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Coaching matters to Cards

Posted by Darren Urban on December 18, 2013 – 10:13 am

MMQB.com published a interesting read this morning about how Bruce Arians and his staff may have done the best coaching job in the NFL this season. The piece, well worthy of a read, details a couple of plays on offense and defense as to how the staff has done a good job utilizing the Cardinals’ strengths. And it makes a lot of sense.

It’s been notable the Cardinals have tried fewer deep plays as the season has gone on because, quite frankly, the protection wasn’t able to hold up well enough in those situations. Arians has done a nice job diversifying the passing game. It means that someone like Larry Fitzgerald might not get as many catches as many would like, but it may help more in the long-run.

There is also no question that the coaching on the offensive line — led by offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin, along with assistants Larry Zierlein and David Diaz-Infante — has made a big difference on that unit. The Cards have done a better job scheming protection as the season as gone on, but the more intimate coaching situation helps. When Arians was hired, he said one of the reasons he wanted so many coaches was to, essentially, keep class sizes down for the players (those of you who are or who know teachers know what I am talking about). Teaching matters to Arians. It seems to be paying off.

A couple of other interesting points in the article:

– Author Andy Benoit said he thinks Fitzgerald’s shift to multiple positions helps, even if Fitz’s numbers have shrunk. “The 30-year-old is just beginning what will prove to be a career-extending renaissance” Benoit writes. (Now, whether that can line up with an $18 million salary cap number, well, that’s one of the big questions of the offseason.)

– He called Andre Ellington a future superstar (and made sure to emphasize that he meant superstar and not just star.)

– He noted that Patrick Peterson’s ability to cover main receivers one-on-one with no help creates freedom for defensive coordinator Todd Bowles in Bowles’ quality scheming.

As the season comes to a close, the staff has a lot of pressure. Bowles has to handle a couple of physical offenses without key cog Tyrann Mathieu (and maybe without starting safety Rashad Johnson), for instance. And that offensive line that has been doing well enough now has to face a pair of incredible defensive lines. But the Cardinals likely wouldn’t be in this 9-5 position without the chess moves of Arians’ group.

– Arians said during his weekly segment on Sirius XM NFL Radio last night that Fitzgerald will not practice today, but that he remains hopeful that Fitzgerald will be able to play Sunday following his concussion. I saw Fitzgerald yesterday afternoon as he came out to take part in Darnell Dockett’s annual Christmas outing for needy kids. I didn’t speak to Fitz other than to say hi, but I can definitely see how this will have to play out as the week goes along. I don’t expect anything definitive on Fitzgerald before Friday, and even then I wouldn’t be shocked to hear it would be a game-day decision. That’s what happened to Kurt Warner in 2009 in Tennessee, when the decision on game day was to hold Warner out.

BAcoachesblogUSE


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Posted in Blog | 22 Comments »


22 Responses to “Coaching matters to Cards”

  1. By georgiebird on Dec 18, 2013 | Reply

    Arians was an excellent choice by Michael Bidwill. It wasn’t long ago that most people on this blog wanted Ray Horton. But, then again, guys on this blog change their likes/dislikes from week to week.
    Arians should be coach of the year because he has to play the top two teams in football on four occasions. The Chiefs have an easier schedule.
    Arians is a huge improvement over Whiz. Whiz has only two things over Arians- his age and his golf game.

  2. By LadyBird04 on Dec 18, 2013 | Reply

    Dockett has had his Christmas outing for the children for YEARS. I’m glad to see some of the younger players have also started doing this for the youngsters in Phoenix. Kudos to Dockett and the rest of the team for their work all year with the youngsters and families in the Phoenix area.

  3. By joe.holst on Dec 18, 2013 | Reply

    Todd Bowles has done well but he has had a decent offense unlike Ray Horton had a terrible offense having 3 and outs all game, If Bowles can keep the Seahawks and Niners under 26 points than the Cards have a chance, Personally I think the team will get exposed by tights ends Zach Miller(Seahawks) and Vernon Davis. Go Cards.

  4. By PotAsh on Dec 18, 2013 | Reply

    Great article that you shared with us. It should make AZ fans happy that we have a good, if not great, coaching staff.

    I can’t wait to see how we have progressed from the beginning of this season. The next two games are going to be real litmus tests for the Cards – and the best part is that they are fully capable of beating the Hawks and the 9ers!

