With the Andy Reid discussion officially over (and it was over last night), the Cardinals’ search for a coach remains with multiple candidates. The Mike McCoy interview will happen this weekend. We’re still waiting for word of a talk with Todd Haley (although Haley reportedly isn’t sure he’d want to leave Pittsburgh.) The Ray Horton talks are done, and I think there is still a chance for another candidate or two to emerge.
(After everything that happened with Reid, I’m not sure the Cards are going to be quite as transparent with announcing potential names at this point. Leaks are going to happen, though.)
I know I mentioned this before but the key phrase in Michael Bidwill’s Monday presser: “It’s not going to move at lightning speed. You don’t want it to, because you learn a lot during your due diligence period.” Bidwill wants to make sure he talks to all the candidates he wants to before making any decisions. That makes sense. This is a huge decision that will impact the next three or four seasons at least.
UPDATE: The interview with GM candidate Morocco Brown of the Redskins took place in Washington D.C. Friday. The McCoy interview comes Saturday in Denver.
– Interesting that Mike Sullivan, the Buccaneers offensive coordinator, reportedly had a good interview with the Bears for their head coaching job and that Bucs QB coach Ron Turner is leaving to coach in college, former Cardinals QB coach John McNulty may not only have a landing spot with friend and Bucs head coach Greg Schiano but could even end up right where he tried to go last year. McNulty, who coached with Schiano at Rutgers, was Schiano’s original choice as OC but the Cardinals wouldn’t release him from his contract to leave, seeking continuity on their staff. The Bucs turned to Sullivan. Now, you’d think McNulty will likely end up on the Tampa staff one way or the other.
Tags: Andy Reid, Buccaneers, John McNulty, Michael Bidwill, Mike McCoy, Ray Horton, Todd Haley
Posted in Blog | 40 Comments »
Yes, yes, I know I am early. Way early. But as long as the info is out there — and while we still have a little bit before we get to training camp — here is a look at who the Cardinals’ opponents will be for the 2013 season.
– Indianapolis (Andrew Luck!)
– Carolina (Cam Newton!)
– Houston (Arian Foster.)
– Atlanta (Roddy White?)
– NFC North team that matches Cards’ spot in 2012 standings
– and of course, St. Louis, Seattle, San Francisco.
– New Orleans
– Tampa Bay
– NFC East team that matches Cards’ spot in 2012 standings
– and, of course, St. Louis, Seattle, San Francisco.
I was going to do a little analysis, but then I realized how foolish that was this far out.
Tags: 49ers, Andrew Luck, Arian Foster, Buccaneers, Cam Newton, Colts, Falcons, Jaguars, Panthers, Rams, Roddy White, Saints, schedule, Seahawks, Texans, Titans
Posted in Blog | 16 Comments »
When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hired — seemingly out of the blue — Rutgers coach Greg Schiano to be their next head coach, the Cardinals suddenly had a chance to be affected.
Cardinals wide receivers coach John McNulty was Schiano’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for three seasons at Rutgers (and on his staff for five seasons) before McNulty was hired by coach Ken Whisenhunt in 2009. In a business where friends and former co-workers are the first people coaches turn to when building staffs, some not-so-difficult-dot-connecting would say the McNulty could be someone Schiano would like as an offensive coordinator. McNulty has extensive background in the NFL — he worked for Bill Parcells in Dallas and for Jacksonville before he was at Rutgers — and is a smart guy.
UPDATE: The Cards denied permission, according to Kent Somers.
The Bucs would have to ask permission to talk to/hire McNulty, however. McNulty is under contract, and because the NFL’s view of coaching positions has just two levels — head coach and assistant coach — such a move would not be considered a promotion in the NFL’s eyes. Teams can’t block assistant coaches under contract from interviewing/taking head coaching jobs, but they can prevent lateral moves.
