An astonishing victory with nothing good to come of it

Just as the Cardinals scored their second of two touchdowns on intercepted in the first minutes of the Christmas night game at home against the Dallas Cowboys, I wanted to rant:  “The Bidwills are who we thought they were, and the Cowboys let them off the hook.”

The Bidwills, for the uninitiated, are the tight-fisted family that owns the Cardinals.   Now, with the lucky 27-26 victory of Dallas in the record books, the Bidwills will be even more encouraged to slam the check book shut for much-need player and coaching talent.  That ownership did not choose to spend money to attract even the bare essentials for the 2010 season:  A top-quality quarterback and a high-dollar coordinator for the offense.  Those two deficiences alone led the Cardinals into the pits of a 5-10 record with one game remaining.

The observor will be hard-pressed to find one good thing this victory means to the franchise’s future, a future that seems headed back to the days of yore, known locally as “the same ol’ Cardinals.” 

For one, another meaningless victory will only push them down a notch or two in the pecking order for the top picks in the next draft. 

Now, a cinch to win two of its last four games, the Bidwills can crow that little breaks here and there would have sent the team back to the playoffs in January.

And victory has tken pressure off the coach, Ken Whisenhunt, who can crow his team never gave up on him.  And will that translate to another year without an offensive coordinator?  There are some seasons, playing a veteran, top of his game quarterback like Kurt Warner or Peyton Manning, an NFL team may not need a coordinator to work out the fine points in practices and call the game.  But with new quarterbacks, even had they kept Matt Leinart, the Whiz did not have time to spend on teaching during the week.  If he did, then some other area was lacking. 

And though the Cardinals “third-string quarterback,” John Skelton, was outplayed by the Cowboys third-stringer, Stephen McGee, the Bidwills can say, looking through those Cardinal-rosed glasses, we’ve found our quarterback of the future.  

It is true that Skelton did a remarkable job down the stretch to set up Jay Feely’s winning field goal in the final seconds.  But his final stats were far from glowing and the offense’s inability to move the chains ultimately destroyed the cushion of a 21-3 second-quarter lead.

Skelton threw only 11 completions for the night, paltry 44 percent accuracy, and take away the long TD pass on a broken defensive play by Dallas, and he was 10 for 24 for 104 yards for the night.  Those figures and a sorrowful 2 of 11 conversions on third down yielded a possession time of only 22 minutes for the Cardinals to 38 minutes for Dallas.

It is frightening to think that the Cardinals, behind Skelton’s late game heroics, are now so enamored with a cheap quarterback for 2011 that they will have an excuse to bypass a costly quarterback in the draft.

So in the end, while it was a feel-good night for the Cardinals and their distraught followers, nothing really good can come of the Cowboys victory.  A victory gift-wrapped by the two early interceptions just as Santa was peeling off for a post-rute back to the Pole.  And a ho, ho, ho, to you, Cardinals. 

And, to be less harsh, perhaps the Bidwills in a business sense were wise to pull in their horns this year and wait to see what happens in the collective bargaining agreement talks next year.  There is little to recommend paying this year’s high-dollar prices when you may be able to acquire the same talent for less money in 2011 or 2012.  Such is what happens in a small market like Phoenix.  You have to watch those nickels and dimes.

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