It’s hard to get away from what is the main storyline for Sunday: Is Carson Palmer going to be the quarterback?
Coach Bruce Arians sounded pretty confident Friday talking about it and was in a pretty good mood too after practice. If the key starting QB had been hurt in this way under the old regime, playing or not, you could usually tell on the face of former coach Ken Whisenhunt. But Arians is a true believer in next man up – he was the same way with Andre Ellington’s injury on Thanksgiving – and he does have Drew Stanton, a man to whom Arians was prepared to start before the Palmer trade happened.
And again, Palmer may indeed be playing and the limited work all week comes down to making sure the vet was rested. I did think it was interesting that Arians made it clear that he thought the two interceptions Palmer threw had nothing to do with a sore elbow. And Palmer, who was hurt on his first drop-back in Philly, did throw for 302 yards and three touchdowns after that.
The Cards need Palmer. That’s no slight to Stanton but instead the acknowledgement that for whatever issues Palmer has had with turnovers this season, the offense has clicked a lot more of late and that is necessary going into a crucial game with the Rams Sunday.
– The Cardinals will have Andre Ellington back and that’s a huge deal. Pairing him with an improving Rashard Mendenhall means the Cardinals have a formidable tandem with which to run – meaning that whether you have Palmer and an iffy elbow or Stanton playing QB, the Cards have good options on offense upon which to lean.
– It’s been an eternity since the Cards went to St. Louis to play. “It’s funny to watch them on film,” Palmer said. “It seems so long ago.” What doesn’t seem so long ago was the loss incurred that day – because the eventual 27-24 decision in which the Cardinals led by 11 in the fourth quarter is hurting the team big right now in the playoff chase. The swing that would have happened in the overall, conference and division records would have been momentous.
– Eagles tight ends Zach Ertz and Brent Celek scored three touchdowns last week against Arizona, and we know all about tight end issues against the Cards’ defense (remember St. Louis’ Jared Cook in Week One, getting it started?) There’s a give-and-take there, though.
“Going into a ballgame, you try to take away (LeSean) McCoy, try to take away (Desean) Jackson, try to take away (Riley) Cooper, and you try to maintain and limit what the tight ends can do,” defensive coordinator Todd Bowles said. “You don’t let the big three beat you. We accomplished that. The tight ends got loose for a couple balls inside the red zone. I think we need to play better red zone coverage. The 24-yard touchdown pass there was some technical issues we need to clean up. But going into the game, (tight end) was probably fourth on the totem pole.”
Said linebacker Daryl Washington on the tight end subject, “I think it’s a small adjustment. I don’t think it’s a major issue.”
– I don’t think there is any question that as good as Cook was the first time around, the Cardinals are going to want to make sure Tavon Austin and Chris Givens don’t break off big plays. So we’ll see how that develops when it comes to Cook.
– Speaking of Washington, remember, he didn’t play the first time these teams met. That would seem to be a major factor in the Cards’ favor.
– No one is going out on a limb here, but Eric Winston vs. Chris Long and Robert Quinn vs. Bradley Sowell matchups are probably the key to the game.
– Speaking of the offensive line, the Cardinals used Bobby Massie for 11 offensive snaps last week in Philly as a jumbo tight end in running packages. I don’t think Massie would ever be thrown a pass — “I’m athletic enough to do anything,” Massie said with a smile – but his presence has helped the running game.
“It’s a good thing getting a chance to play,” Massie said. “It’s better than standing on the sideline watching.”
Until Sunday …
Tags: Andre Ellington, Bobby Massie, Bradley Sowell, Bruce Arians, Carson Palmer, Chris Long, Daryl Washington, Drew Stanton, Eric Winston, Rams, Rashard Mendenhall, Robert Quinn, Todd Bowles
Posted in Blog | 11 Comments »
Starting left tackle Bradley Sowell missed practice for a second straight day Thursday because of an illness — offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin said he didn’t know exactly what it was, but since it is flu season, that was the assumption he was making — and left Nate Potter to take snaps at the starter at the position. Goodwin said he does think Sowell will return to practice Friday, but there is still an unknown of whether Sowell will be prepared to go Sunday or if the Cards will have to turn to Potter.
