When Steve Keim was named general manager of the Cardinals, he pointed to a pair of moments that went through his head that were driving forces in motivating him in his new job. One was the feeling he had standing on the turf at University of Phoenix Stadium after the Cards won the 2008 NFC Championship game, being showered by we’re-going-to-the-Super-Bowl confetti. The other was the feeling he had standing under the gloomy Seattle sky late last season as the Cardinals were getting run over by the Seahawks, 58-0.
No team in the NFL should ever endure a game like that. When it does, it signals that there is much more wrong than just a talent difference. It also tends to leave a bad taste, although for the most part, the Cardinals shrugged it off this week. Center Lyle Sendlein didn’t have much reaction, although he pointed out he was injured by that point in the season and absent. Receiver Larry Fitzgerald was blunt: “Different team, different year. That’s ancient history.”
Indeed, many on the roster not only didn’t play in that game but weren’t even members of the Cardinals. The coaching staff has turned over almost completely. With the Cardinals playing the Seahawks tomorrow night for the first time since then, it doesn’t mean it isn’t remembered this week at all by the Cards still left. But it doesn’t seem to be some major rallying cry either.
“Not a lot of guys were here to experience it,” cornerback Patrick Peterson said. “We brought it up one time in a team breakdown (post-practice) this week and we left it at that. Guys know the magnitude of this game.”
– Turnovers have been brutal for the Cards – eight of them in the three losses – and Bruce Arians certainly hasn’t been happy with it. How to fix it? “Quit doing it,” Arians said. “Hold on to the damn ball and quit throwing it to the other team. It’s really simple. It plagues some teams and right now it’s plaguing us and we have to fix it.”
Arians knows he’s stating the obvious, but especially with the fumbles, he really does believe it’s that simple. Cutting down Carson Palmer’s interceptions is more complicated, especially since Arians said because Fitzgerald has been limited in practice so much because of his hamstring problems “the timing that we had earlier in the season is gone.”
– The drives from the 49ers’ games were still bothering both Cardinals’ coordinators this week – for offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin, it was the failed drive on which Fitzgerald fumbled. For defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, it was the San Francisco possession right after that fumble that lead to the game-sealing touchdown.
“Man, I just feel personally, had we just scored on that second (third-quarter) drive, it’s a whole different ballgame,” Goodwin said. “We had our mojo. Anytime you turn the ball over you lose momentum and you put your defense in a bad situation. If we could just stop turning it over. You can see the development of our offense coming along. We just have to stop killing ourselves.”
Bowles said his unit’s problem was that suddenly, players started trying to do way too much and overcompensated in the idea of making a big play and ending the drive. So players were out of position and the Niners ran it right down the field.
“Guys trying to make a play and going over the top or going underneath to do something they didn’t need to do,” Bowles said. “Opening things up and we couldn’t get off the field.”
– Fines from last week’s games don’t usually get confirmed until Fridays, but a couple of players involved apparently spoke up. Mike Jurecki reported that nose tackle Alameda Ta’amu was fined $10,000 for kicking 49ers guard Alex Boone, while Matt Maiocco reported Boone was dinged $7,875 after swiping at Ta’amu before the kick.
– Hard to believe the last time the Seahawks visited, Russell Wilson was quarterbacking his first NFL game. He’s built quite a résumé in a very short period of time.
– Rookie Andre Ellington is averaging 7.04 yards per carry, best among NFL running backs with at least 25 carries this season.
– I think it’d be an upset if Calais Campbell doesn’t play. I think he’s fine and his scare from last weekend won’t impact his play. Which is a good thing. Campbell always plays well against the Seahawks and the Cards need him.
– The Cardinals haven’t won a division game since beating the Seahawks here last season in the opener. However this game turns out will influence greatly how this season plays out for the Cards.
