Darren Urban of azcardinals.com, a beat reporter who’s covered the team for 13 years, was kind enough to answer five questions on Arizona in anticipation of the team’s trek north to Seattle.
Urban does an excellent job providing blow-by-blow coverage of the Cardinals here. And you can also get daily updates on the Cardinals from Urban via Twitter.
Check out the Q & A below.
1: Arizona looked like a contending team earlier this year, but now the Cardinals are in the midst of an eight-game losing streak. What are the main reasons for Arizona’s struggles during the losing streak?
Urban: The issues during the losing streak have been, as you might guess, multiple. There have been key injuries to guys like running backs Beanie Wells, a transition on the offensive line (rookies Nate Potter and Bobby Massie are starting at tackle) and of course, the quarterback play has not been good enough. Kevin Kolb was playing well before he got hurt, but the play of John Skelton was uneven at best and rookie Ryan Lindley has struggled mightily. You can make the argument the Cards, with better QB play, could have won the Buffalo, Minnesota, Atlanta, second St. Louis and Jets games, and then a lot would be different. But that’s not what happened and a lot of teams can lament close losses. I’m sure the Seahawks are doing that same thing about the first Cardinals’ game.
2: Arizona head coach Ken Whisenhunt hasn’t announced a starting quarterback yet for Sunday’s game at Seattle. What’s the argument for continuing with rookie Ryan Lindley? And why should Whisenhunt make the switch back to John Skelton?
Urban: The argument for starting Lindley is that you want to keep seeing, with experience, if he can improve and be a future factor on this roster and that you have a pretty good idea of what Skelton brings to the table after what you have seen from him over the past three seasons. The argument for Skelton would be more experience, the knowledge he has beaten the Seahawks in the past and the fact Lindley has played very poorly the past six quarters.
3: Even though Arizona’s offense is struggling, the defense still appears to be playing well. How has defensive coordinator Ray Horton brought this unit together in his second season?
Urban: The defense actually started playing well the second half of 2011, and was the backbone of the 7-2 finishing kick they had last season. That just continued this season. Scheme-wise they do a good job confusing the other team. They need to find a way to stop the run better, but they have forced some high-profile QBs into some poor days this season, especially when it comes to completion percentage. They have also forced a good amount of turnovers. Unfortunately, given the offensive problems, those efforts haven’t been enough since the beginning of October.
4: We’ve seen the reports that DT Darnell Dockett and DB Kerry Rhodes got into it at the end of the Jets’ game. Is that a sign that this team is coming apart at the seams? Or is it just frustration bubbling to the surface?
Urban: I will be honest, whatever altercation there was, and both guys have admitted there was something, I didn’t know anything about it until much later and I was down on the sideline at that point. There is a fine line between seeing “cracks” and something that comes up in the heat of the game. Players all admit to frustration and that is inevitable given the losing streak. But it’s hard to think the team is cracking when the defense continues to perform well and the offensive problems are pretty well defined.
5: Where is the organization headed long-term?
Urban: That’s a good question right now. A lot is up in the air. The last four games – the Cards host the Lions and Bears and then travel to San Francisco after the Seahawks game – could play a factor as to how the team stays together under Whisenhunt. But as everyone knows, when a team suffers through a long losing streak and a bad season, some kind of change is usually coming. What form that will take (Whisenhunt is still under contract through 2013) is TBD.