Monday, September 14, 2009
Cardinals weren't prepared to lose Breaston
By Mike Sando
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Coach Ken Whisenhunt's day-after-game news conference helped provide a fuller picture of what went wrong for the Cardinals during their 20-16 home loss to the 49ers:
- Kurt Warner never appeared comfortable. I thought he held the ball too long at times and was careless with it other times. In retrospect, losing receiver Steve Breaston unexpectedly before kickoff created a difficult situation. Warner relies on timing and anticipation. Breaston had taken lots of reps during practice. Anquan Boldin was the injured receiver considered least likely to play. With Boldin limited and Breaston out, Jerheme Urban wound up playing the "Z" receiver position extensively. Warner wasn't comfortable trusting his receivers to be in the right spots, a big problem in the four-receiver package Arizona has used so successfully.
- The 49ers' pass rush didn't help. San Francisco got pressure with four rushers to a degree the Cardinals did not expect. The 49ers get credit for this. Whisenhunt also blamed some of the problems on poor footwork and slow handwork by his offensive linemen, particularly the tackles. There's no excuse for poor fundamentals on the line. The Cardinals' starting linemen started all 20 games last season. Their position coach, Russ Grimm, has been a head coaching candidate. Their right tackle, Levi Brown, was a high draft choice.
- The game plan needs tweaking. The Cardinals weren't prepared to lose Breaston and it showed. They need to have a better Plan B at the ready heading into their Week 2 game against the Jaguars.
I also think the Cardinals are working their way through a transition period on their offensive staff after losing coordinator Todd Haley. Again, that is no excuse. Lots of teams lose coaches. Several teams have turned over entire staffs. Whisenhunt's background is on offense. Grimm, as noted, has been a candidate for head coaching jobs. Warner is a veteran quarterback. Continuity on the line has been established. Larry Fitzgerald is a superstar. Time to do better, Cardinals.