“It is what it is,” Goodwin said. “I’m sure he’ll be here (Friday) and we’ll give it a whirl, see where he’s at. If he’s not ready, Potter is up.”
Backup right tackle Bobby Massie was also missing Thursday for a non-injury related reason.
Goodwin said Potter has been “good” working at tackle — he had been playing backup guard prior to the Levi Brown trade — and quietly goes about his business. “I have confidence in him if he has to play,” Goodwin said, adding “Missing two days of practice hopefully hasn’t affected him too much. Hopefully he’s been studying.”
Tags: Bobby Massie, Bradley Sowell, Nate Potter
Posted in Blog | 17 Comments »
At 4-4 at the bye, Bruce Arians would have liked another win or two at this point, but .500 will work for now. The main news from Monday’s day-after-a-win-and-before-a-limited-week of practice was still Andre Ellington and the way Arians will juggle those running backs when Rashard Mendenhall comes back healthy from his toe injury. (That’s assumed to be the next game, but who really knows at this point.)
Arians didn’t say anything Monday that would set in concrete Ellington would stay the starter at running back. He didn’t say anything that would set in concrete Mendenhall would stay the starter either. He reiterated that Ellington would get the touches they had planned for him to get (he had 17 Sunday on 33 snaps, and that’s about what the Cardinals would like to do each week) and that if Mendenhall plays, he would take the work back from rookie Stepfan Taylor, who had 14 carries Sunday.
“We’ll see how that plays out when (Rashard) comes back,” Arians said, later adding, “I’ll evaluate it when he comes back but I’m sure he will resume his role, as long as he’s full-speed.”
What did the performances of Ellington and Taylor say to Arians Sunday? “It basically reiterated what I said, we have a good group of running backs,” Arians said. “Ryan (Williams) can play too. I knew we did. I don’t think you can have enough of them, because in a wink, they can all be gone.”
Arians did say Ellington needs to improve his pass blocking “to stay out there” and improve his patience as a runner.
– Ellington’s 7.74 yards per rush is tops in the NFL for anyone with at least 40 carries.
– Arians said Bobby Massie did well in his turns at right tackle (21 snaps, and graded positively according to profootballfocus.com). The Cards will continue to try and get him snaps, but because he plays just one position, his active status could change depending on injuries.
– The Cardinals were healthy coming out of the game, which sets them up well for the bye and recovery time, Arians said.
– Tyrann Mathieu started at safety with Rashad Johnson coming off the bench, grabbing two interceptions. Arians said that could continue but he wouldn’t commit to it.
– Arians said he doesn’t mind QB Carson Palmer having just 18 pass attempts when the team is running the way it was. But the Cards did just have 54 offensive snaps, and he wanted the third-down conversion rate to be better than 3-for-10 — and more plays would have likely meant a few more passes.
Tags: Andre Ellington, Bobby Massie, Bruce Arians, Carson Palmer, Rashad Johnson, Rashard Mendenhall, Stepfan Taylor, Tyrann Mathieu
Posted in Blog | 29 Comments »
What is it about Ryan Williams and his story that is so intriguing? The Cardinals go into an important game against the Falcons Sunday, and even if Williams – because of the toe injury of Rashard Mendenhall – is active, he might not even play much. Yet many are waiting to see if Williams is active and what he would do if he played, and I am one of them.
Williams (smartly) hasn’t said much about his situation, but you can tell he’s frustrated. “I’m probably the freshest guy on the team right now,” Williams said. “I’m ready to play. I’m just waiting.” Practices are closed so it’s impossible to know exactly what Williams has done, and since he is so far down the depth chart, he’s likely getting what work he is getting on scout team and not the regular offense. But Bruce Arians has said a couple of times he has been happy with the work Williams has done. Now Sunday, if the Cards, for instance, are going to have newcomer Teddy Williams active to play special teams, who sits instead? Would that be Ryan Williams’ potential spot?
