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Before the Cardinals, extra time

Posted by Darren Urban on December 20, 2016 – 11:06 am

When the schedule comes out in April, everybody knows exactly what it means — one what holidays you play, when you have a short week, and (with just a little bit a legwork) what the situation of the teams you are playing have coming into your game. So the Cardinals understood their road tests this season. And they understood how much prep time their opponents had for them.

Saturday’s Christmas Eve game in Seattle marks the fifth time — and four of their road trips — that the Cards’ opponent has had extra time to prepare for the Cardinals. The Panthers and Falcons were coming off byes. The Redskins, Bills and now the Seahawks were coming off Thursday games.

“It is what it is,” coach Bruce Arians said. “We’ve got Sunday to Saturday (to prepare). It’s better than Sunday to Thursday.”

Whether the extra time is really a factor here can be debated. The Cards came out slow in Carolina and were just bad in Buffalo. The Falcons simply outplayed them after a fairly even start. The Cards actually beat Washington in the one home instance. It’s not ideal, especially from the rest aspect, but this season, the way the Cardinals have played, the blame goes well beyond schedules.

— With all the Fitz retirement talk, I thought this week’s Cardinals Underground podcast — in which we have lots of Fitz analysis — was one of our better podcasts of the season.

longrest


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Posted in Blog | 31 Comments »


31 Responses to “Before the Cardinals, extra time”

  1. By Travis Coleman on Dec 20, 2016 | Reply

    Hi Darren, I’m a first time poster, but have been reading for years. Love your work and the insight. The Bills were also coming off a Thursday night game.

  2. By Darren Urban on Dec 20, 2016 | Reply

    Travis —

    RE: Bills

    Thanks. It’s been fixed.

  3. By JTDG on Dec 20, 2016 | Reply

    Darren,

    December 9th, 2012..

    That was the date the cardinals, suffering through a horrible year, lost to the seahawks 58-0.

    It was the game that cemented Whiz and Graves fate. (although it was probably already decided)

    Interesting game Saturday to see how much fight this 2016 team has when their season is over.

    Grant it, this team is much better and has a legit QB who has been hot, but this is against Mike Bennett and company and we have a make shift oline.

    I can’t see a more important game for players to show up. This type of game will show the character of players (or lack of). Forget the win, I am interested in who still has fight in them and who has mailed in the season.

    What would another blow out say??

  4. By Scott H on Dec 20, 2016 | Reply

    The escalation in the talk about Fitz retiring after this year and some of his own comments recently have got my anxiety levels up a bit. Not that I know anything, but I feel like I would give Fitz playing next year a 50-50 shot. At best.

    Just can’t help remembering how it went with Warner. He signed a 2-year contract after 2008…..suddenly, going into the 2009 playoffs, the topic of his walking away after the season was popping up everywhere….his own comments suddenly seemed to give no assurance that he was coming back…..he needed to focus on the playoffs, would think about next season when the time was right…..and by the time they took the field for that divisional game against the Saints, it seemed like everyone knew he was walking away. There didn’t even seem to be a question anymore.

    I wish Fitz could say he just wanted to focus on getting ready for the playoffs and trying to win a SB before he could say what he was going to do, but…..it’s starting to sound a little Warner-like to me right now.

    I really hope he’ll give it one more year. But I gotta say – after this year, I certainly don’t blame him for maybe wanting to wait to see how the team may look going into next year before he makes a decision. If I’m him, I’m probably not coming back for another 2016, either. Why would he?? He doesn’t need that at age 33-34. He’s already a HOF’er. If there is no REAL hope of a SB, why is he going to put his body through another season of playing in the slot / taking all those hits for a 7-9 team?

  5. By Rawdy on Dec 20, 2016 | Reply

    Re – JTDG’s comments

    I have an ominous feeling about this Seahawks game.

    IMO, Cardinals are a much more established team than in 2012. Seahawks are considerably weaker than 2012. So in theory it should be another hard fought close game.
    However, conceding 48 points at home last week was embarrassing no matter what the circumstances and a 5-10 % drop off in performance is catastrophic in pro sports.

    2 tests of character coming up.

