When Beanie Wells said on Christmas Eve he thought it was “inevitable” he would be moving on from the Cardinals, it spotlighted what will be one of the positions that will see scrutiny this offseason.
Beanie could be brought back — his rookie contract runs through next season — but will the Cards want that? Beanie acknowledged “it’s a performance-based business and I don’t know if I’ve done things up to our organization’s standards here.” He’s had flashes, like his dominance against the Giants and the Rams last season, but those games came few and far between. Up until this season, he actually missed fewer games than many thought, but the constant storyline of his various aliments were what stuck in many fans’ minds. (It didn’t help that both Beanie and the team remained incredibly vague about some injuries, particularly his knee issues.)
Back in 2009, the top three running backs drafted were Knowshon Moreno by the Broncos (12th), Donald Brown by the Colts (27th) and Wells (31st). None have really sparkled, although Moreno, given a chance to return from the scrap heap of late after Willis McGahee’s injury, has done well. Beanie certainly showed — especially as a rookie — he could be special. He just didn’t do it often enough, and the problems at quarterback have not helped.
Bigger picture, the Cardinals will need to reassess where they are at the spot. Ryan Williams told me today he feels the best he has in two years with the Cards. His rehab has gone well with his shoulder — he is due a final surgery this week as a follow-up, he said — and the knee wrecked in 2011 is in great shape. He said he will be full-go in the offseason for the first time this spring. But again, Williams has to stay healthy for him to make an impact, and he hasn’t been in two seasons.
LaRod Stephens-Howling, who will be an unrestricted free agent in March, has not gotten a contract extension offer yet from the team. The Cardinals do want to bring him back, but it’s looking more and more like the Hyphen (below) will be allowed to test the market first. From there, anything can happen.
Guys like William Powell and Alfonso Smith will probably be kept around this offseason, but their future I’d guess will tie directly into what direction the team goes with the rest of the running back unit.
It’ll start with the decision on Beanie, however. When everyone is healthy, Beanie is the starter. Or at least he has been. We’ll see if the vibe Wells has is accurate.
Tags: Alfonso Smith, Beanie Wells, LaRod Stephens-Howling, Ryan Williams, William Powell
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Coach Ken Whisenhunt usually isn’t real forthcoming with injuries on Monday mornings, but he did say today that the shoulder injury suffered by tight end Rob Housler Sunday against the Bears is serious enough that Housler won’t be playing against the 49ers this week in the finale. On that topic, Whiz sounded pretty sure of himself. On the quarterback topic, his decision on whom to start not as much.
Whisenhunt praised Brian Hoyer’s play, given the circumstances. Hoyer remains a logical guess to be starter against the 49ers.
“We haven’t even watched the tape with the team yet,” Whisenhunt said. “I’m hesitant until we go through some of those things. There are always situations that come up where you want to find out what was going through the player’s mind, what they were thinking, that all goes into the decision part of it.”
Whiz acknowledged it is “unfortunate” the Cards are again unsure of who to play. “At that position, you have to have stability, you have to have consistency of play, and we haven’t had that,” Whisenhunt said.
– Finally, running back Beanie Wells lost playing time because of his fumble. That, Whisenhunt said, was a simple cause and effect.
“If you have the ball, that’s your responsibility,” Whisenhunt said. “You can’t turn it over. I don’t care who you are. I don’t care what position you play. In the NFL, if you turn the ball over, you’re not going to play. That’s the way it goes. And that’s through history. There are guys who are good players who can’t hold on to the football. Turnovers are something you can’t overcome.”
It didn’t help that the fumble came without Wells being hit, just him dropping the ball. But Whisenhunt was asked if he still has confidence in Beanie. “Sure,” he said. I still expect Beanie to have a role this week in San Francisco. UPDATE: Beanie just said in the locker room that he thinks it is “inevitable” that his days are numbered in Arizona and right now he is on an audition for 31 other teams. He admitted he hasn’t had conversations with anyone with the team saying that for sure, but he knows it is a production-based business and he hasn’t produced enough. Here’s the full story.
