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Niners aftermath/Panthers prologue

Posted by Darren Urban on December 28, 2014 – 8:32 pm

It was a weird day Sunday.

It was weird because of what was swirling around the 49ers as Jim Harbaugh coached what everyone knew was going to be his last game as a 49ers boss but pretended nothing was going on yet (including the very awkward hug between Harbaugh and 49ers owner Jed York on the field pre-game). It was weird because Ryan Lindley threw three interceptions, but it was hard not to feel the Cardinals may indeed be able to tread water at quarterback if Drew Stanton can’t come back this week. It was weird because the game for a while felt like it would mean a heck of a lot, with the Seahawks trailing and the Packers losing Aaron Rodgers – and then the Seahawks pulled away and the Packers pulled away and the outcome meant just nothing.

Maybe that’s why the Cardinals falling short didn’t feel like that so much, that Lindley’s last interception was simply moot. It didn’t cost the Cardinals anything.

I’m not going to sit here and say Lindley was the second coming of Rodgers, or even Carson Palmer Sunday. The first half, he was pretty good, with 260 yards and his two touchdowns and yes, a very bad interception, but he had the Cardinals ahead. By all accounts – including his own and by my own eyes – it’s the best he’s played in the NFL. I thought he looked better than he had even in the practices I have seen. The second half, he and the offense dropped off, but the Cards stuck with the run more too.  You can’t turn the ball over. That’s obvious. But there’s a way to make this work, at least against a 7-8-1 Carolina team.

The Cardinals’ playoff game will kick off at 2:35 p.m. Arizona time Saturday and will be televised on ESPN.

Speaking of turnovers, the Cardinals suddenly aren’t getting any. The Cardinals forced two turnovers against St. Louis on that Thursday night win – although one came on the last play of the game – and haven’t forced one since. Those turnovers were a big reason the Cards were winning earlier in the season. They have to create something in Carolina.

— Arians said there was no new news on Stanton. We’ll see if he can go. My gut says the Cards will have to go with Lindley.

— Cam Newton doesn’t quite run as much as he used to (and he’s still dealing those back issues after his car accident.) But the way that both Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick have sliced up the Cardinals running the football the past two games, the Cards have to be concerned.

— Safety Tyrann Mathieu, on the trouble stopping the run: “We have to play with more of an attitude. We have to play with that chip on our shoulder. We come into the game at 11-4 and in the playoffs and we’re not necessarily playing with a chip on our shoulder. Hopefully we can gain that edge again.”

— Tight end Darren Fells is still raw. But it looks like the Cardinals might have found something there. With him and Troy Niklas, it’s a nice young tight end foundation going forward.

— In case you missed it, click here to see the Cardinals’ opponents for 2015. The schedule comes out in April.

— I don’t think Bruce Arians will forget about Kerwynn Williams again. Williams wasn’t great but he’s a guy who needs to have carries for the Cardinals.

— The Cardinals did have a pretty good day the last time they played a postseason game in Carolina.

— That was the Michael Floyd the Cardinals have to have.

— This was the first season in franchise history four different quarterbacks have thrown a touchdown pass in one season. Not that you’d be striving for such a thing, but …

— Random quote, this one from Hall of Fame running back Marshall Faulk, said during the NFL Network’s pregame show Sunday morning: “I would not pass up the opportunity to play for Bruce Arians. Bruce finds ways to win games without his best players. … The fact that he’s found a way to win 11 games after going 10-6 and missing the playoffs. You win 11 games this year and you’re missing probably four or five of your best players on your team. How do you do that? That means there is great coaching going on.”

— Short week. The players get their day off Monday, and all the practice days are moved up one with the Saturday game. The Stanton watch is on. Otherwise, more Lindley.

AftreninersUSE


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Posted in Blog | 76 Comments »


76 Responses to “Niners aftermath/Panthers prologue”

  1. By Steve on Dec 28, 2014 | Reply

    I agree, Lindley made some great throws today and again played with poise. The defense wasn’t sharp today but hopefully will regroup in Carolina next week. Darren this is tough to think about but we might be seeing the Larry Fitzgerald era winding down in Arizona.

  2. By georgiebird on Dec 28, 2014 | Reply

    How did PP ever make the Pro Bowl ?
    This is PP’s 4th year in the league. He is completely lost. Teams have no problems confusing him. He reacts so slowly to everything happening on the field.

  3. By Perry Matherne on Dec 28, 2014 | Reply

    Well darren,it did cost them something,it cost from getting to 12 & 1 more lost.The way I see it,arizona should have ended 13 & 3,no question asked,as for linley,they need to get rid of that & either find qb’s that can take a hit,or a line that can protect it’s qb.

  4. By PotAsh on Dec 28, 2014 | Reply

    Will the Carolina game be shown on a local channel? (Don’t have cable…)

  5. By Darren Urban on Dec 28, 2014 | Reply

    PotAsh —

    RE: Local TV

    I do not know. I’d think so, but you’ll have to check back.

  6. By Brad oneill on Dec 28, 2014 | Reply

    The loss isnt meaningless it means the second round of the playoffs will be away games. Not that we are likely to get that far with the defense suddenly awol but hey it was a great season. Maybe the defense can come back and visit during the playoffs if not its going to be a tough playoffs. On a side note the year we went to the superbowl we looked awful in a few games at the end of the season Also so there is hope.

  7. By Darren Urban on Dec 28, 2014 | Reply

    Brad —

    RE: meaningless

    Once the Seahawks won, a win by the Cardinals made no difference.

