Arizona Cardinals vs. San Francisco 49ers: In Defense of Derek Anderson

Samuel IngroAnalyst INovember 30, 2010

SAN DIEGO - OCTOBER 03:  Quarterback Derek Anderson #3 of the Arizona Cardinals drops back to pass against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium on October 3, 2010 in San Diego, California. The Chargers defeated the Cardinals 41-10.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

After the recent media explosion—triggered by Monday Night Football Analyst Jon Gruden—and after reading and re-watching the highlights in context, most normal minded individuals should see the underlying factors involved in the Derek Anderson meltdown. The Arizona media was looking for a scapegoat and found one in the recently defeated quarterback.

This is not the Kurt Warner led Cardinals of 2009, not by any stretch of the imagination.

The fire and leadership simply isn't there this season. Many factors, however, played into the San Francisco matchup against Arizona on Monday Night.

It may be easy to put the blame on the quarterback's shoulders, but think for a minute if running back Beanie Wells hadn't missed the handoff on the fumble? Instead of trying to pick it up, if he would have fallen on it, then there's no Michael Crabtree touchdown on the next play.

Worst case scenario in this drive then would have been a punt, and the score stays 0-0.

No momentum to San Francisco.

Second, Larry Fitzgerald uncharacteristically dropping a touchdown pass in the end zone could have then made it a one possession game of 14-10, this is still of course implying the fumble wouldn't have occurred.

With Anderson's lone interception of the game, the game already sat at 24-6, forcing the Cardinals' passer into desperation mode. This game still could have been at 17-10, and potentially a wholly different. Still, this one was by far not the worst interception that could have happened.

Intended receiver Early Doucet made the play a possibility on the comeback route, and actually had the defenders beat, initially. A split second decision to jump the route by Takeo Spikes resulted in the turnover, and in turn, the end of the Cardinals' hopes to win.

Excuses aside, one man didn't lose this game, as the old phrase goes, you win and lose as a team. Beanie Wells, Larry Fitzgerald, and Early Doucet all could have made plays on the turnovers to prevent them from happening and completely swung this game in the other direction. Big-time players make big-time plays. Anderson never has and never will be a big-time player, but he is an adequate one that will give you a chance to win.

Following the game, a reporter asked Derek Anderson about a quick chuckle on the sideline between a lineman and himself. After stating it was just a comment between the two, the reporter relentlessly proceeded to ask five more times, instigating Anderson to an explosion.

Anderson and his lineman could have simply been making light of the situation, some people laugh at funerals, or perhaps they were just sharing a frustrated chuckle over how badly the season's going. Laughter is often used as a coping mechanism, and yes, sometimes it will ensue when times get so unbelievably discouraging.

Crucifying Derek Anderson over a laugh isn't going to save the Arizona Cardinals season. The biggest mistake was made when banking on a player with a lifetime 69.4 passer rating to replace a future Hall of Famer's role in the offense. That in itself, is just bad decision making by the front office.

All things considered, who is really to blame here?