Week 12 Monday Night Football Preview, Cardinals Vs. 49ers: Ken Whisenhunt and the Cardinals Look To Snap Five-Game Skid
It’s hard to believe, but the Arizona Cardinals can get right back into the hunt in the NFC West with a win tonight against the San Francisco 49ers on Monday Night Football. Both squads are 3-7, just one game back in the loss column of both the Seahawks and Rams. The problem for Arizona though is they haven’t done much of anything well this past five weeks. The Cardinals are riding a five-game losing streak heading into Week 12, and a loss against the 49ers all but eliminates them from contention in the fledgling NFC West. Arizona head coach Ken Whisenhunt is not thinking along those lines though. He just wants his squad to play better than they have in all three phases of the game. Getting back on track against the 49ers, a team that’s played Arizona tough in recent years, could be exactly what the Cards need as they try to resurrect their season in the final six games of the season.
Whisenhunt joined KTAR in Phoenix to talk about the keys to tonight’s game for the Cardinals, the need for his team to remain emotionally fired up and disciplined at the same time, what changes there are in terms of preparation when playing on Monday Night Football, what changes he’s seen in San Francisco’s offense since Troy Smith was inserted at quarterback, the formidable front-seven of the 49ers’ defense, and about what he’s seen from his team in practice this week that makes him believe that they’re ready to play well tonight.
On what the number one key is for his team to get a win against the 49ers:
“Well I think the biggest thing for us is what we’ve done during practice, we’ve got to be able to carry that over to game day. We’ve got to be able to make some of those plays early in the game. Last week against Kansas City we had some opportunities in the game where we could make a catch, make a tackle, and build a little bit of confidence. And that’s what it’s going to take. I know that we’ll have a lot of energy, our guys are excited about playing on Monday Night. But we’ve got a lot of young guys – this is their first time playing on Monday Night Football. We’ve got to calm them down and make sure we play within our scheme, play physical, and make some of those plays early in the game.”
On if he’s worried his team might be too emotionally charged this evening in a game they desperately need to win:
“Yeah, I think that’s something you’re aware of. But you’ll watch it during pre-game and even as we get started in the game. It’s something when we meet this morning that we’ll talk about. But it’s hard to try to say you’ve got to keep your enthusiasm down. They want to play, they want to play on Monday night, they want to play against the 49ers. So I think that’s something that’s….I don’t think it’s something that’s necessarily a concern, unless we get in there early in the game and start making some mistakes, missing some assignments. You know, that’s something you try to address ahead of time so it won’t be a problem.”
On what changes there are in terms of preparation when playing on Monday Night Football:
“Well, we had a walk-through yesterday, meetings last night, and then we’ll get together this morning and go through the meetings, go through the schedule for the day and what our final adjustments are. Then we’ll have a pre-game meal this afternoon, then guys will essentially have a couple hours from that point – whether they go home and pick up their family and get whatever they need to get done before that. Then we’ll meet at the stadium at 4 o’clock, a little over two hours from game time. The big thing there is making sure that guys are at the stadium, because we have to put the inactives in an hour and a half before game time, and it has happened in the past where you don’t know where a guy is – if he’s gotten into an accident or something like that happened. So, that’s the probably the biggest worry on game day is that everybody’s there so you can get your inactives in and your roster set.”
On the formidable front-seven of the 49ers’ defense:
“Well they have a good front-seven. They’re physical, they play their scheme very well. If I had to say one thing, it’s I think they fit that scheme very well. They’ve been in that system for a couple of years, they do a nice job of understanding their scheme and playing it well. And they’ve got some big guys up front. So the thing for us is you have to be disciplined in your zone-blocks, especially if you’ve got double teams on these guys, because they do a nice job of working their way off blocks, and working their way down the line of scrimmage to stop the run game. Then they have a couple of different packages that they use to try to put pressure on the quarterback that you have to make sure you’re prepared for. Whether it’s line games or bringing guys out of the secondary. So, I think they do a very good job of running their defense and playing it as a group. And it’s going to be a challenge for us to make sure we’re disciplined on offense. But we’ll have opportunities to make our plays, and if we can make those plays then we can hopefully have some success against them.”
On what he’s seen from his team in practice this week that makes him believe that they’re ready to play well against San Francisco:
“Well I think it’s been pretty consistent. We’ve had good weeks of practice. Our guys had a lot of energy, they were ready to play. The Monday Night crew that’s doing the game came in and watched our practice on Saturday which is normal, most production teams come in and do that. But they were impressed with the energy of our guys and the way we practiced. So when you get an independent crew that comes in and notices those types of things, it always makes you feel like okay, this was a good week of work and we feel like our guys are hopefully ready to go.”