Arizona Cardinals: 5 Reasons For Hope In The Desert
This season has not been a good one for the Arizona Cardinals.
Everyone around the league will admit that.
And even those who thought that the Cardinals wouldn't be very good after losing so much talent have to be shocked at this seven game losing streak, maybe an all-time low in the 21st century for the Cards.
A 19-6 loss to the Rams, who Arizona has dominated in recent seasons, may be the lowest of low points.
But as bleak as the skies are for the Birds right now, there are a few things that Cardinals fans can hang on to for the rest of this season on into next.
All is not lost in the desert folks--here are five reasons why.
1. John Skelton
The only thing that Cardinals fans really have to talk about this week is Skelton, who made his NFL debut in Sunday's game due to, well, some inconceivable factors.
Just earlier this week, amidst all the controversy from Derek Anderson's poor play (and his press conference blowup), many were calling for Skelton to play.
Whisenhunt said that Skelton was not ready, and after some frustration, I realized that maybe he was right.
Sunday's game didn't disprove that theory either, although it was exciting to watch his NFL debut (the only ray of hope from the game).
The main reason he may not be ready is he may not be able to make all the NFL throws yet. College ball and NFL are getting closer, but some of what is required to be a quarterback you simply can't learn while in school.
The other reason is that he's going to get pressured. Constantly. The Rams did that Sunday, and Skelton was sacked once.
However, the Cardinals may not have a choice at this point.
Which is a great thing.
Not only does Skelton get to show the Cardinals what he can do, and whether they need to draft a first round quarterback, but he can work on his game in these last few contests.
And for the record, Skelton didn't look that bad Sunday, as he completed almost as many passes in one quarter as Anderson in three.
He really only had one bad throw, the throw to Fitzgerald on 3rd and 25. The other two incompletions were hardly his fault.
I'm excited to see what he can against a suspect Broncos defense.
2. O'Brien Schofield
For those that haven't seen him on the field yet, that's okay.
You probably won't be impressed with what you see yet, as Schofield is coming off a torn ACL.
But the fourth round selection for the Cardinals has me excited for the future.
He's finally getting some playing time, replacing Clark Haggans for some downs, and that is exactly what the Cardinals must do with the rookie for the rest of the season.
The reason I'm excited?
Schofield may be the Cardinals answer to a lack of pass rush.
Schofield was a prized pass rusher coming out of Wisconsin his senior season, and would've gone in the first or second round had he not torn his ACL.
He's not going to do much at first because he's been on IR, but the Cardinals really don't have a choice- they have to let him play, because their pass rush just isn't getting it done.
3. LaRod Stephens-Howling
The diminutive back is a big reason for hope in the desert.
As I've said several times, he has a good a chance as any to be the next Darren Sproles, who plays a big part in the offense for the Chargers.
And although the Cardinals backfield is a bit crowded right now, things may clear up in the offseason, and the Hyphen may have a bigger role next season.
But he has something you can't teach anybody: speed.
Not to mention that he's been one of the best return men in the league right now.
4. Kerry Rhodes
Maybe the lone brightspot on a defense that has been terribly inconsistent this year, Rhodes is having himself quite the season.
In fact, if the Cardinals had a better record, there might even been a few Pro Bowl votes for Rhodes, who has three interceptions, a sack, and two fumble returns for TDs.
He could have had three if he held on to the ball.
And other than some suspect pass coverage at times, Rhodes is about the only player on the defense who has had some consistency this year.
So although the Cardinals miss Antrel Rolle, I don't think getting Rhodes for Rolle was a bad move at all.
5. Ken Whisenhunt
This is definitely going to surprise some people, but I think one of the biggest reasons for hope in Arizona is our head coach.
This season it's been hard to trust him. Trust me. I've been one of his biggest detractors.
But the reality of it is, he probably realizes any mistakes he's made more than any of us.
He probably, for example, knows that he needs to give up the playcalling, so look for a new offensive coordinator next season.
But as for the season as a whole, there's not a whole lot that he could've done, as the organization is to blame as a whole for not a bigger push to keep guys like Karlos Dansby and Antrel Rolle, not to mention Anquan Boldin and Kurt Warner (although both made it clear they weren't staying).
But Whisenhunt, in his four seasons, has arguably been the best Cardinals coach since they've moved to Arizona.
So although many fans are angry with him, I urge you to not be. He gives us our best chance next year.
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