Finding a balance between his main two right outside linebackers has been difficult for coach Ken Whisenhunt, and since it directly impacts the Cards’ pass rush — and is one of the easiest things to watch for on game days — it has risen to the center of the spotlight for the team and fans watching.
Porter acknowledges he has not created the kind of pressure on the quarterback that both he and everyone else expects. He said that before the season and again this week. Twice in the last two days, Whisenhunt has followed up the idea in training camp Porter had to play too much last season by noting it is happening again.
“We probably play Joey too many plays,” Whisenhunt said. “Joey is effective when he doesn’t play too much and we have to keep him fresh. We’ve got to get the rotation.”
Porter, who has one sack this season (and should have had a second, although Cam Newton somehow got the ball off in the opener), has also appeared on the injury list a couple of times, including this week. It’s for Porter’s knee, but it’s also about Porter’s age.
“This time of year, you have to start giving him some time off,” Whisenhunt said. “I think that was pretty evident at the end of the Giants game, he was out of gas. We have to do a better job managing him during the week and managing his reps on game day.”
That’s where Schofield comes in. The expectation was that Schofield — and to a lesser extent, rookie Sam Acho — would be eating up more of those Porter snaps. Except he’s not. Schofield recently began wearing a wristband to be familiar with the defensive playcalls, and while Whisenhunt is clearly hesitant to say Schofield isn’t coming along fast enough, the reality is there is a reason Schofield isn’t getting more defensive time.
“When you see things happen, whether it’s in a practice or in a game, and players make mistakes, you have a tendency to be hesitant to put them in,” Whisenhunt said.
It obviously creates an awkward and difficult situation. The Cardinals would have looked at pass-rushing 3-4 linebackers on the open market except the best ones all ended up with franchise tags. Teams, not surprisingly, don’t want to let them go. That said, it’s a spot the Cards are going to have to look at after the season, depending in part on the growth of Schofield and Acho. For now, they have to balance their issues.
Tags: Joey Porter, Ken Whisenhunt, O'Brien Schofield, Sam Acho
Posted in Blog | 46 Comments »