In a lot of ways, Williams might be in a type of limbo. Clearly he isn’t ahead of the others on the depth chart. But Mendenhall’s injury potential is high enough that the Cards might not want to let him go. If Mendenhall goes down with a major injury, do the Cards really want to lean just on two rookies in Andre Ellington and Stepfan Taylor? (There is still a chance I suppose he could be dealt before Tuesday’s deadline, but I don’t expect it.)
I guess I’m looking forward to seeing that inactive list at 11:55 a.m. Sunday.
– Lot of talk about Ellington, and people keep trying to send me comparative measurements between the 5-foot-9, 199-pound Ellington and other backs, like Jamaal Charles, etc. Look, I can’t speak to those guys. And I don’t know if Ellington could absorb more. But I think what Bruce Arians is thinking about limited reps is the idea that a lot of punishment would take away the best thing about Ellington — his explosion and ability to get outside. I’m sure he’ll touch the ball plenty Sunday.
– The Falcons were a Super Bowl favorite coming into the season. Now, the defense is much more leaky, the offense doesn’t have Julio Jones and Roddy White has been hurt so much he’s a non-factor. Steven Jackson has barely played. Now, it’s not like Atlanta hasn’t been close – their four losses have been by a total of 19 points – but they aren’t as daunting of an opponent as they once might have been.
– Matt Ryan was miserable in last year’s meeting. Ray Horton’s defense made him look terrible. Horton isn’t here anymore, obviously, but Todd Bowles is, and the Cards got after Russell Wilson pretty good. I wouldn’t expect five interceptions again, but the Cards are going to pressure him. “We got in his face early, rattled him up a little bit,” cornerback Patrick Peterson said. “This is a new team. With them not necessarily having their top guys … we can’t fall into that they aren’t 100 percent. They still have guys who can get the ball in the end zone. But I believe if we do the same recipe as last year, we will have good success.”
– Profootballfocus.com noted that there have been two receivers targeted a league-high six times when an interception has been thrown. One was Giants wideout Reuben Randle. The other? Larry Fitzgerald. Something to consider when Carson Palmer talks about being leery when forcing the ball to Fitz.
– Speaking of Fitz, he hammered Walter Thurmond on a blind-side block last week against Seattle and did it again later to Richard Sherman. They were blows – but they could have been much harder and destructive. Fitz downplayed them, but Seattle coach Pete Carroll came out and praised Fitzgerald for playing football the “new” way – those Seahawks still got hit pretty good, but it didn’t go over the top. You can say what you want about what that means for football, but I have to admit I agree with Carroll. You can walk that line.
– Be sure to welcome our new writer at azcardinals.com when he starts next week: Kyle Odegard. I think you’ll find him a quality addition.
– Arians talks about starting fast and you wonder about the coin flip. Arians has said he will always take the ball if he is given the choice, so the Cards end up with the ball first almost every time. That makes getting off to a quick start even more important in my eyes.
– Arians reiterated what offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin said yesterday, that the Cardinals are “hoping” to play Bobby Massie some at right tackle. It will depend on how the game plays out, Arians said, but it would be for a series or two.
– Defensive end Calais Campbell took left tackle Bradley Sowell aside earlier this week to try and give him some advice. “I felt like the offensive linemen, the younger ones, they need to learn what we are trying to do to beat them,” Campbell said on the Big Red Rage radio show. “We just went over how I play the game and what I’m looking for. I gave him my advice. I think he has potential and we need him to win.”
– The Cards do need better play from Sowell at left tackle. And from the offense in general.
