisenhunt’s friend and coaching colleague was across the field and is now one up on him in the head-to-head department.
The pressure on the Coach will get ratcheted up yet again this week. Ratchet away…he’s not going anywhere and nor should he. He’s still in the top half of coaches in this league and surely smart enough to take a good, hard, self-reflective look at what happened and how to correct it. Finding a quarterback with a decent arm, a heavy dose of accuracy and a whiff of inspiration certainly would be a good place to start.
Whisenhunt isn’t the first Cardinals coach to have a mess on his hands but he is the first one I believe has the chops to clean it up.