Super Bowl

Arizona Cardinals Lost Kurt Warner, and Their Identity

Larry Fitzgerald

Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald is looking for a quarterback who can get him the ball.

Could the Cardinals’ reign over the NFC West be over?  After watching them play so far in 2010, I’d say yes.  But given that this division is so weak (Arizona, Seattle and St. Louis are all tied for first with 2-2 records), it may be too soon to say the red birds are done.

Still, it’s plain to see that when quarterback Kurt Warner retired after the 2009 season, he took the franchise’s identity with him.

Warner’s performance the past three seasons were reminiscent of his early days in St. Louis.  The Cardinals, much like the Saints, had one of the most feared passing attacks in the NFL.  He led them to two straight division titles and a berth in the Super Bowl.  Sadly, when Warner left, the passing attack left with him.

It was widely believed that former 1st round pick Matt Leinart would take over for Warner.  But Leinart was never able to seize the opportunity and the team parted ways with him in training camp.  So veteran Derek Anderson has taken the reigns and has been anything but impressive.

Anderson is completing just 51.8% of his passes and has thrown 3 touchdowns against 5 interceptions.  His 59.5 quarterback rating puts him at 30th in the league, just behind Panthers rookie Jimmy Clausen.  That’s almost unthinkable, considering this team still has outstanding receivers Larry Fitzgerald and Steve Breaston (who admittedly has been injured).

True, former go-to guy Anquan Boldin is now catching passes in Baltimore.  But the Cardinals still have enough firepower to score more than 14.5 points per game (29th) and throw for more than 150 yards per game (30th).  Even an adequate quarterback should be able to put up some decent numbers with this group.

Anderson was pulled from the lineup last week during the 41-10 thrashing Arizona took from the Chargers.  Rookie Max Hall now looks like he may be the man coach Ken Whisenhunt looks to for a spark.  They raved about Hall during training camp and now the youngster out of BYU will get his opportunity.

If Hall plays some decent football, the Cardinals still have a shot to put together a winning season.  In the NFC West, that may be all it takes to win the division.

The Cardinals will host the Saints this Sunday.

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