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Cardinals missed prime opportunity

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

The NFL coaches and team executives I spoke with about the Cardinals' decision to spend last week in Washington, D.C., unanimously thought it was a bad idea. They envisioned players partying all night. They envisioned all the headaches associated with breaking well-established routines, from setting up meeting rooms and offices to equipping coaches for film study.

Those were valid concerns. I took a bigger-picture view. The decision struck me as coach Ken Whisenhunt seizing an opportunity to bet big on his team. A victory in either road game, particularly the second one, would have demonstrated that these are not the same old Cardinals, from how they prepare and spend money on travel to how they play in a hostile environment.

Whisenhunt wasn't able to collect on the bet. That doesn't necessarily mean he made the wrong decision. I saw no evidence suggesting the extended trip affected how the Cardinals played. Time in a hotel presumably doesn't affect pass protection or pass defense.

This was simply a missed opportunity for the Cardinals to redefine themselves. What they lost in the short term wasn't as much as what they stood to gain, unless ownership turns a cold shoulder the next time Whisenhunt asks for an expensive favor. That is the bigger question.