Oct 19 2012
Vince Lombardi once said, “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” That statement could not be more true right now in my mind. This past Sunday had some small successes but there are no moral victories in the NFL. The 2012 Arizona Cardinals are good enough to make the playoffs. Period. And once a team makes the playoffs, anything can happen as we Cardinal fans know.
That being said, the loss on Sunday to the Buffalo Bills was a difficult one to swallow. The flow of the game was a near identical replica of each of the previous five games played by the Cardinals this season. There was back and forth drama, standout special teams play, strong defensive efforts, devastating injuries and a chance to win at the end of the game. Given the state of the current offensive line (which gives new meaning to the word “offensive”), a chance to win at the end of the game is really all one can reasonable ask.
What made this game different was the end result…a loss and a loss to a bad team in my opinion. That is not to say that Buffalo does not have talent because they do. But, they are team that came in reeling. Their quarterback was probably one bad game away from a benching and some extremely questionable play-calling really played to the Cardinals advantage. It’s over though. That game was several days ago and I finally am over it enough to write about it. I know other birdgang faithful feel the same.
The reality of the situation is the Cardinals are 4-2. Just like no one cares how a team got to the playoffs, no one cares how a team got to 4-2…they just did. And 4-2 is a good record six games into the season. Good enough for first place in possibly the toughest division in football matter of fact. So, where do we go from here? Well, the Cardinals are heading into a brutal stretch that includes road trips to Minnesota, Green Bay and Atlanta with a Monday Night home date versus the 49ers. That month of football sounds rough. After the 4-0 start, of course I wanted it to keep rollin’ but realistically I figured 6-2 at the halfway mark would be a good goal. That is still feasible and I would be happy with that for sure.
First things first, a trip to Minnesota is on tap. This game is winnable. I do not believe Minnesota is an elite team. They have played one team I believe to be a playoff team and that is the 49ers. They did win that game but they have also lost to two teams led by rookie QBs (Washington and Indianapolis). Plus, they have beat Detroit, Tennessee and Jacksonville. That is not exactly murderers row. The Cardinals defense is still one of the best in the league and I think they can get after Christian Ponder and hopefully catch him trying to force it into Harvin (calling Mr. Peterson…you have a call to the house). Adrian Peterson honestly does not scare me anymore. The shelf life of an NFL running back is shorter than at any other position and the Cardinals have had success against some of the better backs around.I am not saying he has nothing left but I just don’t think AP will be able to run at will; they will have to be able to throw a little bit.
Now, on the other hand, Can the Cardinals put up over 20 points to give a reasonable chance at success? I don’t know. It is a real concern and might require a P2 house call and a couple short fields. That is how this team has to win…otherwise it could be a long day.
Personally, I have decided that Kevin Kolb is good enough to lead this team to the playoffs. John Skelton…I don’t know. I guess we will find out because he is going to get another extended run but without Kolb’s mobility, it might end up being Lindley well too soon. It is disappointing that Cardinals management has not done more to provide anything reasonably an offensive line. As a long time Cardinal fan, it is soooo frustrating to see all that talent on defense and at the skill positions yet the QB cannot get a quick second to get the ball to them.
I have not been thrilled with the play-calling on offense either as they seem to resemble that Whisenhunt stubbornness. They keep plugging along as if they have a line to work behind with the slow developing plays downfield and play actions. That is not going to work when Kolb is on his back in literally 2 seconds. And, don’t even get me started on the predictability of the offense with their run, pass, pass, punt pattern. I have not charted it but I swear it has to be close to 80% run on first down which is a problem when you can’t run. It puts you in 2nd/3rd and long which is open season on birdgang QBs.
Bottom-line, this season is not lost. There is time to fix this and I hope management and coaching staff seize this opportunity to improve and even upgrade when they can. Back in the high-flying offense days of Kurt Warner, I used to figure that 30 points was the benchmark. If they could get to 30 points on offense, they would win. With this team and the dominant defense, I think 21 points wins you most games. I think that happens this week. 21-20 Cardinals.