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Blogs

Friday before the Saints

Posted by Darren Urban on January 15, 2010 – 9:59 am

The stat of the weekend, bar none: Once the current NFL playoff setup began in 1990, the NFC’s No. 1 playoff seed – which obviously got a bye in the first round – won their initial playoff game 17 seasons in a row.

Then the Giants conquered the Cowboys two years ago. And then the Eagles beat the Giants last year.

The Cardinals will try and make it three straight in New Orleans against the No. 1-seeded Saints.

While you let those facts marinate, a few more things to touch upon going into the Divisional round:

– Larry Fitzgerald had two touchdowns last week, including that spectacular one-handed diving catch in the end zone. But he’s a slacker – the 6-catch, 82-yard effort was actually Fitz’s worst playoff game. Of course, that just underscores how unreal Fitz was in the playoffs last year (four games of more than 100 yards).  I am pretty sure the Cards will take 6-82-2 every week.

– It was understandable everyone wanted to talk Early Doucet this week after he had his breakout game. But Steve Breaston – who had 125 yards receiving on seven catches – seemed to be ignored in many ways, even though he was great while getting his first 100-yard game of the season.

“I’m just the forgotten man, but it’s never bothered me,” Breaston said. “My whole thing was to be accountable to the team. My coaches and teammates know what I did. I don’t like to get into all that. I told Early the other day I was so proud of him, the stuff he did in the game, showing what he could do on the field. I don’t think, ‘Oh, I’m overshadowed.’ ”

Then Breaston grinned. “Someone will have to pay attention one day.”

– I know I mentioned this last week, but it bears repeating: The Cardinals, under coach Ken Whisenhunt, are now 29-3 when they are even or win the turnover battle and just 2-19 when they lose it. If you want a barometer for who will win, that’s the column to watch.

– Here’s a new stat I wasn’t aware of, however: Including playoffs, the Cards have scored at least 30 points in 23 games. The Cards have won 21 of those games, including 15 in a row. Seems to bode well for a shootout. And if you look at the Cards’ postseasons, there’s only one game they haven’t score 30 (damn you James Harrison).

– The Saints have something going with the city of New Orleans that most teams do not have. That, quarterback Drew Brees said, comes in part because a good chunk of players arrived in the 2006 offseason, right after Hurricane Katrina and those players “feel a sense of responsibility to our fans and our city.”

I wonder, however, if that increases the pressure on the team to come through Saturday. It’s about more than just advancing, it’s about keeping a city’s hopes alive.

“We want to win for them because it does so much for their psyche in regards to lifting their spirits and giving them hope,” Brees said. “The rebuilding process is still very much going on here. I know how much they believe in us and lean on us.

“For us, it’s not necessarily feeling it adds pressure but more so gives us strength knowing we have that fan base behind us.”

– That fan base will be loud, but the Cards believe they will be prepared. Once, going on the road in this situation would be a problem, but no longer. There was never a fear of road trips, but there was never this quiet confidence from the Cards’ locker room either before they climbed on a plane. They seem to understand it’s just another football game, it just happens to be in a different venue than the one in Glendale.

– There is no question Brees is a great quarterback, but Adrian Wilson put the brakes on saying the two are alike. “Kurt is a two-time MVP, has numerous Super Bowl appearances, so to say Drew is like Kurt, I wouldn’t say that,” Wilson said. “You can compare the two, but the things Kurt has done in his career compared to what Drew has done, not taking anything away from Drew because Drew is a great player, but Kurt has done a lot.”

– My two cents on the Antrel Rolle-Michael Silver debate: I can see both sides. I don’t know what happened. I have been around plenty of players who say something and later wish they had not. Obviously, Silver (whom I know and who’s always been good to me) has had his controversies around this team, like the Matt Leinart “ride or die” interview in 2007. But to me, the bottom line is this: When I talked to Rolle after the game, he was effusive in his praise of Aaron Rodgers. That’s all he was thinking about that evening. And really, if the Saints need to get revved up over any perceived slights, maybe they aren’t in the best place. (Then again, teams, coaches and players use perceived slights and even made-up slights all the time to get jacked up. It’s a fact of NFL life).

– It’ll be interesting to see if the Cards are willing to turn to rookie cornerback Greg Toler should Michael Adams struggle again.

– Even if Anquan Boldin suits up Saturday – and I would still lean toward him not – it won’t be as the normal Anquan. It’ll be a situation where he’d only play 30 or so plays, when the Cards are using multiple receiver sets. Again, given needs up and down the roster, I don’t know if you can afford to have active such a part-time player.