Tags: Alameda Ta'amu, Alex Boone, Andre Ellington, Bruce Arians, Calais Campbell, Harold Goodwin, Larry Fitzgerald, Patrick Peterson, Russell Wilson, Seahawks, Steve Keim, Todd Bowles
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I want to give a big thank you for all the support and kind words today. I am feeling good and anxious to return! #appreciatethelove
— Calais Campbell (@Campbell93) October 14, 2013
Tags: Arizona Cardinals, AZ Cardinals, AZ Cards, Calais Campbell
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First, and most importantly, defensive end Calais Campbell was released from Stanford hospital last night about 11 p.m. on the plane of Michael Bidwill, accompanied by Campbell’s sister Keyonne, who had attended the game, and Cardinals athletic trainer Chad Cook. They got back to Arizona about 1 a.m. and Campbell took part in team meetings at 8 a.m.
Campbell had a CT scan and MRI yesterday and thus far, has checked out OK but the Cardinals will continue to evaluate him. A lot of people have asked for Campbell’s exact injury. Basically, Campbell was feeling numbness and tingling in his extremities and the Cards decided to be very careful. Campbell was moving after the play. A lot of this was precautionary. But it’s great news.
General Manager Steve Keim, on his weekly “Doug and Wolf” appearance on Arizona Sports 620, said it was too early to know if Campbell might have a chance to play against the Seahawks Thursday. Obviously the Cards could use him, but the fact — after that scary scene on the Candlestick turf Sunday afternoon — Campbell is doing better is the best news of all.
UPDATE: Campbell said Monday he was hopeful he would be cleared to play Thursday.
On a totally different topic, Keim was asked about quarterback Carson Palmer and whether what Palmer gives the Cards outweigh the negatives — like interceptions.
“Well, number one, (Carson) is certainly our best option right now,” Keim said. “Number two, the thing I like about him is the way he has handled adversity. The other games he struggled, to me they were more middle-to-late third-quarter issues. This game started rough early. The way he handled adversity and the way he came back and made nice throws and put us in a position to have at least a chance of winning I think was exciting to me. Again, each week we talk about whose fault and I really don’t want to get into finger-pointing, but there is a throw he tries to make to Larry (Fitzgerald) down the seam which he forces. That is obviously a bad throw and a mistake. On the other intercetpion, JIm Dray was supposed to hook that route and insted he drifted. Carson put the ball in the spot where Jim was supposed to be. Again, that one is on the receiving tight end.
“(Carson) has to play more consistent. He knows it. When you make cirtical mistakes at certain points in the game, it deflates you. That’s no different than our Pro Bowl star receiver, has a 75-yard touchdown, fights through an injury and plays for us which we were happy with, and then on the 24-yard line going in to take the lead, we have a critical fumble. I think that is something you can play about every position. But when you are the quarterback, the bulls-eye is certainly on your chest.”
Tags: Calais Campbell, Carson Palmer, Chad Cook, Michael Bidwill, Steve Keim
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It was, in a lot of ways, seconds from the perfect quarter for the Cardinals. They had withstood two early Carson Palmer interceptions and the defense somehow allowed almost nothing in stoning the 49ers right where they were before two measly field goals, They had withstood 171 yards receiving in the first half from tight end Vernon Davis.
(Another tight end. Truly an Achilles heel this season.)
But they were down just eight at the half, and they stopped the Niners on a three-and-out when Tyrann Mathieu pulled down the much bigger Colin Kaepernick on a run. Then came a nine-play TD drive capped by a Michael Floyd 10-yard scoring catch. Then came another three-and-out. And the Cards embarked on another long drive, surely to end with points and a lead and after 11 plays … Fitz lost the fumble.
Now, after the Fitz fumble, the 49ers were still stuck at their own 11. Another three-and-out – and at that point, it’s not like the defense was tired – and the Cards could have overcome. But it didn’t play out that way. Frankly, if you would have said before Sunday the Cards would have four turnovers, I would have expected a major blowout. Is it progress? Not really. As Bruce Arians said, close means nothing. (I’m paraphrasing.) But if the Cards can bottle that third quarter – most of it, anyway – that’d be progress.
– Of Palmer’s first six passes, two were incomplete (one of those being nearly intercepted), two were caught for two and three yards, respectively, and two were intercepted. An awful start. It seemed like a chance for Drew Stanton at some point, and indeed, after the second pick, Stanton took off the baseball cap he usually wears on the sideline and put on his helmet.
