It’s only fitting David Johnson was named AP all-pro this season, and while I understand why Ezekiel Elliott earned the running back nod on the team, I personally felt like Johnson earned it. It’s good they changed the rules to allow for a “flex” player (instead of a fullback) because it would have been wrong for Johnson not to be a first-team this year. But I can’t really argue with the other decisions. I’ve heard from a couple of people about Patrick Peterson, but the players that earned the first- and second-team slots — Aqib Talib, Marcus Peters, Janoris Jenkins, Casey Hayward, Malcom Butler — all had really good years. It was good to see Calais Campbell with a second-team nod. He was good all season but really came on in the second half of the year. It’s too bad the whole team couldn’t have that consistency in their playoff push.
It was interesting to me as I looked back over the years to see what Cardinals made first-team AP all-pro that Larry Fitzgerald earned that honor only once — fittingly, in 2008, when he not only was great in the regular season but had the best playoff run any receiver has ever (and while I know there are arguments to be made for a couple of other guys, having witnessed what Fitz did in those four games, you’ll never convince me otherwise that anyone ever did it better.)
— A quick thought on the ongoing Fitz-Carson Palmer retirement speculation. Nothing has changed for me. I have long believed and still believe Palmer will play in 2017. I think if, for whatever reason, Palmer did leave, that would seal Fitzgerald’s decision. But like I said, I believe Palmer is going to play. I still think Fitz hasn’t made up his mind. Won’t surprise me whatever decision he makes (so I guess I’m saying I think he’s 50-50.) I know he took the ball for his last catch/touchdown, but he has kept significant footballs before — and don’t forget, this one did net him an NFL receptions-title — and besides, it can’t hurt to take it just in case. If he comes back, fine. I don’t think the football gives any hints, other than he is considering retirement, which we knew already.
— Don’t forget to take a listen to our Cardinals Underground wrapup season podcast.
— In case you missed it (and maybe you might’ve, since this is the first year I didn’t put it in the blog), here was my annual roster breakdown, along with who is a free agent-to-be.
Tags: All-Pro, Calais Campbell, Carson Palmer, David Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, Patrick Peterson
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Remember the last time the Cardinals went to Carolina for a playoff game? It turned out pretty well for the Cards. They flipped Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme into a turnover-machine – six in all – as the Cards crushed the 12-4 Panthers on their Super Bowl run.
The Cardinals (and the Panthers, for that matter) are way different than that team. Only three Cardinals who were there in the 2008 season will be on the field Saturday: wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (who destroyed the Panthers that night), center Lyle Sendlein and defensive end Calais Campbell, who was just a rookie.
“That game didn’t start well but we knew from playing them earlier in the season we could beat them,” Campbell said this week, choosing “resilience” as the one word to describe that game.
Campbell’s current team is looking for that resilience. The Cardinals are the underdog for their playoff game – as usual, coach Bruce Arians said – but even with a two-game losing streak, they carry with them a confidence they will be fine. Everyone has the same record at this point is the message coming from the team’s locker room. It’s a fresh start.
The Cards were the underdog once upon a time too. “I remember at halftime, Kurt Warner saying, ‘We’ve got them down, we’ve just got to finish them,’ ” Campbell said of that night in January, 2009. “He didn’t talk big too often, so when he said ‘Finish them,’ we all got focused.”
We’ll see where the Cardinals’ focus is Saturday.
— Campbell was named second-team all-pro Friday, underscoring a big season in which Campbell also was named to his first Pro Bowl. Campbell got 11 votes at defensive end, trailing only Houston’s J.J. Watt (unanimous 50 votes) and Buffalo’s Mario Williams (24). (Campbell also got a vote at defensive tackle for some reason.)
Four Cardinals got a single AP vote at their respective positions: tackle Jared Veldheer, linebacker Larry Foote, kicker Chandler Catanzaro and safety Rashad Johnson.
— There isn’t much more to be analyzed about quarterback Ryan Lindley. He can’t turn the ball over, and while he shouldn’t have to throw for 260 yards in a half for the Cardinals to win, he will have to make some plays. In a lot of ways, this game feels like it will come down to the quarterbacks – The Cards need Lindley to hold up, and they need to hold down Cam Newton.