Tags: Beanie Wells, Brian Hoyer, Rob Housler
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One more to go. No more at home. And as I write this the 49ers-Seahawks game is on in the background, and the Seahawks continue to look like the real deal –while the Niners are, one way or the other, going to need that game next week against the Cardinals. Once there was thought it could be about resting. Not anymore. That’s going to make it even more of a difficult finale for the Cards.
Who will coach Ken Whisenhunt go with at quarterback? My money is on Brian Hoyer but since it’s not really my money, who knows. I thought Hoyer looked decent and surprisingly comfortable out there, although he didn’t produce any points and still threw an interception. No one is sitting there saying he’s the answer and the likelihood he’s a long-term solution is small, but again, it’s about looking at every option because, well, why wouldn’t you?
– Seems like forever ago the Cards last blocked a field goal, and then Adrian Wilson got one that Justin Bethel turned into points (below). Fitting that it came at the end of Wilson’s game, which could be his final one at UoP? Well, Wilson wasn’t in the mood to go there. Not really.
Wilson was asked about that final game. “I haven’t thought about it one bit, until (the media) continuously bring it up,” Wilson said. “If they make a decision, I’m pretty sure it’s going to be pretty quick. If they don’t, OK. Either way I go, I’m a good player. We’ll see what happens.”
– Whisenhunt noted that the pick-6s are really hurting the Cards. After Sunday’s TD by the Bears’ Charles Tillman, the Cards have given up five of them this season – way too many. As for trying to find a QB, “it’s not fun, but we keep working at it,” Whisenhunt said.
– The relationship between Whiz and running back Beanie Wells probably wasn’t helped by Beanie’s fumble on his own 1-yard line, which was recovered by the Bears for a touchdown. Beanie slipped – that happens – but he dropped the ball as he slipped without being hit. He got a talking-to by Whisenhunt afterward.
Whiz said he couldn’t explain it. “From what I saw, obviously you can’t put the ball on the ground, especially not there,” Whisenhunt said. Beanie said he didn’t get hurt on the play, and as for what Whiz told him, “It is what it is,” Wells said. “Who knows how it’s going to turn out from here.”
– How it turned out Sunday was that Wells got exactly one more carry the rest of the game as the Cards instead used LaRod Stephens-Howling and William Powell at running back. Beanie noted that everyone on the Cards is “fighting for jobs, whether it’s going to be here or somewhere else.” Wells is under contract for 2013 and with a lot of uncertainty (Ryan Williams health, Stephens-Howling free agency) the Cards wouldn’t just let him go even if they wanted to make a change. But it’s fair to wonder about Wells’ future.
– Given the Cards’ offense, I really didn’t have an issue trying a fake punt. Not sure I’d be comfortable with Feely rolling left, but really, with that offense, you aren’t expecting many points. Field goals weren’t going to do it.
– I know ultimately it came too little too late, but it was nice to see Fitz get more than 100 yards, and it was nice to see some accurate passes thrown in his direction.
– Dave Zastudil, current NFL record holder. Can he hold on to his two-punts-downed-inside-the-20 lead over Kansas City’s Dustin Colquitt and keep that record? Who says there won’t be Week 17 suspense?
OK. A normal Monday coming up, even if it is Christmas Eve. We’ll be working it, and then enjoying the holiday. Hope you all do too. One more to go in the 2012 season.
Tags: Adrian Wilson, Beanie Wells, Bears, Brian Hoyer, Charles Tillman, Dave Zastudil, Justin Bethel, Ken Whisenhunt, LaRod Stephens-Howling, William Powell
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Adrian Wilson was one of the players from the very first Cardinals’ draft class I covered from draft day on (I began chronicling the Cards right before training camp the year before). I’ve known him his whole NFL career. It made me smile Sunday when, as he began to cry during his press conference – not waterworks, mind you, but clearly tearing up – and said “Believe it or not, I’m a very emotional person.”
Maybe those who see him from afar only on the field might think that, might think he’s one of those stereotypical players who crush opponents for a living without feeling. Anyone who has been around him at all knows he’s the ultimate emotional guy. It’s always on his sleeve. Sometimes he may not want to talk about whatever publicly (and even then, the message is sent) but you never once are doubting what kind of mood he is in.
