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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The draft class of 2011, by rule of the collective bargaining agreement, could not receive a contract extension/new deal until after three seasons in the NFL — which makes it after the close of the 2013 regular season. Patrick Peterson, rising star and two-for-two in Pro Bowls thus far, is from the class of 2011. General Manager Steve Keim has never said the Cardinals will be addressing Peterson’s deal after the season, but at some point, it will be discussed. (Peterson is technically under contract through 2014, although there is a team option for 2015. I’d guess neither side wants it to come to that.)
The news Peterson is changing agents isn’t completely shocking. These things happen a lot. I remember Anquan Boldin changing agents a couple of times ahead of his first contract extension. There’s no way to know exactly why Peterson is making a change, and it could be tied to potential upcoming negotiations. This is not a small amount of money we will be talking about.
But I don’t think this will have a ton to do with the Cardinals and their future with Peterson in this regard: Peterson, even at his age, is pretty business-savvy. He knows what he is worth. I think the Cards and Peterson were going to have to hammer out an expensive deal no matter who the agent would be. That it is happening now may speak to Peterson’s expectations on a timeline for such a thing, but that probably is all it will be. Keim knows Peterson’s value, and has never wavered in the idea Peterson will be here long term.
UPDATE: And apparently Peterson isn’t wavering either. after the Pro Bowler put out this tweet Wednesday night:
I’m not going anywhere, I’m here to stay. The ppl who once was is tho.
— Patrick Peterson (@RealPeterson21) November 28, 2013
Tags: Patrick Peterson
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As far back as the summer, Bruce Arians was speculating that Michael Floyd could become a breakout wide receiver this season. The last two weeks seem to underscore Floyd’s coming-out year. He had the 193 yards in Jacksonville, including his memorable 91-yard score, but his game against the Colts seemed to put all of Floyd’s abilities on display in one tidy little package.
Floyd was targeted seven times by quarterback Carson Palmer. He made seven catches (for 104 yards). Here’s how it broke down:
– First quarter. Second-and-6, IND 48. Floyd runs a crossing pattern about four yards downfield and then, in stride, makes the catch and easily adds another five yards for the first down.
– Second quarter. Second-and-6, AZ 45: Floyd runs deep down the right sideline and makes a nice one-on-one jump-ball catch for 29 yards.
– Second quarter. Second-and-6, IND 36: Palmer is flushed from the pocket rolling right. He has to launch a pass to the right sideline almost all arm, but Floyd has smartly broken off his route and come back to the ball, snaring it for an 11-yard gain. Yet another first down. (Are you sensing a pattern?)
– Second quarter. Second-and-10, AZ 33: Floyd makes the grab a yard or so short of the first-down marker. But he powers through the attempted tackle of Colts cornerback Cassius Vaughn for what ends up as a 13-yard gain.
– Third quarter. Third-and-14, 50: Floyd knows right where the first-down marker is on the right sideline. Then he leaps to snare a high pass (pictured below) for a 14-yard gain. Analyst Dan Fouts, a former QB, talks about how nice it is to have tall receivers so the quarterback can throw it high and the wideout can just go up and get it away from the defender. At 6-foot-3, Floyd certainly qualifies.
– Third quarter. Second-and-8, IND 34: A simple slant pattern on the move, gains about five yards after the catch on a nine-yard completion.
– Third quarter. Second-and-12, AZ 27: The “easiest” play of the day. A skinny post to gain 19 yards and Floyd slips at the end, meaning he doesn’t even get hit on the play. A beautiful choice/throw by Palmer, and a solid route run.
Floyd earns a first down on each of his seven catches. On the day, he shows his ability to run precise routes, to break a tackle for extra yards, to run after catch, and to be able to go up and get a pass. He shows his sure hands. And if he keeps producing (Floyd is now on pace to have 71 receptions for 1,107 yards) teams are going to have to start paying more attention to him — and that in theory should take some of the attention away from Larry Fitzgerald, freeing him up more often.
Said Arians, “(Michael) is the big-time player I hoped he’d become.”
Tags: Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd
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It only makes sense, as the offense rounds to form, that the points are starting to come for the Cardinals. At this point, the Cards have 254 points scored this season after 11 games. All of last season, the Cardinals scored 250. (And a h/t to Kent Somers for pointing it out.) But the points are coming in many ways that are new. The mere fact that the Cardinals have scored at least 20 points in seven straight games is nice, since last year, the Cardinals reached 20 points exactly once in their final 12 games of the season.
