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Blogs

Friday before the Saints

Posted by Darren Urban on October 8, 2010 – 4:35 pm

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.


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Posted in Blog | 47 Comments »


47 Responses to “Friday before the Saints”

  1. By NAod on Oct 8, 2010 | Reply

    hey guys i’m ure biggest fan nd i waz hping if u guys can play 4-3 deffense

  2. By justice on Oct 8, 2010 | Reply

    Darren,
    I am cautiously optimistic about Hall starting. However, would Coach W put DA back in if Hall throws more than one INTs in first half? I can’t tell he is trying to win a game vs getting Hall enough game exposure to be ready for Seattle game after the bye.

  3. By Darren Urban on Oct 8, 2010 | Reply

    Justice —

    RE: Hall

    Hall isn’t getting pulled.

  4. By Phoenixraven1 on Oct 8, 2010 | Reply

    Mad max era has began!!!

  5. By Joel L. on Oct 8, 2010 | Reply

    I know I asked you a little while back if you had heard any grumblings or misgivings from any players or personel about ML being let go. And you said “honestly no”. But there are so many people questioning the decision. And now that DA has been such a disapointment. I’m just curious. You interact with Whiz on a regular basis, do you think he regrets it at all?

  6. By ross on Oct 8, 2010 | Reply

    Beanie, Tim, repeat.

  7. By Chris Ross on Oct 8, 2010 | Reply

    Very nice article, I definitely enjoyed reading it! The quarter mark of the NFL has been interesting to say the least. So many different storylines and controversies throughout the league. I think that the division that is going to be most overlooked is the weak NFC west. One of those team’s still has to make the playoffs and none of them are very good. I think Seattle and San Fran have the most legit shots at it but St. Louis and Bradford have shown something to us as well. Also, you think you could check out my blog cuz I really wanna hear what you think. http://chrisross91.wordpress.com/2010/10/08/the-mild-mild-west/

  8. By Darren Urban on Oct 8, 2010 | Reply

    Joel L —

    RE: Leinart decision

    “So many people.” Fans you mean? Fans and media? I’m telling you, inside the building, I haven’t heard it.

  9. By Nathan on Oct 8, 2010 | Reply

    Darren,

    Thanks for all the great reporting. I really appreciate your responses to fan questions. Keep up the great job.

  10. By Chad on Oct 8, 2010 | Reply

    Leinart, DA, skelton, nor Hall were/are going to win us the game like say Peyton wins for Colts. We need a QB to have high completion percentage and minimal turnovers. Get the ball into the hands of the playmakers and let them win the game. Hall is the best option to so that.

    I am surprised we haven’t run the ball a lot more though….like 95 percent of the time and short underneath passes.

  11. By Former Steeler Fan on Oct 8, 2010 | Reply

    Jason Wright’s comment about being sucker punched is a classic.
    Now, the trick is to avoid being sucker punched for the third time!!!
    I, unfortunately, doubt that the Cards can avoid it: Saints 34 Cards 17

  12. By Jesse Robles on Oct 8, 2010 | Reply

    CARDS got to give it all they got before the bye. I know it is going to be a tough one but they get 2 weeks to heal. After that the schedule is kind of weird playing the Seahawks 2 out of the next 4 games, very interesting but we need to get it done and turn it around now. If Hall has any chance of success this week we need a 100 yard rusher, we need to establish the run.

  13. By joe again on Oct 8, 2010 | Reply

    Everyone needs a reality check right now, and to realize that if we can beat the Super Bowl champs with a rookie QB and our woeful D, then it will be a major major upset.

    Us fans should tamp down our expectations and just be happy if we can stay competitive with the Saints. Of course, I’m rooting for the upset, too, bigtime, just like everybody else, but if we do fall to 2-3, its not the end of the world. The really critical game is with Seattle coming out of our bye. So lets all stick with these Cards no matter what hand we’re dealt on Sunday.

  14. By joe again on Oct 8, 2010 | Reply

    (p.s. to Darren — thats some of your best writing there, bro — be proud)

  15. By LUKE on Oct 8, 2010 | Reply

    Mad Max!Nice!

  16. By scott023 on Oct 8, 2010 | Reply

    Just a thought; Did anybody look at the jets (the plays they ran) when sanchez had his rookie year. Not that hall is sanchez. however, if we look at the plan they had for him when he was blitzed. Just saying they did things to help him,you always blitz a rookie,and give him different looks . Somebody did their homework to help him get respect. If you live by the blitz,you die by the blitz. We have great talent on both sides of the ball.I know we should play our strenghs, and play on their weaknesses. What do you think darren?I get so mad when I know we are better than we have been playing. I don’t think you fire a coach because you get beat .However,If I went to work and failed at a 50% rate and when I failed it was as bad as we have been, and one of the wins was not in my control ( the oakland kick).That would of made me with a 75% failure rate, I promise you I would be fired. The coaches make a bunch of money,and paid to teach,well anyway you see my point here. Pounding is not the answer,teaching is. Let us hope we wake up. I refuse to fail in my job, my pride would find a way, and very,very fast.

