Crushed Optimists

We are twin brothers who grew up in Central Washington. This blog is devoted to the life of Seattle sports fans, as well as various other topics that we will espouse for your enjoyment. We could be called another OFFICIAL SEATTLE SEAHAWKS site, but we'll take our uneducated crack at the Mariners, Sonics, and Huskies as well. A Seattle Sports Blog? Must be the land... of crushed optimism!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Gloating Time


A few weeks ago I asked, "OK, what's in the water?"

The NFL season had yet to commence. I was getting pretty optimistic about the Seahawks offseason. I loved the work of Reinfeldt and Ruskell, believing that they had given us the best chance to win the division that we could have hoped for.

We had Shaun back. Matt back. Walter back. Koren gone. Tubbs looking good. Dyson in. Darby in. Sharper in.

We had a team where Peter Warrick, a former #3 overall draft pick, wouldn't even start for us.

Optimistic, I began scouring such sites as ESPN and CBS Sportsline to ascertain the "experts" predictions for the NFL and the NFC West in particular.

This is what I found (from my earlier blog post).

Here's Ron Jaworski, whom I normally respect.
Normally when a head coach takes over a team, the first season is an evaluation
period. It's a time where the coach is able to see what players work in what system and to check out their strengths and weaknesses. Normally after this evaluation period, the second season is when the team makes a quantum leap, and
that's going to happen for the Cardinals. Coach Dennis Green did a great job making moves in the offseason to better his squad and he's going to see the effects of that work this season.

Here's Sean Salisbury, whom I normally scoff at.
I remember when Dennis Green took the job as head coach of the Cardinals. He went around and told people that he was going to change the belief system of the organization. I thought it would take three years to do it though, because I didn't realize how off the chain Green was going to be in his first season. He went into that organization and shook it up and has installed the parts necessary to win. They are going to compete and get things done in this division.

Hmmmm. OK, one might say, maybe they were the exception to the rule. Well, once again I would like to share with you the list of experts who ALL predicted the Arizona Cardinals to make the postseason OVER the Seattle Seahawks.

Len Pasquerelli (wrote several glowing reviews in the offseason)
John Clayton (really should know better, usually my favorite NFL analyst)
Michael Smith (must have been around Woody Paige a little too much on Around the Horn)
Joe Theismann (at least Joe followed up that pick by picking the Redskins to make it to the Super Bowl)
Merrill Hoge (I never really listen to this guy. Why did ESPN hire him?)
Jeremy Green (Who? Another random NFL expert....)
Ron Jaworksi (Jaws. Another guy I'm pretty disappointed in for betraying logic)
Sean Salisbury (HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA)
Bill Simmons (Sports Guy) (You predicted the Hawks to finish 6-10. Um, maybe you should stop looking at Boston teams every column and actually pay attention to the rest of the league.)
Pete Prisco (You also make me laugh, and not because you seem intelligent)

That's a list. A pretty large list, if I do not say so myself. Of 10 people who were ABSOLUTELY WRONG!! I can understand experts being wrong every now and then. Hell, look at my weekly NFL predictions if you want to see a huge NFL fan continually mispick games again and again.

But this was a virtual epidemic that had no place in reality! Seriously....

Contrast that with what I wrote about the Cardinals after taking the time to LOOK AT THEIR ACTUAL ROSTER!!!!

Especially look at the vaunted NEW ADDITIONS that were going to take Arizona to the new level.

Kurt Warner - Here's what I said before the season started: After two horrible years, Warner managed a mediocre year before ceding control to rookie Eli Manning. He can throw the deep ball, but makes VERY poor decisions under pressure and is the antithesis of "mobile".

So far, the season has been extremely predictable for Warner's performance. He has thrown for a lot of yards, has been relentlessly pressured, has made crucial mistakes under pressure (taking that sack against St. Louis), and now has a groin injury suffered because he has a terrible offensive line.

Antrel Rolle - Here's what I said: He should turn out to be a good one, but rookie cornerbacks have a longer learning period then other positions.

Wow. So, did you watch DJack annihilate Rolle on Sunday? They should have put poor Antrel in a skirt by the end of the game, because DJack made him his woman. I do believe that Rolle will be a great corner in this league. Just not this season.