Tags: Andre Ellington, Bobby Massie, Bradley Sowell, Bruce Arians, Calais Campbell, Falcons, Kyle Odegard, Larry Fitzgerald, Matt Ryan, Patrick Peterson, Pete Carroll, Pro Football Focus, Rashard Mendenhall, Richard Sherman, Ryan Williams, Stepfan Taylor, Walter Thurmond
Posted in Blog | 32 Comments »
Bruce Arians met with the media to talk, post-video-watching, about the Seahawks game. The players are in meetings now but will have the weekend off before going through a full padded practice Monday. Some of the Arians highlights:
– The pressure was too much for QB Carson Palmer and the pass protection must improve, Arians said. “Looking back, neither interception was (Palmer’s) fault whatsoever,” Arians said. “He protected the football like he needed to.”
Someone said to Arians if he felt that even Peyton Manning would have the same problems behind the protection right now.
“Tom Brady or Peyton Manning,” Arians said.
– Arians said he’d like to get Bobby Massie — who was active for the game Thursday — some game action soon. That will be interesting to see. Guard Earl Watford is a little further off at this point.
– The coach remained disappointed with his offensive production. He said it was the first time in 20 years he didn’t have a team get an explosive play.
– Arians said he had no plans to change the running back personnel.
– The only injury of note was G Daryn Colledge, who hurt his back. Arians said he was hopeful Colledge would return for practice Wednesday. Arians said Patrick Peterson had some issues with jammed fingers, but was fine. Wide receiver Brittan Golden (hamstring) also could return next week.
– Arians did say safety Yeremiah Bell made a bad play on the long touchdown pass, but generally he was happy with Bell’s play this season.
– Leftover from the San Francisco game: Defensive tackle Darnell Dockett was fined $7,875 for his late hit on running back Frank Gore. Safety Tyrann Mathieu was fined $7,875 for for grabbing running back Kendall Hunter after Hunter scored a touchdown and unnecessarily throwing him to the ground. Defensive tackle Alameda Ta’amu was fined $10,000 for kicking Niners offensive lineman Alex Boone, although Boone was fined $7,875 for unnecessarily striking Ta’amu.
Tags: Alameda Ta'amu, Bobby Massie, Bruce Arians, Carson Palmer, Darnell Dockett, Daryn Colledge, Earl Watford, Tyrann Mathieu, Yeremiah Bell
Posted in Blog | 85 Comments »
It’s easy to think of the Lions and wide receiver Calvin Johnson and get locked in on him, but Bruce Arians tried to zoom out a bit when talking Wednesday about the Cardinals’ Sunday opponent.
“Everybody that they have is capable of beating you,” Arians said. “You can’t just look at one guy.”
Of course, Johnson is the guy people think of first. Patrick Peterson will not cover Johnson one-on-one all the time, Arians said, but he will do it some. That will likely work for Peterson, who cherishes these matchups (Peterson was not available during the media session today, so we’ll have more on this tomorrow.) Arians smiled with that assessment of Peterson, though. “You have to watch what you wish for sometimes,” Arians said.
Lions coach Jim Schwartz did say, if officials hadn’t overturned two touchdowns in the opener, Johnson would have come out much better than his four-catch-for-37-yard day. “If he has those two, it’s a Megatron game.”
– The ability of Detroit DTs Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley will mean the pressure this week will be on the Cardinals’ interior line of Daryn Colledge, Lyle Sendlein and Paul Fanaika, as opposed to the pressure the tackles were under in St. Louis, Arians said.
– This from Arians, which was important to note: He said newcomer tackle Bradley Sowell can play both sides. But he said Bobby Massie cannot play left tackle — which would be a reason, for all of you who have asked, why he has not been tried there. Arians did say he thinks Massie “has all the talent in the world.”
– Arians, asked for his evaluation of Suh’s reputation as a dirty football player, said he only thing he goes off of is the video. “When I watch tape I see a great football player,” Arians said. “All the rest of the stuff, I don’t have to deal with.”
– Arians said the only player sitting out of practice was tight end Rob Housler, whom Arians already said would probably miss the Detroit game. Some players will be limited today. We will see the official injury report later today.