Those tears Sunday represented relief and sadness at once. His lost playing time has been hard on him, and that caught up to him after notching his sack Sunday that made him the sixth member of the 25-25 club (Wilson has 27 interceptions and 25½ sacks). His NFL mortality crawls closer, and he knows what that means. But it was also about the weight lifted off the shoulders of a team burdened by a nine-game losing streak. The game in Seattle was a bomb dropped on a team and a defense that was already reeling. The Cards recovered nicely Sunday.
And it wasn’t a surprise to see A-Dub a little overwhelmed because of it.
– Calais Campbell was a monster against the Lions, and believe it or not, he said he’s still not 100 percent. It just shows how much he means to this defense when he is playing well, and how well he fits into this scheme. After everything that has happened the last couple of weeks, it was noticeable that, when asked about Campbell’s dominance, coach Ken Whisenhunt also said Darnell Dockett played well too.
– Patrick Peterson got his shot at Calvin Johnson and did very well. Johnson got his numbers but Peterson’s one interception was a bigger play than anything Johnson did and of course, Peterson got the win.
– Yes, the Cardinals “hurt” their draft status with a win. But please, spare me the “they can’t even lose right” comments. They are in this to win games. It’s one of the reasons I have no desire to get into draft talk until the season is over. Let’s see where everything settles, and then we can discuss what players might be available, etc.
– It’s not why the Pick-6s happened, but noteworthy that both players who returned interceptions for touchdowns Sunday – cornerback Greg Toler and safety Rashad Johnson (below) – are going to be unrestricted free agents after the season. The Cardinals have to make a decision on whether they want to bring either back.
– Easily the hardest I’ve seen Beanie Wells run this season, and that’s not a knock on effort but a note on health. He had a couple runs where he just moved the pile. His per-carry average wasn’t great (3.9) but he scored three touchdowns and again, gained yards in short-yardage situations.
– Punter Dave Zastudil, who has been a workhorse because of the offensive struggles this season, has been fantastic this year. He set a team record Sunday with six punts downed inside the 20-yard line.
– Ryan Lindley really didn’t play that much different than he had previous. He had 104 yards passing, and after an early bad interception, he didn’t turn the ball over. The reshuffled offensive line kept him upright (one sack). He didn’t do anything to make you think he’s the QB of the future, but he didn’t do anything to make you think he won’t start against the Bears next week.
– Fitz did get four catches after just six in the previous four games. It was just for 22 yards, but baby steps. Besides, Fitz was happy. “Christmas came early here in the desert,” Fitz said. “Santa made a delivery at University of Phoenix Stadium and we are all happy with the gift we received. It’s incomprehensible what we’ve been going through the last couple of weeks. Nine weeks in a row to not come out with a win, it feels good to be back home and get a win.”
Tags: Adrian Wilson, Beanie Wells, Calais Campbell, Darnell Dockett, Dave Zastudil, Larry Fitzgerald, Lions, Patrick Peterson, Ryan Lindley
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The Cardinals need better play at quarterback. Everyone gets that. But that hope they had for their running game before the season, taking some pressure off whomever would be playing QB, has dissolved.
There have been moments, for sure. LaRod Stephens-Howling, who got off to an awful start this season in limited time, has had a couple of 100-yard games. But the Hyphen also leads the team in rushing with 313 yards on 92 carries — both easily tops on the team — and considering what was expected for Ryan Williams and Beanie Wells before the year, that isn’t a good sign.
Even in the games Stephens-Howling shined, the Cardinals had trouble converting short-yardage downs for first downs. Beanie’s return was supposed to help that, but against the Jets, when Wells couldn’t grind out a couple of yards on back-to-back third- and fourth-downs early in the game, it was a deflating moment for an offense that didn’t need one. Williams wasn’t effective enough when he played prior to his season-ending shoulder injury (2.8 yards a carry) and Wells has struggled mightily this season. He is averaging just 2.4 yards a carry and while he acknowledged his knee was not healthy before he spent his eight-week stint on IR, he was back to being limited following his season re-debut against the Rams and still looked like he had some trouble against the Jets.