– I’m not counting on linebacker Gerald Hayes playing either.

OK, that was a long one. Time to wrap this up, given that we have a flight shortly to New Orleans. I have no idea how this one is going to turn out, but I do think the key will be the start. If the Cards can stay settled and not be rattled early (like, say, have two turnovers in the first quarter, right Packers?) I think they have a good chance to win. If they can get a lead and force worry into the Superdome crowd, even better. If they let the Saints jump out early and get the crowd even more excited, that’s a problem.

We’ll see. It’d be nice to be getting ready for a charter flight again late next week too.


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Posted in Blog | 27 Comments »


27 Responses to “Friday before the Saints”

  1. By Bird Brain.. : > on Jan 15, 2010 | Reply

    I believe AZ is right where they need to be, An underdog….. We play with a chip on our shoulder best and when we do advance we will still be an underdog weather it’s at Mn or at Dallas. As (I think the only fan in Minnesota) I would love to see them play here next week so there will be 1 blip or RED in the MetroDome.
    GO Chicago/St.louis/Phoenix/Arizona Cardinals. I have followed sense St.louis.

  2. By wampag on Jan 15, 2010 | Reply

    there’s only one game they haven’t score 30 (damn you James Harrison)….great line…great line…I always watch the dvd from last year and turn it off right before that game…only one way to wipe the taste out…GO CARDS

  3. By Steve on Jan 15, 2010 | Reply

    Darren, I say this with all do respect to you and the great job you do, but the media has gone way too far lately. Headlines of Kiffin as a weasal and reporters spinning the stories to their personal biases has gone too far.

    I would love to see the Cards media refuse Silver access to the locker room. I know it can’t happen but there needs to be some accountability on memebers of the media when they start being Ricky Lake and stop being reports of the news.

  4. By Rugbymuffin on Jan 15, 2010 | Reply

    Breaston forgottened?

    You tell Steve we have been talking about his big game, and his Razor Ramon TD celebration all week.

    http://www.arizonasportsfans.com/vb/f4/lost-in-the-hoopla-146537.html

    It is a show of respect for the man if no one talks about because it is expected. We know what we have in Breaston, and I won’t be shocked if he has another big game this week.

  5. By nor cal cards fan on Jan 15, 2010 | Reply

    Let’s get ready for some Beanie Ball. It’s no secret that the Saints D hasn’t been particularly good against the run this year.As long as none of the Cards find their way to Bourbon street tonight, i like our chances. Regardless of what happens, we’re playing with house money from here on out. A Dub didn’t exactly have his best game last week, i have a feeling he’s ready to prove that All-Pro selection was justified. He’s due for another Trent Edwards hit. GO CARDS!!

  6. By Ottis Anderson Fan on Jan 15, 2010 | Reply

    Darren,

    Speaking of charter flights, I think an interesting off-season story might be to describe the process, the personnel, and the time needed to get all the Cards equipment for a game to an away stadium. It would seem like a huge task.

    I specifically wonder if the gear and the players fly on the same plane, or does the team have a semi trailer that they use to move the gear? Does the routine differ depending on the distance to be traveled? Does Pauly Pigskin fly in the baggage compartment? Questions like that.

  7. By Alex Salinas on Jan 15, 2010 | Reply

    GOOOOOOOO Cardinals !!!

  8. By whodat on Jan 15, 2010 | Reply

    Cards don’t have a snowballs chance in hell at beating the saints, and we’ll see who’s the better QB in just a few more hours.

  9. By Ottis Anderson Fan on Jan 15, 2010 | Reply

    Personally, I don’t think reporters or photographers have any business being in the locker room of professional sports teams, unless they are employed by the team. I’m sure the players and coaches feel the same way. Interviews as the players come off the field or during post-game pressers should be enough. Players should have the right to decompress in privacy with their teammates for the ENTIRE time they choose to be in the locker room.

    Most every reporter has an agenda which is to be the first one to break the next big story – and if it’s a controversial story – then all the better. That’s how many reporters build their resumes and make a name for themselves. When reporters invade the privacy of an individual to get their story and get their paycheck, it makes me rather sick.

  10. By Big Red on Jan 15, 2010 | Reply

    I know how this cardinals play and this game is in the bag.There is no way their going to be stopped. Go Cardinals on to the SUPER BOWL!!! Have eaten your cheese now its time to have some of that cajun food.

  11. By Patrick on Jan 15, 2010 | Reply

    Urb; Nice recap before the game.

