It could have been any other game, any other result. Todd Bowles isn’t getting too high, or too low. And the defensive coordinator isn’t going to overreach with his praise either. His unit simply shut down the Lions Sunday, but Bowles will be Bowles.
“I thought they played hard,” Bowles said. “We did good in the process of understanding about not giving up the big play. We missed quite a few tackles, but we played hard and we played together. Biggest thing we did was finish the ballgame. The last two weeks we kind of took the foot off the pedal.”
Forget for a moment the Cardinals closed with a nasty fourth quarter last week (two touchdowns against the Rams), or that the TD allowed late in Dallas was completely meaningless. That’s why Bowles will keep getting the best from his unit. All his players joked this week after Bowles signed his extension that it wasn’t a big deal because they all feel his days are numbered anyway, and it does seem likely he’ll have a shot at a head coaching job if he wants it.
But in the first game A.C. (after Carson), the Cardinals won they way they have won all season. They did enough on offense, and the defense was stout. And lookee here: They have a three-game lead in the NFC West with six to play.
– Drew Stanton, for the first two-and-most-of-a-third possessions, made the Cards’ offense look excellent. The Cards were moving toward a third TD in a row until Stanton threw his first interception (Stanton said he never saw the linebacker.) How about the offensive line making sure Stanton wasn’t sacked, especially against that defense? I do think this offense will be OK with Stanton. I want to see how they run next week in Seattle – the Chiefs made the Seahawks’ run D look very ordinary Sunday.
– It was the play of the game but it wasn’t. Drew Butler’s punt was about to be downed at the Detroit 1-yard line, but Justin Bethel tossed the ball back as he was falling into the end zone. Mike Leach and Rob Housler couldn’t grab it, but the Lions’ Jeremy Ross did. It’s one of those quirky NFL rules – once a punting team touches the ball, if it is not downed, the receiving team can pick it up and return it with no fear of turning it over. Once it is touched, even if it is subsequently fumbled, the receiving team keeps it. So Ross had nothing to lose and he took it back to the Arizona 46.
Detroit was only down eight at the time. Smartly, Bruce Arians challenged, saying Bethel had possession before he tossed it back and it should’ve been whistled dead. Lo and behold, the play was overturned. A huge moment.
“I was like, ‘No, I was in the end zone! This is a touchback!’ ” Bethel said. “Then I said, ‘Darn, my good feet.’ … It turned in our favor. We got the call.”
– Larry Fitzgerald will get an MRI after hurting his left knee but he returned to the game to make the game-clinching first-down catch and he was walking around in the locker room pretty well after the game.
– Andre Ellington also got up slowly a couple of times after carries, but he said he was fine. “It’s one of those things, guys fall on me,” Ellington said. “They try and find ways to slow me down. It was one of those late falldowns on the pile.”
– Welcome back, Michael Floyd.
– Four more sacks for the Cardinals after six last week. Alex Okafor had two and looks more and more like a guy who can help off the edge long-term. I think he’s played well and it will be interesting to see what the Cards do with the lineup when Matt Shaughnessy – who can return to practice this week – can play again in three weeks.
– You can live with interceptions from Stanton but watching him make the tackles on both is kind of scary.
– That last Drew Butler end-over-end punt that pinned the Lions on their own 11? He almost dropped the snap. Yeah, that would’ve been a mess. “I looked up and it slipped out of my hands,” Butler said. “I just let it out. In those situations, you just want to put them inside the 20.”
– Big one in Seattle next week. The Cardinals win, they would all but eliminate the Seahawks. Never thought I’d be saying that in November.
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The first game of the post-Carson Palmer part of the season will feature three active quarterbacks. Drew Stanton starts, with Logan Thomas No. 2 and Ryan Lindley No. 3. It makes a lot of sense. While Thomas will go in if something happens to Stanton, Lindley provides a little bit of a safety net with a player who at least has starting experience.
Alameda Ta’amu is also active, since DT Ed Stinson is sitting with his toe injury.
The full inactive list:
– RB Kerwynn Williams
– LB Desmond Bishop
– LB Glenn Carson
– DT Ed Stinson (toe)
– DE Josh Mauro
– G Earl Watford
– TE Darren Fells
The Lions are without starting running back Reggie Bush and starting tight end Brandon Pettigrew today.
