Balancing Porter and Schofield

Posted by Darren Urban on October 6, 2011 – 3:46 pm

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.

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46 Responses to “Balancing Porter and Schofield”

  1. By Phoenixraven1 on Oct 6, 2011 | Reply

    Come on Acho!!! Take Haggans spot too!

  2. By KurtM on Oct 6, 2011 | Reply

    I tell you what, I would rather see Schofield get some snaps at the end and make a mistake (and maybe learn/grow from it) then see Porter draggin his tongue. Last game on Mannings last drive I saw the whole D line just stop fighting they had nothing else to give. Kolb does need to do a better job at keeping the offence the field more but let these younger guys play and make mistakes and learn from em. How do you think Daryl Washington has been so good this year.

  3. By Jason on Oct 6, 2011 | Reply

    I just dont buy that excuse from Coach Whiz. I am a supporter of Coach, but we already know the ceiling for Porter. The other day in a press conference Coach Whiz noted that Kolb needed more plays and more reps in order to get used to a brand new system. Why, then, can the same not be said about Schofield? He needs reps and playing time too.

    So either Schofield is just so horrendously bad that coach doesnt want to play him, or Coach is not being fair when he states some players need reps to learn the system and then he doesnt give the same opportunities to others. You cant have it both ways IMO.

  4. By Bonner on Oct 6, 2011 | Reply

    Wow whiz, Since Warner has retired ,you have been more of a lost soul than a Head coach..This team is lacking in a lot of areas, that you so called addressed..

    Edit: can’t change letters and have it “not” be foul language

  5. By Dre on Oct 6, 2011 | Reply

    it took them 3 years to find Beanie Wells. Hightower owned the starting job but his fumbles couldn’t be ignored. Year after year we got excuse after excuse why Beanie wasn’t starting and carrying the load.

    Now, you want to bring up Porter vs Schofield and reasons. Reasons…Really?

    Porter hasn’t done anything since joining the club. That’s reasom enough to seat is butt on the bench. It is clear as water Porter is the weak link on defense. He is a waste of space on the field. Just watch him next game. No pass rush, no bull rush and definitely no speed rush. The only thing he can do is get blocked.

    Remember, I was the guy who screamed last year to give Wells the ball…Now I’m saying get Porter off the field.

  6. By AZ Fan in WA on Oct 6, 2011 | Reply

    Sounds like there’s not much choice but to put Schofield in there and see what happens. Porters knees could literally turn to dust in his spandex and then where would we be?? Probably about we are at CB. In terms of QB pressure from that position we cant really get much worse. We already give up a lot to tight ends as well so….. win win right? Knock on wood. Go Cards.

  7. By C on Oct 6, 2011 | Reply

    Who would have thought (besides everyone honest with themselves) that a 3-4 wouldn’t make the most of the players on the roster? Cardinals D doesn’t have the personnel to run a 3-4, but arguably has the personnel to have a good front 7 if they switched to the 4-3. I understand it’s a moot point now, but you either go get the players to run a successful scheme, or you change the scheme to fit the personnel. Simple equation.

    Porter and Haggans were past washed up LAST year, no?

  8. By Ronald on Oct 6, 2011 | Reply

    It’s time for a change.

  9. By cheesebeef on Oct 6, 2011 | Reply


    Can you explain to me the idea that good players don’t come on the open market… unless they’re Arizona Cardinals like Calvin Pace, Karlos Dansby, Steve Breaston, Antrelle Rolle? How was it that the team didn’t see that ANY of those guys deserved contract extensions before their rookie deals ended. And the idea that there weren’t any great OLBs available on the market is a completely specious argument. Of course there weren’t really good OLBs available, but there were solid guys on the market who were better than Porter who was awful last season and has been again this season. But hey, it’s much easier to argue “there weren’t superstars” available for the Cardinals than acknowledge the reality that Porter took a pay cut and the Cardinals figured they had the position filled for cheaper so it was filled.

    what a relative disaster this off-season was. Darren, are you going to say the same thing when you eventually write about how bad the OTs have been that there weren’t any great OT on the market even though there were a variable plethora of solid OT available?


  10. By DW#1 FAN on Oct 6, 2011 | Reply

    I don’t get why our coaches are so stubborn. I’ve seen mistake after mistake by this staff. They do not know how to manage players or make gameplans. It is obvious to everyone that our players have to compensate for dumb coaches mistakes. I wish we would have gotten Harbough. I like waht our coaches do with the draft and their workouts and what not. but as far as game time football. Whiz is probably one of the worst coaches in the league. not trash talking. just being real. With all the NFL expirence we have I have to wonder if Porter isn’t the only old guy running out of gas out there. Maybe our coaches are out of gas.