— There was a players-only meeting Monday after the 49ers game. “I think a lot of good things we said in there,” Arians said during his appearance on the “Bickley and Marotta” show on Arizona Sports 98.7, and it was probably some important things. When you are having issues communicating – which especially has happened on defense a few times – and there is a need to refocus on the tackling, such a meeting can help. If nothing else, it was a chance for guys to clear the air and make sure the most important message was heard: It’s not easy to get to the playoffs or win in them. Don’t squander the opportunity with self-inflicted mistakes.
— Arians said he doesn’t want the defense to feel it has to do extra just because Lindley is at quarterback. Interestingly, that’s the opposite of what former Buccaneers coach-turned-ESPN-analyst Jon Gruden said he did once upon a time.
“The year we won the Super Bowl (in the 2002 season), we had to beat Chicago in Week 16 with our backup quarterback, and we had never won a game in below‑freezing temperature,” Gruden said. “So what I did is I went down to Warren Sapp’s locker and Derrick Brooks and Ronde Barber and said we’ve got to play some defense tonight.
“That’s what Bruce Arians has to do. You’ve got to go get Calais Campbell, you’ve go get your star players on defense, hopefully Larry Foote is ready to go, get Patrick Peterson and Cromartie and say, ‘Let’s pick it up, let’s play the game of the year on the road.’ Go down to Ted Ginn and say ‘Return a punt just like you did against the Giants.’ Let’s get after them in the kicking game, as well. Let’s run the ball. Let’s not be afraid to punt the football, and let’s take our shots here and there when we strategically get the one‑on‑one isolations that we want. Don’t turn it over, play great defense, and find a way to win.”
— The chance for rain on game day has shrunk to 50 percent. It’s also warmer in Charlotte than it is in Phoenix.
— The Panthers did finish on a four-game win streak, but they played four sub-.500 teams – the Saints, Bucs, Browns and Falcons. Something to consider.
— Getting Larry Foote back at inside linebacker is more important than most realize, I think.
— The Cards, if they win, won’t know where they are playing until Sunday. A Cowboys win Sunday and the Cardinals would travel to Seattle. A Lions win, and the Cards would travel to Green Bay.
Of course, they’ve got to win first.
Tags: All-Pro, Calais Campbell, Chandler Catanzaro, Jon Gruden, Larry Foote, Rashad Johnson, Ryan Lindley
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Patrick Peterson’s big year just got a little better Friday, when he was named first-team All-Pro by the Associated Press. The AP All-Pro team has generally been accepted as the “the” All-Pro team of the NFL. It encompasses the entire NFL, not a conference. Peterson joined Seattle’s Richard Sherman as the cornerback choice. And there is some good news for linebacker Karlos Dansby, who was a Pro Bowl snub. Dansby ended up making second-team All-Pro along with Bengals star and former ASU Sun Devil Vontaze Burfict. The first team inside linebackers were Luke Kuechly of Carolina and NaVorro Bowman of San Francisco.
— Patrick Peterson (@RealPeterson21) January 3, 2014
It was interesting that there is no second-team All-Pro quarterback — which can only mean that Denver’s Peyton Manning received all 50 of the votes from the AP selection committee.
I know a lot of people, for some reason, had issues with Peterson’s play this season. I get the frustration as punt returner but I thought Peterson was very good most of the time at cornerback. I believe he is deserving of an All-Pro slot. I guess I wasn’t the only one. It was nice to see Dansby recognized after he did not get named to the Pro Bowl list nor rank high enough on the alternate list to be so named. There are some great inside linebackers in the NFL right now, though. Patrick Willis, for instance, is not on the All-Pro list.
Tags: All-Pro, Karlos Dansby, Luke Kuechly, NaVorro Bowman, Patrick Peterson, Peyton Manning, Richard Sherman, Vontaze Burfict
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Safety Adrian Wilson — who is apparently declining all interviews this week, for whatever reason — was named to the AP All-Pro team, a prestigious honor given that it encompasses both conferences and is basically seen as the “official” All-Pro team. He’s the only Card to make the team. That team is selected by a nation-wide panel of journalists who cover the NFL.
Wilson didn’t make the Sporting News All-Pro team, but teammate Darnell Dockett did make it on defense, while wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald made it on offense. The Sporting News team was selected by polling 636 NFL players, coaches and executives.
Tags: Adrian Wilson, All-Pro, Darnell Dockett, Larry Fitzgerald
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