It’s funny (OK, maybe not hah-hah funny, the way last week went) but funny interesting that on the week where the biggest news was that the undrafted rookie was taking over at quarterback the most important news may have been acknowledging it is the established players that need to step up their collective game.
“It’s been discussed in our group and meetings,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “That’s an important thing. Our best players have to play better than they have played in order for us to be successful and there is no ambiguity in that message.”
That’s why we had a rash of “I have to worry about myself” talk in the locker room earlier this week, and why Darnell Dockett was talking about accountability (although he briefly left himself out of those who had to step up before properly recovering).
We can talk all day about Hall and what he will do (and make no mistake, he has to be at least adequate for this team to win, i.e., few rookie errors), but there are ways around that if the stars begin to shine. Some are dependent on others, like Fitz. But there is a big group of defenders like A-Dub, Dockett, Calais Campbell, DRC and Joey Porter that could allow the team to lean on them a little while (while Hall learns a bit) and give the Cards the chance to run the ball.
This defense is one of those groups that, every once in a while, turns in one of those dominant performances – like in the Monday Night Meltdown game, or against the Panthers in the playoffs or against the Vikings last year. Maybe the Saints will get the 2010 version.
— I will write more about Hall tomorrow on the homepage but – and don’t let me hear how negative I am being – keep the expectations tempered. If Hall comes out and throws a couple of TD passes and the Cards win, the coronation will happen anyway (even though it’ll be one game) and it will even happen at azcardinals.com. That’s natural. But let’s see what Hall does in the regular game all the way through first.
— Whisenhunt on the way the offensive line and defensive line looked this week, getting very physical (and working in pads Wednesday, which isn’t always the case). “That’s a good sign that our guys are trying to get it right,” Whisenhunt said.
— Fitzgerald is watching the standings in the division, just in case you were wondering. Asked where the Cards were as a team, he said “We’re leading the NFC west, that’s where we are.”
“Obviously we are not playing the kind of football of which we are capable, but things could be a heck of a lot worse, and we know that,” Fitzgerald said, adding, “anybody who says they don’t watch the other teams in their division play and hope for them all to lose is lying to you. That’s the nature of competition. We want to win it. We know we need to put together a streak of games, starting Sunday preferably, and try to take control.”
— The question now is, can Fitz continue to get the ball, even if it’s from the rookie? My guess is yes. And don’t ask Fitz about Hall’s arm strength or is Hall throws a “catchable ball” or anything like that. It’s a moot point to him. “I’ve never seen an ugly ball come in my direction in all the years I’ve been playing,” Fitz said. “Punt it to me, roll it to me, whatever you want to do, I’m going to catch it.”
Fitz does know neither a punt or a rolling ball would count as a reception, right?
— Whisenhunt was asked about handling the quarterback situation early in the offseason after Warner retired, and if the Cards should have signed a veteran now that they are down to a rookie.
“Well, we did sign a veteran,” Whisenhunt said. “We signed Derek (Anderson). If I remember, you can go back and check the timing of it, we didn’t have a lot of options available. I’ve heard a number of talks about certain quarterbacks in the league, but at the time we were in a situation when Kurt (Warner) retired and we didn’t have another quarterback, there weren’t a lot of opportunities available. We did what we thought was the right move in bringing Derek in here as a veteran player who had success in the league. At that time, we tried to make an offer for the guy in San Diego (Charlie Whitehurst) who went to Seattle. We did have a plan that we tried to execute. I don’t know what other alternatives that we had available to us at that time that you would consider us having done.”
Key to remember Matt Leinart was on board at the time too, and – regardless of what people want to think – was still a likely option at that point.
— Two appearances by Kurt Warner in two weeks. One for “Dancing With the Stars.” One for FOX and his analyst job. None for playing football for the Cardinals.
“Did I think Kurt wasn’t going to be busy with things like that? No. I know Kurt would get slammed as soon as he made that decision to come back,” Whisenhunt said. “In fact, I’ll be honest, I think Kurt sometimes wishes he was playing football again so he didn’t have so much stuff going on.”
I think Whisenhunt sometimes wishes that too.
— The Saints aren’t hitting on all cylinders as an offense. That can play to the Cards’ favor. It needs to play into their favor. I don’t see the Cards able to score with the Saints if Drew Brees comes in and puts up a 28-spot. But maybe, just maybe, the Cards get a little magic with Hall and a big defensive effort in front of the home crowd. To be 3-2 at the bye, given everything, would be a spectacular achievement.
— And so I leave with this: veteran back and brainiac Jason Wright – he went to Northwestern – on coming back after that San Diego beatdown, the second in three weeks the Cards suffered: “We need to be harder on ourselves about that loss,” he said. “You can get sucker-punched walking down the street. But if you get sucker-punched a second time, you are a sucker. That’s the reality of the situation. We have to be harder on ourselves because this is the second time around.”
We’ll see what that means against the Saints Sunday.
Tags: Adrian Wilson, Calais Campbell, Darnell Dockett, DRC, Drew Brees, Jason Wright, Joey Porter, Ken Whisenhunt, Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald, Matt Leinart, Max Hall, Saints
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