Rarely does a sporting event live up to its pre-game billing, but the Cardinals’ visit to New York did exactly that.
This game, which the Jets “won” by a score of 7-6, was every bit as poorly played as we thought it would be. In fact, it may have even been more pathetic than anticipated.
The Jets’ Mark Sanchez threw three interceptions. The Cardinals’ longest play from scrimmage was a fake punt. And Ryan Lindley, the Cardinals’ latest in a long list of disasters at quarterback, completed 10-of-31 passes for 72 yards and one interception.
Sanchez was benched in the third quarter; Lindley played the entire game. Sanchez’s replacement threw the game-winning touchdown pass. As for Lindley?
“You look at it and you say he’s got to play better, and he does,” Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt told the Arizona Cardinals Radio Network after the game. “If he wants to be the quarterback of this team he’s got to play better than that, and I think he understands that.”
There’s little doubt Lindley would like to be the team’s quarterback, and who knows, maybe in time he will be. But right now it’s obvious he’s not anywhere close to being ready for the job. The coaching staff recognized that, too, and considered making a change Sunday afternoon.
“But at the time where we were, the way he talked on the sideline and was handling what he needed to handle as the quarterback and then he made the good throw to Michael (Floyd) on the sideline after we got the turnover there late,” the coach said, adding he thought the Cardinals were going to score a touchdown on the fourth quarter drive instead of having to settle for a Jay Feely field goal. “You consider all those things and you ultimately go with what you think gives you the best chance to win.”
Lindley completed less than 1/3 of his passes and averaged fewer than three yards per attempt. The Cardinals went 0-for-15 on third down and moved the chains just five times. And yet, he gave the team the best chance to win?
If Lindley gives the team its best chance to win, one must wonder what the prize is. After all, it’s too late to suck for Luck.
Anyway, it’s the same baseless claim the coach had when he replaced John Skelton in Atlanta with a lead, after Lindley’s pair of pick-sixes cost Arizona a chance to beat the Rams, and now after the rookie put forth a miserable effort in the Big Apple.
Either Whisenhunt is lying to us, and he really has given up on the season and is rolling with the rookie with an eye towards the future, or he’s just clueless when it comes to the quarterback position.
Both options are currently still on the table.
The Cardinals coach is backed into a corner with this one. Kevin Kolb may be ready to come back, but what good comes from giving him the starting job with the playoffs out of reach and the QB not likely to return next season? It would be tough to turn back to Skelton, a third-year player who likely has little confidence left after the coach turned his back on him with a 10-point lead just a few short weeks ago. Like Kolb, Skelton is not likely to return in 2013.
And Lindley, a sixth-round pick who has no business playing right now but will be back next year, has shown nothing that would make someone think the team will win any of the final four games with him under center.
What’s a coach to do?
Deal with the mess he made and suffer the ramifications.
It’s been said that Whisenhunt is one of the game’s best and smartest coaches, and it’s easy to see why.
After all, he guided the Cardinals to the Super Bowl, and was well-respected enough that Peyton Manning paid the franchise a visit last March when he was looking for a new team.
However, with Whisenhunt’s smarts have come a certain level of confidence that, unfortunately, has led to some questionable decisions over the last few seasons.
Is it a case of “I’m smarter than you, and I’m going to prove it?”
Kind of looks that way.
What else would you call Whisenhunt’s decision to turn to Derek Anderson and Max Hall in 2010? Why else would the Cardinals trade for Kolb and ask him to fit the offense instead of adapting the offense to fit the QB?
And how else could someone interpret the reactionary decision to bench a struggling-but-winning Skelton in favor of a rookie who, through no fault of his own, has no business being on the field right now?
Quarterback controversies are fun; quarterback ineptitude is painful to watch.
And when the issues are created by a head coach who seems unable to fix things?
There’s really only one thing to do.
The last time the Arizona Cardinals lost eight-straight games was 2006, when the team was breaking in a first-round draft pick named Matt Leinart. The slide was embarrassing, and it helped usher Dennis Green out of town.
Ken Whisenhunt is a better coach than Green, but at this point it’s tough not to expect him to suffer a similar fate.