  8. By Richard S on Dec 28, 2014 | Reply

    RANK TEAM* RATING Win margin on neutral field
    1 SEATTLE(1) 103.51
    2 NE(3) 101.05
    3 DENVER(4) 100.03
    4 GBAY(16) 98.85
    5 DALLAS(20) 97.85
    6 BUFF(23) 95.27
    7 CINCY(5) 94.29
    8 PITT(11) 95.41
    9 KC(14) 94.57
    10 PHIL(9) 93.83
    11 BALT(17) 93.54
    12 RAMS(12) 93.25
    13 CAROLINA(7) 93.09
    14 INDY(13) 92.4
    15 ARIZ.(8) 92.35
    16 DETROIT(15) 92.17
    17 HOUSTON(29) 90.92
    18 SANFRAN(2) 90.71
    19 SD(10) 90.65
    20 GIANTS(22) 90
    21 MIA(21) 89.45
    22 ATL(19) 88.82
    23 MINN(18) 88.77
    24 NO(6) 88.68
    25 CLEVELAND(28) 86.98
    26 JETS(26) 86.59
    27 TAMPA(25) 83.8
    28 CHICAGO(24) 82.68
    29 JAX(32) 81.29
    30 WASH(30) 81.01
    31 OAK(31) 80.79
    32 TENNESEE(27) 76.57

    After week 16, 172/256 67.19%

    Final 2014 regular season ranking and initial 2015 ranking on neutral field. Looks like Carolina will be favored by 4 points on their home field.

  9. By georgiebird on Dec 28, 2014 | Reply

    Darren,
    I don’t think the Cardinals have any worry about losing Todd Bowles. He is no better than Ray Horton.
    Bowles can dial up the blitz against some of the lesser QBs. But Bowles can’t put together a defense to challenge good teams.
    Granted the injuries have been there (like most other teams) but coming down the stretch not one defensive player distinguished himself.
    And PP’s implosion has left the defense without a super star player.

  10. By Darren Urban on Dec 28, 2014 | Reply

    Georgie —

    RE: Bowles

    Don’t hurt yourself jumping off the bandwagon.

  11. By Richard S on Dec 28, 2014 | Reply

    Oh I forgot to hit the sort button after the Pitt Cincy game. So they move somewhat.

  12. By Ottis Anderson Fan on Dec 28, 2014 | Reply

    It’s not weird for Ryan Lindley to throw multiple INTs. It is weird for Ryan Lindley to throw multiple TDs. Progress, nonetheless.

  13. By Andrew on Dec 28, 2014 | Reply

    Well, no sense in being angry and dwelling on the disappointing end to the season. As I have seen many players tweet it’s a fresh start and they seem to be hungry for success in the playoffs. The Panthers are a very beatable opponent.

    Heres to hoping the tenacious Cardinals defense we know shows up next week and the offense can somehow manage to put up enough points to get a W.

    Go Cardinals!

  14. By Ottis Anderson Fan on Dec 28, 2014 | Reply

    Hopefully being a 11-5 team and being pegged as a double-digit underdog to a 7-8-1 Carolina team can serve as the chip on the shoulder Tyrann says is needed.

    No Kurt Warner under center next week in Carolina and no coming-out party for Fitz.

  15. By Steve Weston on Dec 28, 2014 | Reply

    Though I was bummed we lost, I found myself thinking the same thing that Darren mentioned in this blog. It really didn’t mean much at all in the end, not with the Seahawks win and Green Bay winning as well. I found myself, in fact, a bit heartened by Lindley’s play (though man I hope he cuts back on those INTs if he winds up playing against Carolina next week), and more concerned about our defense. I felt like last week they had a bit of an excuse, what with all those three and outs our offense was generating, but this time around there was just no excuse for allowing SF to get 20 points. The 17 we scored really should have won the game for us, I thought – if the defense had played well.

    Ah well. Next week is the first game of the new season and if our Cards can get back into their winning ways (I don’t think we’ve ever lost three in a row under Arians, have we?) all will be forgiven I’m sure. 🙂

    One game at a time, Cards. Let’s beat those Panthers next week. Go Cards!!!

  16. By JR on Dec 28, 2014 | Reply

    It doesn’t matter that we lost. What matters is that Linley has one more game under his belt and made tremendous improvement from last week. That gives me hope for next week.

  17. By Richard L on Dec 28, 2014 | Reply

    The way I see it Arians THREW the game. We had the ball with 7 min left down by 3 point and instead of running the ball with some passing he just passes, passed, passed. It was like he was calling plays for a two minute drill down by 7 point. Can’t blame Linley for the play calls.

  18. By John The Draft Guy on Dec 28, 2014 | Reply

    A tale of two halfs;

    Lindley threw for 260, 2TDs, and a pick in the first half
    56 yds and 0TDs and 2 picks the second half.

    Not sure what it means, but I agree with Darren that at least he played somewhat good the first half. His 3 picks could have easily been 6 picks. Larry made a great play stripping the DB who had that pick in the 2nd quarter but , because of Larry, ended up incomplete. Floyd batted two balls away from being INTs.

    But with all that being said, Lindley did not lose this game. The defense is playing poorly and after watching this game, I really noticed the two inside LBs are bad.

    Minter and Carson played most of the snaps and there was a huge difference between Foote and Bucannon and these two. Carson really struggles to get off blocks. His instincts are poor also. Minter misses tackles and is too slow to go sideline to sideline. I hope this is not the future. They are not good enough.

    To beat Carolina, we need better play from those LBs.

  19. By poncho on Dec 28, 2014 | Reply

    We better get a Qb fast or one and done folks! Anyone got Kurt Warner’s number???

  20. By Lee W. Flanagan on Dec 28, 2014 | Reply

    PotAsh…..please go to a friend’s house and watch the game on a big flat screen. We wouldn’t want you to miss the playoff game. Brings the food.

