Developing Daryl Washington

Posted by Darren Urban on December 3, 2010 – 1:10 pm

It’s a question that’s difficult to answer, because the hypothetical always is: Had Gerald Hayes not been hurt to start the season, would rookie linebacker Darryl Washington not have played as much this season? The second-round pick shined in the preseason and started from the outset with Hayes sidelined, but his impact was minimal and after Hayes returned, Washington’s role has grown on special teams and been lessened on defense.

“I think probably he wouldn’t have gotten as much, but you don’t ever know,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “I know we would have worked to get Darryl reps, because he showed pretty early he’s got a chance to be really good.”

Whisenhunt said he is still happy with how Washington is progressing, although obviously there are times when mistakes are made. “But his future is really bright.”

Washington said he isn’t surprised at the playing time shift

“You knew Gerald was out and you wanted to make the bets of your opportunity,” Washington said. “With Gerald back, it’s time to continue to learn. … I just need to be prepared in case on of those guys go down. My time will come to play. You develop every day. You just have to keep learning.”

— In the bigger picture, Whisenhunt most definitely has a strong feeling on how to disseminate playing time the rest of the way — and it is not about preparing for 2011.

“We are trying to win games so that’s what we are going to do,” Whisenhunt said. “If the young players, or a rookie player, is expected to play, he’ll play. But we’re going in with the guys we feel give us the best chance to win. I’m not trying to play young guys to get a look at them. I’m more interested in getting this turned and getting a win.”

— On the injury front, four players are listed as questionable: DE Calais Campbell (ankle), CB Greg Toler (foot), LB Clark Haggans (groin) and NT Dan Williams (knee). I think the status of Toler and Campbell will come down to how they look at Saturday’s walkthrough and even pre-game warmups. But I think Toler should be ready and Campbell does seem to be walking better (he jogged off the practice field pretty well when he came over to say hi to Kurt Warner, who was here as part of Sunday’s broadcast crew). I expect Haggans too and probably Williams. Everyone else on the injury list is probable.

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22 Responses to “Developing Daryl Washington”

  1. By RIan on Dec 3, 2010 | Reply


    Love the stuff your doing sir. I and all the other die hard Cardinals fans (since ’89) truly appreciate the up to date reporting you do and the honest way you approach the writing about this team. I’ve visited other teams sites and none of them, I repeat, none of them have as comprehensive of a site as we do.


    Have you noticed all of the confusion on the defensive side of the ball during Sundays?

    Every game I have seen I notice guys with their hands up in a confused manner and then a play happens and we get gutted for a big play.

    Is it that our team does not understand their roles in the schemes Coach Davis is dialing up or is it a communication issue with the Mike linebacker not getting the calls to the other players in time?

    We just seem to be consistently out of position to make plays.

    Thanks for your time, keep up the great work.

  2. By Darren Urban on Dec 3, 2010 | Reply

    RIan —

    RE: Defensive confusion

    Adrian Wilson noted the communication problems this week. I think it’s less hearing the play than knowing where to be in relation to the offensive set. But I don’t know specifics. Clearly, though, it has been brought up too many times that guys are lining up in the wrong spots to not have it be that.

  3. By Phoenixraven1 on Dec 3, 2010 | Reply

    Can not wait to see D.Wash develope! Dansby who!…ok well not just yet maybe next year lol!

  4. By RIan on Dec 3, 2010 | Reply


    Well do you think maybe a smart way of dealing with this issue would be to “dumb” down the D in order to get back to basics. Gap responsibility, QB contain, maintaining the edge ….etc etc etc?

    Another thing I have noticed with the D is that in a traditional 3-4 D, the DE’s usually line up further outside so they can contain the play to the middle and the Linebackers are supposed to control the gaps left open in the middle. (Jets D, Ravens D)

    Have you noticed how bunched up our D-Line always is?

    They seem to run into each other almost every other play. I mean I understand stunts and trying to confuse the O-Line but doesn’t spacing seem like a bigger issue right now?

