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Friday before the Browns

Posted by Darren Urban on October 30, 2015 – 3:10 pm

The one city Larry Fitzgerald has not yet played is Cleveland.

That shows you how long it’s been since the Cardinals visited the Browns. It was 2003, the Cards wore all-white uniforms, and if there was a game that sealed the season’s end firing of then-coach Dave McGinnis, it was probably that listless and ugly 44-6 loss to a mediocre Browns team. By the way, while Jeff Blake started at quarterback for the Cardinals that day, who played some in relief? Yes, that’s right, Josh McCown – the guy who despite his shoulder injury is still likely to start for the Browns Sunday, all these years later, for the Cards’ next trip to Cleveland.

The Cardinals aren’t losing like that in Cleveland again. They shouldn’t even lose. These are the days when they are the favorites in games like this. Twelve years ago, that Browns loss was the 10th straight road loss for the Cards, by an average of 23 points. These Cards go on the road and winning is the expectation. They need it too, with the bye coming up and back-to-back games against the Seahawks and Bengals the next on the schedule.

I’m not sure how Fitz does in his first (and only) trip to Cleveland. But I expect the Cards to play well offensively, and create some new memories about a visit to the Dawg Pound.

— The Browns have the league’s worst rushing defense and the Cards have the second-leading rusher in Chris Johnson. That seems to be a heavy advantage toward the Cardinals, no?

— One of the biggest threats the Browns have offensively is tight end Gary Barnidge, who has come up with some great chemistry with McCown and has posted offensive numbers the past five games that rival a healthy Rob Gronkowski (seriously!). But as Bill Barnwell noted, the Cardinals are only giving up 40 yards a game to tight ends this season. Impressive, given the tight end troubles the Cards have had defensively the last couple of years. Of course, they haven’t faced someone as productive as Barnidge yet. It will be a fascinating storyline to watch.

— The Cardinals have been close to perfect performances this season (see 49ers, San Francisco) but they haven’t gotten one yet. It’s a chase that really can never be achieved, and even Arians acknowledges that. And close won’t make Arians happy.

“That doesn’t happen until the season is over and we have a ring on our finger,” Arians said. “Then I’ll be happy as (expletive).”

— Fitz, by the way, would rather his stellar blocking not be such a thing anymore.

“If you look back, even when I was young, my guy was never in on a tackle,” he said. “If I’m going to block him, I’m going to block him. You guys (in the media) create the narrative. He’s a blocker. OK, that’s great. People start talking about it. But I’ve always blocked, even when I was playing ‘X.’ I’m a big guy, I’m relatively physical. It’s not something I really love to do, but I’m OK at it.”

— Arians said there will be more in the gameplan for Andre Ellington this week. Ellington did end up with 18 snaps last week (compared to 27 for Chris Johnson). But he may have more touches. Against the league’s worst run defense, it makes sense.

— Offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin on visiting the Dawg Pound in Cleveland: “It’s pretty ugly. It’s loud, people with masks on. It can be pretty terrifying.”

— With McCown iffy because of his shoulder problem and the chance Johnny Manziel could play, the Cardinals prepared for both this week – like they did Steelers week for either Mike Vick or Ben Roethlisberger. That didn’t end well, against Landry Jones, although Arians acknowledged the Cardinals hadn’t prepped for Landry Jones. There won’t be a surprise again, though.

“We don’t want to go out there and be surprised,” safety Tyrann Mathieu said. “I think we were a little bit surprised with Landry Jones in Pittsburgh and how well he knew the offense. We don’t want to have letups like that. This is a game we feel we need to win to really put us in position going forward.”

BeforewBrows

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29 Responses to “Friday before the Browns”

  1. By Richard S on Oct 30, 2015 | Reply

    The stadium is nicely located, by the lake and next to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Great Lakes Science Center. Very pretty area. Wish I could be there for the game.

  2. By Dr. G. on Oct 30, 2015 | Reply

    Jim Dray, Rob Housler, Dansby….I wonder how these men are feeling about now. Dansby will be looking for something to help his ego after he left the Cards…all about the coin.

    Ellington…Hey BA, run him wide, or let him pick up some blockers until he gets to daylight to keep him from getting hurt again. He is not the guy to go “up the middle”…history shows that.

