Arizona Cardinals: Is Ken Whisenhunt Giving Russ Grimm a Free Pass?

Mike LangthorneContributor IIJanuary 23, 2011

GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 05:  Head coach Ken Whisenhunt of the Arizona Cardinals watches from the sidelines during the NFL game against the St. Louis Rams at the University of Phoenix Stadium on December 5, 2010 in Glendale, Arizona. The Rams defeated the Cardinals 19-6.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Arizona Cardinals closed the 2010 season ranked 29th in the NFL in total team defense.  Four days later, defensive coordinator Bill Davis was relieved of his duties.

In the Merriam-Webster dictionary, "accountability" is simply defined as, "an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one's actions."

Rarely is someone exempt from maintaining a sense of accountability regardless of their profession.  At the end of the day, we are all held against a set of predetermined standards, either meeting the expectations that are set while continuing to move forward, or falling short to consequently be left behind.

There is absolutely no grey area.  

If two seasons filled with defensive shortcomings were reason enough to encourage change, shouldn't the same expectations be held for Arizona's offensive side of the football?

Since 2009, the Cardinals' offensive line has surrendered a total 76 sacks and whopping 183 quarterback hits; a cumulative ranking that places the unit near the bottom of the league in pass protection capabilities. This overall ineptitude resulted in the Cardinals' passer efficiency rating to drop from 89.1 (ranked 12th in the league) in 2009 to 60.5 (ranked 31st in the league) in 2010.

In fact, the overall ineffectiveness of the offensive line over the last few years may have been the deciding factor as to why Kurt Warner decided to walk away. There were a number of reasons helping to influence his decision, but the prospects of being impaled snap after snap over the course of a 16-week regular season surely weighed heavily during his thought process.

Having watched the Cardinals lose two quarterbacks due to injuries throughout the year only helps to reinforce the fact that Warner's assumptions were correct. 

In all fairness, it's possible to argue that the offensive line has managed to put together a marginally better performance when called upon to run block as opposed to pass protect, but they still rank in the bottom half of the league., a true leader in statistical analysis for everything football, submits a yearly Offensive Hog Index that helps to clearly identify the NFL's best and worst offensive lines. The focus is on calculating Yards Per Attempt, Negative Pass Plays and 3rd Down Efficiency, then ranking each team accordingly.

Using their system, the Cardinals' offensive line tied for 18th in 2009 and tied for 28th in 2010.  

These stats lead me to question whether or not Ken Whisenhunt's loyalty to a long-time colleague and friend is actually compromising his ability to make a difficult decision.

As evidenced by Davis' dismissal, if results remain unchanged or they begin to further deteriorate, someone will have to be held accountable for not meeting or exceeding expectations. 

So, if assistant head coach Russ Grimm is not at fault for the lack of offensive production, then only one other person remains to shoulder the burden.