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Cardinals’ struggles could trigger a house cleaning

Ken Whisenhunt AP

The Steelers have had three coaches since 1969.  In that same period of time, the Cardinals have had 14.

On average, that’s one new coach every three years.  And for a franchise that has existed since 1920, only Jim Hanifan has finished six seasons as the team’s head coach.

Ken Whisenhunt will match Hanifan this year, if Whisenhunt finishes the season.  And while Whisenhunt likely will, the question becomes whether he will become the longest-tenured coach in franchise history by coaching to season seven.

Helping Whisenhunt is the fact that he has taken the franchise to unprecedented heights.  The 2008 playoffs began with the team’s second postseason win since the Truman administration and finished with a Super Bowl berth — and very nearly a Lombardi Trophy.

Hurting Whisenhunt, as Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic explains, is the fact that the quarterback situation has been bungled since the retirement of Kurt Warner.  In 2011, the Cards went all in with Kevin Kolb, giving up a second-round pick, cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, and millions that Kolb has yet to earn.  The clusterfudge was compounded in March when another $7 million was paid to Kolb.

Meanwhile, the team arguably has the worst top-to-bottom depth chart in the league, which means that the Cardinals either don’t know how to pick quarterbacks or how to develop them, or both.

If the six-game losing streak gets extended to seven today by a Rams team that hasn’t won since starting the Cardinals’ current slide, the whispers will increase as to whether the team will fire Whisenhunt or G.M. Rod Graves, who has been with the team since 1997 and who has weathered many storms.

When going all in and losing, it’s time to leave the table.  The only question is whether the chips put at risk belonged to Whisenhunt, Graves, or both.

The Cardinals’ low national profile is often a bad thing.  When it comes to the turmoil that could be coming, it could be a good thing.  As the media focuses on whether the Jets will clean house, the Cardinals can quietly ponder what it will take to get their house back in order.  In the end, it could result in a new coach, a new G.M., or both.

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19 Responses to “Cardinals’ struggles could trigger a house cleaning”
  1. buhbay1c says: Nov 25, 2012 9:29 AM

    Time for Larry to come home. The Vikings should offer their first and fourth rounders. Impossible to get Fitz the ball without a QB or o-line.

  2. 6ringsandarapist says: Nov 25, 2012 9:30 AM

    the house cleaning has to start with ownership, the bidwell’s have steadly run this team into the ground since the St. Louis day and before

  3. themanchine says: Nov 25, 2012 9:32 AM

    Kolb was actually playing well this year before his (lack of)OL got him hurt. Bring in some talent up front and you’d be surprised how much better the QB looks.

  4. j0esixpack says: Nov 25, 2012 9:48 AM

    Whisenhunt is a good coach – key squads like his OL simply can’t or won’t execute.

    If that’s because of lack of talent or poor coaching, get rid of the coaches – especially if he’s “lost” the players.

    But I don’t get the sense that the problem with them is coaching. They simply need better players and without a good OL no QB is going to look good,

  5. rushbacker says: Nov 25, 2012 9:54 AM

    Yep, Kolb was starting to play pretty solid. They were winning games when he was healthy– they looked like one of the surprise teams in the league, in fact. It would be a big mistake to clean house just when they might be ready to turn the corner. Ownership needs to show a little patience.

    They have a good defense. They desperately need an NFL offensive line, and a running back that isn’t made of porcelain and tissue paper.

  6. jimmysee says: Nov 25, 2012 9:56 AM

    Move the Cardinals back to Chicago. They’ve been gypsies for too long. The south side beckons!

  7. eventhorizon04 says: Nov 25, 2012 10:00 AM

    Let me begin by saying I’m not a Cardinals fan and didn’t think the Kolb trade was a smart move.

    However, it’s entirely possible Kolb could be a solid QB if he didn’t have the WORST pass-blocking offensive line I’ve seen since David Carr was regularly getting killed on the Texans a decade ago.

    It doesn’t matter if the Cardinals get a super-smart QB with a quick release like Peyton Manning, or a super-mobile QB who can outrun defenders like RG3 behind that O-line – they’d get killed.

    The average offensive line gives up around 35 or so sacks in 16 games. The Cardinals gave up 30 sacks in 6 GAMES.

    The Cardinals should upgrade that O-line from worst to the NFL to at least somewhat decent. If Kolb still plays poorly, THEN replace him.

  8. redzona says: Nov 25, 2012 10:07 AM

    If Whiz is let go, he will be one of the first coaches picked up, and Ray Horton will land a head coach job as well. What’s that say?

  9. nflpsychic says: Nov 25, 2012 10:08 AM

    G.M. Rod Graves has been with the team since 1997? How has this guy still employed? Other than a brief run with Warner, what has this franchise accomplished the last 15 years?

    I’m hearing way too much emphasis being put on their “awful o-line”. One doesn’t have to look far to find successful teams with piss-poor line play. The bears and Steelers come to mind. The Cardinals need help from top to bottom. The top should start with the GM.

  10. dioalice says: Nov 25, 2012 10:19 AM

    As a lifelong Cardinal fan (since NOv. 16, 1970 when I first saw them play on MNF), I can see that Ken Whisenhunt is a fine coach. Overall, he’s done a good job.

