|Cardinals look to go 2-0 for first time since '91|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 11 September 2008 13:58|
Negative historical statistics abound for a franchise that has had one winning season since it moved from St. Louis in 1988.
Here's one of them:
On Sunday when they face the Miami Dolphins, the Cardinals have a chance to start a season 2-0 for the first time since 1991.
The current Arizona players scoff at any significance of winning the first two games, though.
``It definitely has nothing to do with pretty much anybody in this facility,'' defensive end Travis LaBoy said.
Maybe it was an encouraging first effort for a drastically changed team, but it was no moral victory for the players.
``No, we're not happy about almost winning a game,'' Dolphins linebacker Joey Porter said.
Sparano is a good friend of Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt from their days as assistant coaches for the 1999 expansion Cleveland Browns. The Miami coach finds himself facing the same situation Whisenhunt did a year ago in Arizona - developing a winning attitude on a franchise that's down and out.
The Dolphins bring a 10-game road losing streak to Arizona.
``It's not something that happens overnight, but it's something from the time I walked in the door here we've been talking an awful lot about,'' Sparano said. ``You're trying to change an entire culture.''
The Dolphins abandoned the running game last week in favor of the passing of new Miami quarterback Chad Pennington, facing the Jets team that released him in favor of Brett Favre 3 1/2 weeks earlier. The Dolphins ran the ball 17 times compared with 43 passes.
This week, though, the Cardinals expect Miami to go more to backs Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown. San Francisco's Frank Gore was effective against Arizona in the opener, especially in the first half.
``so we've got to load up the box and stop that run.''
Arizona wants to build off its dominating second half at San Francisco, when it ran 45 plays to the 49ers' 15. First, the Cardinals came out passing the ball to take the lead, then they ground out a 10-minute drive to clinch the victory.
``I think our entire offense is comfortable with the way we won that game,'' Whisenhunt said, ``but that being said we're going to do whatever we have to do to win. If it means we have to throw it 50 times this week to win. ... then that's what we'll do.''
That would be great to Kurt Warner, who has had to tone down his gunslinger instincts to fit in with Whisenhunt's offense. He has two of the game's best receivers in Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin.
The 37-year-old Warner will be the No. 1 target of the Miami defense.
``We just can't let him get back there and stay comfortable,'' Porter said. ``We have to show him different looks. I know he's seen them all, but at the same time we have to keep people in his face.''
The Cardinals benefited from five San Francisco turnovers, a fact not lost on the Dolphins, who will have to replace starting rookie guard Donald Thomas, out for the season with a foot injury.
Second-year pro Ikechuku Ndukwe is the likely replacement.
from the one he saw last week. He called it an ``attack-style.''
``They fly around the football, all 11 guys,'' Pennington said. ``You'll see six, seven, eight guys around the football, and they're shooting gaps and darting in and out.''
The Cardinals once had the most pitiful home crowds in the NFL. But now they boast a boisterous throng in their state-of-the-art stadium that was host to the Super Bowl last season. They were 6-2 at home last year, finishing the season with victories over Atlanta and St. Louis to wind up with an 8-8 record.
``First of all, it energizes our football team,'' Whisenhunt said. ``Second of all, it makes it very difficult for the opponents to play.''
The Dolphins found it difficult to play anywhere last season, finishing a woeful 1-15 before bringing in Bill Parcells to oversee the daunting rebuilding effort.
Offensive coordinator Dan Henning said Parcells is motivated to add to his legacy by transforming the Dolphins from his front-office desk.
``If he can get these guys to do it the way he thinks it ought to be done, then gets it done,'' Henning said, ``I think he'll be a very content man.''