NFL: QB Anderson loses it as Cardinals sink lower
AP Sports Writer
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) – With his quarterback’s post-game blowup broadcast repeatedly across the land and his team mired in a mess of a season, Arizona Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt is trying to remain the calm at the center of an increasingly ugly storm.
Whisenhunt said that with the team not performing up to expectations, “you have to look at starting to make changes.”
Derek Anderson will remain at quarterback partly, the coach acknowledged, because there isn’t much choice.
Whisenhunt said on Tuesday he wished Anderson would have handled it better when he was questioned about television shots of him and teammate Deuce Lutui grinning while the team was down by 18 points in the fourth quarter of Monday night’s 27-6 loss to San Francisco.
But the coach said he’s “not going to read much into a couple of seconds of what you see on video.”
“I’m going to base it on what I know about those guys and their demeanor and their approach,” Whisenhunt said. “Listen, we have a lot of issues that we have to get corrected. That’s a small one compared to the other things we have to do.”
Arizona (3-8) is going to have to win two games just to equal its 5-11 record of 2006 that led to the firing of coach Dennis Green.
The players had Tuesday off and will return to practice on Wednesday in preparation for Sunday’s home game against the St. Louis Rams. After the 49ers loss, some of them seemed bewildered by the team’s awful performance against San Francisco.
“I’m just basically speechless,” wide receiver Steve Breaston said. “I don’t know. I can’t say we’re not working hard. We work hard throughout the week and this is what we get on Monday, in front of national TV.”
Anything the Cardinals did or didn’t do in the game was overshadowed by Anderson’s tirade. Although it was aimed at a reporter, it also revealed the tension simmering below the surface in the locker room.
“Sure there’s tension. Guys want to win,” Whisenhunt said. “That’s what this game is all about. Everybody talks about the money that pro athletes make, but when you come to play in the games on Sunday, guys want to win football games and they get frustrated when they don’t. To get to this level, you have to have a degree of pride and our pride has been hurt because of the way we have played,” “
Anderson, who has made it clear that dealing with the media is not a favorite part of his job, apparently felt his commitment was being questioned when the reporter persistently asked him to explain the behavior shown on the national television broadcast. Lutui is one of the funnier players in the NFL, and Anderson could have said his lineman was just trying to lighten the terrible mood. Instead, he said, “What Deuce Lutui and I talk about is nobody’s business.”
As the questioner kept asking what was being said, Anderson got angrier.
“I don’t go out there and laugh. It’s not funny. Nothing’s funny to me. I don’t want to go out there and get embarrassed on Monday night football in front of everybody,” he shouted.
Whisenhunt said he has heard about the incident but hadn’t seen a tape of it. He said he had talked with Anderson and Lutui.
“I think it’s hard to judge somebody by a second or two of video based on what’s going on in the game,” Whisenhunt said. “Those guys have worked hard. They want to win. They’ve been focused on it. It’s a tough situation.”
Problems abound but Anderson has borne the brunt of the criticism for an offense that ranks 31st out of 32 NFL teams.
Whisenhunt said Anderson has been “working his tail off.”
“He’s in here every morning, trying to get better. I have seen him make improvement over the last few weeks. That’s really what you look for and I think he gives us the best chance to win right now.”
Since Whisenhunt named Anderson the starter before the season and cut Matt Leinart, rookies Max Hall and John Skelton are the only other quarterbacks on the roster. Hall was a disaster in his brief stint. Skelton simply isn’t ready.
So the coach has little choice.
“That’s probably part of the decision process,” Whisenhunt said, ‘but that’s what you have. That’s the 53-man roster.”