    Let’s go Cards!

  5. By wather on Dec 18, 2013 | Reply

    I will always give credit to Wiz and Graves for drafting Fitz,docket,cambell,washington,Peterson,floyd,dansby,. Sure BA and SK will get just as many superstars in two-three years. But still props for those drafts.

  6. By kauaicardsfan on Dec 18, 2013 | Reply

    Aloha Darren,
    Since all the backs are doing great Any chance we will see Ryan Williams at all? Maybe on kickoff returns? or is that a wasted use of a player since arenas also plays defense as well and more versatile?

    Mahalo!

  7. By Don Double on Dec 18, 2013 | Reply

    You’ve done a great job guys. Look at you, you’re 9 and 5 I was just hoping for .500 considering all the roster change over. Now Please Please Please do not trade players away in the off season. If you keep everyone that you have right now you will definately being going to the Super Bowl next year. Thanks for the wonderful year.

  8. By Darren Urban on Dec 18, 2013 | Reply

    Kauai –

    RE: Ryan Williams

    I don’t see him playing barring injury.

  9. By azcardsgrl98 on Dec 18, 2013 | Reply

    Whiz n rg didnt draft fitz dockett or dansby the were drafted by denny green

  10. By johnnybluenose on Dec 18, 2013 | Reply

    @LadyBird04….hard to believe someone gave you a “thumbs down”. what’s with that???

  11. By johnnybluenose on Dec 18, 2013 | Reply

    Darren…re Ryan Williams. If the Cardinals are eliminated on Sunday from post-season play, why would the Cardinals not play Williams against the Niners? If they don’t want him, why not showcase him, hope he has a good game and maybe increase his value in a trade? And, if Williams does not suit up, is he released prior to the draft? What is your opinion?

  12. By NJAzCardsFan on Dec 18, 2013 | Reply

    Darren- This maybe a reach- What are the chances of Roberts returning next year?
    Do you see R. Williams becoming a starting RB if they move Ellington to the WR spot…???

    The key to the Seahawks game is controlling their TE’s and running game…

  13. By Darren Urban on Dec 18, 2013 | Reply

    johnnyblue –

    RE: Williams

    My opinion is the same. I don’t see it changing barring an injury.

  14. By Darren Urban on Dec 18, 2013 | Reply

    NJAz –

    RE: Roberts/Ellington

    Ellington will not move to receiver. And Roberts’ decision will probably be based on his market value.

  15. By shannon robinson on Dec 18, 2013 | Reply

    I liked the fact that Arians loaded up on assistant coaches so he could run full coaching practices on two fields during OTAs and Training Camp. You can only add coaching staff in those numbers in the first year when you’re making that opening wish list – Bruce knew to ask for an extended staff and then used his assistants effectively. I’m still hoping Coach Tom Pratt gets a game ball for one of those 5 sack wins. I’m glad the Seasocks are having a great year – let’s go beat them

  16. By johnnybluenose on Dec 18, 2013 | Reply

    Darren. Your opinion is “the same”. What does that mean? I didn’t ask for your opinion on whether or not you think Williams would be activated. You have been consistently clear on that subject all year. My question for you was, if Williams is not activated at all this year, do you think he will be released prior to the draft. If you have previously answered this question, I missed it. And I assume you have no inside information about this, and even if you did, I would not expect you to share it here. So, you can rightly reply that you do not know whether Williams will be released (or traded) prior to the draft but that really does not answer my question. And you can also reply that you have not considered the matter and therefore have no opinion. Or you could reply that you have an opinion but do not wish to state it. Or, you can just ignore the question. It’s your blog.

  17. By Darren Urban on Dec 18, 2013 | Reply

    johnnyblue –

    RE: Williams

    I don’t know what their plans for him are right now. But I don’t expect him to play.

    My opinion, which is meaningless, is that I don’t know why you would play him now after he has sat all year.

  18. By Hammy on Dec 19, 2013 | Reply

    JohnnyBluenose You act like R.Williams is the next Barry Sanders or some other great running back. Bottom line is, there is just no point in playing him, It means nothing at this point. Playing him takes away from playing Ellington and Mendenhall, which have for the most part been healthy enough all season. Williams is done with AZ and will probably be a decent back with another team. He was a big talent who got hurt to much and lost out to more deserving players.

