Green On the Hot Seat; Leinart On His Back

The Cardinals have made great strides in cap management in recent years, but that's yet to have any impact on their record. That could bring about dramatic changes once this season ends.


It's hard to see how coach Dennis Green is going to keep his job. Rod Graves, the team's vice president of football operations, has been working without a contract since last May. He could be gone, too, at the end of the year.
Graves declined comment about his future with the team, but he wonders what has gone wrong. He said the Cardinals are spending $56 million on offensive players this year, yet the offense has done little. He said the Cardinals are spending $117 million this year, including salaries and bonuses, on players, yet they have the worst record in the league.
"What I'm disappointed in is we've either made poor decisions about who we've spent the money on, or we're not positioning our players to put them into the best position to win, or the players themselves haven't stepped up in the way that we had anticipated."
The Cardinals showed no signs of that against the Cowboys. They played harder than they had in the previous two games, but not necessarily better.
The 27-10 loss was the team's eighth straight, and their 1-8 start is the worst since 1978, when Bud Wilkinson was the coach.
Most of the problems are on offense. Quarterback Matt Leinart was impressive in his first two starts but he's struggled in his last three.
In his first two games as a starter, Leinart completed 60 percent of his passes and had four touchdowns and one interception. In the last three games, he's completed 45 percent of his passes with five interceptions and only one touchdown
"I feel like I am struggling," Leinart said, "but at the same time it's a learning experience, and a lot of people go through it. A lot of young quarterbacks have gone through it in the past, and a lot of the greatest ones who ever played have gone through it.
"I'm hoping to look at this whole thing in a year from now, two years from now and just be laughing at that."
Leinart had two passes intercepted against the Cowboys. He made a bad decision with one throw and threw high on the other.
Leinart doesn't believe his recent decline has anything to do with coach Dennis Green's decision to change offensive coordinators, replacing Keith Rowen with Mike Kruczek.
Rowen was the coordinator in Leinart's first two starts, while Kruczek has called plays in the last three.
"It has nothing to do with them," he said. "It's difficult because we can't pinpoint one thing or another."
Through the eight-game losing streak, it's been hard for anyone to find hope and optimism. But many of the players say they remain optimistic about the organization's commitment to winning. In the past month, the club has extended the contracts of two young defensive players, tackle Darnell Dockett and middle linebacker Gerald Hayes.
They join a core of young players who have re-signed with the team in recent years, including safety Adrian Wilson and receiver Anquan Boldin.
"I don't think it's hard to be optimistic," Boldin said, "because we've played great at times. I think we've showed flashes in the first part of the season of how good we can be, especially when we've played at home."

--QB Matt Leinart has completed just 45 percent of his passes the past three games. He has just one touchdown pass and five interceptions.
--RB Edgerrin James was on his way to one of his best games this season. He had 52 yards at halftime, but the Cardinals had to abandon the run after falling behind by 17 points midway through the third quarter.
--DE Bertrand Berry is the team's best pass rusher, but he has just four sacks this season. Worse, he hasn't had a sack in seven of the team's nine games.
--CB Eric Green was benched in the third quarter after giving up his second touchdown pass of the game. Green has had trouble in single coverage before but had shown improvement in previous weeks.
--OG Milford Brown alternated at left guard with Chris Liwienski, who started. Look for Brown to start this Sunday against Detroit.

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