Tags: Bobby Massie, Calvin Johnson, Daryn Colledge, Lions, Lyle Sendlein, Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley, Patrick Peterson, Paul Fanaika, Rob Housler
Posted in Blog | 14 Comments »
With the injury of Jonathan Cooper, the Cardinals have gone with with the Daryn Colledge-Paul Fanika guard combination. There has been a lot of speculation on the outside that the Cards, at some point, could end up trying one of their tackles inside. Maybe Bobby Massie. Maybe Nate Potter. Maybe, even, Levi Brown.
None have been a consideration. Bruce Arians was asked specifically about Brown being considered inside. “Not until I find someone to take his place at left tackle,” was Arians’ reply.
The reality is that Brown is going to be the left tackle. It doesn’t look like Nate Potter has made any in-roads in displacing Brown (in fact, Potter seems to has struggled.). Arians, meanwhile, wasn’t showing any panic about Brown even after San Diego’s Dwight Freeney got to him — and therefore, the quarterback — some Saturday night.
“Overall, pass protection has not been a problem, until the other night,” Arians said. “We didn’t game-plan Dwight Freeney as much as we would have and Dwight beat Levi. It comes down to a one-on-one game. If we feel that way going into a game (that the tackle might get beat), we’ll help the guy.”
One of the things Arians liked the most of his Colledge-Fanaika decision was it was only moving one player — Colledge, to left guard. And Colledge has experience there. Brown hasn’t ever played guard and hasn’t practiced there. Neither have Massie and Potter for that matter (Arians gave a quick “nope” when asked if one of those guys could be moved inside.) Arians had said this offseason that the time for that experimentation was during OTAs. We’re well past that now.
Clearly, Brown’s work at left tackle will remain under the spotlight. It’s hard not to notice. Could the Cards find someone to, as Arians said, take his place? Even with all the tackles that likely will make this roster (Brown, Massie, Potter, Eric Winston) I’m sure the Cards will continue to look at the spot.
Tags: Bobby Massie, Daryn Colledge, Eric Winston, Levi Brown, Nate Potter, Paul Fanaika
Posted in Blog | 20 Comments »
The Cardinals are getting healthier, although the main subject for Bruce Arians once again as his team starts a new week was the status of running back Ryan WIlliams. It’s only Monday, but already Arians said Williams “probably” will not play against the Chargers Saturday because of the knee. Answers are few and far between, but Arians was asked about Williams anyway.
About evaluating WIlliams, Arians said, “He needs to start playing. Can’t evaluate him unless you play.” Arians isn’t sure yet what it means for Williams’ chances at a roster spot, and there is still an opportunity for Williams to “play a bunch” against Denver in the preseason finale. That would mean Williams would actually have to come back first though.
“You can’t get these reps back,” Arians said. “He had an excellent OTAs, started with an excellent camp, running and cutting. Then just put the brakes on. You can’t get this back.” Asked if he thought it was more mental than physical with Williams, Arians said “I can’t answer that. He’s the only one who can answer that.”
UPDATE: Williams said it’s still the irritation under the “fatty pad” in his knee causing him sharp pain. He said he doesn’t even call it an injury. He also wasn’t willing to say he was nervous about his spot on the roster, mostly because he figures worrying about it wouldn’t help.
“I wouldn’t say nervous about my spot, I just don’t like taking time off,” Williams said. “But things like this happen. There was nothing more I could have done to prevent this from happening. I really not nervous, because I feel when I go out there, I’ll be able to erase the time that I’ve missed.”
Would there be enough time to convince the organization to keep him if he didn’t return until next week? “I don’t know,” Williams said. “We’ll have to see. I’d have to make a lot of big plays to erase the time that I’ve missed. I really don’t worry about things like that, because whatever is going to happen is going to happen.”
Williams added he was “pretty sure” the coaches are frustrated because he is too.
“I wouldn’t doubt that they were,” Williams said. “Can I sense it? No. If they are they are doing a good (job) of hiding it. I’m pretty sure they are, but it’s not to the point where they are mad at me. They are more mad at the situation like I am.”