There is no way to know right now if a) the Bucs and Schiano will even ask for permission to talk to McNulty or b) what the Cards would say. (Contrary to one report out of Tampa tonight, I don’t believe anyone has asked for permission yet and no one has reported such in Arizona). Given that McNulty has coached quarterbacks before, there is still a chance he could take the Cards’ vacant QB coach position and the Cards would instead hire a new receivers coach. In an interesting coincidence, McNulty is actually in Hawaii right now for Pro Bowl weekend, a guest of one of his star pupils — wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald.
Tags: Buccaneers, John McNulty
Posted in Blog | 29 Comments »
Several times this offseason both general manager Rod Graves and coach Ken Whisenhunt (and president Michael Bidwill, for that matter) have talked about the plan the team has in place once the offseason starts. Both Whisenhunt and Bidwill have used the term “aggressive” when it comes to free agency, and that will help given the situation that the Cards have a lot of work to do to firm up a roster in what figures to be a short time period.
It’s impossible to know what is “aggressive” and how the plan will play out (and part of that includes the moving parts once everything is able to begin; for instance, a trade for a quarterback complicates/affects things more than a straight free-agent signing of a QB would). The Cardinals will have some room to maneuver, however. ESPN’s John Clayton, in fact, thinks the Cards are one of the teams best suited to get things done given their potential salary-cap room (and every labor report seems to believe there indeed will be a salary cap once football resumes).
Writes Clayton, “The Cardinals are in great position to be players in free agency and the trade market. They have $37.38 million of cap room along with a current payroll of $85.76 million. They have the fourth most cap room of any team in football, giving them plenty of incentive to trade for quarterback Kevin Kolb and give him a huge long-term contract.”
The other teams in good shape, according to Clayton are the Redskins, Seahawks, Panthers and Eagles. The teams not in such good shape? Bengals, Bucs, Raiders, Cowboys and Jets — although it’s funny, the Bucs and Bengals land on the list not because they have poor cap room but actually because they may have too much, given their current roster situations.
Tags: Bengals, Buccaneers, Cowboys, Eagles, free agency, Jets, Ken Whisenhunt, Kevin Kolb, Michael Bidwill, Panthers, Raiders, Redskins, Rod Graves, salary cap, Seahawks
Posted in Blog | 33 Comments »
In the middle of waiting for the labor problems to be resolved comes the news the 2011 regular-season schedule will be released tomorrow — Tuesday — at 4 p.m. Arizona time (which is 7 p.m. Eastern). I know, I know, there are some of you who feel “What’s the point” until there is a labor agreement, and clearly, the NFL has taken part of that into account. Another game in London, between the Bears and Bucs, has been scheduled for Oct. 23 — except there is a caveat that the game will move back to Tampa Bay if a new labor agreement hasn’t been reached by Aug. 1.
As a quick reminder, the Cards’ home schedule includes the NFC West teams, Pittsburgh, Dallas, Carolina, Cleveland and the New York Giants. The away schedule includes the NFC West, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Minnesota, Philadelphia and Washington.
Tags: Bears, Bengals, Buccaneers, Cowboys, Eagles, Giants, Panthers, Ravens, Redskins, schedule, Steelers, Vikings
Posted in Blog | 27 Comments »
Beanie Wells was talking about running lower.
“Sometimes at the end of my runs, I finish them a little high,” the running back said. “For the run’s sake and to protect myself’s sake. The lower you run, the more leverage you have and the more yards you get.”
Beanie Ball is a work in progress. Wells got his first start against the Buccaneers Sunday, and had a 14-yard carry in an electrifying first play of the game (pictured below). Greatness was expected. Then Wells could only gain 36 yards on the 15 attempts he had the rest of the game, limited not only because the Cards started playing catch-up but also because Wells hurt his back on his final attempt trying to leap cornerback Ronde Barber (and getting undercut in the process).
Last week, Wells said he didn’t think team’s stacking eight men in the box was a “big issue,” although he acknowledged this week “it is kind of tough.” After averaging 5.4 yards a carry in his first game of the season (Week 3 against the Raiders), Wells has averaged just 2.9 yards a carry in the four games since.