J.J. Arrington - Here's what I said: I like Arrington, but he is undersized, and needs a strong offensive line to showcase his talents. I'm not sure whether he has that, or whether he can take the pounding of an NFL season.

Well, Arrington does not HAVE a strong offensive line to showcase his talents, and he has been predictably horrific as a result. Marcel Shipp has basically supplanted him as the starter ALREADY this season.

Chike Okeafor - Here's what I said: This guy got 5 years, $25 mill? A CAREER-BEST 8.5 sacks? Someone you could never really count for on 3rd down? The D-Line got GASHED last year. Again, a nice player, someone you like to have, but NOT an IMPACT player.

Did you watch Shaun Alexander GASH that D-Line on Sunday? Did you realize who missed the tackle before Shaun had that huge cutback run to ice the game? That's right. Chike. An impact player does not let a rookie tackle completely dominate him, then skip off the field like nothing happened.

So.... there are the impact players that were going to take the Cardinals to the promised land (and that's not even looking at the laughable claim of Orlando Huff as a playmaker, which caused me to furrow my brow in disbelief many a time).

I do feel bad for Cardinals fans, whoever you are. You've had to put up with a lot of guff throughout the years, and you thought that, finally, this was going to be your year.

But, seriously, how could anyone who studied this team come to the conclusion that they would definitely make the postseason?

Here are FIVE CONCLUSIONS that CAN be made on the Cardinals so far (Hint: These won't be new to anyone who read my preview)

1. The defense can't survive with trickery this year: Clancy Pendergraft made himself a lot of fans last year by creating innovative schemes that maximized the talent on the defense, created a lot of pressure on the quarterback, and continually forced turnovers. This year NFL coaches have had an entire summer to prepare for those same schemes, and the defense has predictably not been nearly as dominant. Berry isn't getting to the quarterback, they are not getting turnovers, and teams are racking up the points on them!

2. Cutting Pete Kendall was Denny Green's stupidest move: This happened before the season LAST year, when Green got tired of having an actual pro lineman on his team and cut Kendall. Kendall signed with the Jets and helped Curtis Martin get the overall rushing title. The offensive line has been a tragedy ever since. These guys SUCK. They can't open holes, they get called for penalties, and they can't protect. They serve no purpose rather then to take up space on the roster that other, quality performers actually could.

3. The Cardinals can not run the football: They have no offensive lineman and no quality running back. That is not a good combination. They have tried to run between the tackles. They have tried to stretch the field. Nothing is working, and on the few plays that it DOES work, it inevitably gets called back with holding penalties. Pathetic.

4. The Cardinals' best player is K Neil Rackers: It's really too bad that this guy isn't on a playoff team, because he might be better then Vinatieri. No one kicks 50 yarders with more accuracy then this guy. He is a huge weapon, and I hope that he gets some deserved attention at some point during his career. If the Seahawks ever got him.... I would do a little dance. I really would. And I'm white. However, it doesn't say that much about the team when your BEST player is a kicker, now, does it?

5. There are not a lot of areas where improvement is even possible: The running game can only improve with a much better offensive line. The passing game can only improve with a better offensive line and a completely healthy Kurt Warner. The defense can only improve if no one else gets injured and people start playing well above their heads. How can they then recover from an 0-3 start? Simple. They can't.

So..... CAN THEY MAKE THE POSTSEASON?

Let's say that, in the weaker NFC, you might only need 8 wins to make the postseason. That's probably ridiculous with the improved play of Tampa Bay, but let's just put it out there. That means that the Cardinals could only lose 5 more times. Well, look at some select games still on the schedule.

Carolina
at Dallas
Seattle
at St. Louis
Jacksonville
Philadelphia
at Indianapolis

Can they win even two of those games? I have to predict AT LEAST four losses there, which would put the maximum number of Cardinals wins at 9. That is notwithstanding games against the improving Titans or going up against the tough defense of Washington.

The dream is over. The Arizona Cardinals will not make the postseason. You heard it here.

posted by colin_hesse @ 11:21 AM  0 comments

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