In Arizona, the 2010 season would prove whether coach Ken Whisenhunt and his staff could overcome an exodus of key players like quarterback Kurt Warner, receiver Anquan Boldin, linebacker Karlos Dansby, and safety Antrel Rolle.
Through 10 games, the answer is no.
But Whisenhunt isn’t ready to concede that his 3-7 team has regressed.
“We’ve gone to a Super Bowl,” Whisenhunt said Monday, per Darren Urban of the team’s official website. “We’ve played six playoff games and won four of them. I’m not going to apologize for that. I’m proud of the fact that we’ve done that. To think that we’re going to do that every year, even though we aspire to do that, that’s tough.
“If you look around the league, you see [rough times] happen to other teams. It’s important right now how we fight through this. I really believe that we’re going to come out of it. We’re going to still have our opportunities to win divisions and go to playoff games and that’s what our focus is. Do I feel like we have eroded what we have built? I don’t feel that way. I don’t think you can look at our team over the last two years and what we have done in the playoffs and be ashamed about anything with that or feel like we’ve lost anything from that. If we have to go through some tough times to get back to that point, that’s what we have to do.”
We admire his confidence, but he’s not being realistic. Has the team eroded? Of course. (Thanks, Seton.) Without a proven quarterback and absent a plan to replace the Hall of Famer who retired and whom the team made no attempt to hogtie and bring back to town, the Cardinals can’t be consistently competitive until they find a guy who can distribute the football. And if they don’t do that soon, another key player (receiver Larry Fitzgerald) will be gone.
The good news for Whisenhunt is that he already has signed an extension, and that the extremely-careful-with-money Cardinals won’t be making any rash moves in the near term.
Still, someone in the organization has accountability for not devising a better plan to replace Warner. Whether that’s Whisenhunt or G.M. Rod Graves or ownership remains to be seen. And whether someone gets fired depends not on one rough year, but on two or three of them.
Though Whisenhunt believes things will turn around, he’s got a lot of work to do to make that happen.