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Friday before the Saints

Posted by Darren Urban on December 16, 2016 – 4:21 pm

Larry Fitzgerald slowly sat in the chair in front of his locker for his weekly meeting with the press.

“The body is definitely feeling Week 15-ish and 33-ish,” Fitzgerald said with a weary smile.

The season has taken a toll on the Cardinals physically. You can see that in the lengthy injured reserve list alone. An inability to reach expectations has taken a toll mentally too, and that was apparent this week with the virtual elimination from the playoffs and the Michael Floyd situation.

“When things are not going the way you expected or hoped it would go, it does feel not only worse on the body but it feels like the season is longer,” Fitzgerald said. “I remember last year, I woke up and we were in the playoffs. It was like it was fast forward the whole season. I guess that’s how it goes when you are having fun and enjoying it and things are kind of clicking.”

Things have not been clicking for the Cards, not lately, and not enough. You think back to the last time the Saints were in town and the Cardinals beat them, 31-19, in the 2015 opener in a game sealed by David Johnson’s first touchdown.

Man, that seems like a lifetime ago.

— With a ton of free agents and even the possibility of a Fitzgerald retirement, this could be the last home game for a lot of guys. One is defensive lineman Calais Campbell, who will be a free agent and as we noted last week, may be too expensive to keep. So this could be his last home game too.

“It’s only natural to think back and realize that possibility,” Campbell said on his Big Red Rage radio show Thursday night. “It’s a harsh reality but it is reality. I really want to embrace it and enjoy it. It’s sad — it’s been nine years and I’ve had an unbelievable time playing at University of Phoenix Stadium and playing with the Arizona Cardinals in front of these amazing Birdgang fans. It’s been quite the ride, so I’m looking forward to it and hopefully we can make some good things happen.”

“It’s definitely going to be emotional,” Campbell added. “Probably going to have to hold back some tears.”

— Bruce Arians said newcomer Scooby Wright will be active Sunday. The former University of Arizona star will play special teams. I don’t expect him to play defense. Sio Moore is replacing Deone Bucannon in the defensive lineup.

— It’ll be interesting to see how the new offensive line holds up and how much quarterback Carson Palmer will have to endure. This week is one thing, but the Cards face the daunting defensive fronts of the Seahawks and Rams — on the road — the final two games.

— Palmer insisted he wasn’t worried about the line. He was going to play behind whomever was out there and it would be fine. So, offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin, if Palmer says he’s not worried, does that make you feel better?

“If he’s not worried, I’m not worried — but I’m always worried,” Goodwin said. “It’s the nature of the beast.”

— Arians wouldn’t say that rookie first-round pick Robert Nkemdiche would play Sunday, although he didn’t rule it out. He did say Nkemdiche was “working hard.” It was a more positive take on the defensive tackle. Hopefully that’s good news.

— It’s so cool to see Tim Hightower still having some NFL success. I still remember being on the field, standing on the sidelines at the 10, watching him pile into the end zone to win the NFC championship.

— This is, by the way, the 200th career game for Fitzgerald.

— One home game left. In some ways, it does seem like it flew by. But mostly, Fitz is right — kickoff against the Patriots seems years past, and not just months.

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21 Responses to “Friday before the Saints”

  1. By Dr. G. on Dec 16, 2016 | Reply

    Quoting Goodwin:: “If he’s not worried, I’m not worried — but I’m always worried,” Goodwin said.

    Whaaaaat? Harold, you always need to have concern for Palmer to keep him upright and healthy. What Palmer thinks is good, but it should not be the guide for how you train your guys… Palmer is not going to rag on his guys… That is your job…

    I am sick of him getting the award for the most hit/hammer/sacked QB in the league…or at least it seems… It is my guess that you won’t have to worry about that next year…

  2. By JTDG on Dec 16, 2016 | Reply

    Might be a really sad day sitting in the stands Sunday.

    I hope this is not Larry’s last game, but his comments the last two days have me wondering.

  3. By TucsonTim on Dec 16, 2016 | Reply

    I remember Timmy running for that first down on 4th down in the drive to win the NFC championship game. Definitely lost a little of my hearing that day. That was fun and flying to Tampa was fun.