As was mentioned Sunday, the 40 points against the Colts was the most the Cards had scored since beating Denver, 43-13 — I like to refer to it as Jay Feely’s Fantastic Show – in December of 2010. It was also the fourth straight game the Cardinals scored at least 25 points. The last time that happened? Back in Weeks 3 through 6 of 1988, the Cards’ inaugural season in Arizona, when Neil Lomax and company scored at least 30 in beating the Bucs, Redskins, Rams and Steelers.
It isn’t as if the Cards are scorching the scoreboard. They are on pace for a respectable 369 points, although that falls short of the 400-plus points the Cardinals scored in 2007 and 2008. They are still only 18th in the league in points. But after last year, when they were next-to-last in points (to the Chiefs), the trend is encouraging. And pointed up.
Tags: Jay Feely, Neil Lomax, offense
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There are more than a few Cardinals players that have taken part in the Movember movement this month, although none have been quite as front and center as Carson Palmer — for better or worse.
I’ve seen some bad Movember mustaches. Carson Palmer’s might take the cake.
— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) November 24, 2013
Palmer understands the power that his mustache brings. In his own video, he says “my mustache is ginger, but very Tom Selleck.” A quote that will live in infamy. But wait, this might go even deeper. The mustache was started in November. Palmer has played in three very good games in November. The coincidence is staggering.
Palmer has 111 attempts in those three games, completing 76 of those for a percentage of 68.5. He has totaled 974 yards, six touchdowns, one interception and a passer rating of 110.0. Those are impressive numbers, especially for a fan base that is now reaching out to implore Palmer not to shave. Technically, Sunday’s game against the Eagles is in December — the time will have passed for a mustache Palmer already had acknowledged wasn’t a favorite with his family. But that might just change.
“I don’t know,” Palmer said. “I have to talk to my Mo bros, my other QB guys,” Palmer said. “We will come to a decision here.”
There are only so many QBs that can pull it off (although Drew Stanton has worked the mustache angle hard this month.) One guy who did it was Joe Namath, who sported that look back in 1968. Oh, and hey, how did Namath’s season go in 1968? The Colts know. Maybe it’s another reason to stick with the ‘stache.
Tags: Carson Palmer, Drew Stanton, Joe Namath
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Sometimes, practice doesn’t make perfect. Sometimes, it’s only game-action that truly can forge what a player can do. That’s often tackling, because you can’t practice it live against your own teammates. And for similar reasons, it’s the same for the jump balls a quarterback throws to a receiver.
From the lofted fade pattern to Larry Fitzgerald for a touchdown to the 29-yard bomb to Michael Floyd early in the second quarter, Carson Palmer tossed it up and counted on his receivers to bring it down.
(Poor Vontae Davis, who was the cornerback victimized on both plays. Obviously, the Cards sensed a weakness.)
Those jump balls weren’t being caught early in the year, for a variety of reasons. Who can forget the interception early in the year on the long jump-ball pass to Floyd, the one Bruce Arians said he thought Floyd should have broken up? Or even a lack of jump balls thrown to Fitz, which might’ve just been a case of Fitz’s hamstrings and being physically limited. But if the Cards can try more of those down the stretch to Fitz and Floyd, the chunk plays and the scoring plays should keep coming.
Especially now that Palmer has a trust good things will happen. He couldn’t have known that this summer, or even really in training camp.
“With those kinds of things, you don’t gain trust and know the plays the guy can make or can’t make until you’re playing games with guys,” Palmer said. “In practice, nobody is going up for 50-50 balls, risking an ankle injury or coming down on a shoulder, so you have to see it in games.
“I’m starting to realize the types of plays that those guys have the ability to make and the types of plays they don’t. I’m getting a feel for where I can put certain balls. It’s just something that when you see it on the film and when you see it on the field, you can’t practice that. You can’t see it in practice and all of a sudden go, ‘OK, I know exactly how he’s going to react to this.’ You’ve got to see it on game day. Mike (Floyd) has done a great job making those plays recently.”
Tags: Bruce Arians, Carson Palmer, Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd
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