    I noticed in watching the tape last night…our D played the first 30 minutes extremely well. if Adams goes low on his first blitz, we hold them to 7. In this I find confidence the D will stuff NO. Brees is really good..but we’ll get to him. Also, he’s short and Calais, Karlos et al will present a problem for his passing alnes while the blitzers get him.

    The O will roll..Cards 37, NO 24.

  12. By cyclemiles on Jan 15, 2010 | Reply

    Hey BIrd…another Big Red fan here in the Gopher State…may not be in the Dome but will be rooting loud in Grand Rapids.

  13. By darrenurban on Jan 15, 2010 | Reply

    Ottis –

    An outstanding story idea. Thanks.

  14. By darrenurban on Jan 15, 2010 | Reply

    Whodat –

    I appreciate your passion and the Saints may indeed win. But you have no credibility if you say the Cards have no chance (which is what I assume you are trying to say, you wrote “don’t have a snowballs chance in hell” which actually means they have a better chance than a snowball in hell.

  15. By darrenurban on Jan 15, 2010 | Reply

    Ottis –

    As a long-time member of the media before taking this job, I’ll just stay on the other side of this fence. This is a two-way street. The NFL, it’s teams and players get tons of free publicity through the media, free publicity it would cost millions to normally buy. I would guess opening the locker rooms is a small price to pay. These guys are all big boys, they know the locker room is open to the media, and I can tell you they are warned countless times to be aware of that situation.

  16. By Mattman on Jan 15, 2010 | Reply

    Ottis -

    I completely agree with you. I also feel that these players have ZERO privacy after games. I’m not sure If they are able to even shower before some reporters are looking for some little piece of dirt. Let these men have a chance for themselves and only allow the post game interviews/questions in a formal setting.

  17. By Bird Brain.. : > on Jan 15, 2010 | Reply

    Less than 24 hours, Let’s hope for a quick start so we can keep the crowd out of it, Maybe they will leave by half time like the Panthers did last year. TURNOVERS are the key. If we get 1 or 2 take aways I feel we can be in the drivers seat and then show case Wells and Hightower.

  18. By Bird Brain.. : > on Jan 15, 2010 | Reply

    Hey Cyclemiles, Wow there is 2 of us? That’s great. I cannot tell you how much Purple I get in my face every day. I don’t mind the Vikings so much because they are loyal to their team, unlike the Twin fans. Yes I’m a Stl. Cardinals baseball fan as well. I do appriciate the way in how the Bidwells run the buisness. You will never see Cardinal players on Lake Minnetonka- Moss pushing a meter maid-speeding over 100 miles per hour and the list goes on and on.. AZ s proefessional on and off the field.

  19. By Ottis Anderson Fan on Jan 15, 2010 | Reply

    Hi Darren,

    I do see the general media’s side of the argument and I can’t disagree with it. It’s just my opinion that you could argue the reverse – that there are plenty of other times during the week (as well as in the media room immediately before players enter or after they leave the locker room) that the media has access to players and that cutting out the locker room interviews while guys are half-naked isn’t too much to ask. Not every guy is looking for publicity. I could be wrong, but wasn’t Fitz during his early years usually done and out of the locker room before the press was let in?

    With new social networking technologies such as text messaging, e-mails, Twitter, and ever increasing mobile phone coverage, it seems that the amount of access the media has to athletes is greater than it ever has been before. And that trend will probably continue.

    For me, this is just a matter of privacy. If there were no other time or way to access players than inside the post-game locker room, then the interviews in that environment could be justified. But that’s not the case. Just how is an interview with a sweaty, smelly, half-naked guy in a locker room better than an interview with the same guy fully dressed immediately after he leaves the locker room?

    p.s. Is it just me, or does it seem like SI’s Peter King has every player’s phone number and is peppering them with questions as they drive home Sunday nights? Peter reported this past Monday that he called and questioned Kurt on his drive home from the stadium after the Packer win. I sorta gulped at the thought of Kurt talking on the phone while behind the wheel on his way home. Hopefully Brenda was driving ;)

  20. By Frankie on Jan 16, 2010 | Reply

    yes yes only a few hours left hoping to get off on the GIANT! right foot not just the right foot….if we can stay in that state of mind well be set!!….GO Cards!