“I think every running back misses some runs,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “I think as Beanie gets more carries — he hasn’t had a tremendous amount of carries — he’ll be all right.”
Beanie said he saw one run on video in which he felt he missed the hole and off-tackle play he said came “later in the game.” Wells only had two second-half carries, both off left tackle and each for one yard. The first kicked off the touchdown drive eventually completed on a 30-yard run by LaRod Stephens-Howling. The other came just before Larry Fitzgerald’s go-ahead touchdown catch.
“I want to get better and help the team in more ways than I did (Sunday),” Beanie said. “I think I need to run better, a little harder in some situations.”
– The Cardinals-Bucs game, by the way, will be replayed on the NFL Network beginning at 5 p.m. tonight.
Tags: Beanie Wells, Buccaneers, Ken Whisenhunt, Tim Hightower
Posted in Blog | 95 Comments »
Like everyone else, I flinched when Derek Anderson threw his final interception Sunday. At that point, I had been convinced that, despite the up-and-down nature of the game and the disaster of the first 2-and-a-half quarters, that the Cards were going to find a way to pull it out of their a…. er, pull it out of the fire.
But they didn’t.
I know everyone wants to talk about the end of the game. First down, on the Tampa 20. Cards are without LaRod Stephens-Howling, whose ribs just took a shot. Beanie Wells wasn’t in the game after hurting his back, and besides, he doesn’t play in the two-minute package. So the Cards have Tim Hightower, who already lost his starting role after having fumbling issues. Did that affect the play call, why it wasn’t a run? Perhaps. Coach Ken Whisenhunt said the package had been moving the ball down the field through the air. You can’t argue that. And on the play in which Anderson threw the pick, the Cards ran double slants against the Bucs’ zone and Early Doucet was open on the play on the inner slant. The problem is Anderson decided to throw to Larry Fitzgerald. Interception. Game over.
Of course, if Max Hall doesn’t give up two TDs on picks, it would have been moot. Or if the defense had been able to hold after Anderson had led the Cards to the go-ahead touchdown instead of allowing the Bucs to go right back at re-take the lead.
The best thing the Cards can do to avoid such a problem? Don’t put yourself in that situation in the first place. Don’t turn the ball over so much, then everyone can have their beloved 28-carry Beanie game, etc., etc.
– More and more, you can see why the Cards loved Stephens-Howling. The Hyphen is a playmaker, whether it’s returning kicks, covering kicks (he grabbed that muffed punt today) or running the ball (his TD scamper was impressive).
– BTW, Larry Fitzgerald not only scored twice today, he was great blocking and finishing the block on the Hyphen’s TD run.
– Steve Breaston had three catches of at least 30 yards. The Cards had only one pass play of at least 30 yards in their first six games – which also went to Breaston, in the season opener.
– Adrian Wilson lost an interception today because he was called for pass interference. The lone replay Fox showed was terrible (high above the play) but it sure didn’t look like A-Dub did much of anything. That cost the Cards at least three points (and probably more, since the Cards would have been in scoring range before the half).
– Whisenhunt said Hightower’s playing time was affected by the flow of the game and nothing else. Yet it sure had a feel of a message being sent after the fumbles. That and a chance to showcase the Hyphen a little.
– Have I mentioned I am burned out on talking about the quarterback situation?
– Vikings QB Brett Favre left today’s game against the Patriots after a blow to the chest/head, but he said “I should be able to play next week.” That would mean the Cardinals.
– Hmm, I guess I could be in a spot to have to write about the Vikings’ quarterback every week.
– I’m spending way too much time tweeting. I should’ve finished this an hour ago. Goodnight.
Tags: Adrian Wilson, Beanie Wells, Brett Favre, Buccaneers, Derek Anderson, Early Doucet, Ken Whisenhunt, LaRod Stephens-Howling, Larry Fitzgerald, Max Hall, Steve Breaston, Tim Hightower, Twitter
Posted in Blog | 115 Comments »
At first, John Skelton thought I was joking. He came off the field Friday and I asked him if he had a minute, and he never thought the request was serious. But it was. He’s a popular guy these days with many fans and with the quarterback roller-coaster the Cards have been on.