    Flying to Charlotte last year wasn’t fun. And watching this organization morph back into it’s former self isn’t much fun either. Paying almost 10 grand for season tickets to watch this debacle is really not much fun.

    Frankly, I’m bummed. I don’t think 13 years a season ticket holder and about 500 hours of driving makes me a bandwagon fan. I don’t want to quit on this organization, but how much more?

    Firing Graves, a nice company man, was long overdue, but hiring Keim, another company man, was a serious mistake. I was skeptical about a 60 year old coach (I’m old so I can say this) and his arrogance and zingers and one liners are even older now. Forget the 2 trips to the hospital. His total lack of professionalism with respect to his players is pathetic and his good ole boy network of coaches makes me think he is just abusing the owner and the fans. I can’t bare to look at him.

    You can sum up this organization with one move: We seriously cut a draft choice whom we desperately need to keep the worst punter in the NFL who was injured and couldn’t play on the roster,…and nobody’s head rolled? Well, the fans I guess.

  4. By georgiebird on Dec 16, 2016 | Reply

    The Cards are all but eliminated from the playoffs but this is a crossroads game for the team as well as for so many individuals. The Cards must make a plethora of decisions based on these last three meaningless games.
    1) Calais Campbell- with all the DLs there is no way he gets extended
    2) Larry- he will play his last couple of seasons with another team or retire.
    3) HB- can he ever be a healthy player again? Possibly “No”
    4) Palmer- no game plan left for CP- he should retire
    5) BA should put his health first and retire
    6) Keim- he’s a dedicated GM- would definitely retain.

    Possible silver lining- NFC West has gone from the best division in the NFL to the worst division in a matter of a year.

  5. By Scott H on Dec 16, 2016 | Reply

    Dammit, everything just seems so….SAD right now. The season is over, a lost cause. The whole thing with Floyd just seems to feel worse as the days go by. Who knows what players might be playing for the last time as a Cardinal at UoP this week? It feels like our SB window is closing ( and if Fitz walks away after this year, it will feel like it IS closed – because my dream was for them to win it with him here ).

    It feels like we went from win-now to who-the-hell-knows-when we’ll-ever-be-close-again over night. And that’s a lousy feeling.

    A win this week accomplishes….what, exactly? For me, pretty much nothing. Not that it REALLY mattered, but the Seahawks won the division last night. We had it for ONE year. And during a season where the Seahawks have actually fallen off pretty noticeably, we never even competed with then for it. They took it right back because it was there for the taking.

    Granted, I have had a very bad few months for other reasons, but……watching this team crumble this year just made it all seem worse.

    Sad. Just SO damn sad. Seems like Fitz is feeling it, too. This had become one of those seasons that you just want to be over. We’ve certainly had our share of those. I just can’t believe we went from 13-3 to one of them. This is conjuring up that miserable feeling from so many miserable seasons from the past. Hate to sound so doom and gloom, but it REALLY does feel like that.

    Soon, we will find out if this organization REALLY has what it takes to get it right. The goal was to win a SB. But we haven’t had a QB that was REALLY capable of that since we got lucky with Kurt Warner. When was the last time this team DRAFTED a QB that was that kind of player?? And soon, they won’t have Larry Fitzgerald to carry the WR corps and – sometimes – to win games by himself.

    Will there be answers or will there be another decade of more losses then wins?

    Might as well start looking ahead to next year. And I wonder if we will see a team this week that might already be doing the same.

  6. By Steve on Dec 16, 2016 | Reply

    Darren: Do sportswriters, like players, get burned out after a long frustrating season of injuries and losses taking a toll on a team and it’s psyche? I mean when the team is losing you have to deal with all of us irate fans as well as writing about why the team lost.

  7. By Darren Urban on Dec 17, 2016 | Reply

    Steve —

    RE: Burned out

    It’s not fun. But it’s the job.

  8. By Armando on Dec 16, 2016 | Reply

    Just proud of the team played your hearts out.better luck next ye a l will be there.

  9. By Canadian Redbird on Dec 17, 2016 | Reply

    I’ve come to the conclusion that there is NO consistency when it comes to the inconsistency of ACCOUNTABILITY. Butler is awful for 3 seasons and somehow continues to suit up amidst the Accountability and Best Man at each position mandate. Floyd has 1 bad season, culminated with a DUI charge and he earns a ticket out of town. Where is the compassion and support that this administration has shown to other players ie. Badger. Unless I am missing something, as a huge Cardinal fan, I am so disappointed with the heir apparent to Larry. I trust Fitzy and Badger’s comments relating to Floyd. I hope nothing but success in New England for Mike.

