Tuesday, January 3, 2012

2011 Offensive Coaching Grade

As much credit as I give Whiz for what he did with his defense and special teams, I’m going to take back for what he did to his offense.  They were absolutely abysmal this year.  If it weren’t for late game heroics from Skelton and Fitz, this season would have looked a whole lot worse.  (Which is saying a ton considering how bad they were overall)

Let’s start from the beginning. 

I was worried when I heard Whiz say he was going to hand the reigns over to Mike Miller.  Not because I thought Mike was bad, but because the way that Whiz stressed that he was going to give ‘some’ of the control to Mike.  If you read between the lines, he was essentially saying, “My offense is awesome and you guys don’t know what you’re talking about by saying it’s bad.  But because I’m getting heat from EVERYONE I’m going to ‘give control’ over to Mike on the offensive side of the ball.  But really, I’m just saying that to get you off my back and Mike will just be a Yes Man for me so I can prove to everyone that this offense works no matter who I have.”  Never mind that his precious offense was the worst in football in 2010.  Whiz was telling everyone, with a calm demeanor, that it worked once so it should work again.  Even without Kurt Warner, Todd Haley, or Q.  This, of course, is asinine.  And sadly he still thinks this way.

His next major blunder was to tell the front office that the reason they were so bad in 2010 was because the QBs were so bad.  That’s the biggest bunch of spin I’ve ever heard.  In the preseason, I likened it to asking Josh Childress to be your spot up shooter on the perimeter, and then blasting him for “not executing” when he’s not successful.  Well, you’re the nitwit who put him into a position he’s not gifted to do.  You bear the responsibility when you sign a player who doesn’t fit your system, or don’t design a system to better fit the player.  Either way it’s a sign of awful coaching.  And that’s what 2010 was all about.  Derek Anderson was signed to play the exact offense that Kurt did.  And when he stunk… bad… they blamed him for not executing.  Never mind that he’s a gun slinger who loves to go deep and needs a solid run game to set up play action.  No, no… let’s make him throw all the time, make quick reads which he can’t do, and throw touch passes which he’s awful at.  Whiz failed miserably with D.A.  He followed up by embarrassing himself with Max Hall.  But in his defense, Max did know the offense, but wasn’t given the natural gifts to be successful in the NFL.  He flopped because he isn’t Doug Flutie.  Skelton really didn’t flop so much as he learned on the job.  That brings us to this year.  Whiz spun the media and fans so masterfully to believe that if he just got that guy, well he’d be back in the playoffs.  That brought us Kevin Kolb.

I don’t think Kolb is a bust.  I do think we overpaid for a guy with a concussion history and other injuries.  I said all along that Orton would have been cheaper and Skelton is the future.  The problem with Kolb is that he didn’t know what he was getting into.  (I wonder if D.A. called him and told him what life would be like here after Kurt)  He actually looked good in preseason.  I started to believe.  However, the hair on the back of my head stood up after that Carolina game to start the season.  They just threw, threw, threw. All I saw was 2010 all over again.  Whiz was going to throw Kolb under the bus for not executing.  It didn’t take long for him to lose almost all confidence and get worse and worse every week.  Finally, he just got beat up too much (another problem Whiz created with his offense), and got hurt and finally knocked out.  He had one good half against Dallas, but was gone after that.  Whiz did nothing to take the heat off of him, and just like D.A. he failed with Kolb too.  I’m utterly disgusted with how Whiz has treated his QBs.  From Matt Leinert to Kolb it has been a train wreck.  Kurt Warner overcame it because, well, he’s Kurt Warner.  But no one else has been good for him.  He lucked out with Skelton’s 4th quarter heroics.  It saved the season offensively.  Minus those comebacks this season is no different than 2010. 

2011 Team Rushing stats:

28th attempts
24th yards per game
17th average per carry
16th TDs

2011 Team Passing stats:

15th attempts
17th yards per game
29th completion percentage
13th TDs
31st sacks given up

As you can see, Whiz refuses to run the ball.  And his excuses that they don’t execute are gone.  Beanie ran the best of his career.  His fumbles were down, his yardage was up, and he ran with authority.  The offensive line controlled the line of scrimmage, but were hardly called on to do that much.  I have to scream into a pillow every Sunday when a commentator says before the game that the key to a Cardinals win is to establish the run AND that should be no problem because Whiz loves to run the ball.  WHAT THE HELL ARE THEY TALKING ABOUT?  Whiz NEVER likes to run and they rarely, if ever, establish the run.  He’s failed miserably in the rushing department and still gets credit for being a run first coach.  How stupid are these people?

This has been my gripe since day one of last year: why do the Cards throw the ball with this personnel?  If you want to throw, fine.  Just get guys that are accustomed to a pass offense.  Levi Brown and Brandon Keith are not good pass blockers.  Skelton is not a pass first QB yet.  Beanie Wells is not a Marshall Faulk type to complement the passing game.  In fact, the only starters that compliment a passing game are Colledge and Heap (and that’s a stretch that he’s a starter.  King starts and he’s a run first guy).  9 starters are more designed to run than pass, and yet Whiz continues to throw 60% or more of the time.  And people wonder why this offense doesn’t seem to work. 

And yes, I realize that Fitz is on the team.  That actually frustrates me more when people say we need to pass more because of him and here’s why.  #1 we don’t have the QB to do it.  #2 he’s the best blocking WR in the NFL.  #3 I don’t see Michael Irvin complaining about his 3 Superbowl rings.  This personnel is just more inclined to run (which sets up the pass). 

If you want to throw then Kolb has to be your QB and hopefully he’s not damaged goods.  Trade Skelton while he has value and draft Brandon Wheedon in the 3rd  to back Kolb up. Start Heap or Housler. You’ll have to dump your two OT and Beanie.  Use Hyphen much more (ala Sproles in NO) and hopefully Ryan Williams.  And finally get another star WR.    I don’t think you’ll be very good, but you can have a better passing game than what you have right now. 

OR just dump your stupid offense and create one that compliments the players you have.

Whatever Whiz decides, well, he needs to decide.  He can’t stay in the middle of these two worlds and hope for success.  Either get the right people or make a new offense.  Right now he has a crappy offense with all the wrong people.

As for player development, I thought the line was better.  Colledge fits better in this offense.  Lyle and Rex are fine.  I feel bad for Levi Brown.  Keith wasn’t all that great before he got hurt and Bridges doesn’t fit the system either.  Kolb got worse through the year.  The second half of the Dallas game was a bright spot though.  Skelton has IT.  I wish he’d get the job, but they’re paying Kolb too much. Beanie was great all year in spite of the reoccurring injuries.  Hyphen was so underused in their pathetic screen game that I want to hurl.  It got better later though.  Heap was fine, but still injured.  King was a pleasant surprise and Housler was just O.K.  He fits the offense better though.  Kinda like a Jimmy Graham.  Doucet was healthy for once, but looks like he’s getting worse.  Roberts was about as up and down as you could get, but can we really blame him?  Fitz is the best WR of all time and continues to prove it every week.  He should have had 2000 yards this year if Whiz had pulled his head out.  I saw little if any growth across the lineup, but then who can grow under this offensive system?  I feel the same way about the offense as I do about last year’s defense; given the right coaching these players can be successful. 

One quick thought on Russ Grimm for everyone that thinks he’s doing a bad job with the line.  How successful should he be as a RUN first guy with RUN first players and a PASS first offense?  I’m sorry, but I don’t blame him.

Overall Grade for Coaching the Offense: F

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