  11. By AndyStandsUp on Oct 6, 2011 | Reply

    What was the biggest need this offseason outside of quarterback? A pass rushing defender which was ignored.
    Let’s face it, Porter is too Georgiebird to play extensively and Schofeld is too UtahCard to be able to pick up the scheme.

    Darren, does the comment pass your new defamatorial rules?

  12. By CNelson on Oct 7, 2011 | Reply

    “claps loudly and falls on the floor laughing”

    I dont really understand why anyone could be angry or upset with our rookies, especialy OB, he has had absolutly no offaeason work with our coaches to hlp him transistiom from DE to OLB. I agree K. Whiz needs to bite the bullet and just let him play and make mistakes. But i do see where he is comimg from in juat wanting to play the players that know what they are sooae to do and do it. Porter is really the only one on defence that should not be starting, and deff doesnt need to on the field nearly as much as he is now. Haggens (or haggans, w.e) actualy gets to the qb offten and makes a few really good plays each game. Bur he too needs to get ALOT more rest on the bench and let our near genious Acho learn the possition with OJT (on the job training) i could live with the mistakea if he was conatantly learning and getting better. As it stands he get a few snaps maybe misses an asignment an then doesnt get to redeem himself. Im excited to see what the defence can be one our corners get experiance and we get some consistant pass ruahing from who ever it be.

  13. By cards62 on Oct 6, 2011 | Reply

    I honestly do not know what Joey Porter is doing right that coach is so worried about Schofield. Does Schofield line up on the wrong side of the ball or something? Porter was a great player so I like the plan of just giving him a few plays to see if he can bring it so lets execute the plan and take our lumps with some young pups on defense. Washington took his lumps last year and man look at him this year. Schofield was a beast at Wisconsin and had a very bad injury so my opinion is we have a lot of upside with him Lets play the young guys this year and see what we have.

    Go Cards beat the Vikings

  14. By Scott H on Oct 6, 2011 | Reply

    Too many plays? We’re 4 games in and we’re at the point where we have to start giving Porter some time off??? Anyone else asking themselves WTF??? I’m sorry but if Porter has such limits on playing time, perhaps we should have gone in another direction. Shouldn’t it be about what the players do for the team and not the other way around???

  15. By georgiebird on Oct 6, 2011 | Reply

    Your comments on Porter are very revealing:
    1) the Cards staff is pretty good at figuring things out after the game is over-like Porter was out of gas at the most important part of the game.
    2) the late fade of the defense didn’t just happen in the Giant game-we all saw it in the previous game.
    3) What if Acho and Schofield make some mistakes, most of the other defensive guys are making mistakes all game long- like AW.
    4) the 3-4 defense with its premium on the linebacker play was never meant for the historically LB poor Cardinals-not now not ever.
    Some of the Cardinals’ problems are due to lack of talent at some positions but by and large the Cardinals are a poorly run team. This is not to say that anyone isn’t trying; its more of getting bit by the old Peter Principle.

    This is not to kill the messenger

  16. By cardsalltheway on Oct 6, 2011 | Reply

    Yes, and we know exactly who has them.

    “When you(Ken W.) see things happen…” Maybe it depends on who Schofield sits by in the lunchroom cafe?
    Given what Ken W. has said in the past about Porter getting/needing rest, why doesn’t Ken W. do his job when he sees/knows the problem? I can’t believe this discussion is really happening. How does that saying go, something like…Can’t manage out paper bag?

  17. By UC on Oct 7, 2011 | Reply


    Hey now, don’t go trying to inject logic into anything that Kenny does or says. That way lies madness.


    That was funny, but you’re still a Darren.

  18. By Tx Cards fan on Oct 7, 2011 | Reply

    I am behind Coach Whis 100% and even think this year is a rebuilding year and don’t think we should expect more than 5 to 7 wins this year. With all the roster changes and no off season I think it’s only fair to give that to the organization, provided next year has a big turnaround once the team gels.

    But I have to admit the excuses are getting really old! There can be no player accountability and no improvement when the coach is always covering or making excuses for the underachieving players. Now I understand if the coach doesn’t want to publicly blast his players and that’s fine but don’t give the excuse. Just give a blanket answer and say we are working it in the locker room. But to a point if they are not responding either come out and say Porter can’t get it done anymore and Schofield doesn’t get the defense or cut someone.

