It probably shouldn’t be a surprise, both with his play and most importantly, his fan base, that Tyrann Mathieu is rising up in the Pro Bowl balloting at free safety. Mathieu, who wasn’t even on the ballot the first few weeks voting was open, is now sixth at his position with 42,359 votes. Seattle’s Earl Thomas leads with 277,482 votes; no other free safety has reached 88,000. Mathieu remains one of five Cardinals among the top 10 at his position in this new year of “unconferenced” teams in the Pro Bowl. Fan balloting remains one-third of the final voting, with coaches and players counting for the other two-thirds. Once players make it, the teams will be “drafted” by former players who are serving as captains.
The other four Cardinals showing up on the voting list:
– DT Darnell Dockett is ninth (99,561 votes, trails first-place Dontari Poe of the Chiefs, who has 233,212.)
– ILB Karlos Dansby is ninth (79,050, Buffalo’s Kiko Alonso, 265,232)
– CB Patrick Peterson is third (253,688, Seattle’s Richard Sherman, 367,076)
– Special teamer Justin Bethel is eighth (35,775, Denver’s David Bruton, 95,841)
Voting concludes Dec. 26. If you want to vote, click here.
Tags: Darnell Dockett, Justin Bethel, Karlos Dansby, Patrick Peterson, Pro Bowl, Tyrann Mathieu
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Patrick Peterson had a brain lock Sunday, thinking a punt had been blown dead after the Cardinals were being flagged for a too-many-men penalty and letting the kick bounce some 30 yards down the field. Turns out the play hadn’t been blown dead (Bruce Arians later said he thought the play had been blown dead as well, but didn’t excuse Peterson from choosing a non-catch) and the Eagles declined the penalty. That’s on top of the dry streak Peterson has been on returning punts in the first place.
But Arians makes it clear that Peterson isn’t going anywhere. The Cardinals aren’t going to suddenly start using Tyrann Mathieu back there and Arians hasn’t lost faith in Peterson.
“He’s just getting all those Aussie kicks,” Arians said. “Nobody is punting the ball anymore. The last three or four games everyone is kicking their inside-the-50 punts, trying to get a 40-yard punt with hangtime and take him out of the game. He did a pretty good job taking one or two of those north and south against the Colts. This time, when you get outside in the elements (in Philadelphia) it’s a little different when that kick starts floating around. He did a great job on his poison call.”
Javier Arenas still was hit by the bouncing punt after the poison call, however, another special teams glitch that the Cards were fortunate to recover from when Antoine Cason picked up the ball.
In terms of sitting him down, maybe letting Peterson take a game off, Arians steadfastly says no. “Patrick is too big of a game-breaker,” Arians said. “You only get so many opportunities when they are going to kick it to us. You definitely want Patrick back there.”
Peterson has 28 punt returns this season, averaging 6.7 yards a return. He has nine punt returns of at least 10 yards this season, with four coming against Houston. His longest was 22 yards, in that same game.
Tags: Patrick Peterson
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Michael Floyd has turned into the player the Cardinals hoped he would be when they selected him in the first round. That’s been easy to see of late.
“He’s emerged, and three weeks in a row at that level is kind of a breakout,” coach Bruce Arians said of his second-year receiver. “That’s consistency you’re looking at, and he’s playing hurt.”
(Arians said the only Floyd downside right now is that Floyd’s run blocking — which is usually among the best in the league for a wide receiver — is subpar right now because of his shoulder injury.)
The last three games, Floyd has averaged six receptions for 132 yards and he has a pair of touchdowns in that time. But Floyd’s receptions go even deeper as a Cardinals’ advantage with this statistic: Every one of his last 20 catches has produced a first down. That’s an amazing streak. The last time he had a catch that didn’t get a first down was in the third quarter of the Atlanta game — Oct. 27, before the bye — when he made a five-yard catch on first-and-10.
Looking further, Floyd has 54 catches this season, and 40 of them have produced first downs. That’s a conversion rate of 74.1 when Floyd snares a pass, which puts him among the league leaders. He is tied for 12th when it comes to players who have averaged two receptions a game, but climbs to a tie for fourth when talking about players with at least 50 receptions with Baltimore’s Torrey Smith for fourth in the league, behind the dominant Calvin Johnson (83.3 percent on his 72 receptions), San Diego’s Keenan Allen (77.6 on 58 catches) and Denver’s Demaryius Thomas (74.6 on 67 catches).
Obviously, Floyd’s routes often take him past the sticks, but not always. Floyd has learned a lot about getting to the line to gain on his route, and he is good at breaking tackles, which has served him well in this current 20-catch streak.
