Cardinals’ quarterbacks are hurting while Seahawks’ defense is surging

Dec 17, 2014, 11:22 AM | Updated: 11:34 am
Ryan Lindley will make his fifth career start — and first since 2012 — against Seattle&...
Ryan Lindley will make his fifth career start -- and first since 2012 -- against Seattle's top-ranked defense. (AP)
(AP)

Manning, Rodgers, Kaepernick, Newton … Lindley?

In a tight NFC race where division titles and home-field advantage are all up for grabs, the Cardinals made the announcement this week that Ryan Lindley will start at quarterback Sunday night when the Seahawks come to town.

That’s the Seattle Seahawks. The same team that boasts the best defense in the league. The same team that could end up being the first in more than 40 years to lead the NFL in scoring defense three seasons running. The same team with a secondary known as The Legion of Boom. The same team team that’s made legends of the game like Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees look silly in defeat.

Lindley, with his seven career interceptions and zero touchdown passes – that’s right, zero – is going to line up under center for the Cardinals with the NFC West on the line against those Seahawks. Godspeed, Ryan.

I don’t want to pretend that this is some piece of strategic decision-making that should be mocked as it’s obvious that Cardinals coach Bruce Arians has been pushed to this move with an intense run of injuries at quarterback. What Arians’ Cardinals have accomplished – clinching a spot in the playoffs as the league’s first 11-win team – is phenomenal, but this has to be the week where Cinderella’s coach turns back into a pumpkin.

No amount of bravado or Kangol-clad coolness (and honestly, not many guys can pull off a bright-red Kangol with the aplomb that Arians does) can make up for the fact that eventually even the best generals can’t win the battle without an adequate supply of able bodies. Nothing about Lindley says that he’s up to this task.

The Seahawks’ coaches and players will preach all week that this game is like any other and that they must take Lindley as seriously as any quarterback they’ll face this year. It’s a good strategy and an approach that has paid championship dividends, but come Sunday it shouldn’t look like a contest vs. a qualified opponent. The bottom line is that this defense needs to make Ryan Lindley look like, well, Ryan Lindley.

The Cardinals are a division opponent and a proud team but they need to look the part of a guy that brought a knife – or perhaps a stick – to a gunfight. Where last week the 49ers put up a strong fight for 30 minutes and kept it interesting though halftime, the Cardinals need to be snuffed out from the opening kick.

It’s a cruel fate for a team like Arizona that has played through tremendous adversity and shown that it is indeed an organization on the rise to face Seattle at its defensive peak with only a fourth-string, practice-squad castoff between them and a division deficit. But such is life in the NFL. The law of the jungle is often cruel, and while in this case the Seahawks and Cardinals are both birds, one is a bird of prey while the other is just prey.

The Cardinals could someday become contenders under Arians’ expert guidance, but not right now, not with Lindley as their quarterback and not with the sharpest talons in league headed their way.

As always, thanks for reading and feel free to join the conversation any time on Twitter @TheMichaelGrey.

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