  21. By Dynosoar on Dec 28, 2014 | Reply

    My thoughts, for what they’re worth…

    Lindley threw for 58.9%. That’s HUGE improvement.

    Larry Fitzgerald deserves to be targeted more than twice and definitely for at least one touchdown completion in Carolina. I remember the last time we played in Carolina in the playoffs, it was my 40th birthday.

    Our second playoff game will also probably be on my birthday and the Cardinals have a 100% winning record on my birthday, so we’re good. Throw to Fitz.

    If we win and the Lions win (I know, more ifs) then we both win against the Packers and Seattle (in stadiums where we both lost in the last few weeks) we have home field advantage in the last game of the playoffs leading to home field advantage in the Super Bowl.

    The Lombardi trophy or nothing at all!

    (No moping, we’re 0-0 and in the tournament.)

  22. By georgiebird on Dec 28, 2014 | Reply

    Darren,
    Great season and BA is COY.
    I am trying my best to look at the last few games and seeing the “silver lining” in what has gone on.
    Except for Kerwynn Williams, I am finding it hard to find any players who have surprised on the upside. Maybe Cat.
    Please help me to see the glass half full. I want to believe the Cards have one more win left in this season. Carolina offers us the QB who is capable of having a bad game against the blitz. Newton is either going to be very good or very bad.

  23. By Darren Urban on Dec 29, 2014 | Reply

    Georgie —

    RE: Silver lining

    I don’t need to find a silver lining. This team won 11 games although it had its starting QB for six of 16 games, Dockett and DWash for none, and a ton of other issues. They’ve won 21 games in two years. Yes, the goal is to win a Super Bowl. But you can want that, and be disappointed, without intimating that Todd Bowles is an overrated DC (by the way, I don’t recall you saying that a month ago.)

    Anyone who wants to feel bad about this season, that’s cool. Your call. I don’t really care one way or the other. I just don’t get it.

  24. By joannamcgrath on Dec 28, 2014 | Reply

    Darren — Have you heard any rumors or murmurings regarding Arians potentially handing off the play calling reigns next season?

    To say the play calling has ranged anywhere from questionable to atrocious would be a polite way of putting it. It seems as though Arians is well overdue for his own “yell at them now, hug ’em later” moment

  25. By Darren Urban on Dec 29, 2014 | Reply

    joanna–

    RE: Playcalling

    Of course, you can quibble with a call here or there, but overall there’s nothing wrong with the playcalling.

  26. By RICK on Dec 29, 2014 | Reply

    If we get that type of production from Lindley and our Defense finally wakes up we will be fine.

  27. By Lee W. Flanagan on Dec 29, 2014 | Reply

    Impressed with Lindley ‘ accuracy today. A double -clutch on long throw to Smokey gave that defender time to catch up on one play. Gives us some hope Saturday. Defense still hasn’t stepped up at all since the Rams game. Looks like we need to dial it back just a little. We look overzealous.

  28. By Dr. G. on Dec 29, 2014 | Reply

    A couple observations pointing to this loss though the consensus says it matters not::

    — Placing a spy on Cam can negate those QB jail breaks that Wilson & Kaep had.

    — 3 INTs were responsible for half the 9ers points. Those who reject this are buying into the “honorable defenders” who tried to make the fans feel better by assuming responsibility for losing…a classy bunch of men.

    — Lindley looked vacant in the post commentary. A nice guy – – not on our roster next year. He’s been around a few years now. …perhaps a good salesman, or just lucky to be in the right spot at the right time?

    As mentioned prior, it looks like a trip to the Northwest is imminent if we defeat Carolina….this time with a spy on Wilson….later Cards Fans

  29. By Davemaham on Dec 29, 2014 | Reply

    Uninspired defense, for the second game in a row. That is not going to fly in the playoffs. This is not the same team defensively, and the the reason for a two game losing streak heading into the playoffs. Hopefully the cardinals don’t let a third mobile QB in a row lead to one and done.

  30. By Davemaham on Dec 29, 2014 | Reply

    Williams is clearly a better back than Taylor at this point. Please no more time share, give the rock to Williams, he plays as hard as anyone in the team, never gives up on a play. Our defense of late can learn a thing or two from him. I understand Williams will need a break, that’s what Taylor is for, and not to take half the carries.

  31. By Zenith57 on Dec 29, 2014 | Reply

    Lindley and the O-line had a good enough performance to win
    and special teams were OK! Now on the other side of the ball the D
    WTF!!!? Who are these imposters!!?? certainly not the D that got them to
    9-1 Thats where the focus needs to be! don’t worry if it’s Ryan or drew they will be OK D ^^^^ D^^^^^ that’s what we need!

  32. By Amir on Dec 29, 2014 | Reply

    Lindley passed at least all my expectations (which were none) against 49ers even with three picks. He made some really nice throws. And even though the two interceptions really hurt and could have changed the outcome even if we had gotten two FG out of those (and one pick was already in the FG range), it was surprisingly the DEFENSE (the strength of the team) that has MONUMENTALLY FAILED the last two games and the Atlanta game. I am baffled by their lack of performance, swagger, attitude, playmaking, tackling, and whatever… I have no idea what is going on with the defense because I know the coaches are great and we have great talent who can do it and who have done it throughout the season.

  33. By Marlin on Dec 29, 2014 | Reply

    Love Bowles…..BUT….we have to admit that other teams have found schemes to contain Kapernick…..spies…whatever. TB doesn’t do that and we always get burned by those one or two big improvised runs. In fact, mobile qb’s are a problem for us a bit more than most teams.

  34. By Marlin on Dec 29, 2014 | Reply

    Lindley and Stanton both………are pretty solid backups if they got some playing time. Both play better the more they play. That’s not true for many at this level. It will be interesting to see what happens next year. I never really liked the Logan Thomas pick. Maybe we can trade LG for a 6 or 7 round pick……and draft another qb first 3 rounds to develop…..add him to the list of Carson and Drew and Ryan going into next pre-season.