Tags: Michael Floyd
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Bruce Arians opened his press conference today saying he was going to follow league protocol and send video examples into the league on plays with which the Cards questioned the penalties called or not called. This is not unique; Teams across the league often do it. “There were obviously problems in the ball game,” Arians said. “There is a protocol to follow. We followed the protocol.
“(NFL VP of officiating) Dean Blandino does a great job being honest on the calls. We will follow up more with the answers … later.”
Again, there is no real reason to dwell on it. It doesn’t make much difference. Even if the NFL fessed up (privately of course) that mistakes were made, it does not change the result. Arians knows this. He reiterated the Cardinals “regressed” back to the team that turned the ball over too much early in the year. He also stressed the Cardinals better worry not about penalties but about winning a division game for the first time in a long time against the Rams. That message was repeated by the players in the locker room Monday.
(For a breakdown of the officiating, here is a story today from MMQB.com talking about Eagles-Cardinals. I agree with Greg Bedard, which is that bad calls are going to happen and every team must deal with it. But for it to be inconsistent in a relatively short period of time — in this case, the last six minutes or so in the game — can be maddening.)
Arians said the Cardinals sent in “about 15″ plays for the league to look at. He also said “I’ve already gotten most of the answers. I got them before I left the locker room (Sunday.)” Arians added those answers came “from New York,” i.e. the league office. And he admitted that he did not get any satisfaction from those answers. “I just get madder,” Arians said.
– Looking forward a couple of weeks, the Cardinals’ game in Tennessee has been moved to the late TV window, which means it will now start at 2:25 p.m. Arizona time instead of 11 a.m. Arizona time. (That’s now a 3:25 p.m. kickoff in Tennessee.) We will see if that makes a difference to the way the Cards start the game.
– The only injuries of note, Arians said, were the shoulder of linebacker Kevin Minter and the knee of running back Andre Ellington (which of course caused him to miss the game). Both players are day-to-day, Arians said.
Tags: Andre Ellington, Bruce Arians, Kevin Minter, NFL, penalties, Titans
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It worked out so well the first time, when the Cardinals knocked off the Colts, that the Cards are going back to the red-on-red uniforms for Sunday’s game against the Rams. As was noted after the Colts game by media relations vice president Mark Dalton, the Cardinals are 13-3 overall wearing the red-red uniforms and have won seven in a row. For whatever that is worth.
No word yet on whether Carson Palmer will be keeping his mustache. Or if a black cat will run across the field.
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The Cardinals smartly talked around the penalties that were and weren’t called late in Sunday’s loss to the Eagles. They gave some matter-of-fact answers. Coach Bruce Arians said he wanted to watch the video carefully before he really passed judgment (and here’s a guess he won’t talk much about it even then. No upside.)
But as frustrating as that was, it didn’t trump the issues the Cardinals had of their own doing. What Arians and his team will see on video is a team that could’ve been in a much better place by the times the flags were or weren’t thrown. Linebacker Karlos Dansby – who had a pair of sacks — was not a happy camper in the locker room, and penalties didn’t have much to do with it. I asked him if it was going to be hard emotionally to bounce back from a loss like Sundays, given the fact the Cards had been talking about every game like it was a playoff game.
“(Expletive) no,” Dansby snapped. “We’ve got four more games. We’ve got to go play some football. Some winning football. Some inspiring football. We didn’t play with any emotion today. We were flat. Too flat.”
That’s always the danger, playing on the road, playing an early game – even after flying out on a Friday. Tyrann Mathieu called it the Cardinals’ M.O., to start slow in a road game. That seems fair, although it’s a dangerous way to live. Between Sunday and the opener in St. Louis, though, the Cardinals are going to have their share of what-ifs if they don’t make the playoffs.
– The up-tempo portion of the Eagles’ offense didn’t seem to bother the Cardinals a lot. “It was faster in (Cardinals’) practice,” Arians quipped. The play-action part of the offense did bother the Cardinals. That and the fact they couldn’t generate a turnover.
– OK, they did generate a turnover, but Patrick Peterson’s interception was wiped out. I haven’t had a chance to see the Mathieu hold yet. That pick would’ve delivered quite a storyline had it stood.
– I was down on the field with Michael Floyd about 10 yards away on that final pass his way. It did look like a penalty to me from down there, for what that’s worth.
– I’m an ASU grad (and yes, I enjoyed Saturday night very much.) But I don’t see how you can look at Nick Foles and see anything other than a potential long-term QB for Philly. He made a couple errors, but he runs that offense very well.
– Linebacker Matt Shaughnessy quietly had a very good game – seven tackles, four for loss, and a sack. He did get that (questionable) defensive holding call at the end. He’s been a guy whom I’d think the Cardinals want to extend on a contract. It will be interesting to see if they can lock him up.