  6. By D on Dec 20, 2016 | Reply

    The only way Larry would retire is if he believes management hasn’t put together a playoff caliber roster this spring. More pressure on Keim and Co. Basically, Keim and staff can’t have another draft with no impact from their rookies. And they will have plenty of holes to fill like a starting WR, starting CB, starting RG, an improved LB corp and holes at safety…and a future QB…nothing minor to accomplish.

    Another problem Keim will have if he and C. Jones can’t get a deal done and he has to use the franchise tag, won’t that eat up more Cap space during free agency when he will need every dollar he can find to sign existing and new free agents?

  7. By Wild Blue Yonder on Dec 20, 2016 | Reply

    Steve, Shane & BChimp0,

    Re: Getting a higher draft choice by having a lousy record;

    Based on Keim’s dismal record of making good draft choices, it won’t make any difference at what number the Cards draft. Keim will drop the ball just as Floyd and the other WRs did this whole season.

  8. By Kevin S Mesa on Dec 20, 2016 | Reply

    D —

    I could be wrong, but I think if Larry retires, it will be shortly after the season ends. Like Warner did, in January. I think Larry is too classy to wait and see whom we pick up in free agency and whom we draft and then say, “Oh, this isn’t a winning team, never mind,” and then retire. I don’t think he wants to leave the team in a lurch. (Well, at least not any more of a lurch than he already would be by retiring in the first place.)

  9. By Adam Smith b1723 fka DTL on Dec 20, 2016 | Reply

    I’m insulted by Larry Fitzgerald’s innuendos. Play ball or move on. Just who’s fault is it the Cards are 5-8? Plenty of blame, all around, but the last place you point the finger is on management for putting together the roster. Consensus SB bound team, “on paper” ask any and all. It was an embarrassingly good roster.

    It was decimated in spots, over time. Who knew John Brown would implode with an obscure illness? Who knew Tyran would be a liability? Who knew the Special Teams would completely suck? Anybody can look back and second guess …especially at corner back.

    My doubt is in what the hell was happening in the locker room? Why did Michael Floyd drop so many balls that hit him in both hands? Where was the leadership from Larry? If Larry and Mike were such great friends, why did Floyd meander all year, and eventually implode? The Captain should been on that situation, no?? Larry had more than enough help, HIS team, the Captain’s team, did not show up at critical stages in games.

    This “well, we’ll see what happens” “I hate having to watch other teams play for the prize” as if the Cards management wont turn over every rock to find the right guys, as if they need Big Larry’s decision hanging over their heads before they’ll work hard on next year, is bull puckey.

    Grow up Larry, be a leader. Not a whiner. And watch the Michael Floyd video arrest posted on line by TMZSports. Scary, real scary that MF was behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. Then tell us your “true feelings that people wont like, but watch the video first, Larry.

    A lot of people are upset by the Cards performance this year, but Larry doesnt get to be at the front of the line.

    Cards better show up Saturday, and play some ball. No more 48 burgers.

  10. By Scott H on Dec 20, 2016 | Reply

    JTDG –

    Wouldn’t it just seem SO fitting that one week after they officially get eliminated from the playoffs that this team goes into Seattle, plays its best game of the season, and wins in decisive fashion?

    I swear, I could see that happening! And it would probably be pretty damn frustrating, to tell ya the truth…to see NOW what we should have been seeing all along.

    But, in reality, I don’t see a win on Saturday. No way. This team has been “off” all year. They are beat up…..season’s over…..playing on Christmas Eve….they have nothing to play for.

    Then again….Carson Palmer has yet to lose as a Cardinal in Seattle.

    The sad truth is, it doesn’t even matter what they do on Saturday night. It salvages nothing. Beating Seattle earlier in the season could have turned things around and made this game meaningful. But now? It’s something to have on in the background during your Christmas Eve gathering. Maybe. Unless A Christmas Story is on! Watching the Cardinals might make you want to shoot yer eye out. Sorry to say, it HAS on several occasions this season.

  11. By CARDS62 on Dec 20, 2016 | Reply

    Scott H

    Don’t be a scrooge ha ha.

    I just want to see our team play well, and no one get hurt, and lose in the last minute on a special team play for a better draft choice, and that is what I wanted even during the Miami game.