  35. By Marlin on Dec 29, 2014 | Reply

    O-Line was spectacular yesterday!

  36. By Mark on Dec 29, 2014 | Reply

    Bowles will need to stop the constant blitzing and start working on pass and run defense. The Defense was constantly out of position giving huge holes for their QB to make big plays. If the Offense hadn’t thrown the interception, we could have tied with a long field goal. I think when that happened and they saw the score board they gave up as a team. There seems to be no excitement on the sidelines anymore. The fans are still here guys! Get back to the team that got us to the playoffs. The coach is right. It’s a brand new season and still a chance to make this season special but it will take our team stepping back up and putting the chip back on their shoulder. GO CARDS!!!

  37. By clssylssy on Dec 29, 2014 | Reply

    Darren & others…
    For real competitors there is no such thing as “meaningless”. Real competitors finish strong whatever the implications because of the desire to win and excel, even if it’s against themselves. This franchise has a lot to learn about being competitors and perhaps we weren’t ready to take it to the next level, and perhaps that is one reason why we continue to get no respect even when we are winning games; we are willing to settle for mediocrity if it means “getting by”. It’s like Tyrann Mathieu said, this team needs to learn to play with attitude and a chip on their shoulder.
    Our defense hasn’t been top tier since St.Louis (when we made the playoffs) and
    everyone has used Ryan Lindley as a scapegoat to rationalize away every weakness this team has from lack of tackling skill to blown coverages to dropped balls to a lack of passion for the win. Our fans have real short-term memory problems if they don’t remember the interceptions thrown by Carson and Drew and Kurt Warner. Today Lindley was much improved, having learned from last week and if everyone else had improved at much, we would have had this game won.
    A really sad ending to what looked to be a promising season. While our record may have gotten us in the door to the playoffs, we are not going to be successful until we start learning from our mistakes and stop making excuses. Real competitors Finish Strong irregardless!

  38. By Anthony on Dec 29, 2014 | Reply

    Lindley had some terrific throws yesterday and managed the game very well. The pics are going to happen. On each one of the three passes, he telegraphed where he was going with the ball before throwing it, and the defenders at this level can read and react instantly.

    If our defense dean;t get back to it’s mid-season level, then we will not win in Carolina. Giving up way too many big plays. Had to figure missing Foote, who is basically that Captain of the defense, just yesterday. Glad they gave him some time off because with him hobbled the last couple of weeks, the defense has been inconsistent.

    New season starts Saturday. At the end of the day, I am very proud of this team. They fight and had Palmer not gone down, we are 13-3 and sitting home next week… nut injurers have always played a huge role in who wins championships.

  39. By Coach K on Dec 29, 2014 | Reply

    Not having Larry Foote on the field really hurt. Those young linebackers were ineffective at best. I hope Larry can get healthy for Saturday in Carolina, or our defense is in trouble.

    As for Lindley, I look at him as a developing quarterback just like any other. It takes time to develop quarterbacks and he is in the process. I seen flashes of greatness from Lindley in the game. The question is, how far can B.A. develop Lindley until he reaches his ceiling?

    There is no sure thing when it comes to quarterbacks in the draft. Guys like Andrew Luck come around once every ten years or so. 99% of the quarterbacks drafted today need 3-5 years of development. I think Lindley is one of those who is halfway through his development and could be quite valuable two years from now if he has the ability to keep improving.

    Logan is a physical specimen, but he looks like a five year project at least. His skill sets are extremely poor. He did not come from a pro style offense in college and this put him at a disadvantage. I think anyone who drafts Mariotta will find this same problem. These spread guys are just not ready for the NFL.

    Two years from now, the guys to look at will be the USC and Michigan State quarterbacks who come from pro style offenses. The Cardinals should look at those guys two drafts from now if Lindley and Logan fail to progress.

    For this upcoming draft, the Oregon State quarterback has better NFL skill sets than Mariotta. Winston is also NFL ready, but I would not draft him as he will most likely end up in prison within 24 months of being drafted. Winston would be a terrible mistake for any NFL team.

    Back to this years playoffs, if Stanton can return we have a shot to do some damage in the playoffs. If we have to go with Lindley, I think we might steal one game, but that’s about as far as we can go.

  40. By Big Ken on Dec 29, 2014 | Reply

    @ Georgie I’d like to include Darren Fells under your ‘silver lining’. He’s quietly the real deal tight end of the team.

  41. By Steve Weston on Dec 29, 2014 | Reply

    Can I just say I wish to hell that the Cards’ ESPN beat writer had about a third of the fire that Darren has for our AZ team? I completely agree that Coach BA has done a fine job in his playcalling and that Bowles has been outstanding as our DC. Have there been mistakes made? Sure! Please name any team out there that doesn’t make mistakes! But what these coaches have done with a team absolutely decimated by injury this season is nothing short of outstanding. While you’re trying to think of all the teams out there with a mistake-free season, I’d like to see a list of teams that could have won 11 games with the injuries we have had. With all the coaching vacancies out there, I really hope we manage to somehow keep Bowles for next season, though I won’t hold it against him if he decides to move on. But maybe he’ll be eager to see what we can do next season in the desert.

    Not to mention folks that we aren’t done yet! It’s a brand new season now, and I’m pretty damn sure that the players and coaches are well aware of that fact. If Lindley’s success this past Sunday can be honed into something special this coming month, we just might see our Cards playing in the Super Bowl after all. I for one think they are capable of getting it done. Go Cards!!!

