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Friday before the Rams, and Fitz’s 1,000

Posted by Darren Urban on December 4, 2015 – 3:50 pm

There is no guarantee Larry Fitzgerald will have eight catches Sunday in St. Louis, but how fitting would it be if he did. Eight receptions would mean Fitz would reach 1,000 for his illustrious career, and he would do it in the same building where he caught his first – that flea-flicker over Cardinal-turned-Ram Aeneas Williams way back in 2004.

Fitz is also just eight yards shy of getting to 1,000 yards for the first time since 2011, a dry spell that didn’t seem possible once upon a time. Now, Fitz is on pace for 120 receptions – which would be a career-best by far – and 1,442 yards, which would also be a career-best (he has surpassed 1,400 yards Larry Fitzgeraldfour times previous.)

Fitz, of course, isn’t going there. “It’s not time to start smelling the roses now,” he said. “We are in the middle of something special here.”

This is true. The fact Fitzgerald is in the middle of it so spectacularly after the last couple of seasons is one of those things where … well, let’s be honest, it’s one of those stories that is perfect for Super Bowl week and the glare of the NFL spotlight.

Just sayin’.

— The Fitz down period can be explained. In 2012, he had no quarterback. In 2013, well, Carson Palmer was learning a new system and Fitz was learning a new position.

“I think we both went through a period, year-long period, of just figuring out each other, and more importantly, figuring out the system,” Palmer said. “I think you learn by trial and error and trying to fit certain balls into him and trying not to.”

Last year, things were clicking before Palmer went down (and Fitz was hurting much of the year too.) Now, it’s all come together.

— Nick Foles will start for the Rams at quarterback – the same Nick Foles who was benched, only to be forced into playing because of Case Keenum’s concussion. Foles has been bad this season, but in his three games against the Cardinals, he has eight touchdown passes and just two interceptions. The defense has to make him look like the benched Foles (who has four TD passes and nine interceptions against non-Cardinals opponents.)

— Jonathan Cooper may still yet emerge as the guard the Cardinals want. But the fact he’s lost his spot in his third season, injuries or not, is not a good sign.

— Here’s a fun game you can play with your friends: More rushing yards Sunday, Todd Gurley or David Johnson? I think it’s a very good question.

— Bruce Arians, by the way, said Johnson should get around 25 touches. That may or may not come to pass, but it makes sense with Andre Ellington out.

— While 49ers defensive tackle Quinton Dial was indeed fined for his roughing-the-passer penalty he was flagged for last week — Dial thought it was a bad call; usually a league fine means the league agreed with the flag — 49ers offensive lineman Alex Boone told Matt Maiocco he was not fined for his (heavy) criticism of officials after the game.

— Arians reiterated Friday that there will be defensive snaps for wide-receiver-turned-(just-this-week)-cornerback Brittan Golden. He said the same for newly signed CB Corey White, but that makes some sense. Golden’s role, it’ll be interesting to see.

— As has been the custom in recent years, Cardinals president Michael Bidwill and the team will host old-school St. Louis alumni from the franchise Saturday night and then at the game. We will see if this is the Cardinals’ last trip to St. Louis, at least to play the Rams.

— A win Sunday would give the Cardinals 10 wins after 12 games for only the second time in franchise history. After that 11-1 1948 team you are so fond of.

— I don’t know how much J.J. Nelson will be in the gameplan, not with John Brown seemingly close to health and Michael Floyd getting better. But if he does make a catch, I’m guessing it’ll be down the field. Nelson has nine receptions this season and he’s averaging an astounding 29.4 yards per catch. And that’s with a 12-yard reception thrown in.

— The short week is coming. There would be nothing better for the Cardinals than to get a lead early and not have Sunday be as grind-it-out as it’s been against the Rams (or against the Niners last week.) Easier said than done, but it’s another source of motivation. That Thursday night game against the Vikings next week is gigantic in terms of the NFC playoff picture.


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21 Responses to “Friday before the Rams, and Fitz’s 1,000”

  1. By D on Dec 4, 2015 | Reply

    Revenge Game!
    Go deep often and put a 50 point burger as a statement

    The MN game will be the biggest and most important game of the season.