But Palmer steadied himself. After the second interception, Palmer completed 23-of-35 passes for 293 yards, two touchdowns and no picks. That’s a passer rating of 110.8. The Cards are lucky the poor start didn’t bury them. But you see Palmer calmly talking to Tom Moore after the second pick and realize, Palmer truly is able to move past mistakes quickly.
– Scary moment for defensive end Calais Campbell, although it looks like he will be OK. I was stunned when the crowd at Candlestick started the Wave while Campbell was being put on a stretcher. Clearly, it wasn’t everyone in the stands, but it was more than just a few. It was nice to see so many 49ers players and others in the organization talk about how dumb it was. Because it was.
– Fitz had a very good game, but we’ll see if his right hamstring can hold up for a Thursday game. He was moving slowly after the game.
– Vernon Davis ended up with eight catches for 180 yards, again with 171 of those yards in the first half. The Cards had a few different players on him in the first half – linebacker Karlos Dansby, cornerback Jerraud Powers and safety Yeremiah Bell among them.
“Vernon is a tough matchup,” Bell said. “You’re going to win some and you are going to lose some.”
– Andre Ellington another very good game. Explosive 15-yard touchdown run. Averaged eight yards on seven rushes, got 36 yards on five catches. He’s become a major weapon, although I guess I could stop saying that.
– Brittan Golden was promoted to the active roster from the practice squad this week in place of Kerry Taylor. Wondered what he had showed. Uh yeah, apparently it was speed. Lots of it. He looks like that take-the-top-off-the-defense guy that Taylor couldn’t be and like none of the other receivers are.
“It was great to get the first catch,” said Golden, whose 53-yard bomb set up Ellington’s TD run. “It sucks that we lost. I know everyone when we walked out, we felt we could win the game. With the situation, it’s a little bittersweet.”
– After the Floyd touchdown, the Cardinals went for two to try and tie it. There was about eight minutes left in the third quarter. The Cards ran the same pitch and reverse-field pass play by Patrick Peterson. His pass was eventually incomplete.
“At that point and time it was the time to do it,” Arians said. “The play was open. Patrick just didn’t see it soon enough.”
Fitzgerald was open initially but Peterson didn’t throw the pass. The miss also left the Cards down nine after the 49ers’ long fourth-quarter TD drive.
– OK. It’s late, it’s a short week, and there’s lot to do. That’s a wrap for tonight.
Tags: Andre Ellington, Brittan Golden, Bruce Arians, Calais Campbell, Carson Palmer, Niners, Patrick Peterson, Vernon Davis, Yeremiah Bell
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Antoine Cason had been a starter at cornerback the past three seasons, but when he got just a one-year free-agent contract on the open market from the Cardinals, it was a sign Cason’s career was in a different place. If he wasn’t sure of that, the regular season has driven that home.
Cason played five defensive snaps in the opener in St. Louis — and then didn’t play another defensive snap until the 10 he got against the Panthers. (Fellow veteran defensive back Javier Arenas, who played 19 defensive snaps in the Tampa game, had zero against Carolina.)
“That’s tough but anything to win,” Cason said. “I want to continue to work hard every day at anything I’m doing. Find my way. I never give up. I feel I have a lot of football left, and I’m going to continue to prove that each time I get the opportunity.”
Cason has been playing on special teams. And he had a highlight play against the Panthers, being in the right place at the right time when defensive end Calais Campbell sacked Cam Newton late in the game and popped the ball loose. Cason, blitzing himself on the play, was in the right place at the right time to snare the ball in mid-air and return it deep into Carolina territory to set up the game-sealing Jim Dray touchdown.
“Taking on a different role, playing more special teams than I have ever done, it’s because I want to win,” Cason said. “I want to be around and I will do whatever it takes to be around.”
The Cardinals collected defensive backs at a rapid pace in the offseason. Cason and Jerraud Powers — signed to free-agent deals that the team didn’t spend on outgoing free agent Greg Toler — joined Patrick Peterson early. But then Arenas was a surprise trade when the Cards were trying to get something — anything — for fullback Anthony Sherman. Tyrann Mathieu turned into a playmaker that had to be on the field. And undrafted rookie safety Tony Jefferson has proven better than expected. Cason was left pushed down the depth chart once the regular season began.