  42. By John The Draft Guy on Dec 29, 2014 | Reply

    Got to agree with you Darren,

    I don’t get the “dumping” on Bowles either. Has he made mistakes? Sure. But he has done more with less than anyone.

    If DWash is there and not Carson, is it a different outcome? Asking Dansby to run down the field with a TE vs Foote surely has a different outcome. If he had Abraham coming off the edge, would he need to blitz so much, and with his blitzes, does Dansby and DWash get there better than Minter, Foote, and Carson?

    Losing the two ILBs and Abraham really crippled this defense, yet Bowles found a way to make this defense dominate.

    Please remember, guys like Rucker and Kelly were not highly sought after FAs. Yet they have looked like all pros under Bowles. But they also have taken way too many snaps as older role players. With Docket and the two rookies being out, I am sure these older players are wearing down. Dan Williams has also been the main NT after sharing the duties last year.

    So, while the defense is struggling, no doubt about that, I wouldn’t be so quick to blame Bowles. Maybe he should adjust to his players more and not ask guys to do something they can’t, but on the other hand, you can’t change your whole defense because of injuries.

  43. By 11ZFAN on Dec 29, 2014 | Reply

    PotAsh –
    Re: playoff game on TV

    Yes, it will be on local channel 12

  44. By Richard L on Dec 29, 2014 | Reply

    JTDG, based on the Cards lack of adequate ILB’s I think Bowles should play a 4 -3 defense instead of a 3-4. They just don’t have the LB talent and with Foote out it was exposed. Minter is a bust, and the team needs to cut him and draft well next year.

  45. By Rio on Dec 29, 2014 | Reply

    Darren play calling

    You said there is nothing wrong with the play calling
    Have you been watching the games????

    BA is the worst; the man is a loose cannon with his play calling.

  46. By Darren Urban on Dec 29, 2014 | Reply

    Rio —

    RE: Watching the games

    No. I never watch the games. When I get to the stadium, I just sit in the locker room until it’s over.

  47. By georgiebird on Dec 29, 2014 | Reply

    @Big Ken,
    As a silver lining you give me Darren Fells. Why not a linebacker or a DL player or mostly anyone else. I like Fells, too. But Fells is a rookie who will be 29 years old before the next draft. Honestly, I thought someone could come up with a better up and coming player.

  48. By PotAsh on Dec 29, 2014 | Reply

    Thank you 11ZFAN!

    Lee W. Flanagan, you’re welcome to come over now with the food since it’s on a local channel.🙂

  49. By georgiebird on Dec 29, 2014 | Reply

    Darren,
    Beyong all else, you have always been fair with this blog. A few weeks ago, I did a post about Bowles as head coaching material. In the post, I said that the only quality Bowles had for becoming a head coach was his ability to dial up a blitz- and that was about 5% of what was needed.
    Darren, you know more than anyone that I have spoken out against the 3-4 defense and historical lack of very good linebackers in this organization.
    Just like so many here were devastated when we lost Ray Horton (and I said good riddance), we will easily survive the loss of the one dimensional Bowles.
    I may get disappointed and frustrated with the Cardinals, but I always root for them to win.
    Can you dig up my pro- Bowles posts? Maybe one? Most probably none.

  50. By Darren Urban on Dec 29, 2014 | Reply

    Georgie —

    RE: Bowles

    I never argued that you didn’t want them to win.

    You are right, I probably couldn’t find a pro-Bowles post. But frankly, I have trouble finding “pro” georgiebird posts period. I’m not suggesting you make it sunshine and unicorns all the time. But at what point does someone get credit for 11 wins? Often you talk like this team is still mired in the 5-11 years of the 2000s. They are winning games somehow.

  51. By Dobie on Dec 29, 2014 | Reply

    Lindley is telegraphing his throws and not looking for the open man he throws to the man that the play is intended too just a arm chair QB observation and PP should start running back kick off and punt returners cause he is starting to suck at corner a lot a open man in the back field getting reception

  52. By jetstreamgreen81! on Dec 29, 2014 | Reply

    Observations from Sunday:

    1) First 1/2 I’ll admit to eating crow on Lindley, 2nd 1/2 he was more like he has been in his career.

    2) Why when were in the game, did we only run the ball 2 times in the 4th Quarter? Williams ran it both times for 9 yards or 4.5 a carry! That I don’t understand.

    3) Where is the efense the last 2 weeks? I left the d off because they have been absent these last 2 weeks! Terrible coverage, tackling etc. it has been on full display. Why they didn’t spy Kaepernick I don’t know.

    4) This season if you told me about the injuries and suspension etc that we would go 11-5 I wouldn’t have believed you. Great year with everything that has happened and ready for the playoffs. Need D to bring their a game and not abandon the running game and give Williams the lion’s share of the carries. Go Cards!!!!!!

  53. By Scott H on Dec 29, 2014 | Reply

    First and foremost, I don’t want it to be lost in the shuffle of how things have been at the end that this was an 11-5 season – something I have NEVER seen in more than 40 years as a fan – and I am very grateful for that. It’s a damn shame that we have been de-railed by the QB situation but ya know what? After the 3 years of living hell we endured post-Kurt Warner and then being 10-6 but NOT making the playoffs last season….it is good to be back in the race, even if we seem destined not to go too far. I would rather be the 11-5 Arizona Cardinals than a team making the playoffs by winning a sorry-ass division with a losing record.

    Fact is, with a healthy Carson Palmer, we are definitely among the heavy-weights in the NFL this year. With Palmer, we ARE good enough to aspire to being a top seed in the NFC. But even with Palmer ( and SOOOO many other key players ! )missing as many games as he did, this team continued to win games and showed what kind of charcter they have. I have NEVER BEEN MORE PROUD to be a Cardinals fan that I am right now!