Still, the fifth-round quarterback with the big arm and Fordham pedigree seems far removed from playing anytime soon, with fellow rookie Max Hall getting his chance and veteran Derek Anderson sitting in the No. 2 spot.
“Before the season started, (QB coach) Chris Miller and (passing game coordinator) Mike Miller each told me to prepare like I was going to be the starter,” Skelton said. “Pay attention like I was going to play, and that’s what I have been doing since the beginning.
“I really don’t listen to what the fans say or the media says. I am just trying to keep my head down and keep working.”
And what if he did have to play this season? I suppose it wouldn’t be a surprise if I said Skelton wouldn’t be worried if he did (and even though coaches have seen him as a long-term project and not 2010-ready).
“I think as far as mentally knowing everything, I think I’d be fine,” Skelton said. “But it’s the same thing Max faced when he first went in, your first go-round with no experience, so … we’ll see what happens if I ever do get that call.”
I don’t think he will. Not this season, barring disaster. No offense to John, but I’m kinda hoping that doesn’t happen.
– So Beanie is the starter. What will it mean? Well, if Beanie gets real hot early, he could be in the 30-carry range assuming the Cards have success. If there is a normal rhythm to the offense/game, Tim Hightower is still going to be a solid part of the game plan.
– By the way, for those complaining that Wells’ stats are skewed because of eight men in the box defensively when he goes in the game, he wasn’t using that as an excuse. “We’re running the ball successfully with the 8-man boxes, so I don’t see it as a big issue,” Beanie said.
– I find it interesting that, given the Cards’ offensive woes, they are tied with the Buccaneers – Sunday’s opponent – for 29th in the NFL with 16.3 points per game. And neither of these teams have a losing record.
– The Bucs don’t have a lot of sacks, so maybe that can bode well for Max Hall this week. Then again, the Bucs are so porous with the run defense, teams aren’t throwing against them much. Can Beanie ball make that work?
– It comes down to turnovers, in all likelihood. The Cards can’t give the ball away. That’s why they lost in Seattle, regardless of how poorly Hall played. Beanie needs to hold on to the ball. This is his moment to shine, I think.
– I have no idea why, especially since a) the passing game is struggling and b) there seems to be this probability the Cards work the run game. But I have this feeling Fitz has his first 100-yard game Sunday (and if it turns out to be Steve Breaston instead, I’m OK with that).
– Darnell Dockett was fined $15,000 for his fourth-quarter late hit in Seattle (the one that extended a late drive and basically nailed the Cards’ coffin). There were no fines levied on the the Seahawks who looked like they might have hit Hall with a helmet-to-helmet shot.
Well, the Cardinals haven’t lost back-to-back games since 2008. They have shifted the running back depth chart. Hall should be in a better place now that he’s at home. The defense is coming around (and playing an offense that isn’t exactly the Greatest Show on Turf, although they are the best team in the NFC). Plus, the Cards have got the black unis for Halloween. Just don’t let things get any more scary than they need to — right Beanie?
Until Sunday …
Tags: Beanie Wells, Buccaneers, Chris Miller, Darnell Dockett, Derek Anderson, John Skelton, Larry Fitzgerald, Max Hall, Mike Miller, Steve Breaston, Tim Hightower
Posted in Blog | 60 Comments »
The Buccaneers had just beaten the Rams — improbably — Sunday when head coach Raheem Morris proclaimed “We’re the best team in the NFC. Yeah, I said it.” The Bucs are a great story with a 4-2 record, and Morris — who just turned 34 in September — probably was caught up in the heat of the moment (especially since Tampa has had two blowout losses at home and remains a half-game back in its own division). Certainly, the Cardinals wish they were 4-2 and not 3-3.
Then again, it didn’t seem to matter much to the Cardinals. I don’t expect this to be stuck on the bulletin board all week (although it might end up in a pre-game speech somewhere).