  5. By Darren Urban on Dec 3, 2010 | Reply

    RIan —

    RE: Defense

    In all honesty, I’m not a coach and don’t pretend to know football like one. In terms of where guys line up, I’m hesitant to say yes. I’m not sure what the objective is, so to say “Yes, move them around” seems beyond my pay grade. As far as “dumbing down,” Davis did do that earlier this season. As for how much it helped …

  6. By tyler durden on Dec 3, 2010 | Reply

    What is Whisenhunt talking about? Everyone in the NFL is trying to win games even when they play young players. The Cardinals are not going to make the playoffs and the veterns have not reminded anyone of the ’85 Bears. So why not play your young talent and let them develop in real games. Darryl Washington should be playing, period. He should be in there for Paris Lenon, who is a solid back up spot starter. We should start Dan Williams and O’Brein Scholfield as well. Start and play these guys to the wheels fall off. We might want to have an actual stategy going into the off-season instead of waiting to try figure things out on the fly during pre-season….sound familiar. This should be done on offense as well, play Roberts, Dray, Stephen Howlings, Williams and any young players you have. Find out what we have so we can make smart decisions in free agency and the draft moving forward. It’s called having a plan and building a system…winning should not be the only consideration when you’re in the middle of a 3-7 season and going to make the playoffs.

  7. By MikeG on Dec 3, 2010 | Reply

    Hey Darren– I think the development of Williams and Washington is really vital to the improvement of our defense in the future. If we are to keep the 3-4 defense(Whiz likes it)– we must be strong up the middle with a good nose guard and middle linebacker. These players are really critical and I would play them this week for development. I also hope Toler gets some good playing time as well. Maybe Kurt Warner can give us some luck this week–the last game he called–we beat the Saints. Do you think Warner will call more games next year for Fox??? Instead of just doing 2-3 games. He is good–being an ex-Qb–he gives some pretty good insight and knows most of the players first hand because he played against them.

  8. By Darthcard on Dec 3, 2010 | Reply

    I’m not gonna say he doesn’t have a bright future but I’m not sure what they are seeing? Speed? Yeah? Good instincts? Tape shows he’s running nowhere real fast. He is kinda small as well as plays small. Bulk up and stop running yourself out of the play.

  9. By jocards on Dec 3, 2010 | Reply

    I’m no NFL coach but I think a back to basics approach is in order for this team. Not just “dumbing down” the defense but putting the team in pads and having them hit in practice. To me the defense particularly looked uninterested on Monday. That was an unacceptable effort. I say put them in pads and see who wants to get after it…Go hit somebody!

  10. By Peter in Canada on Dec 3, 2010 | Reply

    Tyler – I think you are right on especially re Washington, Schofied and Williams. We have four starting linebackers who are all on the wrong side of 30. None of them will get any better and few if any of them will be around by 2012. The same applies to Robinson at NT. It’s fine to want to play to win but the future must at some point begin to take priority over the present.These guys were all high draft picks and they should be ready to take on more responsibility.

  11. By Frustrated on Dec 3, 2010 | Reply

    “Whisenhunt said he is still happy with how Washington is progressing, although obviously there are times when mistakes are made. “But his future is really bright.”” Quote from article by Urban

    Actually I think it is fine that Washington is learning but making mistakes at times. That seems to be the MO of the defense this season. For example, Hayes does not really seem ready to play. His play seems cluttered with mistakes of missing tackles or completely getting steamrolled on plays.

    That was a good article Darren. Thank you for the effort.

  12. By Brad ONeill on Dec 3, 2010 | Reply

    Well why should we start working on the future when we can just go ahead and keep losing with the guys we have?

    coach whiz is making a huge mistake by not getting the future some reps. i would rather have them learn now when our season is over then sit and watch veterans fail at their positions.

    What can Max learn by watching derek miss passes?
    What can Washington Learn by watching Hayes miss tackles?
    What can skelton learn by watching Max watch Derek miss passes.
    i understand sitting roberts, komar and Stephen Williams as they are unlikely to be more than back ups next year so they have time to learn and because of the nature of their position they can get in from time to time.
    Dan WIlliams should be a full timer by now. i want that guy working all the bugs out of his game as quickly as possible. B-rob is a solid player but there is no reason to use him up in a dead season. We may need him next year.

    its time to start looking at the draft.
    Offensive linemen?
    Defensive linemen?
    A safety that can cover?

    we need to be top 3 in the draft more than we need to win a meaningless game.

    coach your team packed it in 3 weeks ago.
    your fans packed it in last week
    the only one left who gives a damn about winning this weeks game is the Rams and you. your out numbered.

    I want to see the future.

  13. By tygr on Dec 3, 2010 | Reply

    I dont think whiz actually has excepted that the season is blown… But he seems to always be good at playing the best guys out there and making every one earn there playing time if they earn it he will play them… remember cody brown when asked coach alway’s said he is doing just fine same with herman johnson then they get cut… there is alot we don’t see as fans with these rookies ability.. Im sure there is a good reason there not playing

  14. By Doc on Dec 3, 2010 | Reply

    Whoever said Lenon is only a good back up spot starter must not be watching the games and the stat sheet! He is by far the best backer on this roster and that includes Porter and Hayes. Ask Washington who is learning the most from in practice and off the field.

