Anderson still the QB, and “the same things”

Posted by Darren Urban on November 30, 2010 – 11:53 am

Coach Ken Whisenhunt said it plainly today: Derek Anderson will remain the starting quarterback. Whisenhunt said it was because Anderson gives the Cardinals the best chance to win. I know it wasn’t/isn’t what fans are looking for right now. On the subject of quarterback, Whisenhunt also made it clear that John Skelton was unlikely to play this season barring injuries that would force him to.

“You run the risk of damaging a young guy,” Whisenhunt said.

I know that’s not what a lot of people want to hear either.

Whisenhunt was also asked pointedly about how the fans are hoping to hear him say something other than that the team will just continue to work and doing what they have been doing.

“Sometimes those things are misinterpreted when you say you are going to continue to do what you’ve been doing,” Whisenhunt said. “What I mean by that is we are going to prepare like we are going to prepare and we are going to continue to have our expectations for players because that’s what I know works. As far as making changes as far as with players or with schemes, absolutely we will look at that and continue to try and put our guys in the best positions to win.

“When I talk about doing the same things we have been doing, I am talking organizationally, as far as how we prepare, how we practice. To me, it doesn’t make sense to change the time you practice or the routine, because that is not the problem. The problem is we are not performing up to expectations on game day. When that is the case, then you do have to look at changes, personnel changes, scheme changes, and those are all things we look at on a weekly basis. Hopefully we will improve.”

Whisenhunt then went on to say he understands the fans’ frustrations.

“Hey, listen — nobody likes this,” Whisenhunt said. “If people think we are content, that’s wrong. It hurts. It hurts to lose games like that, it hurts to hear our fans boo, especially with everything we have done to make some progress (the last few years). … You feel like you have worked hard to get your fans’ trust. Nothing is going to be easy in this league. We are working to try and get back to where we feel we represent our city and our fans well.

“I’m not going to sit here and ask for patience because people pay money to come watch us play and their expectations are for us to be better than what we have done. I am just telling you, there is everyone here in this organization, from top to bottom, to make sure that happens. I believe we are going to get it right.”

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49ers aftermath

Posted by Darren Urban on November 30, 2010 – 1:55 am

Well, I didn’t expect that.

I didn’t expect the Cards to get beat up by the Niners like that, and I didn’t expect Derek Anderson to be all over the TV and radio when it was over because of his heated postgame comments (You can see the video here). That a few seconds of Anderson smiling on the sideline would garner so much attention is amazing yet understandable at the same time. I didn’t even see the video until after the postgame interview process was over, but I darn sure heard about it via Twitter from a lot of fans – already upset at the way the game was going – even moreso after seeing the quarterback like that. (I am also sure fans heard Jon Gruden on the telecast questioning it too).

My guess it was a bit of gallows humor from Deuce Lutui (Kurt Warner joked to me on Twitter after that “Knowing Deuce he was inviting DA over 4 a Tongan barbecue 2 lighten the moment, I would have laughed 2!”). That’s fine. Just explain that. In the grand scheme, it isn’t a huge deal really. But what else is there to really talk about?

The Cards misfired in all three facets of the game. They couldn’t take advantage of Frank Gore’s injury and let the corpse of Brian Westbrook erupt for 136 yards rushing. They couldn’t do much on offense again. Special teams also took it on the chin a couple of times, whether it was Ted Ginn ripping off some long returns or having a good kickoff runback by LaRod Stephens-Howling called back on a penalty.

Not good. Not good at all.

“To lose six in a row, it hurts,” cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie said. “Especially when you know these guys in the locker room. I look at what we do on the practice field, how we work, work, work, this doesn’t make no sense to me.

“People say, ‘When is it gonna change, when’s it gonna change?’ (Expletive), it don’t seem like it’s ever gonna change. I don’t know what’s going on.”

— That was as glum as I have ever seen Larry Fitzgerald. “I’m at a loss for words,” he said, and it was tough to blame him. I know this is where everyone freaks out again about Fitz long-term, and that is an issue that must be contemplated. In the moment, though, he’s not only at a loss for words, but also answers.

— Breaking down numbers seems pointless tonight (especially at 1:45 a.m.). The 49ers dominated, and you don’t have to look at the stat sheet to see that. It was stunning to see Westbrook run the ball so well, however. The running lanes were huge at times. Troy Smith didn’t even have a good night throwing, other than that first TD pass. It didn’t matter.

— The last thing this team needs right now is a turnover – especially on the very first offensive play. When you wonder about a team’s confidence, which coach Ken Whisenhunt did last week, it isn’t helped by a quick mistake.

— We will see if anything changes tomorrow or Wednesday but when asked generally about changing personnel this week – which, of course, includes the quarterback – Whisenhunt noted a short week and said “we’re going to stick with what we do.” I assume that means Anderson still starts. Even if he were to make a change, I wouldn’t think we would hear anything until Wednesday anyway, because tomorrow is a mandated players day off and Whiz doesn’t announce such things unless he gets to talk to players first.

