Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Whisenhunt emphasizes the positive
By Mike Sando
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
PHOENIX -- Postives far outweighed negatives for the Cardinals in Ken Whisenhunt's mind following an inartistic victory over the 49ers on Monday night.
A few highlights and interpretations from Whisenhunt's session with reporters Tuesday:
- Injuries at tight end explain Arizona's sudden problems converting short-yardage situations, according to Whisenhunt. The team hopes to have all four tight ends available against the Seahawks in Week 11. Steven Spach, who played well against the Rams, missed a block on Takeo Spikes, who brought down Tim Hightower for a loss.
- The 49ers rolled coverages to Larry Fitzgerald, creating opportunities for Steve Breaston and others.
- Arizona is "scratching the surface" of its running plays for Anquan Boldin. The team wanted to maked sure Boldin was fully healthy before giving him the ball on inside handoffs. We might expect more such plays in the future.
- Whisenhunt thinks he'll bring a far more confident and mentally tough team to Seattle for the game against the Seahawks in Week 11.
- Punter Dirk Johnson is on alert after struggling against the 49ers. The team isn't bringing in any punters for tryouts in the immediate future, but that could change. Whisenhunt even asked a reporter if they had any punting experience.
- While the schedule indeed gets tougher, Whisenhunt said the Cardinals aren't afraid of any opponent. The Seahawks, Giants and Eagles are next on the schedule.
- Whisenhunt wants to improve the running game, the red-zone offense and the consistency of his team's tackling. The 49ers seem to have solved the Cardinals in the red zone. Arizona also converted only 1 of 4 chances against the Rams in Week 9. Healthy tight ends can also make a difference in that area of the field.
- Whisenhunt defended his defense when asked about repeatedly allowing big plays late in games. He pointed to the 49ers' late field position and the Arizona offense's inability to hold the ball as critical factors Monday night.
- Contrary to my perceptions, Whisenhunt said the Cardinals' quarterback rollouts weren't designed specifically to roll away from 49ers defensive end Justin Smith. The effect was the same on a couple plays. The approach seemed wise given the ankle injury that has slowed left tackle Mike Gandy.
Whisenhunt refrained from criticism of officiating. Tony Corrente and crew tossed penalty flags at least 27 times during the game. That included 20 assessed penalties, three declined penalties and four instances when officials waved off penalties after throwing flags.
Officials tossed a 28th penalty flag when 49ers tight end Billy Bajema jumped before the snap in the final seconds, but the play didn't count because the replay official issued a challenge of the previous play.