“I don’t know if I would say it was a setback,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “But you’re going to always have some reactions when you get back into playing (off a long-term injury). We said a couple weeks ago that we’re not under any illusion that he’s going to come back in and be perfect. I think that’s normal.”
The team’s top back has been William Powell, who has averaged 4.2 yards a carry over 32 totes (I could have said safety Rashad Johnson, who has pulled off a pair of beautiful fake punts for 24 and 40 yards.) Some of this falls on the offensive line issues, because the holes have not always been there. Some of it falls on the passing game/QB play, because defenses can afford to focus on stopping the run first since the passing game hasn’t been good enough. Some of it is on the backs, failing to maximize production when holes have been there. Some too can be attributed to the play calls too I am sure. As Whisenhunt has said many times, nothing has been good enough to leave out of the equation.
The Cardinals started the season by rushing for just 43 yards on 20 carries in a win against the Seahawks, the team they play this weekend, and that included a 15-yard end-around by wide receiver Andre Roberts. Whoever is installed at QB this weekend could use more production than that to give the Cards’ offense a chance.
Tags: Beanie Wells, LaRod Stephens-Howling, Ryan Williams, Seahawks, William Powell
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I don’t think it’s out of line to think the most interesting question of the week will be who the Cardinals start at quarterback in Seattle next weekend. (Yes, I am aware of the understatement there.) Seattle has never been a particularly easy place to play for any Cardinals QB – I remember some rough games for Kurt Warner – and the last two years, Max Hall and Kevin Kolb have had trouble putting up points.
So after Sunday, when rookie Ryan Lindley had so much difficulty in production, will coach Ken Whisenhunt go back to him again? There’s no way to know if Kolb will be ready this week, but if he isn’t, Lindley is in the middle of six quarters of play he isn’t going to file among his NFL memories.
Whiz noted there were some poor routes/adjustments by receivers – one time, it seemed Michael Floyd just slowed up on a deep pattern, and the ball ended up well over his head – but Lindley knew he struggled. To have 10 three-and-outs as an offense (one ended on an interception), plus a four-and-out when the Cards couldn’t pick up a first on fourth down, was just devastating. When you lose a game by a single point, it’s that much more magnified.
“We just have to play better,” Lindley said. “I have to play better.”
– There is no need to belabor the point. I know there were plenty asking if/when Whiz was going to put in John Skelton. Was I surprised a change wasn’t made? I guess I was. Whisenhunt said he stuck with Lindley because he understood the scheme and what needed to be done. That’s got to translate into the game play, though.
I’m sure the comments below will be dominated by this subject.
– What a day for Kerry Rhodes. He promised on the Big Red Rage “I’m going to make plays, don’t worry about that one” when asked about his return to New York. It was Rhodes’ first chance to go against the Jets and coach Rex Ryan, who ripped Rhodes pretty good after Rhodes was traded away. Had the Cards won,’ Rhodes’ two interceptions and forced fumble would have been the perfect narrative. Losing takes the luster off, for sure, but you have to think Rhodes made his point while continuing to have a good season. Officially, Rhodes had six tackles and three passes defensed too.
– The interception by Patrick Peterson was a heck of an athletic play. It looked like he was definitely beaten, yet he not only made up the ground but grabbed the pick.
– Crazy how Jets kicker Nick Folk hit both the left upright and right upright on a pair of missed field goals. The Jets weren’t exactly an offensive juggernaut out there. Some of that was the Cards’ defense, but some of that is the Jets’ issues too.
– Running back Beanie Wells had only 22 yards on 15 carries. There weren’t a lot of holes for him to hit for sure, but watching him run he just doesn’t look totally right with the knee, which did limit him in practice last week. I know that when his two straight runs on third- and fourth-and-1 early in the game that the Cards couldn’t convert hurt. The Jets have a good defense, but an absence of a run game shows up when the QB struggles. Then again, the Jets could tee off on the run because they weren’t concerned about Lindley beating them.
– Punter Dave Zastudil tied his career-high with 10 punts which makes sense in context.