  17. By Gang6230 on Oct 8, 2010 | Reply

    of course drew brees is gonna want to make a point with the cards, but thats the reason why this team has had time to deal with the issues and not allow him to do what he wants he is beatable and they do have weaknesses. and the do make mistakes not many but they do. its up to the defence to make them pay for their holes i believe the cards have a chance to beat them lessons learned from mistakes makes anyone better. this game will be better than the chargers game as far as to our advantage.
    Go Cards ill be watching on the direct tv nfl sunday ticket as i do always

  18. By scott023 on Oct 8, 2010 | Reply

    The cards had an o-lineman with conrad dobler, he would fight to the end. We had banks the strongest man in the nfl. Dan Dierdorf, a real pro . They would not let anybody but the o-line sit on their bench. They were the best of the best, more pride than ten teams, I would love to have our o-line get that kind of mind set. We have talent,I just wonder if they all have the heart?

  19. By Eazy E on Oct 8, 2010 | Reply

    We’ll bring in a new qb before putting DA back in hopefully and that don’t sound too bad if hall struggles I hope he does well but im not tabbing him as the next kurt warner or drew brees yet

  20. By AndyStandsUp on Oct 8, 2010 | Reply

    Personally, I feel this is a game the Saints are “supposed” to win, so more of the pressure is on the Saints. If the Cards go into the bye 2-3, it was pretty much expected looking at the schedule in the preseason. However, if they go 2-3 and play terrible in all aspects again, then my red flags will go up.(I just have to dig them up, I haven’t used them since Luis Sharpe starting asking for change at a Walmart for gas to get his family home.)

  21. By Tyrelle on Oct 8, 2010 | Reply

    Go Cards!!!!!!! We love y’all!!!!!!

  22. By Susan Gaines on Oct 8, 2010 | Reply

    Enjoyed the article! I think that if we can keep a tight offensive line Hall can do a good job, of course there will be pressure on him and the experienced Saints will go after the rookie, but give him time, he has the confidence and drive that maybe someone saw in a young Kurt Warner.

  23. By tRiGiDy22 on Oct 8, 2010 | Reply

    Darren, How is Dan Williams Doing?? Jay feeley! has more tackles then Him??
    Did we fix the Weight problem? (Extra time with Lott?)

    An can u do a story on Fitz an his Record Breaking of Larry Centers? an maybe he has to resign if he wants to pass Bolden the Best Cards WR ever LOL??

    Who does Fitz want at QB?? An is he ready for a Trade for a Vet?? The Kurt photo the Rivers photo?? Larry wants a QB!

    We all know Fitz Pulls all the Strings!! Ask Matt?? LOL

    I would think a Trade for K.collins to Groom the Rookies! An get Fitz excited again, that Cards are not just Dumping everyone an Ownership wants to Win?? (Cut DA! see ya!)

  24. By Michael on Oct 8, 2010 | Reply

    Hi Darren.
    Do you think Whiz would throw DA into the game if the score is 3-28 in the end of second quarter, or is he going with Max all the way?

  25. By We Dat on Oct 8, 2010 | Reply

    we got this! C`MON Max and D!

  26. By Travis on Oct 9, 2010 | Reply

    Hmmm… Warner said he wanted to retire so he could spend more time with his family… Where is his family when he is cha cha-ing around a dance floor, preparing for his commentary and being in the booth? Being the competitor he is you know he’s practicing his dance moves and commentary in the mirror, so where is his family time? Sounds like a cop out… I know he doesn’t want to be a Brett favre but he might as well be.

    Ps I know he’s not coming back.

  27. By Lone-Eagle on Oct 9, 2010 | Reply

    Everyone is saying the right political things!! Unfortunately that does not = wins on the football fieild. Talk is cheap!! This team has more than enough talent to be unstopable in every facet, thus far it’s been embarrassing!!! It is time for the leaders to step up and do the job! It is time for everyone to step up to the plate and take responsibilty for their own performance!! This team in my opinion with all the talent should be 4-0!! If anyone disagrees with me, step forward!! I am calling out the whole team, including the coaches!! coaches can’t play, but they can coach to the situation!! It is time for payback against the SAINTS !!!!!