    The coach even said the same thing happened at outside linebacker last year and is happening again this year. That means they knew it was a problem and have done nothing to fix it, going on two years now. You can’t rebuild and it not a rebuilding season when you cover up problems and don’t fix them. I thought after the 5-11 season the “good will” was gone but from the outside looking in it doesn’t appear that way.

    Tell me what it says to the rest of the roster when Porter is on the waiver wire after not improving over two seasons? It shows accountability. Then have Schofield/Acho plus a roster add fight for the spot or move Bradley over there (his not doing anything in the middle right now). But with continued excuses and veteran days off there is no accountability and nothing in the back of the players mid telling them to step up or they will lose their job.

    I can take losing close games if the team is improving and you can see a competitive roster from the practice squad all the way to the starters. But when the clearly more talented player is being held out for someone who needs the coaches to “managing him during the week and managing his reps on game day” it’s hard to take.

  19. By Louisville Card on Oct 7, 2011 | Reply

    Hi Darren, nice article. Do you think the lack of off season condition with Lott has attributed to some of the problem with the 4th quarter defensive issues? Or is it a defensive play calling leading too the collapses?

  20. By Darren Urban on Oct 7, 2011 | Reply

    Louisville —

    RE: Defensive failures

    If I knew the answer, I’d try to tell the coaches. But I don’t think it’s conditioning. Not sure on playcalling, since I don’t know what is being called and how it is being executed.

  21. By TucsonTim on Oct 7, 2011 | Reply

    “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.


    Play Schofield and Acho. It’s a transitional season anyway.

  22. By cooldaddy79 on Oct 7, 2011 | Reply

    GO coach! if you read any of this negative blogs don’t worry about it, there are still true fans out here that know things will turn around.We trust that you can make sound decisions, and you know whats good for the team. And what your allowed to do. Somethings are out of your hands.Good Luck! GO BIG RED!!!!!!!!!!

  23. By keith092280 on Oct 7, 2011 | Reply

    The drive that started with 5:16 is the one that hurt. Our defense reverted back to a scheme that is designed to defend the pass, but cannot get pressure on the quarterback. This scheme uses Porter and Haggans as defensive ends. To compound the problem, Instead of having Dockett and Campbell at the tackle positions, Eason and Holliday were on the field for the first 4 plays when the Giants moved from their 20 to the Cards 28. At that point Dockett and CAmpbell came back on. First play, fifth of the drive, was an incomplete pass. The second the Cards had a jail break blitz, but Manning got rid of the ball quickly and nicks made a great catch, out wrestling A.J. for the ball. The last play saw 4 d-lineman on the field, our best defensive set against potential short yardage running plays.

    The problem was not being able to get any pass rush early in that drive, How could we possibly expect any when using Porter, Holliday, Eason and Haggans as the only men attempting to pressure Manning. Where were Dockett and Campbell during that series of plays?

    I have really been disappointed with Coach Horton so far. HIs schemes and personnel packages have been this defenses main problem.

  24. By Chuck 1 on Oct 7, 2011 | Reply

    The player personnel issues that are being discussed on this thread will continue to be discussed until Graves and Keim (remember, he is part of the player personnel acquisition decision making team) make better decisions.
    And, Whiz makes better coaching decisions.
    Are either of those going to happen?
    I doubt it.

  25. By adam sheafe on Oct 7, 2011 | Reply

    Outside of Clark Haggans Whisenhunt brings in all of the washed up Steelers. i.e, Bryant Mcfadden, Faneca, Joey Porter. Excuse after excuse after excuse in this organization. Whisenhunt is sooooo lost. Like I said before. This organization let go of all it’s leaders and guys who knew what it took to win.

    And the funny thing is that the Cards don’t know how they did it. Reason why is because most of those guys were from the prior regime. This regime STINKS!!!

  26. By adam sheafe on Oct 7, 2011 | Reply

    If the Cards lose on Sunday Whisenhunt and the whole staff need to be fired after the game. I think they should already be fired. Does anyone agree with me???

  27. By CNelson on Oct 7, 2011 | Reply

    Not only do i DISAGREE with you but i find that as one of the most un-educated reaponcea you can have for a team that is in a transistional period. Coaching changes, by far, is the of the main reasona we have been the bottem barrel NFL team for so long. Give K. Whiz till the end of the new contract he signed and only then, barring a slew of catastrofic (angin i am a horrid speller get over it) injeries, we arnt a compeitive football team 8-9 wins a season, then fine i cant logicly defend that notion. But we do need some time to get the right youth to fill gaps. Remember warner retired on us After he had signed a 2 year contract, our coaching staff was not prepaired to deal with his leaving. And when he did, it just highlighted all the other areas that need to be fixed as well as replacing a HoF QB.