– It was a weird game because the Jets’ crowd wasn’t happy with their team much of the game and let them know it. To have Greg McElroy come in to play quarterback and get the kind of cheer he did just shows how much the fan base doesn’t have faith in Mark Sanchez. McElroy didn’t do anything special. But he was the lone QB with a TD drive.
– Dan Williams was just talking about taking advantage of more playing time if he got the chance, and Sunday, he got the chance with the Jets playing a lot of run-first offense. The nose tackle responded with a team-high 10 tackles.
I wish I had a lot more to touch on but I do not. The QB thing is going to overshadow everything I’m sure.
Tags: Beanie Wells, Dan Williams, Dave Zastudil, Greg McElroy, Jets, John Skelton, Ken Whisenhunt, Kerry Rhodes, Mark Sanchez, Michael Floyd, Nick Folk, Patrick Peterson, Ryan Lindley
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Wide receiver Andre Roberts did not practice again Friday, meaning he sat out the entire week with his bad ankle. But he is still listed as questionable to play against the Jets, one of three receivers for the Cards who are questionable. On the good side, the other two questionable — Early Doucet (back) and LaRon Byrd (head) — each we’re upgraded to full practice Friday.
Coach Ken Whisenhunt said he also expects two other players listed as questionable to play barring an unforeseen setback between now and game day: DE Calais Campbell (calf) and running back Beanie Wells (knee). I thought all week Beanie was just precautionary, but if he is listed as questionable, perhaps not.
The other questionable player, QB Kevin Kolb (ribs), seems like a long shot to be active Sunday given his circumstances.
One of those listed as questionable for the Jets, backup QB Tim Tebow, is dealing with fractured ribs. ESPN reported Tebow will be inactive Sunday.
Tags: Andre Roberts, Beanie Wells, Calais Campbell, Early Doucet, Kevin Kolb, LaRon Byrd, Tim Tebow
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The Cardinals know the criticism is coming, know it has been coming, know what’s being said. Coach Ken Whisenhunt was acknowledging speculation on his job security was “part of the business.” Linebacker Quentin Groves, meanwhile, was saying the Cards have to pull together because that’s their only option.
“We’re all we got,” Groves said. “We have to stick together as a family, as a team and then just say we’re all we got. The fans turn on you, the media turns on you, and at the same time those 62 guys in the locker room (it’s 61, counting practice squad, to be accurate) have to band together with the coaches as well as say we’re all we got, and go out and play.”
There isn’t much more to say on that. Obviously I’ve been through these losing streaks the last couple of years (and yes, so too have you) and I know what’s coming from you and in the comments below. No need to rehash them weekly. Sunday was a bad loss, especially after building early leads. Two road games are coming, in New York and in Seattle. Nothing simple about breaking the streak in either place.
Anyway, on to some game specifics:
– Ryan Lindley looked so … solid on that first drive. He was accurate. He was smart. And then it went off the rails. The interceptions, save for the last one (which I didn’t get a good look at), all looked like throws a rookie quarterback would make. The last pick-6, trying to throw something deep off a back foot, that looked particularly like a rookie. Doesn’t make it OK, but it wasn’t surprising.
The question is what now? Whiz acknowledged he thought about taking Lindley out but didn’t. It’s tough for a team, though, knowing Lindley was in there two weeks in a row with a lead and the job could not be finished. The Rams didn’t come after Lindley right away. You have to wonder, with a Jets team reeling and with nothing to lose, what Rex Ryan might unleash on an inexperienced QB.
– Somehow, the Cards lost two games to the Rams this season when quarterback Sam Bradford completed a total of 15 passes in two games. Never thought that’d be possible.
– Having Beanie Wells made a difference early, but it felt like the Rams finally said defensively they wanted to make Lindley beat them, and he couldn’t, and that was that.
– Daryl Washington got his ninth sack and Patrick Peterson his fourth interception, and both were nice plays and helpful at the time. But defensively, the Cards let the Rams flip field position too many times. The big plays, like the first time against the Rams, bit the Cards. So too did Steven Jackson’s 139 yards rushing.
– Interesting that the game in which Todd Heap is essentially a healthy scratch, Rob Housler ends up with his best game so far (8 catches for 82 yards). Whether it was the defensive scheme or not, Lindley seemed to have a comfort level with Housler.
