September 15, 2008

Any remaining doubts about who should be starting in Arizona were steamrolled in a blitzkrieg assault Sunday as Kurt Warner shredded the dreadful Dolphins defense as if it were cabbage about to become sauerkraut.

Tasty sauerkraut, not so coincidentally, reminds us of the last old veteran to perform so effectively in the desert: Erwin Rommel himself, the original Desert Fox, who led an offensive juggernaut through Poland, France and the North African sand dunes back in the Big One nearly 70 years ago.

Warner's career performance Sunday led to a 31-10 victory. Sure, Miami sucks. But Arizona usually does, too.

Not this year.

Arizona is 2-0 in a weak division with a fairly easy schedule in front of it. And, oh yeah, the team that dominated the division this decade (Seattle) is suddenly 0-2. Our pick to win the NFC West -- and our pick to win just the third playoff game in the franchise's 89-season history -- is off to a great start.

Warner, with his talented collection of receivers, is a big reason why.

He's just produced probably the most statistically dominant game of his career -- no small feat considering he's won two NFL MVP awards and a Super Bowl, and led the only offense in history to score 500 points in three straight seasons.

Against the Dolphins, Warner completed a superbly efficient 19 of 24 (79.2 percent) for 361 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT and a statistically perfect 158.3 passer rating.

The 361 yards are among the most he's ever thrown. Warner also pitched a proverbial "perfect" game (158.3 rating) for the first time since his Rams pasted the Chargers, 57-31, back in 2000. It was the third "perfect" game of his career.

But the gaudiest number is in the all-important yards per attempt figure.

Warner averaged a stunning 15.04 yards every time he fired off a pass Sunday. It was the greatest average in his weird, amazing, frustrating, glorious, trophy-filled career. And the results after two weeks of the 2008 season are utterly impressive.

Through two games, Warner has completed 38 of 54 passes (70.4 percent) for 558 yards, 10.3 YPA, 4 TD, 0 INT and a 114.0 passer rating

There are only two facts more shocking than his stat line to date:

1) The fact Warner can still produce at this age. He's 37, making him one of the oldest players in the league and clearly on the backside of a quarterback's productive years; and

2) The fact he hasn't been a true full-time starter anywhere since his MVP 2001 season.

Yet after two weeks, Warner and the Cardinals look like a team that will make some noise in the NFC this year -- for one of the few times in their long, sorry history (which includes just two postseason victories in 88 years of NFL competition).

Of course, seasons aren't made after two games. And, Lord and history know the sad-sack Cardinals can certainly find a way to screw up a promising start.

Don't forget, Rommel jumped out to a great start, too. Like Warner here in 2008, the tank commander rolled over a lot of second-rate powers in the early going, before it all ended in disaster when he finally faced the big boys.

But, for now, there's a sense of hope in the desert. And as long as Warner doesn't mount a poor defense of the Normandy coastline or try to knock off Ken Whisenhunt, things should end better for the Cardinals quarterback than they did for the original Desert Fox.

And maybe, just maybe, the Cardinals can capture that elusive third postseason win in their long, sad history.

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