Rookie QB Max Hall made the first start of his NFL career against the Saints, and while his performance wasn't overwhelming, he managed to lead the Cardinals to a win over the defending Super Bowl champions. Hall still has plenty to work on but the spark he provided Arizona can't be denied. Coach Ken Whisenhunt is excited to see how Hall continues to progress as well as the rest of the offense with him at the helm. Whisenhunt also stressed that it's too early to rush to judgment on Hall at this point in time.
Whisenhunt quote on Hall's play: "Anytime you're an undrafted free agent and you're as competitive as Max is, who has that chip on his shoulder, that's inherent to his makeup. I think that it provides a spark for our offense, from the standpoint of the toughness, the competitiveness, the leadership that helps crystallize the unit into thinking that they can be successful is important. It's a good quality to have and I'm anxious to see as Max continues to improve at that position how much better our group will play together."
On the attributes Hall posseses so early in his career: "It's still early. I don't think we can make any assessments other than we're excited about what we think he's going to be. I'm impressed with his maturity, I'm impressed with his competitiveness. But he's got to play well in order for those things to really even be magnified more than that. I think we have a lot of optimism about Max and that position right now and seeing how he grows into it but there still is a lot of unknown as well."
On Hall earning his trust and the trust of his teammates so quickly: "He's made plays, he's handled himself the right way, he's worked very hard to understand the offense and has a good feel for it. It comes down to what they do on Sunday. We're just at the starting point with Max at that position and we're all anxious to see how he continues to grow. The one thing that was pretty clear early with Max was his maturity level as far as the seriousness of the game to him. Some of that's because he obviously felt like he should have been drafted, he felt like he's a better player than maybe he was given credit for. That drive sometimes is what makes players great."
Despite the heroics of Hall, the Cardinals' defense was the primary reason for the win against New Orleans. Arizona scored two touchdowns and forced the Saints into four turnovers. Sunday's win marked just the second time in NFL history that a team scored 30+ points in a game without scoring a rushing or passing touchdown. (The Cardinals' third touchdown came on a fumble recovery by offensive lineman Levi Brown). The Chicago Bears are the only other team to accomplish the feat during the 1993 season.
Given the up and down start to the season, coach Ken Whisenhunt is pleased to be at 3-2 heading into the bye. The Cardinals are in sole possession of first place in the NFC West and will control their own destiny throughout the rest of the season. Following a week off, Arizona will travel to the Northwest for a pivotal battle with the Seattle Seahawks. With a victory, the Cardinals will take a commanding lead of the division.
Whisenhunt quote on the start to the season: "To think that we have not played really good football and we're at 3-2 is a good sign. If we can continue to improve, we got a chance to be a really good football team. We've gotten a lot of young players experience. We're in a transition process, we've said that all along. But to be where we are right now at 3-2 with the bye, with another chance to work on our things that we need to work on and improve on, we feel very good about it."
The bye week couldn't have come at a better time for Arizona as they expect a handful of players to return from injury. LB Gerald Hayes is one of those players and is eligible to be moved from the physically unable to perform list following Week 6. Health permitting, Hayes will provide much needed depth at inside linebacker as Paris Lenon and rookie Daryl Washington have been shouldering the load exclusively. Wideouts Steve Breaston and Early Doucet are also expected to be back on the field, providing more weapons for Hall.
With Breaston and Doucet out, rookie third-round pick Andre Roberts filled in admirably against New Orleans. Roberts was pressed into even more playing time when Stephen Williams went down with a bruised back. Roberts' NFL career got off to an inauspicious start but he's starting to emerge as a dependable contributor on offense. In addition, Roberts has solidified his role as the team's primary punt returner.
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