– Clearly, LaRod Stephens-Howling was having issues with his sore ribs. So William Powell got more time and chipped in six catches for 63 yards in that third-down back role.
– The question of the week will be Kevin Kolb’s health and Lindley’s status. As of now I’d assume Lindley is staying in there if Kolb isn’t healthy, but to be honest, Whisenhunt didn’t say that. The Jets will have extra time to prepare, but they’ve been pretty bad. Next week will be interesting. I don’t have much more to say about this week.
Tags: Beanie Wells, Daryl Washington, Jets, Ken Whisenhunt, Kevin Kolb, LaRod Stephens-Howling, Patrick Peterson, Quentin Groves, Rams, Rob Housler, Ryan Lindley, Sam Bradford, Todd Heap, William Powell
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Since coach Ken Whisenhunt basically announced it Monday, it’s no surprise that running back Beanie Wells was activated to the roster this morning from the injured reserve-able to return list and he is on schedule to play Sunday against the Rams. Will he start? That’s a big question and I am not sure Whisenhunt will be willing to answer before the game. But certainly, a healthy Wells — and he told me yesterday his knee indeed was not right early in the season before he went down with the toe injury, but now it’s good — will help the Cardinals’ struggling offense.
To make room for Wells on the roster, the Cardinals cut linebacker Jamaal Westerman, not a surprise either after he was surpassed on the depth chart by undrafted rookie Zack Nash. That leaves just one “official” backup outside linebacker, although backup ILB Reggie Walker was playing there some in Atlanta and fellow backup ILB Stewart Bradley can do the same.
Tags: Beanie Wells, Jamaal Westerman, Reggie Walker, Stewart Bradley
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Coach Ken Whisenhunt wasn’t naming a starting quarterback for this week yet. Evaluation is still coming. Kevin Kolb is working to get back, and Whiz said Ryan Lindley did OK. He also said Lindley had impressed him at practice over the weeks. He never considered started Lindley in Atlanta after John Skelton had a good game in Green Bay, but said watching Skelton miss too many opportunities early in Atlanta led him to make the change. Much more on this later in a homepage story.
– Whiz on safety Adrian Wilson dealing with his demotion: “It’s never easy but Adrian is a real pro and he handled it well. But that’s where we are as a team. James (Sanders) and Rashad (Johnson) deserved a chance. We are trying to get better.”
– Running back Beanie Wells will be activated off injured reserve this week, Whiz said, and the Cards expect him to play Sunday.
– Regarding rookie left tackle Nate Potter’s first NFL start: “He fought and I think he’s going to be OK out there.”
– Nothing new on cornerback Patrick Peterson. He left the game briefly with a hamstring problem. Whiz said Peterson told him it was cramps.
– Whiz said that given the Cards’ problems, he’d have to at least consider changes within the duties of the coaching staff. One example suggested to Whiz was play-calling. The coach certainly didn’t commit to doing that, but “that’s something that you look at.”
– Rookie receiver Michael Floyd was benched after lining up wrong, but Whisenhunt said Floyd also had come out of a route wrong earlier, leading to an incompletion. With the Cards’ margin for error slim to none, that wasn’t going to work. “When you are where we are offensively, you have to create a sense of urgency to make plays and be held accountable for that,” Whisenhunt said.
– On dealing with the six-game losing streak: “It’s tough. It’s tough. Don’t think for a second it doesn’t burn a hole in my gut or in the players’ bellies. … We’ve been in the games. I’m not defending it, but in my career, if you have a team that’s in a lot of games, it shows you are making progress. We’ve had some setbacks with injuries and we are trying to fight through that. I know it’s not easy. We’re not happy about it and I appreciate the support of our fans.
“Ultimately our goal is to make our fans proud. I know we’ve done that when we went to the Super Bowl and the playoffs and we haven’t forgotten that, and we have a lot of young players in here that understand that.”
Tags: Adrian Wilson, Beanie Wells, coaching staff, John Skelton, Ken Whisenhunt, Michael Floyd, Nate Potter, Patrick Peterson, Ryan Lindley
Posted in Blog | 104 Comments »