(KMOV)-- I've always said that anyone in my line of work is replaceable, yours truly included. Unfortunately some act like they aren't. But that's a topic for a different day. I believe it applies to most professions. There are exceptions. None more obvious to me right now than Kurt Warner.
Warner's retirement has had a devastating impact on the Arizona Cardinals offense and to some degree on the Cardinals defense. The Cardinals time of possession in 2010 is the worst in the NFL, just 25:57. That means the defense has been on the field for more than 34 minutes per game, most in the NFL. And the defensive numbers indicate the Cards defense is a worn out unit.
The offensive decline in one season is staggering. Through the first 11 games of 2010, the Cardinals are scoring 6.5 fewer points per game than in 2009. They are averaging 60 fewer passing yards per game and 75 fewer total yards per game. They have gone from 14th in total offense (a number that was hurt by the Cards' feeble running game in 2009) to 31st without Warner.
Warner threw 26 touchdown passes and just 14 interceptions in 2009. His quarterback rating was 93.2. This season, Derek Anderson and Max Hall have combined to throw 10 touchdowns and 19 interceptions. Their combined QB rating is 63.1. And there's more. The Cardinals are 31st in third down efficiency(down from 21st). And the red zone numbers are awful---22nd in touchdown percentage. With Warner at QB, the Cardinals were the best red zone team in the NFL in 2009, converting touchdowns an astounding 70 percent of the time. Making matters worse is the fact that the Cardinals rarely make it inside the 20 yard line this season. Their 26 red zone possessions are the third fewest in the league.
I'm smart enough to know that none of these numbers guarantee a Rams win Sunday. They'll have to earn it. The Cardinals did find a way to beat the Saints, 30-20, earlier this season with undrafted rookie Max Hall starting at QB. The Cardinals have a league-high 8 returns for touchdowns. That's why the record isn't worse than 3 and 8. So the Rams will have to continue to take care of the ball (just 13 turnovers in 11 games. They had 33 in 2009).
But the evidence is overwhelming. Warner wasn't replaceable in Arizona. At least not in 2010. It also proves that it is a QB-driven league. Rams fans should be happy about that. They have a Warner-type talent at QB. And he's only a rookie. It may not be long before we start believing Sam Bradford isn't replaceable either.