— So obviously, no, I don’t expect Anderson’s postgame comments to impact playing time. Nor should they, in this case. If a change is going to be made, it should be for football reasons, and it seems – given the Cards’ record and future – there are valid ones to do so. Please don’t ask me about Max Hall and John Skelton playing beyond that information though. I don’t know and it doesn’t even make sense to hazard a guess anymore.

— As I wrap up, I think of wide receiver Steve Breaston, who has slid into the role of resident philosopher/soul of the team in many ways. Maybe it’s his background as a writer, I don’t know. But even when the Miracle Baby says he doesn’t have anything to say he ends up having something to say.

“We have been through trying times and we have responded so I think the people on this team know how to respond,” Breaston said. “I don’t know what’s going on…. ‘X’s’ and ‘O’s’ are cool, but sometimes, you gotta jump over somebody, you gotta run through somebody. That’s all about being a football player and playing beyond the expectations of that play.”

At this point, I would guess the fans would be happy with just coming close to expectations.

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Toler, Campbell inactive

Posted by Darren Urban on November 29, 2010 – 5:10 pm

Cornerback Greg Toler (foot) and defensive end Calais Campbell (ankle) are inactive for tonight’s game, no big surprise. Michael Adams and Alan Branch will start in their place. All the other guys listed as questionable this week are active and will play.

The rest of the inactive list for tonight:

  • WR Max Komar
  • QB John Skelton
  • S Hamza Abdullah
  • CB Marshay Green
  • LB Reggie Walker
  • C Ben Claxton

The key 49ers out are T Joe Staley, reserve CB William James and K Joe Nedney.

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Roof closed for “Monday Night Football”

Posted by Darren Urban on November 29, 2010 – 2:44 pm

The roof at University of Phoenix Stadium tonight will be closed because of cold temperatures. The text from the official release:

“Due to the cold front that has brought unseasonably low temperatures and freeze warnings to the Valley this evening, the roof at University of Phoenix Stadium will be closed for tonight’s game between the Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers.

“Even with the roof closed, temperatures inside the building are expected to be in the low 60s and fans should dress accordingly.”

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Saturday before the 49ers

Posted by Darren Urban on November 27, 2010 – 4:26 pm

In weeks like this – a Monday game, in which the Saturday before becomes a normal Friday, at least in the regimented world of the NFL – the time after the final practice is oddly quiet. The offices are closed, so while the team is going about normal business, the rest of the building is shut down. Media coverage is even lighter than normal. And this week, it gave coach Ken Whisenhunt a chance to be a little more introspective after the camera (there was only one, from was off.

Whiz was asked if, around the holidays right now, he was finding any chance of relaxing away from the game. He had already mentioned to us previously that night time – when there wasn’t any work left to be done and he was alone in his thoughts to mull what was going on – was the hardest.

Not surprisingly, Whiz said no.

“It’s hard,” Whisenhunt said. “I am disappointed. I want to win. It doesn’t sit in your gut right. You think about a million things that could have gone differently or been done differently. It’s not easy. That’s the way it is.”

Whiz hasn’t been through this as a head coach, although he mentioned a similar season he dealt with in Pittsburgh (which I noted earlier this week). There, however, Whiz was an assistant. And that doesn’t compare to living with it as a head coach.

“I feel like, ‘You let everybody down,’ ” Whisenhunt said. “You’re working hard, you’re trying to do it right, you want to have success. But you’re not. And it’s hard.”

— So the Cards will be on the national TV stage trying to break a five-game losing streak. Whisenhunt made it clear this week that while technically the Cards are still in the NFC West race, it was folly to think about such things until the Cards won a game (or two or three) and he’s right. The reality, however, is this: The Cards will know by the time they play what Seattle and St. Louis have done this week. If they have both lost, the winner of this Monday game is better off than any 4-7 team deserves.

— This is the fourth straight game the Cards are playing a team that is coming off a beatdown the previous week. The Vikings, Seahawks and Chiefs all had suffered multiple bad games in a row before beating the Cards. The Cards have to make that fact work in their favor for once.

— San Francisco QB Troy Smith is a wild card here – Beanie Wells has been swearing by his former Ohio State teammate all season, insisting he was the best the Niners had – but maybe the Bucs showed a blueprint of how to deal with Smith last week.

— That said, I have seen two Niners – Frank Gore and Vernon Davis – be particular pains-in-the-rear to the Cards over the years. Those two, I think, are the keys to the game. Gore especially seems to just kill the Cards. They have to contain him.

— If you missed it, this is a great video on former-Cards-receiver-turned-team-mentor Anthony Edwards.

— Steve Breaston talked about scoring touchdowns. The Cards have to find a way. The offense has scored more than one touchdown in just four of 10 games this season.

— No official word on the roof being open, but given that it is a night game and a national telecast, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the sky. We already know we’re going to see the black uniforms.

— It would be cool for Larry Fitzgerald to get the nine receptions he needs to become the franchise’s all-time leader in catches (he is eight behind Anquan Boldin’s 586). Then again, it’s not like he won’t be breaking the mark at home, with three straight home games.

