Monday, November 14, 2005

It's Always A Nice Day In The Neighborhood When The Cards Come Calling

Williams (left) and Jones finally had a chance to party

Attention NFL schedule makers: keep those Cards comin’.

If the league had a category in "Jeopardy!" called "Most Dysfunctional Franchises", surely the Arizona Cardinals, who were the Phoenix Cardinals, who were the St. Louis Cardinals, who were the Chicago Cardinals, would join our own Detroit Lions as an answer. It might go something like this: "This franchise, one of the few to never appear in a Super Bowl, has never found the winning combination, despite several location moves."

The Lions beat up on the Cardinals yesterday, 29-21, at Ford Field, their third win in as many seasons over the team from the Sun Valley. It’s nice to know there still is one organization more fouled up than your own.

And just look what they’ve done to Denny Green.

Every time the Fox TV cameras showed Green, the Cardinals’ head coach, on the sidelines, he looked more and more dazed and confused. And this used to be one of the best coaches, in my mind, in the NFL. But these wretched, flightless Cardinals have turned him into a big bowl full of football goo. You could almost see his stock falling before your very eyes.

Kurt Warner, the Cards’ quarterback, is suddenly finding it difficult to beat the Lions, as amazing as that seems, regardless for who he plays. He lost to them in 2003 with the Rams, last year with the Giants, and now yesterday. Long gone are the days when he directed "The Greatest Show On Turf" with the Rams. Now he leads "The Latest Show Made Of Nerf."

The Cardinals are 2-7, and they deserve every one of those seven, believe me. I also wonder how they got their two, and even though I subscribe to NFL Sunday Ticket, I haven’t seen how they’ve managed to win twice. Were there forfeits I am not aware of? Regardless, the Cards were just the elixir the Lions needed. They arrived for their annual beating just in the nick of time, for the Lions were a team on the brink of some sort of major implosion.

Of course, beating the Cardinals doesn’t mean that whatever was ailing the Lions has gone away. That’s not how it works in the NFL. You got warts? Then you’re a frog until you have them surgically removed. Winning is nice, but what do you put the odds at of the Lions walking into Texas Stadium next week and defeating the Cowboys? Do you REALLY think they can pull THAT off?

But back to yesterday. For one game Joey Harrington was sharp as a razor, Roy Williams was Randy Moss, and Kevin Jones was Kevin Jones -- The Second Half of 2004 Version. The offensive line wasn’t offensive. The playcalling was amazingly nonlethargical. The defense had their usual timely takeaway. And when Warner got the ball back with less than two minutes remaining and only a touchdown and two-point conversion away from a tie, the Lions didn’t suddenly play matador defense, allowing the Cardinals to drive down the field in a heart-clutching manner. Instead, they made Warner look like the 0-5 starter that he is. Too bad they couldn’t have pulled that off against Chris Weinke and the Carolina Panthers a few weeks back.

When John Teerlinck was the defensive line coach in Detroit in the mid-90’s, he would appear on one of those Sunday night TV shows each week during the football season. Whenever the Lions won, Teerlinck would say, "It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood."

Too bad the Lions can’t get the Cardinals to move in permanently.

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