  28. By mike on Oct 7, 2011 | Reply

    I expect to see more of the younger players. Becomes easier with losing. I guess the point is, if Acho or Schofield make a mistake(s) early in the game, the score is out of reach so it becomes irrelevant if anyone is “gassed” late in the game. But I agree, we need to see what they have, same argument was made Roberts so…put the youngsters on the field.

  29. By Ottis Anderson Fan on Oct 7, 2011 | Reply

    Darren –

    As things stand now, in your opinion, what’s more important for the Cards to address next offseason – LB or OT?

  30. By Darren Urban on Oct 7, 2011 | Reply

    Ottis —

    RE: OT/LB

    I think they both better be addressed. Given Levi’s contract situation and the fact he likely won’t be back you’ll need a tackle, but if you are asking me what needs the higher-profile “get,” I’m going pass rusher.

  31. By cards62 on Oct 7, 2011 | Reply

    It just hit me.

    Would it make sense for us to trade Stewart Bradley who is use to the 4-3 to the Seahawks straight up for A. Curry who most experts think does not fit in a 4-3 but fits in a 3-4?

    Just playing GM here, but what do you think Darren and others?

    Go Cards beat the VIkings

  32. By Darren Urban on Oct 7, 2011 | Reply

    cards62 —

    RE: Trade

    I don’t see a deal in the division. And I don’t see anyone wanting to pay Curry $5 million.

  33. By Mike in Mesa on Oct 7, 2011 | Reply

    This is not just a Whisenhunt problem, its a coaching ego problem that crosses all sports boundaries. Coaches have to justify their decisions and feed their egos. Many times better players sit on the benches waiting for their chance to break out. I remember when Larry Nance came into the league with the Suns as a rookie and was getting about 15 minutes a game with the Suns when he already had superstar written all over him. Paul Westphal said one of the most brilliant things ever when he said ” I don’t make players fit my system, I make my system fit the players.” Whisenhunt has a pattern of playing lesser talented, older veterans over younger more talented players. Last year not playing Dan Williams early in the season with his bogus weight problems philosophy, ie Deuce Letui.
    Not playing Daryl Washington more minutes when everyone could see he was dominant. Not playing Rob Housler this season when he was tearing it up in preseason. Not playing Acho and Schofield when they are obviously better than anyone else on the field. I’m sure if he had Cam Newton he would be sitting on the bench, with Whiz’s oh so wonderful rookie philosphy.

  34. By SEC 113 RW 10 on Oct 7, 2011 | Reply

    They should use Porter in the 1st and 4th quarter. Let him come in with fresh legs, get some rest, and then finish with fresh legs. He would also be able to figure out the OG he’s up against and help O.S. with knowing what to do.


  35. By CNelson on Oct 7, 2011 | Reply

    That has to be the best idea ive heard regaurding the two splitting playing time.

    Well done

  36. By Mike Ellingboe on Oct 7, 2011 | Reply

    @Adam Sheafe,

    I get the frustration of watching your favorite team giving away late leads but tell me you’re not serious about canning the entire coaching staff four games into the season. Even if I thought they needed to go (which I don’t), how do you reassemble an entire coaching staff during one bye week?


    How does Curry fit in a 3-4? (He’s never played in it).

  37. By Brad on Oct 7, 2011 | Reply

    I like all the doomsayers and doubters on this board…its pathetic…The offense right now is lightyears ahead of last years offense…the defense….if you guys dont remember is under a NEW DC… so everyone on defense is learning a new scheme…this season may not be great record but its gonna take Kolb and company time to mesh…its gonna take the D a little time to get the system down….Porter may be older but I would rather have him on the field than Schofield who would just be liable to give up big plays if he doesnt know hes defensive playcall… this team is better than last year…all you guys crying about this season….watch some tape from last season then let me see you whine… Jeeze

  38. By Ottis Anderson Fan on Oct 7, 2011 | Reply

    Good to hear Wolf back on Cards Underground this week.

  39. By Ottis Anderson Fan on Oct 7, 2011 | Reply


    I like your Cam Newton thought. I too agree that if we had drafted Cam, he’d be sitting on the bench all season according to the Whiz rookie rule.

    The only reason PP is starting is because of injuries.

    Old habits die hard. If they are bad habits, they will get you fired soon enough.