— The last time both the Cards and 49ers used the same starting quarterbacks for both regular-season matchups was 2003, when Jeff Blake faced off against Jeff Garcia twice. Since then, one or both of the teams has used two different starting QBs. The chances both Derek Anderson and Troy Smith still will be starting in the regular-season finale Jan. 2? I’m just sayin’ …

— Jon Gruden took Fitzgerald on to the “Monday Night Football” bus this afternoon to talk a little and go over some video. I squeezed in to the tight hallway to snap a picture of Gruden and Fitz – Fitz was admiring Gruden’s Super Bowl ring. And if you notice on the screen in the background (sorry about the flash), cued up on the video is the moment right before Fitz broke his 64-yard Super Bowl touchdown.

Ahh, good times. But time to live in the now. It’s on to Monday night.

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Toler, Campbell game-day decisions

Posted by Darren Urban on November 27, 2010 – 2:27 pm

Coach Ken Whisenhunt said both cornerback Greg Toler (foot) and defensive end Calais Campbell (ankle) will be game-day decisions to play Monday against the 49ers, and they were among six players listed as questionable for the game. The others: WR Steve Breaston (knee), RB LaRod Stephens-Howling (hamstring), LB Clark Haggans (groin) and NT Dan Williams (toe).

DT Darnell Dockett (shoulder), WR Early Doucet (head), CB Michael Adams (ribs), LB Reggie Walker (hamstrring) and S Kerry Rhodes (hand/back) are all probable.

For the 49ers, kicker Joe Nedney (knee) is doubtful, as is cornerback William James, who apparently suffered a concussion at practice. Safety Dashon Goldson (ankle) is questionable. Tackle Joe Staley (fibula) is out.

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Niners game a sellout

Posted by Darren Urban on November 26, 2010 – 3:58 pm

Fear not, those worried about a TV blackout — the Cardinals’ 50th game at University of Phoenix Stadium (including preseason and postseason games) on Monday night against the 49ers is a sellout. That makes the Cards 50-for-50 in sellouts at home and should make for a great backdrop for the national ESPN telecast.

Don’t forget, the Cards are also wearing the black uniforms in the game as well.

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Getting healthier

Posted by Darren Urban on November 26, 2010 – 1:34 pm

Cornerback Greg Toler (foot) was able to work limited Friday, good news for a secondary which could use his return Monday night. Again, because the Cards have a Monday game, today — Friday — was actually Thursday, and tomorrow — Saturday — is actually Friday, if you can follow that. Toler may just be able to maneuver his way to active status by game day. It might be a little tougher for defensive end Calais Campbell, who sat out again with his ankle sprain. Nose tackle Dan Williams was added to the injury report as limited with a sore toe, but he and the rest of the list should be ready by Monday as the Cards wait to see about Toler and Campbell.

That was the biggest news of the day, which felt quiet given the holiday nature of the day-after-Thanksgiving. Well, kind of quiet. The Alabama-Auburn game was on the TVs in the locker room, and ‘Bama alum Rashad Johnson was making  a lot of noise as Alabama jumped out to a 14-0 at the time. The Cards don’t have any Auburn guys, so there was no one in particular to trash talk.

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How the players react

Posted by Darren Urban on November 26, 2010 – 9:18 am

Late Wednesday night, I received this Tweet from “Gloryaz”: “@Cardschatter how come when I watch cards hq on fsn, the players seem happy someone is interviewing them insted of mad they are sucking?!?!”

For those who are not familiar, “Cards HQ” is our broadcast department’s half-hour show that comes out Wednesdays. It is basically 30 minutes of sound bites, allowing the players’ and coaches’ own words to describe the most recent game and then look ahead to the upcoming game. The interviews are from post-game Sunday, Monday and then Wednesday.

And that’s how things change.

Obviously, after a loss, no one is bursting with glee. And the Monday bites are usually pretty low-key too, after a loss. But by the time we get to Wednesday, the players have moved on. That’s the point I am trying to make. I would guess whatever “Gloryaz” didn’t like came from a Wednesday interview. Sure, I understand why fans want players to be miserable during the losing streak. But in the NFL, most teams — including the Cards — have a “24-hour rule.” Spend 24 hours mulling the game just completed, win or lose, and then move on.

By Wednesday, the players’ heads better be on the next game, not the previous loss. No one is going to forget about the current losing streak, but wallowing in it makes no sense, either from a football perspective nor a mental well-being perspective.

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Campbell, Toler sit out

Posted by Darren Urban on November 25, 2010 – 12:03 pm

DE Calais Campbell (ankle) and CB Greg Toler (foot) were the two Cardinals to sit out practice Thursday as the Cards had an abbreviated Thanksgiving workout. Six other Cards were limited: CB Michael Adams (ribs), WR Steve Breaston (knee), DT Darnell Dockett (shoulder), WR Early Doucet (head), LB Clark Haggans (groin) and RB LaRod Stephens-Howling (hamstring). S Kerry Rhodes (hand/back) and LB Reggie Walker (hamstring) were both listed but practiced full.

Coach Ken Whisenhunt said the extra day of practice is less about doing extra and more about spreading two days of work over three days “which is just a way to keep the guys in tune to what we are doing.”

We’ll have more tomorrow. Have a great Thanksgiving, everyone.

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