– The good news is that Arians expects a handful of players to return to practice today. He didn’t name any particulars other than cornerback Javier Arenas, although he said last week he thought LB Karlos Dansby would be back on the field today. Those players may still be limited, but they will have a chance to play Saturday. TE Jeff King (knee) and WR Jarrett Dillard (concussion) remain out, although Arians said he thought King could play against San Diego.
– Backup tackles Nate Potter and Bobby Massie got extended playing time against the Cowboys because they needed extra work, Arians said, and he added he liked they way they played. They will get less work this week as the starters go longer, and while Arians said the depth chart at the position has not changed he still sees a competition not only between Massie/Eric Winston and Potter/Levi Brown but also at right guard between Daryn Colledge and Paul Fanaika.
– Colledge will get some snaps as center this week. Colledge said he has never played center in a game, but with only seven linemen that dress Sundays, having Colledge be proficient at the skill would mean the Cards wouldn’t need a specific backup center active on game days.
– Arians has mentioned a couple of times that Kerry Taylor dropped a touchdown pass against Dallas, as he did with tight end D.C. Jefferson in the first preseason game. In both cases, it looked like the pass from QB Drew Stanton was slightly off-target and would have made a grab difficult. Arians was asked if he ever thought about giving his receivers more slack. “No,” he deadpanned, before a smile crept over his face. “This is the NFL. When you get both hands on the ball, you’ve got to catch it.”
– The play of QB Carson Palmer was “average,” Arians said. “He’d probably say he was terrible,” Arians said. “He knows he can play better.”
– In the department of Ryan Lindley seems to have a good shot to stick, Arians said the third QB has done “extremely well” and his decision-making in games has been good. Lindley will get extensive time in the fourth preseason game, which will be important in his evaluation.
– Arians, asked to assess the camp of kicker Jay Feely, paused before calling it “solid.” But he said he made it clear to Feely missing a 30-yard field goal was unacceptable.
– Colledge, whose fractured leg was revealed last week by General Manager Steve Keim, said he was shaking off the rust. “A lesser man would have quit football,” Colledge quipped. As for the talk of the injury being a nerve problem and not a broken leg, Colledge said “What we tell people and what needs to be said are two different things.”
Tags: Bobby Massie, D.C. Jefferson, Daryn Colledge, Javier Arenas, Jay Feely, Jeff King, Karlos Dansby, Kerry Taylor, Nate Potter, Ryan Lindley, Ryan Williams
Posted in Blog | 29 Comments »
Perhaps it’s a version of that age-old question: If a potential fourth receiver dresses in a different locker room, does he make
a sound the team?
Kerry Taylor spent all of last season on the Cards’ practice squad. While there have been other “unknowns” at receiver getting attention in training camp, it’s Taylor who is fourth on the depth chart and it’s Taylor who had the impressive game with four catches for 85 yards. Taylor said all the right things afterward, about continuing to work hard, but as he already mentioned, he’s noticed he’s been under the radar. But that’s in keeping with his locker room spot, which right now is in the secondary rookie room away from the main locker room.
“Larry (Fitzgerald) gives me some heat about that from time to time,” Taylor said. “ ‘What are you doing back there?’ They put me where they put me.”
Taylor did say the subjects talked about are totally different in the two locker rooms. “Up here there is grown conversation,” Taylor said. “Whereas back there, it’s like high school, with the jokes they make. It’s two totally different worlds. But it’s fun. I enjoy being back there with those guys.”
I’d guess Taylor would enjoy it even more moving back into the main room after final cuts. If he keeps making plays like he did Saturday – although he lamented only getting a couple fingers on what could have been a touchdown catch – the locker room space won’t be an issue.
– Coach Bruce Arians said there were no significant injuries. Knock on wood, the Cards have managed to escape that problem thus far in camp.
– Arians doesn’t like the “explosive plays” the Cards’ defense gave up, and that’s fair. But remember Arians said he didn’t give a “crap” about where his defense was ranked because of yardage. He doesn’t want to give up points and wanted turnovers. Well, after two games, the Cards have forced more turnovers (8) than given up points (7).