  40. By Ottis Anderson Fan on Oct 7, 2011 | Reply

    If a coach has to rest a player after four games into the season due to fatigue, that player isn’t fit to play in the NFL and is a waste of a roster spot, especially when that roster spot is a position of need.

  41. By Andy M on Oct 7, 2011 | Reply

    I don’t get it: if this defense is supposed to be highly aggressive and based on pressuring the quarterback–and the primary sources of pressure are the OLB’s–then why is Porter getting so much unproductive time? He has clearly lost a step (maybe two). While Porter wants to do well (you can see how he gets called for jumping the count and other stupid penalties) he is well past his prime and is not performing the key role he has been placed in. It would be great if he would step up and prove me–and the others who have similar comments–wrong. But why not give the young, athletic stud a chance?

  42. By TucsonTim on Oct 7, 2011 | Reply

    Everyone who wants to give the coaches (and players) a break because we didn’t have OTAs and a full training camp are just fooling themselves. You must think Carolina, TN, SFO, Cincy and others must have been holding secret meetings. We aren’t terrible, but we are what our record says we are. Being better than last year just means we are better than the team that finished last in the worst division in the history of the NFL.

  43. By Chuck 1 on Oct 7, 2011 | Reply

    I’m getting weary of reading posters comments about Schofield not knowing what to do.
    For gosh sakes, he’s been with the team for over a year and played well in the Wisconsin system. I know. I know. He’s trying to learn Horton’s system. But, is he stupid?
    Put the XXXX defensive playbook under his pillow and let him absorb it through osmosis!!!

    Now, on to Bradley. He has similar problems with learning the system. Is HE stupid?

    Maybe it’s time to give prospective players an intelligence test.

  44. By Scott H on Oct 7, 2011 | Reply

    Brad –

    And meanwhile, the team is 1-3 after 4 games…yeah, you’re right – nothing to be frustrated about. BTW, how do you support your statement that this team is better than last year’s? Were’nt we 2-2 last year after 4 games? Ya know, I’m no math whiz, but I think that’s a little better than 1-3…

    C’mon, man, really? You are REALLY surprised by people being frustrated??? Maybe it’s just me, but I kinda enjoyed the SUCCESS we had just a very short time ago and it bothers me just a little that we fell of the map last year ( sunk like an anchor is more like it ) and are still falling.

    BTW, in regard to your pointing out that we are adjusting to a new DC? Well, so are the Texans and they look pretty damn good on defense this year. Perhaps if we had gone after Wade Phillips instead of yet another guy from the Steelers, we might look pretty damn good, too. I’ve just about had it with Whiz and his tendency to keep shopping in the Steelers isle. Improving a team should be about bringing in the best people for the job. That would have been Phillips. But since he wasn’t on the Steelers staff the past few years, I don’t think they even knew who he was. Stop with the excuses. Every team in the league had to deal with this past off-season. There are new coaches, new coordinators, and new players everywhere. They ALL had to deal with trying to get it together under the same time crunch. There is NOTHING unique to the Cardinals. Fact is, they just aren’t good enough. Even in the worst division in the NFL, they aren’t good enough. And ya know what? Come the end of the season, someone at a high level needs to be held responsible.

  45. By cards62 on Oct 10, 2011 | Reply

    To Mike E. on Aaron Curry Good question on your part and I will agree I am just searching for answers to make our team better and Darren brings up a very good point about his $ 5 million salary.

    Curry played OLB at Wake and was good in coverage and blitzing. Speed and open space is his game and the draft experts felt his strengths would fit more into 3 – 4 verses a 4 -3. I will not lie it will be a big gamble, but Stewart is not getting it and Curry is younger and quicker.

    Tucson Tim you are absolutely correct. Our Coaches and front office have not done their jobs well this year so far and our record is our record for that fact.

    To: Brad. I am a fan from the early 70s so I know about keeping hope and lean years. We stay fans, but when we know our club is not doing right we must speak up. and everyone knew Cardinal fans, and football experts, and other coaches that what we did before the season started last year doomed our team and 2010 season. It was the worse Cardinal team I have ever seen so we can not compare and accept our team verses that team we must have higher standards and hold our organization to higher standards. Going to the playoffs every year would be nice, but most of us will not be upset and wanting to fire the coach if that does not happen. We just want to be competitive and are angry that our Superbowl and playoff team could not win in a 7 – 9 division last year and we can not win this year. I remain hopeful, but I am not happy with our team right now, but they are still our team.

    Go Cards

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