  2. By Richard S on Dec 4, 2015 | Reply

    The St. Louis online paper says Foles best game was against the Cardinals who have faith in their man to man defense and usually play man rather than zone. I wonder what kind of defenses Foles had his problems against. It does look like their defensive end is listed as doubtful. Hopefully Palmer will have a little more time to throw than he did last week against the Niners. He looked uneasy in the pocket last week. Of course that observation is coming from someone who never wore a football helmet.

  3. By joe67 on Dec 4, 2015 | Reply

    Living about 90 miles north of St. Louis and being a former season ticket holder, when they were up here, all I can say is PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE beat the Rammies, and do it big time!!!!

  4. By Brian C. on Dec 4, 2015 | Reply

    Please explain. Why is it possible for a team to go undefeated in their division and still not win the title? We are leading our division against a team that has no losses in it. We have one loss. I’m stupid, I guess.

  5. By Scott H on Dec 4, 2015 | Reply

    Wow…I guess I either forgot or never even realized that Fitz and Aeneas would have ever played against each other. Two of my all-time favorite players. One in the HOF, the other will be when his time comes.

    Fitz has already proven that he remains among THE elite WR’s in the league, not simply because of his numbers but because of how he plays the game, his ability to adapt to any role a WR needs to play ( and, BTW, I’ll bet Fitz can still get deep! ), and those hands. My God, THOSE HANDS!!! Still the best in the game. Among the best ever. At this point in this season, Fitz is not being defined by his stats. Yeah, he has them, but…so what? Yeah, he is on the verge of more milestones but his head is exactly where mine is – that ain’t nothing in relation to the big picture and the ultimate TEAM goal that is yet to be achieved. With it, the numbers don’t matter. Without it, the numbers don’t matter.

    Looking toward Sunday….the Rams have stalled, most notably because Foles and Gurley have stalled. OK. But so what? In their appearances against the Cardinals so far in their careers, they have had success – individual success and team wins. Foles is 2-1 against the Cardinals. And in the game he lost, he had the Eagles inside the red-zone in the last minute and the Cardinals needed to defend 4 straight passes to the end-zone to preserve the win. For whatever reason, he plays THIS team well. That is all we need to know. This could be the only other game he wins this year. It’ll do nothing for the Rams. But it sure could hurt the Cardinals.

    Gurley exploded onto the scene this season, had his break-out game against the Cardinals.

    Here is what I don’t want to see ( and I’ll lose my friggin mind if I do ) – I don’t want to see a struggling team / struggling players find their groove and get back on track against the Cardinals. Not this week, not this season. Not when there is so much on the line. If this IS a SB-caliber team, as we all want to believe, they have to be beyond being a step-ladder for a team that has kinda gone in the toilet. Agreed? No, Cardinals have not been that kind of team under Arians. But I’ve been around a lot longer than that and I HAVE seen this happen on too many occasions. Again, not this year.

    I’ve let the 49ers game slide. Yeah, it was amazing how bad they really did look in that game. But the flow of the schedule made that a classic trap game and I saw that coming. Bottom line, they just needed to find a way to survive that one. They almost didn’t. But they did. That is past.

    But from this point forward? There are no passes and no excuses for letting a lesser team steal a win, OR to even allow them to push you to where you are holding on for dear life at the end. We are either past that point now, or….maybe we aren’t who we thought we were.

    Fact is, there is no reason we should not be all that we think we are. We have the coaching. We have the talent. We have the depth. We might have the best QB in the NFL right now. There is no reason we should have to come back from a 20-7 deficit against the Browns or have to hold on for dear life in the final minute against the Ravens. After last week ( holding on for dear life against the 49ers), those games need to be out of our system.

    You’re playing the Rams this week. Tough defense….potentially great RB….division foe…..and, yeah, we’ve had some injuries creep into the picture. OK. So what? Be the team you should be, take control early, and never take your foot off their throat. This is not a week to just get out with a win. This is a week to FIND IT. This a week to run the race you are capable of running, not just to run good enough to beat the other guy. The other guy on the field this Sunday is not a thoroughbred. YOU ARE! So, run like one – just because you can.

    This should not just be a win – this should be a win with some authority.