    I have to admit if we were to win any of our final 4 games the one I want is Seattle. I just really hate those guys with a passion. If we happen to play our best game of the year and our players play so far above their heads that their noses bleed for a solid week and we beat Seattle 42-0 or in a decisive fashion that will be my best Christmas present. Scott it always matters how we play and hopefully a win like that will propel us to great success in 2017.

    This is what I want, but I am scared of this game. These guys do not like us either and I am afraid with our poor defense and depleted o line that we will be embarrassed and/or suffer injuries to Carson, David Johnson – really need a nick name for this guy, Fitz, Smokey, or Honey Badger. It has been so sad watching the Badger play this year after last season. Jefferson played incredible at the start of this season, but his play has also fallen off.

    Remember Seattle is at home with 3 days of extra rest. Thanks NFL.

  12. By Marlin on Dec 21, 2016 | Reply

    Darren,

    I’m confused about Marcus Cooper. Is he good? Or not? He wins national awards (dpow) and makes the pro bowl (alternate). But we never seem to have anything positive to say about him locally. It would seem as if we finally found a pro bower to line up opposite PP it would be a big story. But no one locally ever writes about that, and local fans don’t seem to recognize this guy. Any thoughts, comments?

  13. By Darren Urban on Dec 21, 2016 | Reply

    Marlin —

    RE: Cooper

    I will admit, I was very surprised to see him as an alternate. I think he was adequate this season, but I do think the Cardinals want to upgrade.

  14. By clssylssy on Dec 21, 2016 | Reply

    Scott, Adam Smith and others…
    If you pay attention to Fitz’s remarks, he doesn’t mention retiring…that’s something that has been inserted and spun by the media. What, I believe he’s said is that he is, uncertain as to his plans going forward, but that he still loves playing, loves the guys and competing for championships. That sounds more like he’s trying to decide his future by weighing what his options are for getting a ring.
    Clearly, this season has been exhausting for everyone because of it’s epic failure and nobody has tried more than Fitz to win games.
    For anyone who has been a real fan longer than a nanosecond, they know what Fitz has contributed to this franchise and to suggest he is a “whiner” because he wants to achieve a lifelong goal, and possibly doesn’t waste what time he has left of his career on a sinking ship, says more about individual small mindednes than it does Fitz. This IS NOT ABOUT MICHAEL FLOYD entirely, but more about the attainment of professional goals and job satisfaction. As fans we don’t know what goes on within the organization–only what the spin doctors want us to believe, so we will continue to buy tickets and put money in their pocket. Anybody with an IQ over 40, can see there has been a problem that began long before the Michael Floyd incident. That was merely one incident that has become a lightening rod.
    IMO, Larry has paid his dues and is not responsible for a mess he did not create, and has the right, deserves the right, to have a happy ending to his career, whether it’s here or some place else. Staying in a dysfunctional relationship is unhealthy and co-dependent anytime, and I think Fitz is more stable than that.
    Rather than blaming Fitz for the spin being put on his words, perhaps it would be more productive to look around the league at other franchises who have made changes to get better and see what they’ve done. The Redskins are an excellent example of a team who when out an got Scot McCloughan, a GM with experience in putting together SB rosters for both the 9ers and Seahawks ,to turn their troubled team into a team likely to make the playoffs and going forward.
    And, anybody who is respected as Fitz is in this league, a 10 time Probowler, future HOFer, has earned a position at the front of the line of the many who are seeing red and upset over our season–it’s known has having standards.
    We lost the Saints game by a single score and that is the game that we really needed to win. If we couldn’t win that, whether we win against the Seahawks is now mute other than for bragging rights.
    I’ll support Larry whatever his decision and wherever he ends up, here or elsewhere.

  15. By Darren Urban on Dec 21, 2016 | Reply

    Clssy —

    RE: Fitz

    Let me make something clear: Fitzgerald is considering retiring. The media is not making it up, however you think you see it.

    Fitz will not be playing elsewhere. He is under contract, he has said he doesn’t want to play elsewhere and the Cardinals are not going to let him go.

    He can always change his mind, play into 2018 and be a free agent. But I do not expect that to happen.

  16. By JTDG on Dec 21, 2016 | Reply

    Marlin,

    Cooper;

    It is tough to watch the AZ Cards play defense after the Todd Bowles team of 2014. That team gambled and left those CBs on an island.

