It is no scoop that Cardinals coach Dennis Green is on thin ice. An eight-game skid that was snapped last week and a 13-29 mark in nearly three seasons is no recipe for job security, although Green is under contract for the 2007 season.
Green, to his credit, along with Vice President of Operations Rod Graves, has upgraded the roster significantly during his tenure in Arizona. The offensive unit is loaded with skill-position players who would be starters anywhere. The shortcoming has been the failure to upgrade the offensive line along with it.
And the defense is filled with young rising stars who are going to be solid pros for years to come.
So why can't Green win?
That seems to be the eternal question among those who've ascended to the Cardinals head coach's chair. And Green, despite having a more impressive pedigree than most of his predecessors, has been no exception.
The win that snapped that eight-game skid last week gives the Cardinals renewed hope as they head to Minnesota on Sunday, where Green made his name in the NFL with a long and successful run as coach of the Vikings.
But at 2-8 the Cardinals are assured of another non-winning record. They've had only one winning mark since 1984 covering a laundry list of coaches dating to the franchise's days in St. Louis.
"We're not throwing in the towel," said veteran free safety Robert Griffith said. "Man, we're better than this."
Carroll isn't denying interest in returning to an NFL job, and what better job than coaching Matt Leinart and Deuce Lutui again? The former Trojans are rookie starters in the Cardinals offense.
Carroll's name will undoubtedly be hot one in the rumor mill, especially if the Trojans do get to the title game and manage to knock off the top-ranked Buckeyes.
But there is one caveat. Carroll had one chance in the NFL before and didn't get it done. And the guy who followed him at New England in 2000 hasn't had any problem getting it done there.
Leinart passed for 233 yards and one touchdown, completing 19 of 29 attempts for a 101.7 passer rating in the 17-10 victory over the Lions. Leinart completed a two-yard touchdown pass to give Arizona a 7-0 second-quarter lead and later ran nine yards for a touchdown to put the Cardinals ahead 17-0.
"I've talk to quite a few people. They've all said to keep your head up, you're a leader," Leinart said of losing his first five games as the starter before Sunday's breakthrough. "Everyone keeps reminding me of the great quarterbacks in the past that have struggled in their early years and then have gone on to win Super Bowls. I'm not really worried about all that. I'm just worried about the team and that's about it. I'm just happy to get this win.
"One win can really spark a football team."
Leinart wouldn't touch the rumors, but is excited about the possibility of the Trojans coming to University of Phoenix Stadium to meet No. 1 Ohio State in the BCS National Championship, if USC wins out vs. Notre Dame and UCLA.
"There is no doubt in my mind that if they win out they will make it here," Leinart said. "I think I'll be alright on those tickets. I just want to be on the field if they get there. They are already in the Rose Bowl so that's good so I'll be there for that one."
Lutui and his wife had a baby girl in the early morning before the win over the Lions. Mom and baby are fine. Dad played in the victory later that day to help end a skid.
He returns to Minnesota on Sunday for the first time with another team. As coach of the Vikings, his teams were 101-70 (.591) from 1992-2001.
James was delighted with the win, but he's clearly irked that he is going into Game 11 without a 100-yard game, the deepest he ever has gone into a season without one.
"You always want to go over 100 yards," James said following the game. "It was nice that we were able to control the clock, and that's because of our offensive line. They hit guys right in the mouth today. You finally get a victory, you want to keep it up.
"You just hate that you're out of the playoff picture. That's the down side to it. When you win, you're looking at the standings to see where you're at as far as the playoffs. It would have to be a miracle for us.
"As we play more and more together, we're going to get better and better. For a while, it's been like a Rubik's Cube — it's something different every week, and we're just trying to find that perfect match."
"I think it is very important for every person and every organization to give back a little bit," said Cardinals Vice President and General Counsel Michael Bidwill. "There are so many people living at the margins of our society and there are so many different needs. We're really about building a championship team on the field, a championship organization and we try to be champions in the community. It is events like this where I am most proud of our organization."
BY THE NUMBERS: 3 — Rookie offensive starters for the Cardinals (QB Matt Leinart, RG Deuce Lutui, TE Leonard Pope).
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I felt kind of devastated. I look up to Bert, and I know the struggle Bert went through last year trying to get himself back right for this year." — Cardinals DE Antonio Smith, on the season-ending triceps tear suffered by DE Bertrand Berry last weekend, after Berry had missed the second half of 2005 to a torn pectoral muscle.