    BTW – HUGE game between Seattle and Minnesota this week. Geez, who do you root for in this one??? For the Cardinals, it’s not good that either team win. I’d have to say I’m pulling for the Vikings. I just want the Seahawks out of the picture. We can deal with the Vikings later ( like, 4 days from Sunday! ). But a Cards win and a Seahawks loss is pretty much a dagger in the heart for them. Reverse that….and the Seahawks are alive and well. And smelling a little blood in the water. C’mon, fellas, don’t let it happen. You went up to Seattle and knocked them on their asses. Now, make it stand up.

  6. By clssylssy on Dec 4, 2015 | Reply

    Wow…a lot riding on these games, not to mention some major achievement milestones for several of our players and the Cards Organization. Wish I could say this Rams game didn’t have me worried but there’s just too much history and we seem to choke when facing Division teams that aren’t suppose to be good. Must be something mental, but whatever the deal, we need to get tough and stay focused…and finish strong! Watching the Lions game Thursday night, I couldn’t help but feel their pain as we have been there so many times only to come away with disappointment. The Rams are going to be playing with a major chip on their shoulder with nothing to lose (as they seem to be losing their team to LA anyway)and a lot of frustration. I know we have the talent but it’s going to be up to BA and the coaches to call an outstanding performance.
    With the short week and big game Thursday night, I just hope we can escape without casualties and a decisive win, Fitz, Palmer, Calais, Dwight, Tyrann and Rashard, hitting their marks would be icing on the cake and some payback! GO CARDS…START FAST, PLAY SMART & FINISH STRONG!

  7. By dynosoar on Dec 5, 2015 | Reply

    Bryan C,

    Hope this helps, it’s in two parts. The first tiebreaks are based solely on team overall record. Then if there’s a tie, we go to the second tiebreaks found in my next post. That one interesting.

    NFL Tiebreaking Procedures

    The six postseason participants from each conference are seeded as follows:

    The division champion with the best record.
    The division champion with the second-best record.
    The division champion with the third-best record.
    The division champion with the fourth-best record.
    The Wild Card club with the best record.
    The Wild Card club with the second-best record.

    The following procedures will be used to break standings ties for postseason playoffs and to determine regular-season schedules.

    NOTE: Tie games count as one-half win and one-half loss for both clubs.

  8. By dynosoar on Dec 5, 2015 | Reply

    Tiebreaks, Part II, There’s actually more tiebreaks, like if there’s three teams with a tied record and Wilcard tiebreaks, etc. But these two generally answer it for me each season.

    TO BREAK A TIE WITHIN A DIVISION

    If, at the end of the regular season, two or more clubs in the same division finish with identical won-lost-tied percentages, the following steps will be taken until a champion is determined.

    Two Clubs

    Head-to-head (best won-lost-tied percentage in games between the clubs).
    Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the division.
    Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games.
    Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference.
    Strength of victory.
    Strength of schedule.
    Best combined ranking among conference teams in points scored and points allowed.
    Best combined ranking among all teams in points scored and points allowed.
    Best net points in common games.
    Best net points in all games.
    Best net touchdowns in all games.
    Coin toss

    For more visit,
    http://www.nfl.com/standings/tiebreakingprocedures

  9. By dynosoar on Dec 5, 2015 | Reply

    Joe 67,

    I lived for a time in Peoria and Springfield, a little farther North than you, but close enough to say, hello my former neighbor.

  10. By dynosoar on Dec 5, 2015 | Reply

    Scott H.

    My answer for who to root for, a Cardinals win, then it doesn’t matter, because we still have homefield advantage until we face the Panthers and if the Panthers lose that first game, then we have homefiled throughout. So it doesn’t matter to me who wins as long as our Cardinals win.

    We have to face someone in the playoffs. (But I have to say, I have three lists, the Cardinals are on the top one, The Steelers, Cowboys, Seahawks, Giants and 49ers are on the bottom one and all others are in the middle list, so I’d rather the Vikings win.)

    Almost my last thought. I’m not too worried about having only four days prep for the Vikings next Thursday night after we play a tough Rams team. Because they have the same four days after playing a hungry and tough Seahawks team. Looking forward to that one for sure.

    OK, last thoughts, I just want Palmer to remain unhit this game.
    Fitz – go beat Hines Ward’s record!

    We’re so close and yet so far.

    The Lombardi Trophy or nothing at all!

    (And I’m tired of nothing at all. It sounds like most of the team is tired of nothing at all as well. How about the rest of you?)