– Tony Jefferson remains a longshot to make the roster. But the practice squad may be possible. The guy makes two interceptions against the Cowboys and he made a couple in practice this week too. He also was credited with a pair of tackles for loss and a pair of passes defended.
– Rashard Mendenhall looked pretty good (32 yards on seven carries) and if he stays healthy, the Cards look like they will be OK at running back.
– Mendenhall would have had a nice fourth-down reception for a first too – if Carson Palmer hadn’t thrown a bad pass. Palmer took responsibility for the bad throw and Arians was clearly frustrated, after the perfect play call got Mendenhall wide open. Even the last two incompletions of Palmer – one to Fitz, one to Roberts – looked like they would be open, if the QB and WR had just been on the same page, instead of one zigging when the other thought about zagging.
– Rookie running back Andre Ellington made a couple of nice runs himself, including a good kickoff return. It was against the deep backups, but still, a nice debut.
– Tyrann Mathieu was credited with a team-high seven tackles, not a shock because he played more than any defender, I’d guess. One play didn’t work though – Mathieu tried to anticipate an interception, missed the ball, and Dwayne Harris took a short pass and got 16 yards out of it. “I said, ‘Hey, if you’re going to go for the pick, you better just make the tackle.’ ” Arians said, noting Mathieu had a similar error in practice this past week.
– Palmer was protected pretty well again, with only one real pressure and no sacks.
– Speaking of the offensive line, Nate Potter and Bobby Massie basically played the rest of the game after starters Levi Brown and Eric Winston left. Reps are what it’s about (and it’s hard to think there is any other tackle on the roster who is being considered.)
– Charles Hawkins was drilled pretty good fielding a punt late in the game. “Charles Hawkins will learn how to fair catch in the right instances,” Arians quipped. “It only takes one hit to learn how to fair catch, especially when you are told to fair catch before you go out there.”
– Arians did say he liked how his special teams played, and from Justin Bethel to Lorenzo Alexander to Dave Zastudil to Ellington and even Jay Feely with his 53-yard field goal (although Arians wasn’t happy with a 30-yard miss), special teams did shine.
Tags: Andre Ellington, Bobby Massie, Bruce Arians, Charles Hawkins, Cowboys, Dave Zastudil, Jay Feely, Justin Bethel, Kerry Taylor, Lorenzo Alexander, Nate Potter, Rashard Mendenhall, Tony Jefferson, Tyrann Mathieu
Posted in Blog | 41 Comments »
The Cardinals did a good job hooking up on big-chunk passes Friday night in Green Bay. That was in no small part of the pass protection. From Bruce Arians’ scheme to Steve Keim’s personnel additions to the coaching of the line from Harold Goodwin and Larry Zerlein, the Cardinals’ line did a very nice job.
To that end, I re-watched the first portion of the Cardinals’ offensive line play. As Arians noted, it seemed like the quarterbacks stayed pretty clean. After a look back on the plays in which the starting offensive linemen played – which took the Cards through both touchdowns they scored – proved Arians (and most of us watching) right. Here are the plays and how they went. The starters were, from left tackle to right tackle, Levi Brown, Jonathan Cooper, Lyle Sendlein, Paul Fanaika and Eric Winston.
1st and 10, AZ 20 – Carson Palmer fades to pass, the Packers rush five. The pocket is perfect. LT Brown has no trouble dealing with Packers star Clay Matthews. Palmer hits Michael Floyd with an 18-yard throw.
3rd and 6, AZ 42 – After two runs, Palmer is the shotgun. The Packers rush four. Again, no pressure. Again, Brown deals easily with Matthews. Palmer launches a bomb to Andre Roberts. Despite no pressure, the ball is slightly underthrown and that allows the defender to catch up to Roberts. Roberts still had a chance to catch the ball.