  19. By johnnybluenose on Dec 19, 2013 | Reply

    Darren, why is this so hard for you? You can disagree with me all you want but at least be part of the conversation. I think there are at least three reasons for playing Williams in a game that has no play-off implications. One, to further evaluate him to help decide whether to dump him or keep him. Two, if you are going to dump him, to showcase him to try and increase his trade value (as per Kirk Cousens). Three, and this is really a stretch and not a good reason, but maybe to avoid an injury to someone we are counting on next year. How would we all feel if Ellington wrecked his knee in a game that means so little? But, once again, you have taken the fifth amendment and refused to give your opinion about Williams’ future with our team. Maybe no one cares. Or maybe the subject has been debated to death and I have just missed it. But I think there is more to Williams’ situation than we have been told and I find it a bit strange that you have rarely mentioned his name in the last four months other than to inform us every Friday that he is once again inactive. By the way, does Williams still have a nickname, “little sweetness” or something like that? I would suggest that his nickname be changed to “inactive” but that would be unkind and unfair to him. I think he wants to play but then again that’s an opinion based on nothing. I’m 4000 miles away and I don’t see him almost every day. I don’t know why you don’t want to give an opinion about Williams’ future. As I said, it’s your blog. I won’t ask again.

  20. By Darren Urban on Dec 19, 2013 | Reply

    Johnnyblue –

    RE: Williams

    RE: Yet again

    What makes you think they haven’t been evaluating him all season in practice? And why does this has to be some conspiracy theory? Earl Watford has been inactive almost every week but you aren’t clamoring for an opinion on him.

    You asked my opinion. I gave it to you. I said I wouldn’t play him. Apparently that’s not what you wanted to hear. I don’t think Ryan has much if any trade value and I think it’s foolish to think one meaningless performance is suddenly going to net you something fantastic. (And, by the way, I don’t believe Shanahan is playing Cousins to get a good draft pick. I think he is playing him because he doesn’t like the play of RGIII and it’s a power play versus the owner. So that’s not a good comparison.)

    What else is there to say? He came out of camp barely making the roster. It was clear early he wasn’t going to rise above fifth on the depth chart, especially once Ellington proved to be so good. He’s been injured in his career and hasn’t really proven that he would be what everyone hoped. I’m sorry if that isn’t a good enough explanation for you. If it is more that that, even Williams hasn’t been told so good luck finding “more to Williams’ situation.” Yes, he desperately wants to play. But when the run game is working and you are 9-5, why change?

    And finally, yes, I feel this has been debated to death. My job is to write about this team. I have taken it upon myself to be so interactive on these blog comments. I’ve had plenty of people around here wondering why I do. Please don’t start acting as if I owe answers.

  21. By John The Draft Guy on Dec 19, 2013 | Reply

    (And, by the way, I don’t believe Shanahan is playing Cousins to get a good draft pick. I think he is playing him because he doesn’t like the play of RGIII and it’s a power play versus the owner. So that’s not a good comparison.)

    Not to start a redskin blog, but you are so right on that one Darren.

    As for Williams, I really am lost on why fans are so interested.

    This coaching staff wants to win. They have a 9-5 record and are chasing the playoffs. Mendenhal and Taylor have been OK as RBs . Do you really think that if Williams had more to offer, Arians wouldn’t get him in to help us win?
    It is obvious that he has not shown enough to surpass the other backs.

    Why is he on the roster? For trade bait?
    As Darren said, he has no trade value. My thought is, Arians saw his tape in college. He sees he is not as explosive in practice. But if he just practices and works hard, maybe by next year he could regain some of what he lost due to injuries.

    So BA takes a flyer on him. He sits and waits till next training camp. He takes a look at how he is running then and makes a decision. He can easily cut him and save cap room or he could regain that burst. Either way, BA wins. Sometimes the best thing to do is wait.

  22. By Big Ken on Dec 19, 2013 | Reply

    Darren, Fans love to speculate. We love your stories and writtings, so much so we feel you have the pulse of the team and all kinds of insider information. And of course you are withholding these juicey tidbits to torcher each and everyone of us. Hey fans practices are closed for a reason. It’s not our job to evaluate player or run the team.

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