The Steelers travel to Arizona to face the “Steelers West” this Sunday. This will be the first time the two teams have met since they squared off in Super Bowl XLIII.
The “Steelers West” (also known by some as the Arizona Cardinals) are always an unusual opponent to face. That’s because they look like an offshoot of the Pittsburgh Steelers. And in some ways, they are.
We all know that former Steelers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt is now the head coach of the Cardinals. Former Steelers assistant head coach and offensive line coach Russ Grimm holds the same position for the Cardinals. Former Steelers assistant coach Ray Horton is now the Cardinals’ defensive coordinator. Former Steelers cornerback Deshea Townsend is now their defensive backs coach.
Former Steelers linebackers Joey Porter and Clark Haggans both play for the Cardinals. Most Steelers fans probably thought they were both retired. But they’re actually playing in Arizona. So is former Steeler Nick Eason. And Crezdon Butler (though he’s on injured reserve). If Alan Faneca hadn’t chosen to retire during the off-season, he’d probably still be on the Cardinals’ roster as well.
I know they say that “Imitation is the greatest form of flattery”, but what the Cardinals have done verges on the ridiculous.
Despite emulating the Steelers’ roster, the Cardinals haven’t been able to emulate their results. They ended the 2010 season with a meager 5-11 record. They’re 1-4 this season, and are one of the worst teams in the NFC.
The Cardinals’ problems began with the retirement of quarterback Kurt Warner. Ken Whisenhunt cut Matt Leinart, the supposed heir apparent, and has had a revolving door of starting quarterbacks since then.
Most recently, the Cardinals signed Philadelphia Eagles’ backup QB Kevin Kolb to be their starter. At best, Kolb has been adequate. He’s thrown 6 interceptions, while throwing only 5 TD passes. In general, teams like to see their quarterback throw more touchdowns than interceptions. Kolb may want to work on that. He may also want to work on improving his QB Rating, which is only 77.2.
Make no mistake, the Cardinals have weapons. Former Pitt Panther wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald is still one of the most dangerous receiving threats in the NFL. He’ll give the Steelers’ secondary a considerable challenge. And running back Beanie Wells is averaging 4.8 yards per carry, and has 6 touchdowns in only 5 games.
But despite their impressive list of former Steelers players and coaches, the Cardinals have little chance of actually beating the Steelers. They have a mediocre offense, and a defense that’s even worse.
The Steelers never seem to blow anybody out, regardless of how bad their opponent is. So the game will probably be close. But the Steelers should come away with a win, and a 5-2 record, while the Cardinals sink to 1-5, and Ken Whisenhunt finds himself on the hot seat.
I guess copying the Steelers can only get you so far.