Updated Nov 25, 2012 - 10:40 pm
Expectations of Arizona Cardinals have changed
After all, how many quarterbacks taken in the sixth round of the NFL draft have success in their career, let alone year one?
So to ask Ryan Lindley to come in and beat a Rams defense that held the Cardinals to just three points nearly two months ago may have simply been unfair.
Lindley completed 31-of-52 passes for 312 yards and four interceptions, two of which were taken back for touchdowns by Rams rookie Janoris Jenkins.
He was not particularly good, but that probably should have been expected.
"It really comes down to turning the ball over, especially pick-sixes, it's hard to overcome those," Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said after the game.
The Cardinals lost the turnover battle 4-1 and the game 31-17. It was their seventh-consecutive loss, the second such streak they've had in the last three seasons.
Whisenhunt lamented how his team missed opportunities Sunday, which has been a theme over the last two months.
"We had some opportunities in the second half on throws and we missed them," the coach said. "And you can't do that. We've got guys running down the field open.
"You can't miss those opportunities."
A week ago the coach benched John Skelton because the quarterback failed to connect on big throws, and the coach said there was some thought to pulling Lindley Sunday.
But alas, no change was made.
"If we thought it was something that was going to help us we would have done that," he said. "We aren't apposed to that, but at the time, just in everything considering it, we just felt like we had to stick with Ryan."
Whisenhunt pointed to Lindley being a rookie who will have to learn from outings like this one, and later said the team is not giving up on this season in an effort to get a look at certain players.
"We want to win games, so we aren't going to evaluate personnel over trying to win games," he said.
He could have had us fooled.
No matter how the coach tries to spin it, Lindley is not a better option than Skelton if the goal is to win games. A team looking to make a playoff push would not replace its starting quarterback with a rookie when it has a lead on the road, and it certainly would not name a sixth-round pick the starting quarterback if it believes the postseason is still a reality.
Even the team's game day program didn't believe Lindley would start, as it still had Skelton listed first on the depth chart.
Then again, this is the coaching staff that promoted the undrafted Max Hall to the starting lineup in Week 5 back in 2010.
Incidentally, that was the last time the Cardinals lost seven straight games.
"We've got to find a way to get a win," Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald said. "I am pretty much lost for words now after seven weeks of saying the same thing."
Fitzgerald was targeted 13 times on the afternoon, and in a horrible twist of fitting irony, the Rams caught as many passes intended for the Fitzgerald (3) as the receiver himself came down with.
It was that kind of day. It's been that kind of season.
And while no one will say it, Whisenhunt's actions as well as the reality of the team's situation lead to the thought that whatever happens from here, everything that happens next is about the future more than the present.
"Right now we've got to continue to keep fighting," linebacker Daryl Washington said. "We've got five games left and see where we fall."
Looking at the schedule, it's tough to see when the Cardinals may next win a game. It could be next week in New York against the Jets, or maybe a few weeks from now when they host the Detroit Lions.
Or, worst-case scenario, it could come sometime next season.
If that's the case, it may be after some big offseason changes. How could there not be?
"That's part of the business," Whisenhunt said when asked about his job security. "You know what, we're working hard. Nobody feels worse about this than we do."
Whisenhunt went on to say there is disappointment for the fans because of how supportive they are of the Cardinals.
"All I can tell you is that we are going to get it straight."
It's doubtful anyone expects that to be the case.
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