  15. By AndyStandsUp on Dec 3, 2010 | Reply

    Until the Cards are mathematically eliminated,which in this division COULD be the last game of the season, it’s aight imo for the veteran’s to continue to start.
    Now, they might not get as many snaps as usual and may not be in down situations as before, but you want to try to win along with developing players.

  16. By georgiebird on Dec 3, 2010 | Reply

    Whiz is a stubborn guy. I agree with your prior comment to me about firing Clancy- he deserved to be fired. But the long rope for Billy Davis makes no sense at all. Billy Davis has no credentials as a DC and he’s not as good as Clancy.
    A team can’t have a successful 3-4 when it has four below average LBs and a NT that gets pushed around.
    As I said before- these guys have all played in a 4-3 in prior years; what would it take to reinvent the wheel.
    Stubborn Whiz- “my way or the Highway”

  17. By TucsonTim on Dec 3, 2010 | Reply

    So we have these incredibly gifted athletes sitting on the bench because they don’t have any experience. Genius!

  18. By Jeff Gollin on Dec 4, 2010 | Reply

    “If things had gone differently, things would be different.”

    OK. That’s kind of a “Duh!” observation.

    But how things would have turned out differently isn’t so easy to predict. For example, had Hayes not been injured, perhaps D-Wash would have been slotted as a backup OLB and replaced Haggans when he was injured.

    We can guess what might have been, but we’ll never really know. However, the one guiding principle at least worth considering is that “cream rises to the top.” (If D-Wash was doing well enough, the Cards would find a place for him in their starting lineup – as an ILB, an OLB or a pass rush specialist.

  19. By Rick on Dec 4, 2010 | Reply


    The use of the word “minimal” in describing Washington’s contributions prior to the return of Hayes is probably not correct, or at best very understated.

    I know he’s had trouble shedding blockers, but his blinding LB speed has been impressive. He needs to gain the extra 20 LBS Hayes has, but maintain his speed.

    As Raheem Morris says, “statistics are for losers”, but Daryl’s tackling stats held up well when compared to Lennon’s and Hayes’. During the 1st 6 games, Paris made 11.7% of our tackles while Daryl had 10.0%. During the last five games, Paris’ % is 10.3, while Gerald’s is 7.9. Gerald’s rate the last 2 games has improved to 10.4%.

    I would have left out the phrase “but his impact was minimal”.

  20. By David on Dec 4, 2010 | Reply

    I think Whiz keeping the Rookies out is a good thing. They may have all been amazing college ball players, but that does not mean they are physically or mentally ready for a regular season NFL game. I mean it’s kinda like Skelton was noted as saying in one of the other updates through here. He hasn’t played except for pre-season and he says he’s already improved 10 fold. Why throw inexperienced and unprepared rookies into the fray and get them injured because of inexperience when you can keep them practicing all season and prepare them for next season and have them come out and light up the score boards. Get these rookies practicing this season then bring in Skelton as starter next with Hall as back up and the new D-Line and O-Line augmented with the experienced guys and suddenly we go from being one of, if not the, worst team in the league to a possibly unbeatable team next season. Keep trying for wins now so your pros don’t get rusty, but focus on next season at this point.

  21. By johnnybluenose on Dec 4, 2010 | Reply

    for three years whiz said he was happy with lineart’s progress and development. now he is saying the same thing about young mister washington. you can’t believe anything whiz says but we know one thing and that is mister washington has just been given the kiss of death. we can probably assume the same thing about mister williams, our number one draft pick. you remember him. he was the one who was inactive earlier this season because he was too fat. as vince lombardi used to say, WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON AROUND HERE?

  22. By Marc Nasser on Dec 5, 2010 | Reply

    I agree with Brad who made some very accurate comments relative to Whisenhunt not playing some of the younger players like Skelton. I mean who cares about the rest of the season?

    We’re done and have been since about 3 games ago. Playing Derek Anderson gives us no hope of winning. But maybe that’s what Whisenhunt has in mind. We’ll certainly lose at least 3 out of our last 5 games, which might put us in the hunt for Andrew Luck who is, in my opinion, the best quarterback in this year’s draft.

    I hope to god that we can grab him with our first pick.

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