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Sun Devils, Cardinals’ losing weekend wasn’t surprising

When I go see a Tom Cruise movie, typically I know exactly what I’m getting into. He is playing pretty much himself in a movie that features a lot of action, a few wisecracks and at least one scene of him running….somewhere. No one in the history of the world walked out of Jack Reacher and said “hunh, didn’t see that one coming.”

Hugh Grant is always the charming British guy. Morgan Freeman is always the wise older guy. Christopher Walken is always, well, Christopher Walken. These actors, with varying degrees of skill, are basically playing the same person every time out.

It’s called typecasting and it doesn’t offer a whole lot of surprise.

Kind of like our local football teams. After watching ASU get trampled by Stanford and the Cardinals drubbed by the Saints, what did you expect? Cruise playing Hamlet?

It was fun to believe, for a moment, that ASU could hang with a far superior opponent like Stanford, just like it was fun to believe last year they were going to hang with Oregon.

In both cases it didn’t take very long to realize those who do, do. And those who don’t, can’t even execute a punt without an ensuing Mission Impossible-like adventure.

Stanford’s physical domination was awesome. Or, at the very least, awe inspiring. The crowd may have been wine and cheese. The fellas up front were meat and potatoes and they shoved around the Devils with the sort of authority not seen since you used to pick on your kid brother.

All that loss proved was that ASU isn’t an elite college football team. No shame in that. Todd Graham’s Devils still have a chance of being a very good team and should be able to beat a wobbly USC squad at home.

If they don’t, then I’ve overestimated this group. If they do, you’re a win against Notre Dame away from finishing this brutal stretch 3-1.

Point is, the legitimate dreams are still on the table for ASU. The same can be said for the Cardinals.

They were matched up against an elite quarterback for the first time this season, with a superior, un-guardable receiving target, in the second loudest building in the NFL. The 31-7 loss to the Saints evoked the same kind of well-what-did-you-think-was-gonna-happen type response.

Perhaps no unit in all of Phoenix sports, save for the Diamondbacks bullpen, gets typecast more frequently than the Cardinals offensive line. True to form, the five up front played the part of the bad guy. The reason for the loss. There’s no doubt they earned it. Watching a jittery Carson Palmer hurry his throws in anticipation (or fear) of getting smashed has worn thin and we’re just in Week 3.

But Ron Wolfley is right; don’t typecast Palmer as a victim of porous protection. Instead, he must — in Wolf’s words — “settle his soul, accept his plight and bear the burden of responsibility that comes with being a quarterback in the NFL.”

In other words; deal with it.

How he does may very well determine the Cardinals fate.
Win against the Buccaneers (very doable with that dumpster fire of a team in Tampa) and the Cards are a manageable 2-2 after four games. Getting your doors blown off against the Saints isn’t necessarily a reflection of the season. All sorts of teams are going to struggle to play well in New Orleans this year. If the Cardinals can get improved play from their offensive line and quarterback — big ifs I know — this season is not lost.

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