A sampling of three comments from my blog:
“I’m a (season-ticket holder) and this is it. I’m not going to suffer through this anymore. This team’s inconsistency and inability to show up for the big game is unacceptable.”
“My heart was broken with this game. I even took down my Cardinal flag. Maybe the question should be asked is ‘Was last year a fluke?’ ”
“One thing I do agree on from many posts is the ‘Ho hum’ attitude from Coach Whiz and the players after an embarrassment like this. I know Coach Whiz is a pretty even tempered person but I didn’t see him take any accountability himself for it.”
The talk of frustration, certainly.
But it wasn’t from this week.
It’s from after the Colts game last season, a disastrous blowout loss. The season turned out OK, right?
Look, I’m not trying to say this team is as good as last season. We can guess if it is or isn’t, but reality says it’s hard to know for sure two games in. You ask my opinion, and, given that it is the home opener and that the Raiders are far from an established opponent, I believe this is almost a must-win – especially given a trip to San Diego and a visit from the Saints up next. But I also thought the Cards would clobber the Panthers last year and lose at least one of the six road games they ended up winning.
Coaches don’t know exactly who and what their teams are after two games. No one does.
On to the Raiders:
— What’s more important this week? Derek Anderson’s showing? Or the defense? I vote the defense, because I agree with safety Adrian Wilson – this team is going to have to be about defense first. They don’t have to be the 2000 Ravens or anything, but they have to be stout, they have to keep this team in games knowing the offense probably isn’t scoring 25 points a game and they have to make a impact play or two (preferably in the turnover category).
— That said, Anderson needs to click more often. Everyone knows that, including Anderson. If the Raiders blanket Larry Fitzgerald with Nnamdi Asomugha – which is possible – fine. Let Steve Breaston rip them up. Breaston is capable.
— What will Beanie Wells bring? He’s not going to out-carry Tim Hightower. Not this week. Limited again Friday, Beanie hasn’t practiced fully since he got hurt in the final preseason game Sept. 2 (and subsequently had surgery to repair a meniscus tear). Coach Ken Whisenhunt acknowledged this week Beanie isn’t in football shape. Yet Beanie is a threat and a nice compliment to Hightower. If this game stays close, riding the running backs a little more might help Anderson too.
— The Cards are 5 for 21 on third-down conversions this season. That absolutely must improve, although I am pretty sure that message has been delivered multiple times.
— Not sure who gets the call as punt returner. It may be rookie Andre Roberts’ turn, now that Max Komar had first-game issues and Breaston is already nursing that sore knee. Roberts has had trouble consistently catching passes this first year, and that can’t happen as a punt returner. Breaston, on “learning” how to catch punts: “You don’t want to say any person can catch them,” Breaston said. “It’s all about that pressure coming down on you. Any given time, someone could release a block and knock you on your butt. It’s like going across the middle every play – are you going to focus on that ball? Or are you going to focus on that safety?”
As receivers, both Roberts and Komar can understand such an analogy. The question is, can they make it work?
What a week. Started with disappointment in Atlanta, ended with a small Russian woman and Fitzgerald dancing after practice. Not exactly a sequence I had been expecting. Now we’ll wait to see how Sunday plays out.
Tags: Adrian Wilson, Andre Roberts, Beanie Wells, Derek Anderson, Falcons, Ken Whisenhunt, Larry Fitzgerald, Max Komar, Nnamdi Asomugha, Raiders, Steve Breaston, Tim Hightower
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