    Man, yesterday really started promising….looked like the Rams were gearing up for an up-set in Seattle and the Cardinals were going to-to-toe with SF. Then….well, it finished the way it seemed most likely to. With Seattle coming back to win, that is.

    So….off we go to Carolina. And, hey, if we are going to be able to have a chance to win a game at all in the playoffs, it was probably gonna have to be against the NFC South winner. I don’t really buy into Carolina being anywhere near as good as they appeared to be yesterday because the Falcons obviously failed to show up ( what the hell happened to them??? ).

    BUT there IS a point to be made there about failing to show up. The Panthers – despite a losing record – can obviously lay it on a team that fails to show up. See where I’m going here? Our defense has NOT played well in 3 of the last 5 games and our opponents ( one of them being the aforementioned Falcons ) layed it on the Cardinals pretty damn good when WE failed to show up.

    Never mind the offense. The limitations are there. Period. They are dialed in. Yesterday might be the best game Lindley will ever play in his life. And it SHOULD have been enough to win that game. The game was lost because the defense failed to hold up its end of the bargain. That CANNOT be the case next week.

    I absolutely believe the Cardinals can go east and win in Carolina in Saturday. They absolutely can. But NOT with the defense we saw against Atlanta, Seattle, or again yesterday in SF. And, unfortunately, that defense has appeared more frequently as of late.

    C’mon, guys, if we are destined to not go far because of our limitations ( imposed by the QB situation ), then let’s stand up and take somebody out before it’s time for us to go down. Let’s go into the divisional round and force the experts to keep talking about us even though they really don’t want to. Let’s go down SCREAMING!!!

    Unfortunately, every time Darren has a gut feeling that a particular player is probably NOT going to play, he is right. ( Damn you, Urban! ) And the feeling from the gut is that Stanton will not play. So be it. That kinda seemed like where this was going, anyway, after we started hearing about an infection. So, the defense better find itself and be ready to roll on Saturday. All they’ve done this year will suddenly mean a lot less if they GET rolled in Carolina and we are one and done in the playoffs.

    For THIS week, at least, I do NOT accept losing because of our injuries. To hell with that! The team we are about to play is a losing team and there is NOTHING that excuses losing to a team that we are CLEARLY better than, regardless of injuries.

    We win this game because we SHOULD win this game. Anything less IS / WILL BE a disappointment.

  54. By Raxan on Dec 29, 2014 | Reply

    There are some positives about the offense I saw in this game. Ryan Lindley played very well for a QB with few starts in the NFL. To put the ints in perspective
    even the best of QBs throw 3 or more ints in a game – though not consistently. Payton Manning threw 4 ints this month against the Bengals.

    Darren Fells has looked good, he is a big strong guy who can block very well for the running game and even catch. And Kerwynn Williams looks like a very good addition to our stable of running backs.

  55. By SkeltonsRevenge on Dec 29, 2014 | Reply

    Good article and pretty fair assessment of Lindley’s performance. At this point it is what it is and one can only hope. I still think Logan should be on the practice squad instead of being a backup in a playoff game. Lindley has had one good half out of his entire career to date so let’s not read too much into it. SF did not seem to really care and Harbaugh’s departure seems strange given his achievements. He pretty much was persona non grata in SF in the end, especially with the press.

    Lindley’s test is to win a playoff game end of story. The fact it took this long to throw a touchdown and he is still in an NFL uniform is a miracle. The much maligned John Skelton’s first pre-season game he had a QB rating of of 163.

    n his first career NFL start, Skelton led the Cardinals to a 43-13 victory over the Denver Broncos, snapping a seven-game losing streak for the Cardinals. He completed 15 of his 37 passes with 146 passing yards. He was nominated for Rookie of the Week after this game, but Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots wound up winning the award. In Skelton’s third NFL start, on Christmas Day, he led the game winning drive, bringing the Cardinals in field goal range where Jay Feely was able to kick the game winning field goal. The Cardinals won 27-26 against the Dallas Cowboys.

    Skelton would lose the last game of the season against the San Francisco 49ers for the Cardinals throwing both a touchdown pass and an interception. He would finish his rookie season with two touchdown passes and two interceptions, a total of 662 passing yards, and a QB rating of 62.3.

    Lindley cannot compare to Skelton who had a much better start as a rookie and followed up going 6-2 the next year. Lindley has a LONG way to go.

  56. By John The Draft Guy on Dec 29, 2014 | Reply

    SkeltonsRevenge;

    Is Skelton better than Lindley ? Yes. But what does that mean?

  57. By georgiebird on Dec 29, 2014 | Reply

    @Scott H
    Why do most people on this blog look at our limitations (as imposed by the QB situation)
    Have you been watching the games? Granted, the QB situation is below par but why does the defense get a free pass? On Sunday against SF, you would have thought the defense was on the field for the whole game. In actuality, the defense was on the field for a bit less than half the game and still looked slow and confused.
    On the offense, even with a sub par QB, Kerwynn is gaining 4.6 yards a carry and he could have been had by any team in the league.
    It would be refreshing to hear once in a while that the defense is no better than the offense.

  58. By John The Draft Guy on Dec 29, 2014 | Reply

    Richard L,

    Missed your question.

    4-3 vs 3-4 –
    Bowles goes back and forth with the defensive fronts. His one gap defense is more telling of what he is doing. Using the OLBs to set the edge and the Dline to fill a gap has been very successful. The problem is if the ILBs are slow or get caught up in the “garbage” , or if a DLineman gets out of his lane, a hole can form.

    I think the team has one aging ILB in Foote. That is it. Foote has played well and we were one of the top rushing defenses. But what we have seen is a worn down Foote and Minter and Carson are not good enough.

    So whether we play a 4-3 or a 3-4, the weakside LB is missing. I think Bucannon has done a good job, but he played poorly against Seattle , which may be why Carson was inserted. But that was a disaster.