  11. By JohnnyBluenose on Dec 5, 2015 | Reply

    We’re 9-2 and will soon be 10-2. That’s very good but, as Scott H has alluded to, some of our victories have been ugly. We have a very good defense. We have a very good passing offense. With apologies to Justin Bethel,our special teams are average. Our o-line is average. Our running game is inconsistent even when healthy and, if it does not get better, the only chance we have to win the Super Bowl is by throwing the ball 45 times a game, like the Patriots and the Steelers do and by getting our tight ends a lot more involved. Keeping my fingers crossed that we can stay healthy. Keep going.

  12. By Brian C. on Dec 5, 2015 | Reply

    dynosoar,
    Thank you for your explanation. From one fan to another, let’s win this season out.

  13. By Mike G on Dec 5, 2015 | Reply

    Hey Darren–Hope all is cool! Looking forward to the game tomorrow. Glad to see Bethel sign an extension- he is a good player with upside and is important in Special Teams. Looking forward to see how the running backs play tomorrow especially K. Williams and S. Taylor. David Johnson just has to be himself and try not to do too much and most importantly hold onto the ball. All 3 backs are fresh and should produce in the short passing game as well. Always turnovers will be key–STL has been struggling especially on offense and may be distracted with the chatter of a possible move to L.A. I expect a tough physical game similar to last week –hopefully with the same results at the end. Hey Darren–Do you think C.Johnson was actually wearing down & hit a wall over the last 3 games before the injury ???? These new backs are younger and fresher – could provide more of a burst-huh???

  14. By rod on Dec 5, 2015 | Reply

    It’s pay back time baby!

    I’m sitting Gurley and starting David Johnson!

    Kick their tires! Go Cardinals!

  15. By Scott H on Dec 5, 2015 | Reply

    Dynosaur –

    Yes, I agree. Whatever else happens anywhere else this weekend, it really doesn’t matter- as long as the Cardinals win. Really, that is all I need to see. The Cards have played themselves to a place where they control what happens to them. Beautiful thing. They win most of their remaining games, the Seahawks CAN’T really catch them.

    Cardinals win, I don’t even care what else anybody does. Either the Vikings or the Seahawks will win. ( Unless – and wouldn’t this be sweet – unless they play to a tie! ) . And I’m guessing the Panthers will dispose of the Saints with little trouble. The Panthers don’t even play a team the rest of the year that seems capable of challenging them. And I hope that comes back to bite them in the playoffs.

    Cardinals win? Nothing else matters.

  16. By joe67 on Dec 6, 2015 | Reply

    Dyno,
    That’s interesting that you lived in Peoria and Springfield. I was born in Peoria but lived almost my entire life in Springfield.
    Maybe we were neighbors, who knows. Small, small world. (oddly enough, we stayed in Peoria AZ when we went down this year for opening day against Saints.)

  17. By Corgon on Dec 6, 2015 | Reply

    Hello Darren,

    Is it my immagination or Fitz is really holding some kind of record versus the Rams? Something like a WR with a most yardage (or points, or catch) versus one certain team. THX.

  18. By Darren Urban on Dec 6, 2015 | Reply

    Corgon —

    RE: Fitz

    He has 16 TDs against the Rams, the most he’s had against any one team.

  19. By Nick Pepe on Dec 6, 2015 | Reply

    I talked to my oldest brother Tom on his 56th birthday on Thursday evening. A die hard Cowboys fan and part of the reason I have been a Card fan since 1970, he answered the phone “how about them Cardinals”. He went to say how he believes this our year, and he’s rooting for “my Cardinals”. We didn’t say goodbye at the end of the call. I said “I love you”, and he said “I love you too” we both hung up. My oldest brother and hero, Tom died suddenly yesterday morning of a massive heart attack.

    Glad I called him, glad I told him I loved him. Yeah football is just a game but it was a bond he and I shared. He would want me to watch the game. He would expect nothing less. And maybe, just maybe, this will be our year.

    Nick Pepe
    Lifetime Member
    Tell ’em you love them every chance you get.

  20. By Darren Urban on Dec 6, 2015 | Reply

    Nick —

    RE: Love them

    I’m sorry for your loss, Nick. Hang in there.

  21. By William Barry on Dec 6, 2015 | Reply

    We dominated this game, OL, DL, and secondary…..

    David Johnson and Kerywnn Williams, RB’s outstanding

    This really a good statement win!!!!!

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