    What a super surprise in CJohnson. This guy is afraid of nothing. Studly Award…

    And, BA since you have not used MFloyd much, the league is not really aware how good he is on jump balls…just as good as Fitz..!! Two serious weapons…

    Go Cards in Cleavage, Ohio…later….

  3. By Scott H on Oct 30, 2015 | Reply

    Ya know….as much as I have been feeling like we can’t take anyone lightly after losses to the Rams and Steelers and a narrow escape against the Ravens ( a team with ONE win, for Pete’s sake ), the fact is I’m suddenly kinda sick of feeling that way. Seriously, when you consider how much better the Cardinals are than the Browns right now, why shouldn’t I be able to feel completely confident that the Cardinals will go into Cleveland and just take control of this game because they CAN?? There shouldn’t be any reason why not.

    So, I now say this – if the Cardinals, for whatever reason, play down to the Browns and leave the gate open for them, then they deserve to lose. Why should they be able to play another game like they did against the Ravens and escape with a win? Fact is, they don’t. If they want to be taken seriously, they should be winning games like this with some authority. They HAVE won some games like that, but not during 3 of the last 4 games. Well, it’s time to get it back. Just in time for the Seahawks.

    Anyone watch the Patriots last night? Well, THAT was a team that knows who it is and what it does. They just impose their will and they do everything they want to do. They announce their intention to destroy the other team and they do. For 60 minutes, they do. Like a damn machine. It is time for the Cardinals to start showing some of that conviction and the will to just take control of a game and never let the other team believe they can get back in it.

    It’s time to start rolling. For real. And we start by not playing down to lesser teams any more. We’ve got equal teams and better teams coming up and the level of play we’ve seen for most of the last month is NOT gonna cut it against them.

  4. By Cards4Ever on Oct 30, 2015 | Reply

    Any insight on why Fitz is irritated when you guys praise his blocking?

  5. By Darren Urban on Oct 31, 2015 | Reply

    Cards4Ever —

    RE: Fitz

    I think Fitz would rather not have blocking be the first thing people think of with him.

  6. By M. CAMACHO on Oct 31, 2015 | Reply

    I just want to say that I am proud of our Cardinals. They are on a mission regardless of the losses. We haven’t seen the full potential yet but when do watch out!!!! Let the Savage season continue, big shout to my fellow Bird Gang for making the Nest rock out at the home games. Cardinals we have your back no matter what. Now go Represent in Cleveland be safe….. we will hold down the fort here in AZ!!! Bring the big W…..

    NVRQWT

  7. By DTL on Oct 31, 2015 | Reply

    Lol, Fitz. On a couple sites they isolated Fitz’ effective blocking, Gruden talked about how Arians used that Pittsburgh Hall of Famer Reciever same way.

    McCown, Dansby, Fitz, Anquan only Cards or ex Cards still in league from ’03? (may have year or list off a bit, but interesting look into past). Btw, current Cards have 9 (of 53) in at least 9th season, of course not all with Cards. Nice blend.

    Also notable, CJ2K only in 7th year. Jaworski observed this week when CJ was out he built up his body, may account for his new ability to break more tackles. (Similar in way to C. Palmer who built up shoulder during recoup and has obviously more zip on the ball). Not hard to imagine CJ extension, 3 years $16m total, $8M guaranteed? Easy deal perhaps, essentailly 2 year deal with option for 3rd for Cards. Lets beat the Browns; they will put up a fight, for sure.

  8. By Darren Urban on Oct 31, 2015 | Reply

    DTL —

    RE: 2003

    Dansby, Fitz didn’t get to the league until 2004.

    As far as CJ, I would be surprised if they did a 3-year, $16M deal for an RB who will turn 31 early next season.

  9. By AZCardman on Oct 31, 2015 | Reply

    Did you really say that the Cardinals have had problems covering tight ends “…the last couple of years”? Surely you meant to say “…the last couple of decades”.

  10. By DTL on Oct 31, 2015 | Reply

    Urb:

    You cherry picked the 3 years.

    Keim, Cards might see CJ gaining 1200 yards. Really think $8M guaranteed sounds off the mark? Compare, Cards website says CJ at 7 years “experience”, age 30. (I wrote above “in” 7th year, misinterpreted “exp” column). Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks site says age 29, 9 years “exp”. Lynch got 2 year extension, add’l $24M thru 2017. My #s for CJ modest by comparison, gurantee is 1/3 the price of Lynch, and CJ may be nearly as valuable…no?