    You had Cromartie and Peterson locking down the outside and had Powers and Badger inside, this team went all out blitzing. QBs had very little time to find that open guy. Pressure was the idea.

    That was my favorite defense since watching the cards and they didn’t even have a pass rusher. Could you imagine if Jones and Golden were on that 2014 team?

    While Cooper has done a decent job, he is not the 2014 version of Cro. And forget the slot CBs, they have been bad. Then you have Betchler, who is not nearly the gambler Bowles was.

    It equals a good defense but when the chips are down, they can’t stop someone. We watched it game after game. Don’t believe the stats.

    So, while Cooper has done well, he isn’t what people like me want to see out there. Same thing goes for the slot CB. I hate zones. I hate the zones the cards played this year many times including the 48 points against N.O. zone. and the “let Jimmy Garapalo move the ball down the field and convert 70% of his 3rd downs” zone.

    I want 3 CBs who can shut you down, a couple of hard hitting safeties who love to take out receivers over the middle, and a DC who likes to send the house.

    We were so close in 2014. I sure hope we find that formula in 2017.

  17. By Dr. G. on Dec 21, 2016 | Reply

    After viewing the Floyd traffic arrest video, it’s a miracle no one was hurt or killed. If a big man has enough alcohol to pass out, there is huge issue here. The police had a very tough time waking him in his locked, running Escalade in the middle of the street. The other officer risked parking in front of Floyd’s vehicle to try to prevent a serious crash. He slurred that he was going to give nephew a ride…wow….thanks to the police.

    Certainly, a drinking issue as such will affect physical fitness, timing, etc. Floyd deserves sanctions…no shrewd lawyer can skew the facts on video. He also needs some serious life coaching to right his tiller going forward.

    Floyd has been in the past one of my favs, but anyone would agree that MichaelB has done the right thing here…worth the hassle now…nope. The disappointing video is alarming. ScottH would say…take a damn taxi!

  18. By CardsNation on Dec 21, 2016 | Reply

    It’s good to see John Brown and the offense coming back. And it is clear that Carson Palmer is a good QB without pressure. After the first half against the Saints. James Bettcher was forced to use zone defenses because of speedy from the Saints and the entire defense just collapsed and they should work on that in practice.

  19. By Scott H on Dec 21, 2016 | Reply

    clssy –

    Well, I can’t discount what you think YOU are hearing from Fitz. But I’m pretty sure I’m hearing a guy who seems to be thinking about retiring.

  20. By Adam Smith b1723 fka DTL on Dec 21, 2016 | Reply

    I don’t regret my rant on Larry above, but would like to supplement:

    I have not missed attending regular season game since they arrived. My wife and both my children wear #11 jerseys on Sunday…every game. My kids chant “Larry” when they get up on gameday. Larry is a hero in our house. But I want more from him, and for him. Urb set the record straight. He’s going nowhere else. Imo, he’s coming back for one more rodeo. But when we sent Q packing a few years ago , we lost a true warrior. Larry is that too, in his heart, but we need to him to lead as a warrior. He’s not. He needs to carry some guys on his back. He can’t ponder out loud like he’s shaken. He must show even greater resolve to HIS team.

    C. Palmer, quietly, has ferocity, and leadership. Recall he was the guy propping up Floyd all year. Recall he was the guy who got in Catanzaro’s ear after he missed the extra point. He was the guy who told the press he had no worries about new OL last game. Larry is a quiet leader. But we need him to step in front and lead, not sit and sulk. Anquan would be in guys’ faces, exhorting them.

    Thats what we need now from Larry. If we don’t get it before Seattle kickoff, its a 50 burger. Next season starts in 3 days in Seattle. Winning the division next year starts this year. We held them to 6 points. We cant let it become 46 or we lose all the ground we gained on them over last 3 years, all wasted. So, man up Larry, man up Cards. Keim needs to get more warriors in off season, but Larry & Carson need to keep our D off field for next 2 weeks so they can regroup. Most important meaningless games this franchise ever played.

  21. By Scott H on Dec 21, 2016 | Reply

    Adam Smith –

    RE: Palmer

    Yeah, and he was also the guy coming out and saying that he liked where they were at when they were, in fact, nowhere near where they should have been. That was NOT leadership. A leader would have come out and said that they were not playing well and needed to play better.

