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Next Man Up

The Daryl Washington suspension, and the shock thereof, has subsided. A gloomy weekend of consideration and analysis has brought me to a conclusion: The Daryl Washington era is most likely over here in Arizona.

I don’t know this to be the case. These words are pure speculation on my part, but if I were the GM of the Cards I would be forced to say goodbye to D-Wash. You can’t depend on him. And not being able to depend on a player makes planning an exercise in futility. GMs make plans, long term and short term. Unfortunately, you can make neither when it comes to Washington.

What do the Cards do now? Well, short term, they need to answer two questions as it pertains to their defense: what do they do in run-down situation (1 & 10, 2 & 1-6) AND sub packages? D-Wash used to stay on the field in both situations. He was adept at using his speed and quickness to make tackles in the box and could cover some receivers in third and obvious pass situations. He never left the field. Now they’ll have to use two (or more) players to fill his role.

I think they’ll use a combination of players. In run down, Kevin Minter and Larry Foote are the most likely candidates to line up based on the offense’s personnel grouping. Although I expect big things out of Kevin Minter and believe Larry Foote is a capable defender, juxtaposing those two names with Karlos Dansby and Daryl Washington shows you the depth of Todd Bowles’ problem.

This was the best rush defense in the league in 2013. Now, what makes them the best rush defense in the league are the guys with their hands in the dirt, Dan Williams, Darnell Dockett and Calais Campbell to name a few. And Matt Shaughnessy as the SAM backer in this defense was, and is, so understated. But the Cards are going from two exclamation points in their defense to two question marks. That’s never good.

In sub packages, especially third & obvious pass situations involving nickel and dime personnel, possible new signee Ernie Sims and newly acquired Larry Foote may be the best alternative in nickel; or Todd Bowles could just go with more dime personnel (6 DBs) and, depending on the down & distance, use someone like Sims and a DB in the box.

I would also expect to see the Arizona Cardinals be very active now that the June 1st cuts are upon us. Steve Keim has been very good at acquiring talent late in the league year and Big Red is going to need his recruiting talent in order to soften the Washington blow.

Long term, the Cards will do nothing and let the process work itself out. I would imagine the Cardinals are going to go after the $10 million they gave him in March. Now, remember, those payments are incremental, deferred, and don’t happen all at once…unless they cut Washington now. This will not happen because the cap hit they would take would be prohibitive and, more importantly, should they cut Washington now, guarantee him all of the $10 million in bonuses.

On a personal note, I wish Daryl the best and hope he goes on to have a long, productive career. I hope he matures and understands the great gifts he’s been given and the importance of keeping his nose clean off the field. I have seen too many players with outstanding talent squander that ability on the pile of Shoulda-Been-Great.

NFL players, above all, need to be dependable and accountable…on the field and off. This has not been the case for Daryl. It’s that simple.