    I’ll bet you Cards do it, and he gets paid. Loser sends a check to Tillman Foundation, in amount we can afford. You probably do anyway, but a sporty bet. http://pattillmanfoundation.org/

  11. By Darren Urban on Nov 1, 2015 | Reply

    DTL —

    RE: CJ deal

    I just don’t see, in way Keim operates with his roster and how they have done contracts, them giving a 3-year deal to a 30-yr-old RB. Even if he gets 1,200 yards.

    I think CJ has been excellent. But Lynch is a whole different situation. The Seahawks are built around him. The Cardinals have other backs.

    We will see.

  12. By Scott H on Oct 31, 2015 | Reply

    In regard to an extension for CJ….I’d like to see it, but how much can they commit to him with Ellington and DJ ( whom they just drafted ) very much in the picture?

    Hate to even think it, but ya have to wonder if CJ ends up being the next Dansby / Cromartie. Here on a one-year deal, played the hell out of it, then cashed it in for a deal somewhere else.

    Hope not. He clearly has gas left in the tank.

  13. By JohnnyBluewnose on Oct 31, 2015 | Reply

    D….agree that a 3year deal is unlikely for CJ2K because we still have to allow AE and Johnson2 their opportunities. Hopefully Keim can offer CJ2K enough to keep him onboard for two years. A chance to go to a Super Bowl must be worth something to CJ2K.

  14. By CRamsey on Oct 31, 2015 | Reply

    Darren,

    I know he is out for tomorrow, but have you seen or heard anything on Okafor getting closer to return? With the bye next week, I’d like to see him healthy for the Seattle game in two weeks.

  15. By Darren Urban on Nov 1, 2015 | Reply

    CRamsey —

    RE: Okafor

    I expect Okafor to return after the bye in Seattle.

  16. By DTL on Nov 1, 2015 | Reply

    Well at least I got airtime. I will make the donation to Pat’s foundation if I’m wrong, but we all take your point. Keim has a sharp pencil. Meanwhile, Terminal Tower, Cuyahoga County, Land of the Iroquoia, Mistake on the Lake, here we go Cards…

  17. By Chuck 1 on Nov 1, 2015 | Reply

    Darren,

    Why no Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down?

  18. By Darren Urban on Nov 1, 2015 | Reply

    Chuck —

    RE: Thumbs

    For what?

  19. By Cody Zarr on Nov 1, 2015 | Reply

    I just want to publicly say I was very wrong about Chris Johnson and I couldn’t be happier about it. He has been incredible and far better than I ever imagined. It is so satisfying to watch us pound the ball when we want to run instead of worrying about being one dimensional all year. He is far more powerful than his size and speed would suggest.

  20. By clssylssy on Nov 2, 2015 | Reply

    I don’t see how you can even put CJ and Ellington in the same class, and DJ just got drafted so really no worries for another three years in which he has the time to develop. CJ, is tough and gritty, and a much more complete player than Ellington who seems fragile and tentative when it comes to putting his face in the fire (for fear he will get hurt). I like Ellington as a backup but CJ is the guy who is #2 in the NFL right now and it would seem that smart money would be on the best complete player.
    I find it interesting that this organization seems to like to fall on the “age card” when it comes to talking money as if skill, experience, and leadership automatically are of no consequence when the number 30 (or approaching) comes around, whereas the league and national analysts are singing the praise of such players and Fitz, CJ, Palmer, Steve Smith Sr., James Harrison, Peyton Mannning, Drew Brees, Vernon Davis, Tom Brady, etc. Yes, we have a lot of players we need to start thinking about how we’re going to pay, but, when you quit paying for merit and accomplishments you pay in terms of quality and send a message that mediocrity is acceptable and hard work doesn’t pay off.
    Without our veteran leadership this team would look like a Chinese fire drill, spending much of their time on IR. If it’s a question of either/or, I’d trade Ellington, there will probably be another Todd Gurley out there somewhere we can always pick up (LSU) is Keim is able to work his “magic” in the draft.

  21. By Chuck 1 on Nov 4, 2015 | Reply

    Darren,

    When I looked at the posts the other day, there were no Thumbs UP or DOWN available..
    That’s what I was referring to.

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