– I think running back Andre Ellington would have helped had he not sat with the knee injury, but I don’t know if his absence cost the Cards the game. Rashard Mendenhall was good again, and Ellington wasn’t going to be able to block the pass rush or prevent Carson Palmer’s two underthrown interceptions.
– Arians wasn’t guaranteeing Ellington’s return against the Rams next week, either. The coach said he was going to be careful with Ellington, and that notion was reiterated post-game Sunday. “We’ll get him right before he plays again,” Arians said.
– Eagles punter Donnie Jones was fantastic. He punted eight times for Philadelphia. Seven were downed inside the 20. Peterson struggled on punt returns again. It’s odd that unit was so strong just a couple of years ago and now it’s a concern – not just because Peterson doesn’t score, but simply because there seems to be more danger of turnovers and bad field position.
– There wasn’t a lot of head hanging, even though this one could sting in the grand scheme of things. “I don’t think we took a step backward,” wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald said. Said Arians on losing the progress his team has been making, “Progress doesn’t stop because you lost the game.”
Well, there is still a lot of flight left. But we can ponder this more tomorrow.
Tags: Andre Ellington, Bruce Arians, Eagles, Karlos Dansby, Matt Shaughnessy, Nick Foles, Patrick Peterson, Rashard Mendenhall
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The Cardinals will be without running back Andre Ellington against the Eagles today, not a surprise after he hurt his left knee in practice Thursday, sat out Friday and coach Bruce Arians said then they would be careful with Ellington. That means the Cards have to live without their dynamic rookie today. Fellow running back Ryan Williams is still inactive, however, meaning the running back rotation will be Rashard Mendenhall and Stepfan Taylor with some Alfonso Smith sprinkled in. Wide receiver Brittan Golden is active for the first time since getting hurt against San Francisco.
The inactives aside from Ellington and Williams are familiar faces:
– QB Ryan Lindley
– LB Dontay Moch
– G Earl Watford
– TE Kory Sperry
– DE Ronald Talley
Tags: Andre Ellington, inactives, Ryan Williams
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The Cardinals would like to get an interception Sunday. That would be a start. It’d be a start in slowing the Eagles’ high-speed offense, and a start in taking young Eagles quarterback Nick Foles down a peg. Foles has thrown 16 touchdown passes in eight appearances (five starts and one other game of significant playing time), but has yet to throw an interception. It’s an impressive stretch for an inexperienced quarterback.
The Cards are among the best in the league in getting turnovers. So maybe this is where Foles’ luck changes a bit.
“You can’t worry about throwing an interception when you’re throwing the ball,” Foles said. “I expect them to come out ready to go, ready to try to mess it up. That’s what a defense does, and they’re a talented defense.”
Cornerback Patrick Peterson, on that potential mess: “Our goal is to try and make turnovers, force him into some bad throws,” Peterson said. “We’re not getting caught up in that. The offense seems to be rolling with him. When that opportunity, if that opportunity does come, we have to make the play.”
Profootballfocus.com said Foles has been under pressure on just 34.8 percent of his dropbacks. That makes life as a QB easier. Linebacker Daryl Washington said there have been times when Foles has thrown balls that can be intercepted. Sunday’s game might just turn on such a situation.
– I’ve already touched on the Andre Ellington gimpy knee situation, but obviously, no Ellington would make a difference. Bruce Arians made the point it’s just one guy, but at this point, Ellington is the speed of this offense, the guy who can go all the way on a single play. His status Sunday has to impact this game, one way or the other.
– The last time the Cardinals – winners of four straight – won five straight? That was back in 1977, when Don Coryell’s bunch won six in a row in a weird season when the Cardinals went just 7-7. The winning streak made their record 7-3, and they lost their final four.
– Peterson reflecting on linebacker Karlos Dansby’s interception return for a touchdown last week: “Almost every time we break the huddle, I rub his hands, give him some of my grip,” Peterson said. Peterson smiled. “He could be in the race for defensive MVP if he caught the last six he dropped.”
– The key to this game to me is Dansby and Washington. The two inside linebackers are playing so well, and when the Cards have beat the Eagles the last two meetings, Washington has been a major factor. With the Eagles’ speed and Shady McCoy running the ball, the Cards need big games from their inside men.
– Just like Todd Bowles is having a redemptive season with the Cards after struggling with the Eagles, Eagles defensive coordinator Bill Davis is winning confidence after he was fired as Cards’ DC back after the 2010 season (with a stop on the Browns staff in between).
