It is not a fun time to be an Arizona Cardinals fan right now. An eight-game losing streak! Seriously! In a league of parity, the hapless Cardinals have managed to have losing streaks of six, seven and eight-and-counting in the past three years. That’s pretty hard to do, especially when your defense keeps you in most games.
Most fans want the heads of head coach Ken Whisenhunt and general manager Rod Graves on a silver platter. And Cardinals management would be well-justified in making a change at the end of the season and starting over.
It might be time for a new voice, for new leadership. Maybe the message is no longer getting through. Sure, the team still plays hard and that is one thing in Whisenhunt’s favor — that his team has not quit on him — not yet anyway. But you get the feeling that this team is about to implode at anytime. Poor decisions in the draft and free agency and the inability to properly evaluate the quarterback position have set this team back a few years.
There is plenty of blame to go around, but most of it lies with Whisenhunt. He is the Captain of this ship. His success in getting Arizona to the Super Bowl five years ago gave him leverage for a new contract and authority and final say that he never should have had.
It’s not difficult to see where Arizona has failed. The first being quarterback play. Whisenhunt handpicked Derek Anderson and Kevin Kolb and those decisions have flopped. He ignored quarterbacks early in the draft and took John Skelton and Ryan Lindley with late-round picks. He gave a chance to undrafted free agent Max Hall. He has flip-flopped on his quarterbacks all year.
There is no way Lindley, a sixth-round pick, is ready to play at this level. I used an analogy on the radio Monday to make a point on Lindley. It’s like the father that takes his 14-year-old son to the church parking lot and teaches him how to drive even though he doesn’t have his license yet. But he doesn’t let him drive home or take the car for a spin on a real road. Lindley is that quarterback that isn’t ready to drive on the road. He needs to spend some serious time in the parking lot (practice) learning how to play.
I can spend countless hours talking about how they ignored the offensive line, failed to address the injury situations at O-line and running back when guys went down, botched draft picks and free agency. But by now everyone knows the Cardinals’ shortcomings and who is to blame for them.
The real question for the Cardinals is are they committed to winning? Yes simple question. Is ownership committed to winning at all costs? Because if they are firing Whisenhunt (who has one year and $5.75 million left on his contract) and Graves (who is also in the final year of his deal) will be a decision based on what is in the best interest of the football team going forward. It won’t be about money and not wanting to eat all that cash. And I do have some concerns that ownership is afraid to eat that much money.
The main factor they need to consider is defensive coordinator Ray Horton. Is it worth losing him to keep Whisenhunt and hope that he can work some magic in the final year of his contract? Horton is the key here — his defense is very, very good. He is well-respected by his players and he will be a hot candidate for head coaching vacancies around the league. It might be wise to keep him and elevate him to head coach and let Whisenhunt go.
Either way, Graves has to go. It’s time for a new voice at the top, a new direction and leader. Someone who can take control of the organization back from the coach and have full say on the draft and free agency.
A lot depends on what happens in these final four games. There is no excuse for an eight-game losing streak, but can you imagine 12? It’s very possible.
And if that happens, there really is no choice but to make a change. If the team can find a way to dig deep and pull out a couple of wins in the next four weeks maybe, just maybe, Whiz can survive but he will need to make some changes on his coaching staff and answer to a new GM.
Time will tell, but things have been heading south here for a few months and I’m not sure they can right this ship with the people they currently have in place.