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Fitting, perhaps, that the first game of the defining portion of Drew Stanton’s career will be against the team he grew up watching and then playing for. Stanton moved to Michigan while in high school and later played at Michigan State, and then the Detroit Lions drafted him.
It never quite worked out with the Lions, and then Matthew Stafford showed up. He went to the Jets – briefly – until Tim Tebow showed up. He went to the Colts, and at least Andrew Luck was already on his way, and at least he met Bruce Arians. But then he came to the Cardinals, and while Arians warned him the Cards were likely going to bring in another veteran quarterback, none of the names Arians told Stanton at the time were Carson Palmer. So Palmer arrived, and Arians admitted Stanton was “pissed.”
Stanton is a pro, though. He’s been the model of a great backup, right down to his fill-in stint earlier this season when he won a pair of games. It’s Stanton’s team now. Not Stafford’s, or Luck’s, or Palmer’s. This is his chance. The Cardinals don’t have to win Sunday to make it to where they want to go, but it sure would help to take another one at home, especially in the first game without Palmer.
– Larry Fitzgerald has been a huge part of the offense of late. Michael Floyd has not. It’ll be interesting to see how the passing game unfolds. Don’t forget, Stanton’s last start – against a pretty good Denver pass rush – featured Stanton completing just 11 of 26 passes, so no one was really getting the ball. That, obviously, needs to change. (Although, as it has been pointed out to me, there were a bunch of drops that game too.)
– It’ll be very interesting to see how the interior of the Cards’ offensive line handles Ndamukong Suh after the tough game that group had last week against the Rams. The coaches have had their collective back all week, confident Paul Fanaika, Lyle Sendlein and Ted Larsen will bounce back.
– Fanaika was fined $8,268 for hitting a Rams player after the play during last week’s game, a penalty that cost the Cards 15 valuable yards. Speaking of 15 valuable yards, the illegal blindside block of tight end Lance Kendricks on Cardinals safety Tony Jefferson – the one that turned a Jared Cook 25-yard catch deep into Arizona territory into just 10 yards, eventually costing the Rams a scoring chance – cost Kendricks a whopping $22,050.
- The Cardinals should benefit from the return of running back Stepfan Taylor this week. Taylor isn’t going to come in and run for 100 yards, but he can handle some pass protection and give the Cards some flexibility in what they’re doing with Andre Ellington. Marion Grice seemed to struggle last week in both route-running and pass protection.
– Don’t forget to bring some canned food to the food drive being held prior to Sunday’s game.
– Hall of Fame cornerback Aeneas Williams, inducted into Canton in August, will receive his Hall of Fame ring during a halftime ceremony.
– This is how to win games: No team in the league has been more proficient in scoring defensive touchdowns since the beginning of the 2008 season as the Cardinals have been. The Cardinals have eight defensive touchdowns in that span (six via interceptions, two via fumbles), tying them with the Kansas City Chiefs.
– If you are looking for some podcasting goodness and some perspective on Palmer’s absence, check out Cardinals Underground.
– Speaking of Palmer, his wired segment featuring last week’s game/press conference will air Saturday morning at 9 a.m. on ABC-15 (and will be posted to azcardinals.com sometime after that.)
– It’s not often that the defensive coordinators get a lot of ink before a game, even for teams with good defenses like the Cards and Lions. But Todd Bowles had his stellar year interrupted by the news of his new contract, and Lions DC Teryl Austin – who was on Whiz’s coaching staff for three years – gets to come home.
– Both these teams have been special in the fourth quarter. You know what the Cardinals have done. The Lions have won the last three games on scores inside the final two minutes (or overtime.)
“If the game is close, there is an honest-to-God belief we will win that ballgame somehow, some way,” Arians said, and it’s difficult to argue that.
– The Cards aren’t a favorite of many anymore, now that Palmer is out (and they weren’t necessarily before Palmer got hurt either). Arians doesn’t care. “No one outside of that locker room matters,” Arians said. “It’s us against the world and we love that part of it.”
Drew, you’re up.
Tags: Aeneas Williams, Drew Stanton, Larry Fitzgerald, Lions, Michael Floyd, Paul Fanaika, Stepfan Taylor, Teryl Austin, Todd Bowles, Tony Jefferson
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Four Cardinals have appeared among the top 10 at their positions in the first release of Pro Bowl voting this season. Andre Ellington is ninth among running backs (ahead of LeSean McCoy at No. 10), Patrick Peterson is sixth among cornerbacks, Justin Bethel is seventh for special teamers, and rookie Chandler Catanzaro is fifth among kickers.