    Two LBs are needed in the offseason no matter what defense you play. And a 3rd OLB or DE is also needed (depending on the defense you run.)

  59. By Davemaham on Dec 29, 2014 | Reply

    Weston, don’t you recall that the ESPN beat writer for the Cards is a former writer for this site? Not that I disagree with what your saying. I’ve never heard him say anything more than regurgitate what’s been said around the league and by Darren. I can say I wasn’t very impressed with his brief stint on this site, it was almost always clear to me after a few sentences that it wasn’t an Urban article.

  60. By Dr. G. on Dec 29, 2014 | Reply

    Darren – – I concede that my observations of the play calling has been to question many of the previous games not utilizing our skill players strategically while dwelling on running the offense through Ellington. BA said as much…

    But….as I watched the 9er game yesterday, I was impressed with how BA mixed up the calls by using a variety of the skill players and not being predictable. I thought I was watching a different person calling the offensive game plan.

    It appeared that BA was beginning to round out his scheme with more variety if yesterday was an example for the future. I hope BA continues to serve up the crow by flexing some.

    The problems were simply executing what he called… Lindley was streaky and may have given the Defense a bit of stink ball. The D has been great most of the time, but human nature may be catching up with their disappointment of the O…. Thank you again….

  61. By Scott H on Dec 29, 2014 | Reply

    georgiebird –

    OK. I’m confused. Because I’m not sure if you are agreeing with me or countering my post. If you are countering my post, then I can only wonder exactly what you were reading. Because to quote myself, I said – That game ( yesterday ) was lost because the defense failed to hold up its end of the bargain. End quote. Well, I can’t be much clearer than that in regard to being critical of the defense.

    You seemed to feel that I was too focused on the limitations of the offense.

    First, the offense IS limited. There can not possibly be any doubts about that. Our QB play is NOT simply below par, my friend. Up until yesterday, our QB had not yet thrown a TD pass in his NFL career.

    Second, I DO find more fault with the defense for yesterday’s loss than I do with the offense. Just as I found plenty of fault with the defense for the losses in Atlanta and against Seattle. Again, if you really read my post, how did you miss that???? I give NO free passes to the defense.

    Third….did I follow your response accurately or did I miss the boat?

  62. By Mark in Chandler on Dec 29, 2014 | Reply

    Darren,
    I don’t usually read all of the other posts but today I have been scrolling through this threat. 🙂 Some seem to know what they are talking about even if I disagree but others… HOLY COW! I feel for you if you have to read them and then feel a responsibility to respond. I hope they pay you the big bucks. I suppose it is the nature of having a wide open social media to get the extremes but I would not enjoy reading and responding to all of the tripe that people feel comfortable putting out there when it is anonymous.

    Just thought I would give ya an “atta boy”

    No responds necessary. 🙂

  63. By SkeltonsRevenge on Dec 29, 2014 | Reply

    John The Draft Guy,

    Answer : That Lindley is one lucky guy given his horrendous track record. Also I think it shows how horrible our line was in 2012, Palmer would probably have fared close to or the same. I think Skelton took the rap for that year somewhat undeservedly so albeit in Seattle he was horrible. Yeah he missed some passes but he was getting killed back there most games. Whiz kind of played the guy around and then stuck him in at Seattle on the road. Lindley has definitely improved but it is only one half of football as Darren pointed out. He has been given an enormous opportunity and if Logan had not been such a neophyte he would have started SF. Reality is Skelton who came out of the Patriot League played far better than both those guys to date his rookie year and in 2011. We should have developed the guy instead of Lindley and Logan.

    If you had told me after the Jets game in 2012 that Lindley would still be around and starting a playoff game I would have bet my house against it. He got the perfect storm of events and luck. I think they let Skelton go so he could compete for a backup job outside of Stanton, unfortunately he had no option given the way the NFL is within 4 years, Cinci picked him up and screwed him around as Josh Johnson was Gruden’s guy. JJ has yet to see a regular season game snap.

    Here is Skelton first play in a pre-season game in Cinci, a touchdown, great arm.

    http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-game-highlights/0ap2000000227931/Skelton-to-Sanzenbacher-for-36-yard-TD

  64. By georgiebird on Dec 29, 2014 | Reply

    @Scott H
    Sorry if I was focusing on your quote- “C’mon guys, if we are destined to not go far because of our limitations (caused by the QB situation). We do agree, the defense is to blame -big time.
    And the injuries excuse everyone uses- when guys don’t step up then the injuries are magnified. Cards have been fairly fortunate defensively. All the defensive backs have played except TM losing a couple of games. The linebackers (Acho, Minter) have not stepped up, the DL especially (Kareem Martin and Stinson (toe) have contributed little. To lose DWash and a 37 y/o linebacker and a 34 y/o dt- I would be willing to bet the Cards are one of the healthiest defenses in the NFL. Problem is- none of the subs have stepped up and made a contribution..

  65. By Dr. G. on Dec 29, 2014 | Reply

    After listening to the post game interviews, I left with the same take as usual on Peterson’s spiel…. Did he understand what he just said? Did anyone think he said anything?

    Alexander, Bethel, Campbell, Cro, Rashad, Leach, Sendein, Veldheer, etc… Anyone else would represent our team in a more positive and intelligible manner.

    Now we need to prep for the worst team in the playoffs (Carolina) to see whether we play Green Bay or Seattle. GO Cards, a semi-miracle in the offing…

  66. By Dr. G. on Dec 29, 2014 | Reply

    Here is the eternal optimist – – Do I have this right? Assume we beat Carolina…

    Darren – – If Detroit wins, they go to Seattle, and Cards go to Green Bay. Do you think this is our best situation?