    I had no problem with the Kolb trade, and still do not. It’s easy to forget the Cards’ were in need of a QB and conventional wisdom said that Kolb was the best available. Give the Cardinals credit for going after him; they had been considered cheap for decades (true to that charge). But, Michael Bidwill taking control has changed that. They no longer let franchise players (a la Fitzgerald) walk after the first contract is up. BTW, Fitz suggested that they trade for Kolb. Perhaps he should stick to catching balls, not creating the roster…

    I’d make one demand only of coach Whisenhunt if I’m Mr. Bidwill: fire Russ Grimm (OL coach) and Mike Miller (who puts offensive into the Coordinator); if Whiz is unwilling to sacrifice these two, then he can find another job elsewhere.

    Finally, if Rod Graves doesn’t take the consensus best OL available in rounds one and two next April in the draft, then he needs to go as well.

  11. westcoastredbird says: Nov 25, 2012 10:20 AM

    The Cardinals simply put don’t know how to pick offensive linemen or develop them, or both! I’d fire Russ Grimm and their offensive coordinator and have Whiz start calling plays again. If it wasn’t for Ray Horton this would be a 2-14 team!

  12. teddybayer123 says: Nov 25, 2012 10:50 AM

    buhbay1c says:
    Nov 25, 2012 9:29 AM
    Time for Larry to come home. The Vikings should offer their first and fourth rounders. Impossible to get Fitz the ball without a QB or o-line.

    That’s not the housecleaning we need, dum-dum.

    FIRE ROD GRAVES NOW!

  13. bodybysnake says: Nov 25, 2012 11:02 AM

    I’ve been saying he’s needed to go ever since he came up with the brilliant idea to alternate between Warner and Leinart from quarter to quarter, game to game and sometimes from play to play. One good season riding the youth Denny Greene helped to assemble and Kurt Warners arm bought him far more time than he should have had.

    It’s time for Whizenhispants and Graves to go.

  14. yetimonster says: Nov 25, 2012 11:08 AM

    Clusterfudge? Nice one.

  15. meatheadsmakemelaugh says: Nov 25, 2012 11:33 AM

    If I’m the Cards I’d fire Graves, Grimm, and Miller. Whiz will need to find an OC for a completely different system, build the offense around Kolbs strengths. The offense is a joke, 19 points with 6 turnovers against the Falcons! Any of the top teams in the NFL would have had 50 on the Falcons.

    I would cut Skelton, he’s terrible, he was never any good, it was the defense that won all those games, not that one read wonder.

    I would trade Fitz, for two first and a second, the best WR in the league needs a ring with somebody, it’s a disservice to the NFL fans not to see this guy just tear it up.

    Draft top oline guys, a solid RB in from the fourth or fifth rounds, Cut Beanie Wells, Heap, Skelton.

    For QB’s I’d be happy with Kolb, 4 game winning streak with this primitive offense and the worst oline, hats off kid.

    But if Alex Smith or Romo was available I would take a look.

    Oh yeah, Horton is not allowed to leave, if he gets a job offer, then just make him the head coach and fire Whiz, best thing about this team, elite defense that keeps the Cards from getting completely blown out every week .

  16. totallyuselessme says: Nov 25, 2012 11:47 AM

    Yes, they had one good playoff run that almost netted them a Super Bowl, but that’s football – you can go on a run like that and it can happen. The Giants have done it twice after sneaking into the wildcard round with assists from spontaneously-combusting Cowboys teams.

    Ultimately, the Bidwell family, like A.J. Smith up in San Diego, is too cheap to retain talent. They will never be a winning franchise.

  17. realfootballfan says: Nov 25, 2012 12:00 PM

    From my perspective, the Cardinals are in a similar spot as the Jets. They have a good coach who has a weak personnel department putting together the roster.

    If Whisenhunt, like Rex Ryan, has more influence over the roster (and I think with Whisenhunt it’s safe to say that he has a big hand in personnel decisions), that should be completely stripped, Graves should be demoted or fired in favor of a strong personnel evaluator (not just a capologist), and then see where it goes.

    Ray Horton’s addition (Whisenhunt’s idea) and his overall coaching of the roster on Sundays is good, but he has no clue on players such as what QB he should have (see Max Hall, Derrick Anderson, and the current disaster).

    The offensive line is as bad as the Eagle line, but they actually still have most of their starters from the beginning of the year, unlike the Eagles. It’s that bad talent wise in Arizona.

    The fact that they drafted Levi Brown (still their best offensive lineman to date) back in ’07 while not only leaving Adrian Peterson on the board, but taking a player who wasn’t considered a top ten pick by anybody else in the league should tell you how talent is picked there. Most of the best players on this team came during Dennis Green’s run, which would indicate that like Whisenhunt, he had a healthy influence on personnel decisions. He was good at it, Whisenhunt is not.

    However, with a strong GM taking those decisions completely out of his hands like the setup in Pittsburgh where he cut his teeth, I think he could do better. The Cardinals probably won’t if they fire him though.

  18. 4thqtrsaint says: Nov 25, 2012 12:05 PM

    One common denomenator… Ray Horton hears a who fired me?

  19. satanphoenix says: Nov 25, 2012 12:32 PM

    I could see Fitz being traded… Can you say Herschel Walker type draft choices?

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