There are several words that can describe Arizona Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt when it comes to his decision to start Max Hall these last three games.
Arrogance, blind loyalty, defiant, cocky and stubborn are a few that come to mind.
While Whisenhunt gets a ton of credit, and rightfully so, for turning around this franchise and taking them places they had never been before, he clearly needs to take the blame for the current predicament the Cardinals are in right now.
Whisenhunt’s unfounded faith in Hall may end up costing Arizona the NFC West title. The Cardinals have lost two games in the past two weeks that they very well could have won had the head coach not been so pigheaded.
How and why he chose the undrafted rookie signal caller to start on a veteran laden team that wants to and expects to win right now is beyond comprehension. While Derek Anderson is no prize and would be considered in the bottom third of quarterbacks in this league there is no debating that he gives Arizona the best chance to win now.
And shouldn’t it be about that, winning now?
Let’s get a few things clear here. Both Hall and Anderson are mistake prone, both will turn the ball over and make stupid decisions. But the difference between them is that Anderson will actually make a few plays down field and Hall won’t. Anderson can drive the team down the field by using wide receivers where if Hall does it, he is hitting running backs and tight ends in the flat.
Anderson completed a 33-yard pass to Breaston on his first throw after replacing Hall. Hall’s longest pass of the day to a wide receiver was 15 yards to Larry Fitzgerald. Anderson also connected on a 37-yard pass play to Breaston, a 25-yard strike to Early Doucet, a long 36-yard pass to Breaston and a 14-yarder to Breaston.
Again, while Anderson is not the long-term answer at quarterback for Arizona he is the best option right now. He can move the team down the field and keep receivers happy. His first interception was not his fault, LaRod Stephens-Howling got popped and the ball came out and was picked off. The second one was clearly his fault, an ill-advised throw to a clearly covered Fitzgerald.
That Whisenhunt has pulled the plug on Hall the last two games should not absolve him from the mistake of starting Hall in the first place. The kid is just not ready at this point to play at this level. Someday he may be or maybe he never will be. Nothing wrong with having Hall on the roster, but he needs to be sitting on the bench watching and learning from a veteran quarterback, not starting over one.
The NFC West is weak, so the Cardinals can still very well end up winning this division. But the team needs its head coach to understand that grooming a young quarterback for the future should be for teams that have no chance of making the playoffs.
Teams like Arizona that should and expect to be playoff bound cannot groom a quarterback. Tampa groomed Josh Freeman last season during a 3-win campaign. Now he is paying huge dividends for them. Bad teams groom young quarterbacks for the future. Arizona was in the Super Bowl two years ago and won a playoff game last year. They have veterans like Adrian Wilson, Gerald Hayes, Darnell Dockett, Joey Porter, Kerry Rhodes, Fitzgerald and Alan Faneca that want to win now.
I guess when you have a little success your ego can get in the way and you can have that “my way or the highway” mentality. Maybe you feel like you are somewhat invincible, that you can do no wrong. That everything you touch turns to gold. Heck, I would feel that way if I had taken this organization to the Super Bowl. But right now clearer heads need to prevail and someone on that staff needs to challenge the head coach regarding the quarterbacks.
It’s time to put Anderson back where he belongs and to live and die with what he does. Mistakes happen and starting Hall was a big one. But better to admit your mistake and make changes then to try to prove you are right at the expense of the team.