Coach Ken Whisenhunt offered a football education Monday during a wide-ranging interview with XTRA910 radio in Phoenix.
His explanation as to why the Arizona Cardinals did not pursue receiver Lee Evans by trade was terrific. Basically, Larry Fitzgerald's presence made Evans a questionable fit. I've broken out some of Whisenhunt's thoughts below. There's much more in the interview.
"Lee Evans is a good player and I like Lee Evans, but Lee Evans is an 'X' [split end]. Lee Evans is not a 'Z'. When you talk about a Z, his responsibility is blocking and being able to do some things that play off of the X receiver. Now, he has been in the league a long time, but when you talk about a receiver at that position being able to come inside and block inside the line or be able to do some of the things that we ask of our Zs, it’s not necessarily always a good fit.
"I’m not saying Lee Evans wouldn’t have been a good fit, but when you talk about that position, you know it’s great to say that this guy is a good receiver, but if you have two of the same kind of receivers, then you’re going to be struggling to find ways to get them the ball because they are the same positional guy. And what I mean by that is, Xs are more geared toward running some of the outside routes, the big ins, the gos, the posts, those kind of things, where the Zs are more into the crossing routes, the curls, the inside stuff where they have to make the tight catches.
"And so when you are assessing your team and you talk about a No. 1 or a No. 2, we don’t really talk about No. 1 or No. 2. We talk about the role that these guys are going to play and what we’re trying to get done. Can the guy play the slot? Can he block? Can he do all these other things? Because that all has to integrate."
Whisenhunt would rather find the next Steve Breaston -- a relatively unheralded draft choice who becomes a front-line player -- than chase an established veteran who might not fit the team's specific needs.