  28. By Secret on Oct 9, 2010 | Reply

    so in one year, the Leinart era has begun, the DA era has begun, and the Mad max era has begun. Third time’s the charm right? Maybe even Skelton era next?

  29. By Wash on Oct 9, 2010 | Reply

    Darren,
    I am surprised the Cards are not bringing it on on SUnday. Preseason was good. Practices seem to go well. But the results on SUnday is a tad discombobulated.

    I think it is a leadership problem – from coaches to senior players not leading the way. Lack of confidence and courage to perform what you can do. Maybe, coach Whiz need to tweak his leadership at bit – what do you think? He needs to find a way to communicate so that the troops will listen and follow.

  30. By Darren Urban on Oct 9, 2010 | Reply

    Michael —

    RE: Hall

    I think Whisenhunt sticks with Hall.

  31. By Darren Urban on Oct 9, 2010 | Reply

    Wash —

    RE: Whiz leadership

    I think his leadership was enough to win two division titles and get a team righted at the end of the 2008 season to get to the Super Bowl.

  32. By John on Oct 9, 2010 | Reply

    The perfect storm is approaching! Go to your basement and take cover because the RED TIDE IS RISING!!!! disclaimer: This was comment was not in any way meant to reference Katrina.

  33. By Jeff Gollin on Oct 9, 2010 | Reply

    The problem is coaching and lack of leadership by our vets.

    This team needs to be more resiliant when things go wrong (All it took was for THT’s touchdown to be called back and you could see the entire team sag and then hit the panic button.

    On the field you see defensive guys abandon their assignments and start to freelance – reverting back to pure athleticism instead of trusting the game plan that was given them.

    Strong leadership doesn’t let that happen.

    Cardinal players and coaches would be well-advised to rewatch last night’s Rutgers vs. UConn game. Rutgers started a new QB – a true freshman who had never started a college game before. The kid performed in front of a packed house (65,000+ Scarlet Knight fans frustrated over poor play capped by a disappointing upset by Tulane the previous week.

    The kid (Dodd) came out and executed(not lights-out; but good enough not to hurt his team). Meanwhile, his special teams and defense were playing Santa Claus – a TD on a KO return; a 60+ yard burst up the middle for another TD. But the team hung in there. The kid hung in there. His play-callers on the sidelines kept giving him chances to win. Finally, he took advantage of a break late in the 4Q & hit a wide open deep WR to bring the game within three. The Rutgers defense hung in there, forced UConn into a few late-game 3 & outs and got Dodd the ball back with 1:31 left in the game. One more late-game break – a receiver getting open fairly deep set up a winning Rutgers FG.

    Why do I mention this (other than being from NJ)? Max Hall is our “Chas Dodd.” Our guys have had to face a lot of adversity. But if we hang in there, stay cool and play our game, the breaks will eventually come our way. We have to believe that – whether we do or not is what makes some teams winners & others losers.

  34. By Casey on Oct 9, 2010 | Reply

    Darren,

    If the Cards continue to struggle this season, look for the Cards’ 2010 payroll spending (or lack thereof) to become a major issue with fans and the media. As it rightly should- last time I checked, season ticket prices weren’t reduced this year due to the soft economy and uncertainty surrounding the CBA. You can’t have it both ways- on the one hand slash payroll spending due to said reasons and yet continue to charge the same or more for a lesser product.

    I trust that Sando and others will hold this organization accountable:

    Brian from Frederick, Md., writes: Mike, is there anyway you can do a piece on budget cuts for the NFC West to show us how much money teams have cut from the team from either trades or releasing players. And also see how much they have spent on players? I know that might take some time, but it would be really interesting to see how well some teams have done so far. Thanks.

    Mike Sando: The Cardinals in particular have slashed projected payroll. This has not always been intentional. They happily would have paid Kurt Warner what remained on his contract. They tried to keep Antrel Rolle and Karlos Dansby. Keeping Warner, Rolle, Dansby and Anquan Boldin would have cost tens of millions. Arizona did funnel some money Darnell Dockett’s way, but overall, the Cardinals have reduced payroll more significantly than the other teams in the division. It is a subject I’d like to explore in more detail.

    http://espn.go.com/blog/nfcwest

    Thanks,
    Casey

  35. By TucsonTim on Oct 9, 2010 | Reply

    “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.”

    I do believe that Whiz is the best thing to happen to the Cards in a long time. But this was lame. Just dodge the question next time. Didn’t Warner just say that Bulger would have been a better fit (not my favorite, but I think KW knows a little more about it than I do) and isn’t DA having exactly the same sort of “success” that he has for the past 2 seasons. I know about the timing of the Bulger release..let’s just move on.

