If you watched the Arizona Cardinals' 30-24 playoff win over the Atlanta Falcons on Saturday night, you have to admit that the Cardinals screwed up by playing Tim Hightower more this season than Edgerrin James.
Dennis Green lost his job in Arizona not only because he went 5-11 in his final year but because he failed to utilize the biggest free-agent acquisition in the history of the Arizona Cardinals: Edgerrin James.
In Green's final year as head coach, Edgerrin James rushed for over 100 yards only twice, and that didn't exactly float Bill Bidwll's boat. Because of the lack of effort to run the ball by Dennis Green and his staff, the Cardinals were forced to make a change.
The Arizona Cardinals were looking for a coach who would be able to pound opposing defenses with the running game but still be able to utilize the great receiving corps in Arizona.
Enter Ken Whisenhunt and Russ Grimm.
Whisenhunt took over as head coach for the Cardinals after being offensive coordinator for the Pittsburgh Steelers who made a living by pounding the rock. Also coming with Coach Whisenhunt was the best offensive line coach in the NFL, also know as Russ Grimm, who eventually got the Assistant Head Coach tag.
In 2007, James ran over 100 yards only three times. But it was mainly the result of a young and inexperienced offensive line. James ended up rushing over 1,000 yards for the season. Arizona expected big things out of Edgerrin James this season, but because he was supposedly "outplayed" by undrafted rookie running back Tim Hightower, he didn't see a whole lot of action.
There are two positives for the Cardinals entering next week's game against the Carolina Panthers. First of all, the defense has shown the ability to stop the running game after shutting down the NFL's leading rusher.
Second of all, the ability to utilize the play-action pass because of the threat of James running the football keeps defenses literally on their heels, even ask Keith Brooking when he was fooled on a key 3rd-and-16 play in the fourth quarter by biting on play action.
Even though the Cardinals have not won a game on the East Coast this year, I still firmly believe that they have a fighting chance to knock off the Panthers because of their new found running game and the ability to utilize play-action.
Also, one last message to Edgerrin James that I would like to extend. Please come back next season. Without you, we are just like this years Texas Tech Red Raiders, a team built for the passing game, which only helps you in games in September-November, not when it counts in the stretch run for the playoffs and the playoffs themselves.