  22. By Richard S on Dec 21, 2016 | Reply

    I hope Fitz stays. It would be very hard to find someone in the draft with his hands, desire and yards after catch (YAC). As I recall when he first started they complained about his YAC. The team needs to get younger, but Fitz is not the problem.

  23. By D on Dec 21, 2016 | Reply

    This upcoming NFL draft for QB appears after the top 2-3 it drops off greatly. The Jags probably will finish in the top 3 of the draft and could take another QB, I would offer this year and next years #1 draft pick for Blake Bortles. BA can fix him and Keim loved him…..They probably will laugh at the offer, but why not attempt it…

  24. By NYCardinals on Dec 21, 2016 | Reply

    Scott H —

    Re: Palmer’s leadership

    He was asked about his confidence level in his O-line. Publicly critiquing your teammates before an upcoming game is NOT leadership. On the other hand, giving a vote of confidence to your linemen — who have been shuffled around all year because of injuries — is EXACTLY what a good teammate/leader does.

  25. By Scott H on Dec 21, 2016 | Reply

    NYCardinals –

    Look, I hear ya. Valid point. But, really, how often do you hear a QB publicly rip his O-line?? How utterly foolish would THAT be? My point is, if you go through an entire NFL season, and you don’t hear a single QB come out and criticize their O-line…..does that make them all good leaders simply because they refrained from being foolish??

    In other words, is there a very fine line between leadership and not being foolish?

    After recent games, I have heard players like Richard Sherman and Travis Kelce publicly criticize the play-calling by their coaches. And ya know what? I have no problem with either of them saying what they said because they were both right on with what they were saying. Leaders also know when to do that, too, and they show the courage to do it.

    And here is what people are really going to hate me for, but I’m gonna say it – frankly, after some of the games that Palmer played this year, he shouldn’t have been criticizing anyone. And maybe that was also a reason for him to take the high road.

    All that said, I do believe that Palmer is a leader on this team. He isn’t the greatest leader I’ve ever seen and he isn’t the worst. He is a smart guy, a classy guy, and a good soldier.

  26. By clssylssy on Dec 22, 2016 | Reply

    Scott

    Re: Palmer

    When the chips were down against the Saints, I saw more of last year’s Palmer, with the competitiveness still there in him against Brees, and was pretty impressive–even Saints fans had praise for him for being tough and going toe-to-toe with Drew. I think what has been perceived as a “lack of leadership” has been more internal politics and him toeing the company line and saying what was expected of him by the bosses. In looking around the NFL, you will be hard pressed to find anyone who could step into his shoes and perform behind our 0-line, with what little tools he has. Now that DJ has become “the guy” it has taken a lot off of Fitz and the receivers, who everybody looks for him to go to and usually has them wrapped up in double and triple coverage.
    As we have seen in recent weeks, players can’t always say what they really feel least it be considered treason by the front office! I think as fans, most of us have watched enough football through the years (not only Cards but other teams too) to recognize that there has been sloppy coaching and poor management decisions going back to the offseason. I blame Palmer’s drop in performance to a sense of depression that has been palpable throughout the team which a smart organization would have addressed before it became debilitating.

  27. By Darren Urban on Dec 22, 2016 | Reply

    Clssy —

    RE: Palmer

    Wait — you are saying Palmer’s play dropped because … he was depressed?

  28. By clssylssy on Dec 22, 2016 | Reply

    Darren…
    Following our defeat in last year’s Championship, I think it’s fair to say there was a pervasive sense of “depression” within the team that has carried over throughout
    this season. Perhaps my choice of words was not exact but I think you get my drift. I have heard many sport reporters refer back to the impact that game had throughout the team and in particular, the team leaders like Fitz, Palmer, and Peterson. I think, and have said before, that the proactive thing would have been to have someone like Dr. Jan Welter come to help them deal with that loss so they could move on without doubts and haunted by ghosts. While players say they have put games behind them, even Larry has admitted to still replaying our SB loss in his head constantly, and I’m sure that Championship was as significant to many, like Carson.
    At this point, I don’t think it really matters, I’m sure it was a combination of things. I do think Palmer is still a tough and skilled QB and there aren’t that many in the league these days, with even fewer (according to Kurt Warner) coming out of college. I think it’s always easier for fans to blame players for the failures of an organization because they are human and not vague entities.