No Fitz, although he’s just now starting to round into form, and no Antonio Cromartie, who is playing well. And no Calais Campbell.
I know Campbell missed two games and doesn’t have eye-popping numbers. But he was a star against the Rams last week, and at this point in his career, it would be a shame if he didn’t get more attention as a Pro Bowl candidate. Not that Campbell really is thinking about it.
“This time of year I don’t pay too much attention to it,” Campbell said. “I just want to do what it takes to win the game, and typically that means (I) play well. Pro Bowl comes with playing well. … I hope I get to avoid playing in the Pro Bowl because we are playing in the Super Bowl. That’s my ultimate goal. But you do want recognition when you are playing well.”
Of course, then Campbell downplays how he has done, noting his missed games and the knee that isn’t going to be quite right all season, even as he plays at a high level.
“I just can’t wait to be healthy so I can try to take over a game,” Campbell said. “We need a big play, and I want to be able to dig deep and come up with the big play.”
To vote for the Pro Bowl, click here or go to http://www.azcardinals.com/fan-zone/official-2015-pro-bowl.html.
Tags: Andre Ellington, Calais Campbell, Chandler Catanzaro, Justin Bethel, Patrick Peterson, Pro Bowl
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There’s been nothing official announced by the team, but multiple reports (first from profootballtalk.com) have this morning that the Cardinals have extended the contract of defensive coordinator Todd Bowles through the 2017 season. UPDATE: Bowles confirmed he has signed the extension. The story here.
Bowles also will reportedly be among the highest paid assistants in the league. It doesn’t mean Bowles couldn’t/wouldn’t leave for a head coaching job, but Bowles has always maintained he would only leave for the right head coaching situation and getting more money and having a good thing here in Arizona certainly gives him more flexibility in keeping to that mindset.
Bowles meets with the media every Thursday, so he’ll be speaking post-practice. I’m guessing this will be a topic.
It’s not the first time the Cardinals have been proactive with a contract upgrade for a coordinator who could be leaving for a head coaching job. After the 2007 season, the Cards gave offensive coordinator Todd Haley a new deal, scuttling a head coaching interview with Miami and Haley’s one-time mentor, Bill Parcells. Haley stayed, and steered the offense that got the Cardinals to the Super Bowl the next season. He then left to become the Kansas City Chiefs’ head coach.
Bowles has been tremendous for the Cardinals in his season-plus as coordinator. This season especially, with Bowles working his schematic magic with a lineup beset by personnel losses through injuries and suspension. The Cards certainly hope he will stick around, although coach Bruce Arians said from the moment he hired Bowles and offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin that was the goal was to get both head coaching jobs.
Tags: Todd Bowles
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The Cardinals are going to red-and-red this weekend against the Lions.
For the first time this season, the uniform combo will be red uniform, red pants, which I’m sure will thrill some of you out there. Last year, the Cardinals were red-on-red for their final three home games of the season, going 2-1. Maybe with the second part of this season beginning Sunday — the Drew Stanton chapter — it’s fitting the Cards go with a different look. Plus, Christmas is coming too, so red. Right?
– Heads up: The latest edition of the Cardinals Underground podcast is up. Click here.
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Bruce Arians was asked why specifically he had no interest in putting guard Jonathan Cooper in the starting lineup. His answer, as always, was blunt.
“If he was one of the best players, it’d be different,” Arians said. “He hasn’t shown he is one of the best players. He’s gotten a lot better than he was and I think he has a great future as long as he continues to do what he’s doing.”
Why isn’t the 2013 No. 1 draft pick one of the best, Arians was asked.
“The consistency in everything, staying off the ground, everything that goes into playing,” Arians said. “He gets his hands full with Calais (Campbell) every day on the scout team so I see improvement there. But there is nothing glaring where you’d say, ‘Take him out, put him in.’ That would be easy.”
Starting guards Ted Larsen and Paul Fanaika have not always been consistent, Arians and GM Steve Keim have said in the past. The line has to be better in the run game, Arians said. But the line isn’t going to include Cooper. Not now (which Arians has steadfastly said all season.)