    As per our field goal kicker, take a long hard look at Justin Medlock in the CFL. Laatly, Amos Otis has to go if we have any chance of moving forward with our special teams. This is the easiest of all the firing with our new commitment to ACCOUNTABILITY. Cardinal fans are an educated group, this is a classic ” NO BRAINER “.

  10. By clssylssy on Dec 17, 2016 | Reply

    Our last home game and I hope we can focus on the task at hand, go out, and play the solid game we are capable of, that has eluded us for most of the season, and, bring home a respectable win. Although we have been left depleted by injuries and losses. we still have some amazing weapons in our arsenal and are capable of rallying for this win against a team that’s had it’s own struggles but is very capable and possesses the strength of purpose to be very dangerous. For those who will be playing their last home game at UofP Stadium, I hope they will be able to have an experience that will leave lasting positive memories of our “nest”, our Bird gang, and this “football family” they have been a part of. We still have some achievements that are within the grasp of David and Larry, and we can use those markers, as something to strive for..to perhaps jumpstart our desire or give us purpose.

    It’s going to be great to have Timmy Hightower back in the house and seeing him will be a bright spot, rejoining his former Cardinal brothers, Calais and Larry, the last men standing of our glory days of ’08-’09, and in many ways, better days. Those guys were special and will always hold a special place in our hearts as a team, that without a glitzy record, defied odds and stuck together to get us as close to the Lombardi as we may ever get. Whatever the outcome, I hope we will be a good place to come home to, and will show the Saints that while we may be down, we aren’t quitters.

    It HAS seemed a long and painful season, and while I had looked forward to this game, it’s significance has changed to a game we now need for validation.
    I can’t remember EVER going into to a final home game with such a heavy heart (either in my 20+ years a Card fan or with the Chiefs), but for the next three weeks, I’m still all in and hope we can see the RED SEA RISE UP! LET’S GO OUT AND DEFEND THE NEST ONE LAST TIME! LET’S NOT BE QUITTERS!

  11. By shannon robinson on Dec 17, 2016 | Reply

    What a fun game against the “Norlans’ Ain’ts.” Special moments: A Tip of the Cardinals’ Wing to Mr. Hightower who we have all loved as fans and believed he was worthy. Another Tip of the Cardinals’ Wing to Taylor Boggs who deserves to be a starter in his career – I gotta say he’s a favorite I’ve been pulling for. ‘Goodbye to Michael Floyd’ is a sad moment and a good thing also since he might have hit rock bottom as a beginning of a recovery. When I quit drinking the bartenders wore black arm bands, so I know his life depends on not ever having another drop. Alan Branch can welcome him in to the Pats and I believe give Mike some guidance as a pro. Let’s enjoy this one and cheer, cheer for Calais and Fitz!

  12. By Andy Kw on Dec 17, 2016 | Reply

    Tim Hightower is a beast. He was good here in AZ but he has also been good with WAS & NO. He fought his way back to the NFL. Great guy, great player.

  13. By Marlin on Dec 17, 2016 | Reply

    Gonna miss Calais. Saw him recently at a local Scottsdale restaurant. What a great guy.

  14. By Adam Smith b1723 fka DTL on Dec 17, 2016 | Reply

    Biggest woulda coulda shoulda year … ever.
    Glad OL config has 1 game tuneup for cheap shots coming from Seahawks, Rams.
    This week was as close as we’ve come to an insurrection in Arians era. And it was Larry who backhandedly was on verge.
    Floyd, good player, good guy … curious season, frequent injuries, frequent drops, seemed troubled, pressing in contract year might explain, might also explain why may be out at 2am drinking and driving…or there may be more. In the end, just on obvious facts, he was choking when we needed him. Maybe that simple. Still, more than meets the eye here, despite LF’s ire.
    Cards on verge of cleaning house, got an early start, auditions coming on who stays…
    MerryChristmas.
    PS: Go Cards, keep Palmer alive, standing upright is all I want for Christmas. And >100 yards for the Pony…and the W…and a winning season…

  15. By mitchaz on Dec 17, 2016 | Reply

    If I were Steve Keim—right now I would be very concerned about the direction BA is heading.