    If Dallas wins, we go to Seattle, right? Thanks…

  67. By Darren Urban on Dec 29, 2014 | Reply

    Dr. G —

    RE: Playoffs

    That is correct. The best situation? Hard to tell with how both GB and Seattle play at home.

  68. By Grant on Dec 30, 2014 | Reply

    Hey Darren, for those of us that don’t have cable will the game on Saturday be on a local channel like the monday night was at the begging of the season?

  69. By Darren Urban on Dec 30, 2014 | Reply

    Grant —

    RE: Playoff over the air

    If you do not have ESPN, it will be on KASW. I believe that is CW6.

  70. By Kevin S Mesa on Dec 30, 2014 | Reply

    I don’t think there’s any question we’d rather play GB than Seattle. Rodgers is capable of off days (see Buffalo a few weeks ago) and they are beatable if he has an off day. I don’t see us going into Seattle and beating a team that has allowed 39 points in its last SIX games… especially considering that even if Wilson has an off-day throwing, we still have to deal with him running… and Lynch running. Our offense is not likely to produce much of anything there… the D would have to pitch a near goose-egg for us to have a chance.

  71. By Richard L on Dec 30, 2014 | Reply

    JTDG – Bowles only payed a 4-3 defense against Dallas this year. We know how that turned out. Minter was slow coming out of college and should never have been drafted. Foote is old but much faster than any of the other ILB. Let’s not waste our time playing 4 slow linebackers when we are not getting a pass rush or run stops.

  72. By Scott H on Dec 30, 2014 | Reply

    Just to weigh in, I would also rather go to GB to play the Packers. That is an easy one! First, Rodgers is hobbled and might have a hard time finishing a game right now, especially if he has to move around a lot. With the way we blitz, the Cardinals could make that happen. And the Packers are really nothing special on defense. They aren’t horrible, either, and Clay Mathews is a beast, but….they definitely ain’t the Seahawks.

    Rodgers is as good as it gets when he is healthy, they are loaded with targets in the passing game, and they can definitely run the ball. But all of that is compromised if Rodgers is limited.

    As much as I would love nothing better than to beat the Seahawks, I just would not look forward to going up there. They are just impenetrable on defense. Period. And OUR defense has had NO answers for Russel Wilson this year. And I hate to sound bitter but ya know what? I’m just tired of seeing the Seahawks being SOOO damn good when they are in that mode that they are in right now. Let someone else go in there and get run through the buzz-saw. We’ve been through it twice. And after the last go ’round, I’m not wasting one ounce of hope that Lindley might somehow play well enough for us to win a game against them. Our defense would probably have to hold them to 10 points or less for a remote chance of getting a win. And with Wilson running the show….that ain’t happening.

    We could very well be massacred in Green Bay as well, but….that game would seem to offer more hope.

  73. By Dr. G. on Dec 30, 2014 | Reply

    ScottH – – Agreed….Assume again that we beat Carolina. Even if Detroit goes to Seattle, our boys, not being accustomed to the cold, will freeze their tutus in Green Bay. If somehow we can win there, Seattle still probably looms unless Megatron can teach Sherman some things… We can wish, can’t we…?

    Bottom line….It aint over ’til it’s over…Yogi Berra… GO CARDS…!

  74. By Scott H on Dec 30, 2014 | Reply

    Dr G –

    I hear ya. It’s hard to see the Lions getting past the Cowboys, but….who knows??? In terms of going to Seattle, though, I would rather see the Lions go there because with their run defense, they might have a better chance than anyone to stay with the Seahawks. And if Suh happens to “accidentally” step on Wilson a few times, well……OK, maybe that’s not funny. But you wouldn’t hear any complaints from me!

    Ya know, the weather is something you can’t worry about. Last week, the weather really wasn’t too bad for the Lions, considering how bad it CAN be up there. What WAS bad was Matthew Stafford, who was just awful. In a game where the Lions couldn’t have asked for more of a break than they got with Rodgers being hurt, Stafford came up real small. Hey, as long as it’s not Ice Bowl cold, windy, snowing….then go play the game. If ya wanted to be home for the playoffs….then ya should have played a better game against the Seahawks. Or the Falcons a few weeks ago. Sorry.

    But Seattle is really no warm & cozy place to be in January, either, so…. the weather figures to be not so friendly either way.

    But as stated, I fully expect a win in Carolina. And why shouldn’t we expect a win? It starts with the defense, Period. If the defense stands up, takes the ball away a few times, and keeps points off the board, then the Cardinals can stay with the running game and limit OUR turnovers by not asking Lindley to do too much. Nothing fancy about that. We do all of that, how does a 7-8-1 team beat an 11-5 team??? It shouldn’t happen. If an 11-5 team does the tings that got them to 11-5, then….how do they fail?

    If the defense fails to show up ( again ), we’re done. And as JTDG pointed out in a recent post, guess what the Panthers have? They have a GREAT tight end in Greg Olsen. And what position has continued to shred our defense this year? The tight end. It would seem incomprehensible to me that they could possibly allow ANOTHER TE to have ANOTHER monster game against us, but….we’re all aware of how often it’s happened.

    The Panthers are no joke. Newton has flashes of brilliance. Jonathan Stewart is back from the dead and playing the best he ever has. Their rookie WR is a real play-maker. And there’s the aforementioned Olsen. They have weapons, no doubt about it. But my point stands – they were a losing team this year. We were 11-5. They should NOT suddenly be a better team than the Cardinals. The only way that happens is if we roll over and let it happen.

    I expect the better team to BE the better team and win the game.

  75. By SkeltonsRevenge on Dec 30, 2014 | Reply

    Scott H,

    I admire your tenacity here ! Panthers are no roll over.

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