1st and 10, AZ 1 – Brown had been called for a false start, but the Cards were so close to their own goal line after their defensive stand the penalty was officially for zero yards. Arians calls for a play-action pass. Left guard Cooper pulls to the backside, somewhat risky given the spot on the field. After the fake, the Packers end up rushing only three with two other defenders backing out quickly to guard against the short stuff. Amazingly, it is wide receiver Michael Floyd, asked to stay in for protection, who locks up with Matthews. Even better, Floyd handles Matthews to a draw. Again, Palmer has plenty of time and space. He drills a wide-open Larry Fitzgerald for a 17-yard gain.
2nd and 9, AZ 19 – After another run, the Cards run a middle screen to Fitz in the slot. The Cards allow some pressure on the four-man rush as center Sendlein and right guard Fanaika jump out immediately to try and get some second-level blocks. The Cards get a modest four yards on the play.
3rd and 5, AZ 23 – Another four man rush. Matthews tries to stunt by looping from the far right side all the way inside. The Cardinals do a good job watching him as he is passed off responsibility-wise from Brown to Cooper to Sendlein. Brown does a nice job catching defensive end B.J. Raji on the hard push after Matthews leaves his sight. Palmer throws another long pass to Floyd. It’s incomplete and it doesn’t matter anyway. Floyd is called for offensive pass interference.
1st and 10, GB 38 – Following a Patrick Peterson interception, Arians goes for the jugular. Packers rush four and bring a fifth blitzer on a delay. Tight end Rob Housler, staying in to block, is prepared for the blitzer. Brown, Cooper and Sendlein all handle their men one-on-one. There’s a late chip on Matthews by the running back to help Brown, but it didn’t matter at that point. Matthews wasn’t going to get there, and Palmer was already delivering a 38-yard touchdown pass to Roberts on his final play of the game.
2nd and 8, 50 – The Cardinals had gotten the ball back on a John Abraham strip-sack. A run on first down got two yards. With backup quarterback Drew Stanton in the game, Arians calls for a play-action pass. Cooper and Fanaika remain in the game with new center Mike Gibson, left tackle Nate Potter and right tackle Bobby Massie. Packers rush four. Cooper pulls to right to take the edge rusher, and he has trouble getting over to make much of a difference. Gibson also fails to pick up his inside rusher heading into the gap Cooper vacated at left guard. Still, Stanton steps up in the pocket slightly right had has plenty of time to fire to wide-open tight end D.C. Jefferson. Jefferson ends up dropping the pass when he is hit on a play that should have picked up another 15 yards or so.
3rd and 8, 50 – Stanton in shotgun. The Packers rush five – three up front, and bring two linebackers after a brief delay. Potter and Massie easily handle their responsibilities, and Stanton has the perfect pocket. He completes a long pass to wide receiver Charles Hawkins for a 36-yard gain.
2nd and 7, GB 11 – After a run, the Packers rush four. Massie is in trouble from the start and ends up falling down on the rush by defensive end Mike Daniels. But Fanaika manages to jump back to help get a chip on Daniels, giving Stanton enough time to step up and complete an 8-yard pass to Hawkins.
2nd and G, GB 1 – After a two-yard run, Stanton runs play-action with both teams featuring goal line packages. Pressure isn’t a variable as Stanton lofts a pass to an open Jefferson in the end zone. Not a great pass, but Jefferson also needs to find a way to make such plays.
3rd and G, GB 1 – Again, with the Packers committing to the line and surging forward with eight, Stanton takes a quick drop and renders the rush moot with a quick back-shoulder lob to receiver Jaron Brown, covered one-on-one in the end zone. Brown makes the one-yard TD catch.
Again, the run blocking will need to be improved and will also likely be aided when starter Rashard Mendenhall is on the field. But the pass protection certainly gave the Cardinals and Palmer something to be encouraged about as the season begins.
Tags: Bobby Massie, Bruce Arians, Carson Palmer, Clay Matthews, Drew Stanton, Eric Winston, Jonathan Cooper, Levi Brown, Lyle Sendlein, Mike Gibson, Nate Potter, offensive line, Paul Fanaika, Rob Housler
Posted in Blog | 33 Comments »