  36. By Ann M. Adam on Oct 9, 2010 | Reply

    Darren,
    If you are responsible for the photo illustrations of your blogs then THANK YOU so much for this one. At last . . . SOME recognition even if not captioned.

  37. By Wash on Oct 9, 2010 | Reply

    Great come-back, Darren – about Whizenhunt and leadership. Enjoyed it! But that was entirely different team, on both sides of the ball.

    Jeff G: man, you wrote a novel – but appreciate your points.

  38. By Havasu Tom on Oct 9, 2010 | Reply

    Hi Darren,
    I love all the worry I’m reading about. We as the state of Arizona now love the CARDINALS!. They bring all of Arizona joy and hope. No matter what happens Sunday with Max Hall, the defence, special teams or the coaching staff, we the the fans are united in helping the team win. GO CARDINALS!!!!

  39. By Former Steeler Fan on Oct 9, 2010 | Reply

    The ideal QB situation, in my humble opinion, would be start Hall, name Skelton the @2, and make DA inactive.
    However, Whiz (and Graves) would never make DA inactive because that would be an obvious admission that the DA contract was a failure.

  40. By Dre on Oct 9, 2010 | Reply

    So far so good…our record is where it should be right now. Tomorrow we will likely lose which is, ok. We will go into the bye week at 2-3 and after the bye we play Seattle,the Bucs and the Vikings. We should be satisfied with being a .500 ball club and hopefully after eight games we have a record of 4-4.

    I mentioned this before in a comment during the Matt debacle that the most important thing we got going for ourselves this year is our schedule. All we have to do is beat the 8 and 8 team or worst from last year. I know I am making this sound easy but as fans of the Cardinals, we all know our team can easily have a let down and lose to one of the type of teams I am describing…heck, they almost dropped two of them already. And you have to figure that some of those teams have improved.

    I believe a team really needs to be discplined, mentally strong and focused to beat the teams you are suppose to beat.

    I think this game against the Saint was already chalked up as a lost so it makes sense to let the rookie get his feet wet with being a starting QB in this league. You can’t prepare or give him any better O.J.T then you can with the best on the block…the superbowl champions. Our survival instint is at its best when we face our worst situations. I will end on that note and say good luck to ya Mr. Hall.

  41. By Wash on Oct 10, 2010 | Reply

    Tom H – I wouldn’t call it worry. Just opinions to fill the some time before kick-off (or in my case, when not running). In my mind, Cards will always destroy the other team, even when down by 30 and 4 secs to go.

    For me, win or lose, if Cards score 17 pts or more against Saints, Hall will be a resounding success. Finish the game standing, not like Vick or Cutler.

  42. By nate on Oct 10, 2010 | Reply

    DA made the games painful to watch, I think Max will make the games more fun for the fans, win or lose.

  43. By tRiGiDy22 on Oct 10, 2010 | Reply

    Luis Sharpe Classic Cards!! (LOL) great memory’s (Got Change?)

  44. By tRiGiDy22 on Oct 10, 2010 | Reply

    Lets go BigRed shock the world!!, Protect the Nest of Death!

    ADUB,Dockett,Porter,Campbell Breakout the Funk, Today!

    Undefeated at Home! MadMax Time! 3-2

    Leave it all on the Field this week, Rest next week!

    Pound the Rock!! Hightower,Wells all Day!!

    Time for Rookie’s S.Williams an D.Washington, too Explode! an become Household Names.Hope Dan Williams get’s it back on Track!!

  45. By tRiGiDy22 on Oct 10, 2010 | Reply

    Darren, Another Great week of Reporting Enjoyed it all!! Thanks.

    Quick Question?? Leinart, DA always went threw the Checkdown? Leinart would look long then Dumpoff. DA would do the same But,Couldn’t hit that Short Pass. Is there a Chance? the Dumpoff or Quick-in-Outs be 1st option an Check-up, Too Open up the Field? Get Fitz Those !4yrd throws All Dayl an Stephen the Longball 25-35yr Passes Let him use that speed to Bust loose? Komar the 7yrd Dump an Juke with Well,Hightower out the Backfield??

    How about using a Full-House Backfield??? Let Go BigRed

  46. By tRiGiDy22 on Oct 10, 2010 | Reply

    Wake-up Ben Patrick, MadMax Love’s TE’s(He is going to get u the Ball!!)

    Ask Pitta’, what Max did for his Career at BYU! (1st Rd pick!)

  47. By Darren Urban on Oct 10, 2010 | Reply

    Trigidy —

    RE: Checkdowns

    I think Hall will take whatever he can get in his first start.

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