“If I thought (playing Cooper) would fix it, hell yeah, I’d make the move,” Arians said. “I ain’t an idiot.”
– Defensive lineman Ed Stinson (groin, toe) and linebacker Desmond Bishop (hamstring) aren’t practiced today. DT Dan Williams, RB Stepfan Taylor, RB Andre Ellington, LB Lorenzo Alexander and S Deone Bucannon all are limited in practice today, Arians said.
Tags: Bruce Arians, Jonathan Cooper
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It’s been all over social media today, but the Cardinals have made it back on to a Sports Illustrated (regional) cover this week by highlighting Smokey Brown’s fantastic touchdown catch against the Rams in a story titled – fittingly, “Next Man Up.”
But the Cardinals have been there before in recent times. Larry Fitzgerald was the poster boy for SI as the NFL players were set to come back from the lockout in 2011, with a shot of him sitting in a locker room all serious-like. And then there were the back-to-back-to-back covers during the 2008 season playoff run, with Fitz and Kurt Warner. (Yes, technically, DBs DRC, Aaron Francisco and Ralph Brown had a cameo on the SI cover the next week, but surprisingly I don’t have a picture of the Santonio Holmes cover).
And please, no one talk about jinxes to me. I don’t buy into them. Never have. Just enjoy the picture.
Tags: John Brown, Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald, Sports Illustrated
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Carson Palmer was officially put on injured reserve today, ending his season. In his place comes Ryan Lindley, signed back from the Chargers’ practice squad, where he’s been since the Cardinals cut him near the end of the preseason. It makes all the sense in the world. Bruce Arians has talked about the advances Lindley made in his game all last season and into camp, and if it wasn’t for Logan Thomas’ upside, Lindley might’ve stuck around as a third QB.
It makes all the sense in the world. At this point, the Cards want someone that knows the system. Lindley knows it, having played in it for more than a year. He knows the quarterbacks in the room. He’s a smart guy.
Earlier this season, the Cardinals signed Dennis Dixon to the practice squad for a few days before the Washington game, when the statuses of Palmer and Drew Stanton were up in the air. I think the Cards might’ve have grabbed Lindley at the time — except, because he was on the San Diego practice squad, they would’ve had to put him on the active roster and kept him there for at least three weeks. Knowing Palmer and Stanton wouldn’t be down that long, that didn’t make sense. Now that Palmer is out for the season, it does.
What would be interesting will be if something happens to Stanton long-term. I think Thomas is the backup for now. But if the Cards need to go to the bench for a start, would Lindley jump to the head of the line? He’s at least started in this league, and it’s hard to see Thomas being ready for that yet.
– In a related note, Stanton’s pregnant wife gave birth to his daughter, so Stanton has had this week work out nicely — baby on the off day, practice as starter set for Wednesday.
Tags: Carson Palmer, Drew Stanton, Logan Thomas, Ryan Lindley
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Much more to come on azcardinals.com, but the worst fears of the Cardinals and quarterback Carson Palmer were comfirmed: Palmer indeed tore the ACL in his left knee against the Rams, ending his season. Drew Stanton is now the quarterback going forward, backed up by Logan Thomas and a likely third-stringer. Bruce Arians said the Cards are looking at candidates, but it figures to be someone that knows the system, like a Dennis Dixon or a Ryan Lindley.
It’s a gut-punch to a team having a wonderful season and one to Palmer, who talked about how much fun he is having and how much this hurts him emotionally. He also said, despite just signing a contract extension Friday, he hopes to still be around next year. I’m pretty sure that’s the plan, but Palmer is no dummy. He knows how the NFL works, and how teams do what is best for the franchise. Still, Arians has been talking about Palmer in 2015, so there’s a good reason to think Palmer isn’t going anywhere.
The good news is that the ACL tear is only an ACL tear. It’s not the complete explosion in the left knee that Palmer suffered when he was hurt back in January, 2006. Palmer said doctors have told him the surgery for his current injury has become routine, like setting a bone. Both he and Arians talked about Palmer returning possibly for OTAs next summer. Wouldn’t that be something.
“I’m going to play football again,” Palmer said. “I hope it’s here.”
I’ll have the full story up on the site as soon as possible (and click here for the story). The full Carson Palmer press conference will be posted later this afternoon as well.
Tags: Bruce Arians, Carson Palmer
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