TEMPE, Ariz. — Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt has two choices for starting quarterback, neither of them attractive
He can stick with an undrafted rookie who looks overwhelmed or go back to the veteran he benched because of issues with accuracy and decision making.
It could be back to five-year NFL player Derek Anderson when the Cardinals face the Vikings in the loud, hostile environment of Minnesota next Sunday.
Speaking at his Monday news conference, Whisenhunt declined to pick a starter, but his experiment with rookie Max Hall went from ugly to unbearable in Sunday's 38-35 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Hall was benched in the second quarter after having two interceptions returned for touchdowns. Anderson, who started the first four games, came on to help the Cardinals rally for a 35-31 fourth-quarter lead.
But his ill-advised first-down pass into traffic was intercepted with just over five minutes to go and Arizona in range for a game-tying field goal.
Whisenhunt said he wanted to review video of the game with his players, then begin putting together a game plan for Minnesota "that's obviously going to do a lot to determine" who the quarterback will be.
Considering Hall's play against Tampa Bay and the previous week against Seattle, Whisenhunt might well choose not to send the rookie into the din of the Vikings' dome. Then again, he said, maybe he would.
"It's tough on a rookie no matter what," Whisenhunt said, "and you understand that when you have a rookie quarterback. But our expectations are that if Max is the guy, he'll play well and he'll do what he needs to do."
Against Tampa Bay, Hall completed 8 of 16 passes for 76 yards and his first NFL touchdown. Any positives, though, were erased by the two interceptions. On the first, Hall was hit by a defensive back as he threw. Whisenhunt said that it was a "hot read" situation and Hall needed to get rid of the ball sooner. Hall simply made a bad decision.
"Obviously things didn't go the way we wanted them to," Hall said on Monday, "but I'm getting better. I did some good things in that game and obviously I made some bad decisions in that game that really hurt us. But I'm going to keep grinding, keep getting better. I don't think they've lost faith in me yet."
Anderson, who was 16 of 24 for 234 yards against the Bucs, was not in the locker room when reporters were there on Monday.
After Sunday's game he said he thought he played well in bringing Arizona back and credited the crucial interception on a good play by cornerback Aqib Talib.
The Cardinals' transition at quarterback has been anything but smooth following the retirement of Kurt Warner at the end of last season. Warner made playing the position look easy.
"I wouldn't say we were spoiled," running back Tim Hightower said. "We were blessed."
Matt Leinart was the heir apparent, but Whisenhunt lost faith in the 2004 Heisman Trophy winner and released him at the end of the preseason. That gave the job to the strong-armed Anderson, but the former Oregon State star's well-documented accuracy problems resurfaced.15 comments on this story
In the fifth week, Whisenhunt switched to the spunky Hall, who was not spectacular but did enough in a 30-20 victory over New Orleans. But he was 4 of 16 for 36 yards with an interception and a lost fumble before he left with a concussion in a 22-10 loss at Seattle.
Then came the debacle against the Bucs.
Through it all, the ever-optimistic Hall insists he is getting better.
"Take it easy on me guys, OK?" he said as reporters walked away from his locker. "I'm learning."