At the beginning of the season, many Arizona Cardinals fans were willing to believe that the team was ready to turn a new page in their up-and-down (but mostly down) franchise.
The quarterback roulette that was the team’s Achilles heel last year was settled by the addition of Kevin Kolb. Although the draft and free agency pickups didn’t quite fill in the many holes in the defense and offensive line, many of the new faces were sure to help.
The introduction of yet another new defensive coordinator was cause for some concern, but it seemed as though the team could function well enough within the new scheme during the preseason.
No one really believed it would be a great year, but a better year than 2010 seemed to be in the cards at the very least.
Now, as the Cardinals go into their bye week with a humiliating 1-4 record in the books, the 2011 season seems hopeless.
Everything is going wrong.
Kevin Kolb has blossomed into a turnover machine (he’s averaging 1.4 per game). The defense is 22nd in the league, giving up an average of 377 yards per game. Last week against the Minnesota Vikings, the Cardinals offense was reportedly so predictable that the Vikings defense was able to tell which plays they were going to run before the ball was snapped.
With the San Francisco 49ers rolling at the top of the division with their 4-1 record, it seems safe to say that the Cardinals have very little chance of catching up to give their 2011 season any meaning.
At this point, it has to be considered that the team stands to accomplish more by looking to the future—and by joining the “competition” for next year’s first-round draft pick.
Let’s face it. It’s hard to see Kevin Kolb as the future of the Cardinals at quarterback.
There’s a pretty solid argument that he is not even starting quarterback material. His numbers have gotten worse as the year has progressed. He hasn’t even thrown a touchdown pass in the past two weeks.
Yes, he is learning a new offensive system, but he has now had over 10 weeks between the preseason and the regular season to get a feel for it. That’s no longer an acceptable excuse.
Besides, even if Kolb does eventually improve within the Cardinals’ offensive system, he has already alienated most of the fanbase. That’s not a good start for a guy who was supposed to be potential franchise quarterback material.
Contract or no, the Cardinals will have to consider jettisoning Kolb in the offseason if they want to have any chance at making a run in the 2012 season.
Who better to replace him than the prodigal Andrew Luck if the Cardinals can somehow drop far enough in the league that they can snag the first draft pick?
Of course, the Cardinals have got some pretty stiff competition right now if they want to throw in their bid for the Andrew Luck lottery.
There’s also Coach Ken Whisenhunt standing between the Cardinals and that coveted draft pick. He still seems to believe that his team is capable of turning the tide and winning a few games in the remainder of the season. That is not the attitude of a man who has his eyes on the prize.
Realistically, the Cardinals will probably manage to pull out just enough wins this season to knock them out of the running for Luck. It’s also important to note that a star quarterback will not singlehandedly turn a poorly composed team into a winner (although Peyton Manning seems to have been doing just that for years).
It’s nice, though, for this Cardinals fan to close her eyes and imagine a 2012 squad headed by an amazing young quarterback instead of the joke that is Kevin Kolb. At the very least, that fantasy helps to ease the pain of a terrible year in 2011.