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  1. #1
    AvengerRam's Avatar
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    Around the NFC West (Part 2): Ken Whisenhunt - Savior or Square Peg?

    The hype machine is running again… right on schedule.

    For the third consecutive year, the Arizona Cardinals are one of the teams that it is “in vogue” to hype. “Experts” throughout the media and the web are, once again, predicting their rise from the ashes of years of ineptitude.

    And why not? After all, while they only won five games last year, they did win four of their last seven. They have a rising “star” QB in Matt Leinart, one of the top WR duos in Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin, and, most of all, a new Head Coach – Ken Whisenhunt – who comes from a successful run as the offensive coordinator of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

    They are, by several accounts – a team on the veritable cusp of contention. They just need to build on what they’ve been developing for the past few years and they will be there, right?

    Only one problem with all of this: Ken Whisenhunt is not building on the past – he is entirely reshuffling the deck.

    This team was built to pass the ball. In fact, in the past three seasons, the Cardinals have only run the ball 41.8% of the time (a percentage that would make Mike Martz proud!). No surprise there, given how many top draft choices have been devoted to the passing game in recent years.

    So, Whisenhunt is going to build on that area of strength, right? Well, not if he is true to his history. In three seasons as the offensive coordinator of the Steelers, he ran the ball 56.6% of the time. And make no mistake – that’s what he wants to do in Arizona. The message has already been communicated to Leinart who, at a recent mini-camp, was quoted as saying "Obviously it's an offense where we're going to run the ball first.”

    In the long run, maybe this plan will work. But, why should anyone expect the Cardinals, with their inexperienced offensive line and a RB on the downside of his career, to suddenly become a team that runs the ball well? Just because Ken Whisenhunt says so?

    On a similar vein, it seems that Whisenhunt wants to bring in elements of the 3-4 defense run by the Steelers, and may wish to ultimately convert the base scheme to this format. Again, that might work in the long run, but the team was not built for a 3-4 defense, and nobody should expect it to acclimate to that system overnight.

    In the end, the Cardinals do have some talent, but 2007 will likely be a transition year, rather than the year it all comes together. That’s fine. I’m sure the “experts” will be happy to be able to recycle their old articles again in 2008.


  2. #2
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    Re: Around the NFC West (Part 2): Ken Whisenhunt - Savior or Square Peg?

    New Headcoach thus a new style both on offense as well as defense. A learning period for the players and the Coaching staff. I don't get why the so called experts count these issues as a plus "rightaway"? Weren't the same issues why the experts didn't jump on the Rams bandwagon last season?:x

  3. #3
    AvengerRam's Avatar
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    Re: Around the NFC West (Part 2): Ken Whisenhunt - Savior or Square Peg?

    I'm starting to think that there are some nice golf courses in Arizona that like to "comp" sportwriters who talk up the Cardinals.

  4. #4
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    Re: Around the NFC West (Part 2): Ken Whisenhunt - Savior or Square Peg?

    I agree that the are Card's are being overly hyped as usual, but I wouldn't recommend writing this team off just yet. The new strategy of making the run a priority is smart and should help out young Lienart a lot. That of course is assuming their OL actually does some blocking and allows James to be effective. Also keep in mind that they picked up some very good players in the draft including Branch in the 2nd which was a steal. Now, I'm not defending this team, but you can't deny they have a very solid roster. If anything slows them down, it will be making the transition to a new coach. This is a team we should be wary of.

  5. #5
    AvengerRam's Avatar
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    Re: Around the NFC West (Part 2): Ken Whisenhunt - Savior or Square Peg?

    Actually, I'm not sold on their roster at all.

    Their likely starting O line, for example:

    OT: Levi Brown - a rookie
    OG: Milford Brown - mediocre, at best
    C: Al Johnson - a guy who lost his starting job in Dallas
    OG: Deuce Latui - showed up massively overweight at camp
    OT: Mike Gandy - Bills fans were glad to see him go

    That's the foundation for a running team?