“That’s his opinion,” defensive tackle Darnell Dockett said. “He’s the coach of their team and maybe that can boost his team up. We are coming off a loss and I don’t feel we are the best team in the NFC. We are trying to work. We are trying to be the best team in our division so I know I’m not going to say we are the best team in the NFC. Right now we are in second place in our division.”
Running back Jason Wright chuckled when asked if he could ever see coach Ken Whisenhunt making such a pronouncement.
“There is a difference in personality,” Wright said. “Whiz is always trying to make us better, and I think he knows if you give too much credit too early, you aren’t as likely to improve. So he’d probably wouldn’t say that, even if he felt that way.”
Wright added that players “don’t usually hear” such chatter, spending more time concerning themselves with video of the other team rather than their quotes.
Besides, at this point, there may not be a great team in the NFC. I’m sure the Falcons — the aforementioned 5-2 team ahead of the Bucs in the NFC South — would disagree, but the conference certainly has a wide-open feel.
“You really can’t tell who the best team is until February when the Super Bowl comes,” Dockett said. “That’s the best team, who represents the NFC. You just hope your words don’t come back to bite you when you say stuff like that. We’re going to stay humble and that’s our main focus.”
Tags: Buccaneers, Darnell Dockett, Falcons, Jason Wright, Raheem Morris
Posted in Blog | 66 Comments »
The players are streaming back this morning and there is another hour-plus practice today with the Cardinals getting back into a groove following the bye. There isn’t a whole lot Cardinal-related going on yet, but otherwise …
– So if you’re with the Buccaneers, there’s got to be a part of you that is hoping with then 2010 schedule comes out in April you see a trip to Glendale in Week Two of the season. Yes, it could mean a loss, but it could mean so much more. Why? Well, the Dolphins played the Cardinals in Week Two of 2008 after losing their opener and were whacked by the Cards, 31-10. The Dolphins went on to win 11 of their final 14 games. This year, the Jaguars lost their opener and then were whacked by the Cards, 31-17, in Week Two. They have followed up with two big victories within their division. So it stands to reason that if you are a Florida team and the Cards run you off the road in Week Two, it’s a harbinger of good things, right? (And yes, Tampa Bay is already set on the Cards’ list of opponents in 2010. The Cards have home games against Tampa, New Orleans, Denver, Oakland and their “matching” NFC East finisher; they have road trips to Atlanta, Carolina, Kansas City, San Diego and the “matching” NFC North team).
– No, no one was expecting the Rams to be very good this season. But to see the 49ers dismantle them yesterday, well, I think the Niners have proven they are for real, especially in context of the NFC West.
– Early byes don’t have to hurt. Last year, six teams had byes after three games. Two were doomed for non-bye reasons: Seattle (injuries) and Detroit (just a mess). The other four did just fine: New England (missed the playoffs but went 11-5) and playoff teams Indianapolis, the Giants and aforementioned Miami.
– Good stuff from Peter King on Pat Tillman looking back into NFL prospects before his death. I knew about the part where he could have gotten out of the Army early and that he could have been on an NFL roster (Seattle, in case you’re wondering, is where former Cardinals defensive backs coach Larry Marmie, who coached Tillman, was and still is, in addition to the Ferguson connection). I agree with Dave McGinnis in the article about Tillman being great on special teams. Even if Tillman had returned to the Cards in 2003 and never joined the Army, he would have likely been beaten out as a starter by Adrian Wilson. But I always thought Tillman would have evolved into a long-term Bill Bates/Steve Tasker/Ron Wolfley/Sean Morey type star of special teams.
– Finally, props to the man behind Cardinals Underground/Big Red Rage and everything Cardinals radio, Jim Omohundro, for slaying the competition with his bowling game of 242 last week. I told him I’d give him a shout-out.
Tags: 49ers, Buccaneers, Dolphins, Jaguars, Jim Omohundro, NFC West, Pat Tillman, schedule
Posted in Blog | 4 Comments »