Cardinal Steps. Kind of like baby steps, just a little bigger, but not leaps and bounds either. The Cardinals have to find ways to score and at the same time make stops and create turnovers on defense. If it hasn’t been said, it’s been thought of. Are the Cardinals already starting to revert to their past mistakes that kept them out of the 2007 playoffs? Let’s hope not, but the signs are there. There are also signs that the Cardinals can move past the mistakes that cost them in Washington on Sunday.
Turnovers: Sure they committed the first turnovers of the season in Washington. So you ask why so hard on them? Well both turnovers came at very inopportune times. The first was an Edgerrin James fumble inside their own territory. The result – a Redskins touchdown. It’s hard to ask a defense to stop a team already established inside field goal range. The second one was an interception of Kurt Warner. Sure you could say it was pass interference, but you can’t rely on the officials to help you out no matter how much you want them to in those situations. Fact is, even Kurt Warner said it himself, he needed to place the ball better so Breaston could have made a play on it. From a defensive perspective, after grabbing 5 turnovers in San Francisco, they’ve gone two weeks without a takeaway.
The Cardinals schedule: The Cardinals played so well the first two weeks that it had people talking. Say all you want about it was San Francisco and Miami, however both of those teams the following weeks had impressive road victories – San Francisco in Seattle and Miami this past weekend in New England. The Cardinals defense those weeks gave up 13 points to the 49ers and then 10 to the Dolphins. This week if not for a touchdown called back, they would have surrendered 31 points. Washington seemed to move the ball well early in the game, though they did struggle a little in the 2nd and 3rd quarters. Washington was the toughest test in the first four weeks. The Cardinals are going to New York to play the Jets this Sunday, a team they’ve only played six times ever and one they haven’t defeated since 1975.
Clock Management: The play that gets the most attention is the decision on 4th down in Washington under 3 minutes to go and coach Whisenhunt decided to punt instead of going for it. Whisenhunt said on Monday that he did have second thoughts, but eventually said it was the right decision. He said that he didn’t want to give Washington the ball with that good of field position and possibly putting them in field goal range quickly. However I like what Warner had to say on the matter. He said that either way, Washington is getting the ball back if they don’t make it on 4th and the defense comes back out on the field on either a punt or failed 4th down, so why not leave the ball in the offense’s hands? I see what Whisenhunt is talking about, but how can you abandon the teams most obvious strength? I’ll bet next time he is faced with the same choice, he goes the other way. The other play though is the one in the first quarter where the Cardinals had a brilliant play call made with a pass to Ben Patrick, however the Cardinals were called with delay of game. The clock looked as if it was still at one second when the ball was snapped. However, you can’t leave a play call like that to chance and risk a delay of game. Unfortunately too often we see that happen on 4th downs in the NFL. All comes from indecisiveness. That’s a trait that can not follow the Cardinals should they wish to make the playoffs for the first time since 1998.
I truly believe they can overcome each of these points this week against the Jets. The Jets were just torched for 48 points last night in San Diego. The Jets will be at home, but they showed they are vulnerable to high powered offenses. I won’t predict victory, however, I think we may see a lot of scoring.
Cardinal Steps people, Cardinal steps.