“I definitely didn’t start as fast as I wanted to,” Cason said. “But I stuck to it and I am going to keep working. I know I still have a lot left. I am very confident in my abilities. Each time the coaches give me an opportunity, I am going to make the most of it.”
Tags: Antoine Cason, Calais Campbell, Javier Arenas, Jerraud Powers, Tony Jefferson, Tyrann Mathieu
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Larry Fitzgerald was asked what he could say about the defense.
“You can’t say enough about the defense,” the Pro Bowl wide receiver said.
It was an impressive showing Sunday. It’s one thing to beat up a rookie QB like Mike Glennon. But Cam Newton had been playing pretty well, and while the Panthers got a few
yards, they didn’t get points, and the big plays were everywhere. If this team gets inside linebacker play from Daryl Washington and Karlos Dansby like that, it won’t need nearly as much from its outside linebackers. Calais Campbell was a beast too. (And I really, really like what I have seen from new nose tackle Alameda Ta’amu. Dan Williams played well too. Nice to have some strength at the point of attack.)
We’ll get back to the defense in a moment, though.
It was hard not to notice Fitzgerald and the way he took on his press conference, clearly tussling with the mixed emotions of a victory yet knowing a) the offense didn’t play very well again and b) he was going to have to answer questions about it. Again.
He said the win helped “keeps you sane a little bit.” Then Fitz chuckled that knowing chuckle – did he learn that from Anquan once upon a time – when you can’t really say what you want to say. “We’ve got to get better.”
Then he was asked if he was surprised points are so hard to come by. “How surprised am I? Um. I don’t want to answer that. Uh.” And then another smiling chuckle. “I’m, I’m, um. We’ve got to do better.”
The Cardinals are 3-2 and the fact Bruce Arians went to the run a bit more Sunday is a good sign, because the passing game is having more ups and downs than they want. Can it get fixed? More importantly, will it be effective enough for the San Francisco-Seattle five-day twosome the Cards have next week? They better hope so.
– I’ll say this: If the Cards can perform this way defensively, they should at least be in games. Washington’s return was impressive, but the fact Dansby was everywhere was too. Dansby is a smart football player. He might not always have the speed anymore to get to where he wants to be, but he knows where he should be. That duo played the whole game at inside linebacker. Yes, Jasper Brinkley was hurt, but I think we know what direction the Cards are going there. Kevin Minter, barring injury, is going to be waiting a while before he gets to play defense.
– That’s two straight outstanding games for Patrick Peterson, I thought, and he almost broke that interception return.
– The pressure was intense often on Carson Palmer. It was mostly on the interior Arians said, and I tend to agree. Bradley Sowell was fine at left tackle, but we all knew the next two games were going to be a stiffer test.
– I think it probably went through the coaches’ minds to use Drew Stanton Sunday. I didn’t think they would both because Palmer tends to rally – and he did, for a second straight week, throw a late TD pass – and because that’s an open can of worms that changes a season regardless of what happens. But it’s not like they have a rookie behind Palmer. And we all know the trust Arians has in Stanton. Something to watch if Palmer continues to struggle.
– The Cardinals hadn’t had seven sacks in a game since they had eight against Dallas Sept. 13, 1987. For those scoring at home, that’s the last season in St. Louis for the franchise.
– Calais Campbell’s sack for a safety was the Cards’ first regular-season safety since 2004. Yes, they had one more recently – the infamous Steelers hold in the end zone giving the Cards two (important) points in Super Bowl XLIII.
– If there was a way to wed a punter and gunner together in a Pro Bowl category, there would be votes for Dave Zastudil and Justin Bethel. By the way, a 48.3 net average for Zastudil Sunday with two of four inside the 20.
– The game might have been different if the Panthers didn’t have four drops, including one sure TD by Steve Smith on the first drive of the game. Three instead of seven. The Cards will take it.
– Arians said it was Michael Floyd’s fault on the first interception, the reasoning being if the Cards are going to call for a jump ball, the receiver has to at least knock it down. Sounds fair.