– I don’t know if Larry Fitzgerald can get free as much as he usually does against the Eagles – Philly is of course running a different look than the Andy Reid years when they always seemed to let Fitz get loose – but the rise of Michael Floyd would seem to be incentive to watch Floyd much more closely. Which should help Fitz.
– “As coach Buck (defensive line coach Brentson Buckner) always says, ‘You are remembered with the games you win in November and December,’ ” Peterson said.
Here’s the Cards’ first chance in December. It’s kind of a big one too.
Tags: Andre Ellington, Bill Davis, Don Coryell, Eagles, Karlos Dansby, Nick Foles, Patrick Peterson, Todd Bowles
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Running back Andre Ellington will be a game-day decision after hurting his left knee late in Thursday’s practice. Ellington said it happened on a pass route and that it was already better than how it was feeling Thursday. Coach Bruce Arians said Ellington’s status will be determined on game day. Ellington didn’t practice Friday.
“Nothing real serious but we are going to be real careful with it,” Arians said.
As for the impact it would have without the dynamic playmaker, Arians was not surprisingly forward-thinking on the matter. “It would be just one guy out,” Arians said. “There are still a bunch of guys capable of taking his place, and we will make our adjustments.”
Ellington said he is hopeful to play. The game isn’t until Sunday, he said, and “that’s a lot of rest.” Of course, depending on what he did to tweak the knee, Ellington is facing a long plane flight to Philadelphia and sometimes, injuries can swell some in those instances. That’s why it’s tougher to tell a status before a road game. As for the Cards’ offense, Arians said, if Ellington couldn’t go it may cost the Cards “five or six plays” in the game plan.
I know the next question would be, if Ellington doesn’t play, would the Cardinals make Ryan Williams active. The last time a running back was down, and that was Rashad Mendenhall, Williams remained inactive. Would it change if the missing body was Ellington, since Mendenhall and Stepfan Taylor are essentially the same type of back? I’m not sure. At this point, it may take something more catastrophic for Williams to be used. And again, Ellington is hoping to be on the field. We won’t know until Sunday.
Tags: Andre Ellington, Bruce Arians, Eagles, Rashard Mendenhall, Ryan Williams, Stepfan Taylor
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Bruce Arians, first-time NFL head coach, is going back to where he was head coach for the first time — Philadelphia, where he lead Temple University back from 1983 to 1988. And the place and the job that Arians said “almost killed me.”
“I was in the hospital about seven times my last season,” Arians said. “When I was only 36 I felt like I was about 86. Stress will do funny things to you. I had a bunch of migraines every week, and I got fired and never had another one in my life.
“I tried to do too much. The one thing that I learned was that if I ever got a job again, and it took a little while, but I would learn to delegate. I was the head coach, offensive coordinator, quarterback coach, recruitment coordinator, I had my hands on the defense and special teams, so I was trying to do everything and I felt as if it was my job. I’ve learned now to let other people do their jobs, and they’re more than qualified to do them, and relax.”
Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles played for Arians at Temple, and the former safety was one of Arians’ captains.
“He was a good coach from the south,” Bowles said. “He came from Alabama where they ran the option and the veer and played eight-man fronts. He got up to Temple and played an eight-man front, and we were playing against (Doug) Flutie, (Dan) Marino and the other guys. It just wasn’t working. It was like, ‘Coach, we’re up east now, you’ve got to change.’ But he was outstanding. He was hard on us but he was fair, just like he is now. He’s very honest. He tells you when you’re good and when you’re bad.”
Arians is 61 now, finally enjoying his second head coaching job that he wasn’t sure would ever come. The Cardinals leave for the Eagles game Friday, and the team will hold their Saturday morning walkthrough at Temple.
“It’ll be fun,” Arians said. “Hopefully I’ll see some of the pictures when I had hair. But, yeah, it’s always fun going back. Temple kids are extremely dear to me. Those six years were fabulous. Probably stayed in touch with them more than any other college players I’ve ever coached. That group of guys, some were on my staff, I’ve coached with a bunch of them.”
– Here’s what the Cardinals are not giving thanks for on Thanksgiving: Running back Andre Ellington being put on the injury report as limited with a knee problem. He wasn’t on there Wednesday, so I’d guess it happened Thursday, but we won’t know until Arians talks Friday. The Cards need Ellington.
– A good story by SI’s Jim Trotter on the improving Cards’ offense. It’s something I wrote about earlier in the week, but it was interesting to hear Carson Palmer saying the mental error list was a page-and-a-half much of the season and now it is down to a quarter page. Another Palmer quote on the early-season offense: “It was a mess.”
– Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.
Tags: Andre Ellington, Bruce Arians, Carson Palmer, Eagles, Temple, Todd Bowles
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