We’ve all been there, watching a bad offense, and we say something like “they would be better off just punting the ball back”. Normally, that’s just hyperbole. Even the worst offenses pick up first downs and generally don’t turn the ball over every other time they have it. In the case of the Arizona Cardinals, though, it’s actually true.
Here are the quarterback numbers for the last four games for Arizona, a combination of John Skelton and Ryan Lindley.
163 plays (including sacks and four QB rush attempts), 510 net yards, 0 touchdowns, 12 turnovers
If you divide that, you get 3.12 yards per play. To put that in some perspective, that’s old broken down Eddie George territory. That’s Curtis Enis in the one year he had over 200 carries. That doesn’t even begin to capture it, though. Eddie George wasn’t turning the ball over frequently.
The value of a turnover is debated in terms of yards, but -45 yards for each turnover is reasonable. Applying that we get -540 yards in turnover cost by the Arizona quarterbacks. 510-540 = -30.
There you go, mathematical proof that the Cardinals would have just been better off punting the ball back to the opponent over the last month.
Ryan Lindley and John Skelton have effectively neutered Larry Fitzgerald. Kevin Kolb isn’t walking through that door now that he is on IR. Vince Young wants to walk through that door.
Anything would be a better option at this point. One of the great things about football is that it allows creativity. The Fantasy Douche was talking about this yesterday–how the Cardinals should just sign two running quarterbacks and go with the wildcat. It’s not that a wildcat, or option, would be a great system for the NFL. It would most assuredly be both more entertaining and effective than whatever Arizona has been doing since Kevin Kolb went out.
Nothing to lose. Be creative. In 1978, Marv Levy ran the Wing T offense with three backs in the backfield out of necessity, with a poor passing game anyway, and a need to protect a porous defense. If Marv Levy can do something like that, then Ken Whisenhunt should be able to as well. I know it comes on short notice, but if the Arizona coaches aren’t taking these immense failures on offense to come up with something new on short notice they are failing.
How could it possibly be worse than 58-0? Necessity is the mother of invention, and if the status quo is failure, don’t be afraid to fail at something different. In flag football this fall, we were going to play the undefeated #1 seed in the semifinals. They had rolled us by 35 a few weeks earlier, because they could throw it 30 yards downfield and side to side, and the rules allowed no pass rush, only a five second count they took full advantage of. We knew our normal defense wouldn’t work.
So what did we do? We went complete junk defense. We couldn’t pass rush per the rules, so we simulated a pass rush by having one of the kids stand at the line of scrimmage, scream and yell and jump up and down to distract the QB. Cover three on the back end, man coverage by the corners, with one guy lurking as a spy free to roam. It wasn’t a sound defense, but believe me, nine year olds love to scream and we turned it into fun. We got to the final minute with the lead, then came within 15 yards and 2 seconds on the clock of winning the rematch when we actually created some turnovers with our madness.
Football should be fun, even when you are 4-9 and have lost nine straight. If I were in Arizona, I would have called some option QB’s this week, because you aren’t getting the traditional passer worth a darn. I would have Larry Fitzgerald as my lone receiver, line Wells as the deep FB, have Stephens-Howling in a wingback, and someone else in the other wingback. Regardless of the formation, though, whether it’s the wing-T or the Wildcat or the Pistol with someone capable of running taking the snaps, if the Cardinals’ coaches didn’t spend this week having fun and trying to fail in a different way, they are doing it wrong.
[photo via USA Today Sports Images]