    And what about Matt "The Annointed One" Leinart? Sure, he showed some ability and progression last year, but he also finished the season with a 74.0 QB rating (including ratings below 52.0 in five of his eleven starts) and had more Ints. than TDs. Do you really think he'll have a quantum leap playing in a new offense?

    As for their defense - I like some of their players. Karlos Dansby and Adrian Wilson in particular. But you can't escape the fact that they gave up 349.4 ypg and 24.3 ppg (both worse than the Rams, by the way).

  6. #6
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    Thumbs up Re: Around the NFC West (Part 2): Ken Whisenhunt - Savior or Square Peg?

    The Cards may turn out to be a good team, but you can't just say they're going to go deep in the playoffs if they haven't proved anything. They've finished relatively the same over the past few years, and while that may not be a great indicator for next season, I think that people are getting over-hyped over the Cardinals. What can they do we can't? They're 'new and improved' O-line hasn't played a game yet, Edge is getting older yet they will run the ball more. Anyone could just as well say that if the Rams fix the run defenese they could be a dangerous team, and they would be. Every year a team like this gets over-hyped but I wouldn't worry. All the better for us if we're under-the-radar and suprise everyone else :x .

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    Thumbs up Re: Around the NFC West (Part 2): Ken Whisenhunt - Savior or Square Peg?

    The Cards may turn out to be a good team, but the sportswriters can't just say they're going to go deep in the playoffs if they haven't proved anything. They've finished relatively the same over the past few years, and while that may not be a great indicator for next season, I think that people are getting over-hyped over the Cardinals. What can they do we can't? They're 'new and improved' O-line hasn't played a game yet, Edge is getting older yet they will run the ball more. Anyone could just as well say that if the Rams fix the run defenese they could be a dangerous team, and they would be. Every year a team like this gets over-hyped but I wouldn't worry. All the better for us if we're under-the-radar and suprise everyone else :x .

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    Re: Around the NFC West (Part 2): Ken Whisenhunt - Savior or Square Peg?

    Oh, and their defense is just so great!

  9. #9
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    Re: Around the NFC West (Part 2): Ken Whisenhunt - Savior or Square Peg?

    Every year is the Cardinals purported rise from mediocrity. Why is 2007 different than any past season. I would say the Cards are once again at the bottom of a new curve. New head coach, new system,... however, I don't think we'll be seing any New Orleans Saints of 2006.

  10. #10
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    Re: Around the NFC West (Part 2): Ken Whisenhunt - Savior or Square Peg?

    There are some teams that are "reverse Cinderella" or "reverse Midas." A high draft pick becomes a bust, an expensive free agent doesn't produce. The team's weakness is constantly exploited, and the strengths don't carry it through. Well-regarded coaches get remolded into the image of the team. Everything is wrong according to the front office except for the front office.

    The Cardinals are one of these teams. The Lions are definitely another. Winning players don't want to go there. If John Elway were being drafted this year instead of '83 or whatever, he would have demanded a trade if the Cards drafted him.

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    Re: Around the NFC West (Part 2): Ken Whisenhunt - Savior or Square Peg?

    Well I suppoese the law of averages say they will eventually get it right. At this pointI am sure there will be many gloaters who said they got it right.

    I find the best way to see how a teams additions are doing is to see how the teams doing in week 8. Everything else is just what they envisage will sell papers.
    The Breakfast Club. You want cheese with that?

  12. #12
    RamFanOH Guest

    Re: Around the NFC West (Part 2): Ken Whisenhunt - Savior or Square Peg?

    This is so very true ! If you are patient and wait, sooner or later someone is going to sing the praises of the Cardinals. Every year, year in, and year out. I will heir on the side of caution this season though. Not because I believe anything different will happen, but because I do respect the talent that the Cardinal brass has brought in. They are full of POTENTIAL. At this point, that is all it is.

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