  21. By Longmeat on Jan 16, 2010 | Reply

    I think the reason the cardinals win this game is simple we out match the saints…The reason they lose is being out coached and dumb penatlies or turnovers… I do feel that during the playoffs the cardinals turn it up a notch and thats why they have been so successful…I’m excited to see the game i even took enjoyment in hearing all the no call complaints from last week… Now they no how we felt all these years i have watched this team grow i even think coach wiz read one of my post awhile back because i was extreamly adimit about making the jeremy urban for early doucet change which it has clearly paid off… Bottom line win or lose the cardinals are slowly becoming a legitimate franchise and im pleased with the direction they are taking i do feel they need to “start” beanie wells over hightower simply because wells is a beast but i do feel hightower is a great change of pace back and is very dependable when he isnt fumbling… At one point i was very gunhoe over keeping aquan boldin simply because he was here during all the bad years and played his heart out…But me being a buisness man i think i would trade him simply because i feel we have enuff reciever that can feel boldins void what we need to do is get a pass rusher that can compliment dockett and cambpell and to resign dansby and rolle and i believe that will help are team more then keeping boldin… man you do no how much i hate to be saying that cuz i like boldin but i def think at this point this is what is best for the team…Oh and they also need to release st pierre not just off this team but out the league he is a waste of a roster spot i rather put the first woman nfl player on the team then have him as the 3rd string lol anyways Good Luck today Cardinals win or lose im behind this organization

  22. By Biggest Cards Fan on Jan 16, 2010 | Reply

    Cards are going to win a shoot out….feels sorry for Drew Brees and Saints.
    Cards fan on facebook…support cards and sport your fave Cards player Jersey on Facebook using Fashion Beat App – http://apps.facebook.com/fashionbeat/

  23. By darrenurban on Jan 16, 2010 | Reply

    Ottis –

    I don’t want this to turn into me jumping on the media soapbox. But here’s my view:

    I graduated college in 1992 and starting covering pro sports around 1997. You are right, there are a lot of ways to reach athletes. I would argue, however, it is becoming more difficult than ever before to really get good interview time with a subject. I obviously have inside ways to get a guy, but media time limits are strict and the players are asked not to give out their numbers, etc.

    Many players don’t want to do an interview when they are leaving the locker room. They want to go out, meet their friends and/or family. Their day is over (game days, that is). The media’s job is really just beginning at that point. Time is an issue too, whether it is deadlines or TV spots. Fitz indeed used to bail on interviews — against the rules set down by the league. He’s great now, but only after he got dinged by a fine from the league for skipping out all the time.

    In the end, and again I am biased, I just see it as part of the job. If you’re in the NFL, you have to practice, go to meetings, lift weights, be in your playbook, and talk to the media in the locker room.

    And yes, Peter might have all their cell numbers. But Kurt is just one of those guys too. I have Kurt’s number. There’s a reason he was voted by the media as the NFL’s “good guy” last season in dealing with the media. As reporters, you’ll never find anyone better.

  24. By nor cal cards fan on Jan 16, 2010 | Reply

    Whodat- New Orleans is about to get hit by Hurricane Warner.

  25. By Ottis Anderson Fan on Jan 16, 2010 | Reply

    Thanks for your insights Darren. I work as a photographer/graphic designer in support of marketing and PR at the UW-Madison, as well as for some international music acts, and I know how hard access can be. It’s priceless and getting it is often the toughest part of the job. Once you get it, you will do everything in your power to keep it. And therefore I can certainly understand your point of view.

    You do have a good point in just how hard it is to get good interviews with professional athletes these days. Every answer is rehearsed and predictable, unless you’re interviewing Rex Ryan (gotta love that guy!).

    From a writer’s point-of-view, I can understand how an interview in the locker-room, when the emotions are at their highest, may be the best time to get an honest response that has not been pre-meditated. Interviews with NFL coaches and players have never been the same since Bill Belichick started winning in New England.

    Hope you got a good meal in New Orleans Friday night. I went to school at LSU for a little over a year, and the cooking down there is without a doubt the thing I miss most about the area.

  26. By Shirl on Jan 17, 2010 | Reply

    I guess you post only compliments to the losing team. Cardinals didn’t even look like a playoff team. What happened and don’t give the EXCUSE of a short week. Other teams deal with it. They should have played a better season if they needed a rest between games. Give credit where credit is due.

  27. By Ottis Anderson Fan on Jan 17, 2010 | Reply

    Darren,

    You’re the official team scribe and you don’t have a bio written for your staff page! Are you holding back and trying to leverage a new contract for 2010? ;)

    http://www.azcardinals.com/team/staff/darren-urban/26c5809d-9437-4d4a-a6d0-24e31e3415a4

    I would expect that the mascot coordinator not have a great deal write about, but not you. Actually though, I think it would be interesting to read about the experience a mascot coordinator needs to have to be hired for that position.

    Looking forward to your insights this offseason…

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