  29. By Darren Urban on Dec 22, 2016 | Reply

    Clssy —

    RE: Depression

    I’ll respectfully disagree.

    NFC championship depression didn’t cause missed field goals. It didn’t make Floyd go sideways or give Smokey sickle cell issues. It didn’t make Tyrann Mathieu a shell of what he was in 2015.

  30. By SeeingRed on Dec 22, 2016 | Reply

    Adam Smith-

    Couldn’t agree more that we need more true warriors. Haven’t seen any since Q, A-Dub and Honey B (albeit he needs to get right-quickly). I saw some of that in Floyd (Fitz has said as much several times) in his blocking etc. (he did more than just drop balls) but the Floyd ship has sailed and with it some of Fitz’s desire. I cant believe that this episode hasn’t been somewhat deflating for Fitz on a personal level. Last offseason he was bouncy-like talking he would play at least another season (beyond 2016) but now its up in the air…It’s pretty sad because I can’t help but feel that Fitz feels a certain way now about M Bidwell, Keim and maybe Arians too-again, this was personal for Fitz. Too bad its coming at the end of his run.
    Anyway, back to the warrior need…I’ve always thought this team was too nice at times. They take pride in being classy but to echo D Humphries, you need some dog in you…not Lassie either…u need some Cujo in you. What makes Seattle different and what made SF different a few years ago was that they were warriors. They carry a warrior swag-(Interesting since Seattle does the whole yoga thing too) -This isn’t to be confused with dirty play btw. Until we get some players with talent (that hasn’t been a problem for this team in awhile) AND has that warrior spirit then you will see this up and down performance. I doubt you hear Seattle talking about East coast travel fatigue or bad weather or any other self-inflicted head games. They go to iceberg Green Bay or wherever and handle their business. They don’t have to hype themselves up on artificial rivalries or whatever…again, they just beat up whoever is front of them-they take the win and don’t try to survive. NE is the same way but their Warrior swag is more muted but just as potent. This team (starting with coach and front office) told themselves that it was ok to survive and eek out wins instead of raising the bar and expecting to dominate. They act surprised they are not winning the close ones-well, duh…you can only get lucky so many times-yes, many close wins are lucky (ref calls/non calls, balls literally bouncing the right way, etc). Teams are too good to just try to win close ones. When I see certain teams (again, Seattle or NE) more often than not they are not squeaking out wins every week…while the games may stay close they usually pull away in the 4th quarter.
    At least I can say this “nasty dog” need isn’t completely lost on Keim as I do recall him saying they needed some of those types-which is why you saw the gamble on R Nkemdiche. Lets hope he sticks to that strategy going forward.

  31. By clssylssy on Dec 24, 2016 | Reply

    @Seeing Red…
    You could throw the Ravens into the “Nasty Boys” mix, another team who keeps on winning year-after-year. And, central to their success is Ozzie Newsom, one of the best GM’s in the business with a talent for finding talent and building tough rosters. Perhaps, somewhere in that franchise, or NE, Seattle, Denver, we can find our next GM, who understands the value of the “nasty boys” for building a SB Team and has picked up knowledge by observing how it’s done. That’s what the Redskins did with great success.
    One has only to look at the mentality and Cardinal approach to our “church camp” Training Camp to realize, we’re not playing with the big boys. When players don’t have good basic technique (and many coming out of college don’t) coaches need to fix those mistakes by teaching and correcting things from the beginning.
    BA’s attitude has been “they should know how, it’s not up to me to teach” along with “It’s the Veterans’s job to get the guys motivated…that’s not my job”. Perhaps if BA just wants to “coordinate” we need to get position coaches who can instill in their players what we are so in need of, i.e.,technique, toughness, “nasty”, and motivation.
    It’s kind of ironic to me, that Fitz, who is one of the nicest guys on our team, is also one of the nastiest as a blocker, and when we lose him we’ll lose a whole lot more than great hands and a playmaker, but,also, our best, most physical, offensive weapon.

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