    What I would want to do this off-season, if I were him:

    1. Move on from Amos Jones. 4 years of sub par and at times embarrassing STs is way too long. Make day 3 of the draft a focus on STs.

    2. Make the QB position competitive. In my opinion, the only way to get Carson Palmer to turn the ball over less is to threaten his playing time. If Palmer continues to make his 3-4 poor decisions a game, this team is not going to a Super Bowl next year, nor will it likely make the playoffs. Plus, if Palmer gets hurt, there needs to be a stronger option than Drew Stanton. Moreover, how much longer can the team afford to give the QB Wednesdays off? Tom Brady is older and he doesn’t take days off.

    3. Move D.J. Humphries to LT and switch Jared Veldheer to RT. Sign a good veteran RG. Go with Boehm at center, but draft another center on Day 3 this year to challenge Boehm.

    4. Switch some of the past focus on speed at WR to toughness by adding a couple of tough slot WRs.

    5. Draft a punt returner.

    6. Sign the best possible punter.

    7. Find a way to keep Campbell and Jones without having to use the f-tag.

    8. Add pass rushing depth.

    9. Add a dynamic tackler to pair with Deone.

    10. Sign a good UFA CB.

    11. Sign Jefferson or Swearinger (hopefully both if reasonable), and add a deep cover FS for the sub packages.

    12. Sign a new CB coach—enough is enough. Poor technique continues.

    13. Convince BA to use a FB when necessary.

    14. Convince BA to reduce Fitz’s interior blocking responsibilities for the sake of his longevity.

    15. Convince BA to maximize pass protection rather than minimize it.

    16. Advise BA to stop dropping repeated f-bombs on the refs.

    17. Advise BA to get a reliable guy in the booth to call down for challenges.

    18. Advise BA to stop berating players to the media.

    Obviously it is going to take some real wheeling and dealing and cajones to get most of these areas addressed. What worries me is that Keim may find it more difficult to sign UFAs at decent salaries because free agents may be leery of playing for Arians, particularly if Fitz retires or asks to be traded.

  16. By CardsNation on Dec 17, 2016 | Reply

    I hope Keim and Arians understand that why Speical Team is important. It caused us at least 5 games and I’m glad they’re trying to fix those issues. I hope we have a more successful year next year with new players and good draft picks.

  17. By Marlin on Dec 17, 2016 | Reply

    Darren,

    You’re very good at what you do. Thanks for another great season of coverage and commentary and perspective, both on the web site and on the radio.

  18. By Darren Urban on Dec 17, 2016 | Reply

    Marlin —

    RE: Compliment

    Thank you.

  19. By creditcard on Dec 17, 2016 | Reply

    Mitchaz:

    My opinion by far the best special teams player during preseason was marquis Christian. We let him go, so that Butler could be the place kicking holder. Not that our backup QB could do this for a couple of weeks, or put in a WR, who is used to catching a ball for a professional living.

    Arguably, that particular personnel move sums up this year Cardinal’s season. Probably the most lame NFL personnel move this decade.

    We also need a new O-line coach

  20. By KneeJerkChampion on Dec 17, 2016 | Reply

    Off with their heads!!!!!

  21. By Jon Elder on Dec 18, 2016 | Reply

    If Floyd had been having a career year, and we were say 8-5 when he got that DUI instead of where we are currently at, can anyone honestly say with a straight face that we would have considered cutting him? I think that, and things like the team sticking by players like John Abraham, who had done far less for the organization than Floyd, are troubling.

    If Keim and BA pulling the plug on Floyd ultimately tipped the scales towards Fitzgerald either retiring or leaving the team, then so help me Floyd’s cut would have truly been one of the all time blunders in this team’s history. Fitz is clearly fuming about this, and who doubts that he would be exactly the type of guy to walk away based on what he felt was unprofessional organziational conduct?

    The BA era of accountability for players, no accountability for coaches is all of a sudden wearing very, very thin. And I don’t think our team record is the only reason why. When you get a vote of no confidence from one of the all time great class acts, its time to take a long, hard stare in the mirror.

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