The NFL is a business. It is a competitive, expensive and increasingly tough business in which the hard and sometimes unpopular decisions must be made by coaches and executives in order to accomplish one single goal: a championship.
If you look at some of the roster cuts that were made by the Arizona Cardinals from that perspective, than they make sense. Off-season workouts, spring mini-camps, training camp, pre-season games, these are all tools that Coach Whisenhunt and his staff had to use to evaluate the players on this team. From his perspective, every player was evaluated on an equal basis and the ones that he and his staff identified as being able to contribute the most to the success of this franchise were offered a spot on the 53 man roster.
Some were probably surprised by the recent cuts of rookies Buster Davis (the team’s 3rd round pick) and Ben Patrick (the team’s 7th round pick), but honestly I’m not. Both players had a very minimal and unimpressive impact during the pre-season, which left the coaches with only one option.
During camp and throughout the preseason, Whisenhunt had many talks with Davis about his level of play, advising him to step it up. Whisenhunt had told Davis that what he was seeing on the field was a far drop off from what he had seen on the tapes of him in college at Florida State. Davis apparently did not heed the coaches warnings and continued to play at a subpar level throughout the preseason. Honestly, I can’t recall hearing his name called more than 3 times as being in on a tackle during all 4 games. Davis made the decision an easy one for Whisenhunt, then he declined a spot on the practice squad too. Oh well…..
Patrick struggled with injuries following the draft in April which limited his playing time throughout mini camp and the early part of training camp. His ability as a receiver was definately apparent (if any of your recall his spectacular grab during the preseason game vs. the Texans), but his blocking skills never improved. Whisenhunt spent a lot of time with the TEs and made it no secret that any TE in his offense would have to be an effective and efficient blocker. Patrick became neither, leaving the team with the decision to cut him and sign Jerheme Urban as the sixth receiver. Patrick however, did sign with the team as a member of the practice squad and hopes to make the team in the future.
So what is the message here?
Production at the professional level of play is all that matters, and these two guys along with the remaining 20 players that were cut did not shine above the others. The fact that they were draft picks means nothing when the regular season kicks off. The college game does not always transition smoothly to the pace of the pro game. Coach Whisenhunt is establishing a precedent with these moves, and that is how your play on the field determines your future with this ball club. This mentality is exactly what so many of us like about Whisenhunt’s leadership style and the impact it can have on this team.
Earn your spot, earn respect, earn every second you get to spend on that field. That’s the new motto of the Arizona Cardinals, and I LOVE IT!!