– Antoine Cason sighting: The veteran cornerback has not played defense much at all, but he was in the right place when Campbell had his second sack, and Cason grabbed the ball in the air and returned it inside the Carolina 10.
“I haven’t played a lot,” Cason said. “But whenever they call me to play, that’s what I come to do. Don’t complain. Just go to work.”
– I could go forever but there will be more tomorrow. San Francisco week beckons.
Tags: Alameda Ta'amu, Antoine Cason, Bruce Arians, Calais Campbell, Carson Palmer, Dan Williams, Daryl Washington, Dave Zastudil, Drew Stanton, Karlos Dansby, Kevin Minter, Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, Panthers
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Tags: Arizona Cardinals, AZ Cardinals, AZ Cards, Calais Campbell, NFL
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Bruce Arians used the hot read on his first postgame comment Sunday.
“I wouldn’t have any other ending at Raymond James Stadium,” he said. “I’m kind of used to that.”
Of course, Arians was referencing both Sunday’s 13-10 come-from-behind win for the Cards over the Bucs and the Super Bowl he won with the Steelers back in early 2009, and yes, that picked at the scab of the Cards’ fans that remembered that painful ending all too well. Then again, it was nice for the Cards to avoid another painful trip to Tampa Bay. And goodness knows it certainly looked like it was going to be just that.
For a while it echoed the Cards’ last regular-season trip here, a seven-point loss in which the offense could do nothing. The Cards saw exactly what they expected this time out of rookie Mike Glennon. He completed some passes on them but for the most part, the Bucs’ offense did little. Not that they needed to.
But finally, the offense came around. Sure, Patrick Peterson had to play the set-up man – what in the world were the Bucs thinking letting a struggling rookie throw that deep in his own territory when the Cards had been doing next to nothing offensively? – and it’s always nice when your stars shine. Peterson two picks? Check. Fitz clutch TD? Check.
There will be frustration and concern, all rightfully so. Yet there is a world of difference between 1-3 and 2-2, and the Cards made sure they didn’t mess it up. Most, if presented with the possibility of 2-2 after four games – three being on the road – would take it. The Cards will.
– Peterson said the game changed as field position began to change in the second half. The offense didn’t score but at least it was getting yards. Meanwhile, the Bucs stopped moving as the Cards honed in on rookie QB Mike Glennon.
“(Being a rookie) definitely played into the thought process,” defensive end Calais Campbell said. “They threw a little more early than I thought they would. He is a young quarterback and he made some young mistakes.”
– That included that game-turning pass thrown to Peterson. Glennon said he made the right read but just a bad throw. Peterson said he knew exactly what the route was and jumped the pass. Regardless, it changed the game.
– And yes, Peterson admitted that as a rookie, or even last year, he probably would have tried for a longer return on his final pick. But he got down because he just wanted to end the thing and get the Cards on their flight back to Arizona. A wise man.
– It was good to see Fitz get involved. Cause/effect? Sure seemed that way.
– The Cardinals will officially get Daryl Washington back. I’m pretty sure it’s as early as tomorrow. Peterson talked about how much more aggressive the Cardinals will be able to get with him in the lineup. I really think he will have a huge impact on the defense.
– The last time the Cards came back to win a road game where they trailed by at least 10 points in the fourth quarter? It was in Philadelphia, Sept. 12, 1999. The Cards were down 12 before coming back to win, 25-24. That’s the year before I started covering the team. The last time they won in regulation down at least 10 in the fourth quarter? That was 2003, with the infamous McCown-to-Poole Hail Mary pass to beat the Vikings, 18-17. That was 17-6 in the fourth.
– Rookie wideout Jaron Brown hadn’t looked sharp in his few chances this season, but he showed a lot by making that 19-yard sideline catch while being blasted by Bucs safety Dashon Goldson. Goldson was flagged (and could be suspended) and the Cards got the easy field goal attempt.
– Tyrann Mathieu got a couple of punt return attempts, but the Bucs kicked it away from him like they did Peterson. The first Mathieu return came after Peterson’s right arm went numb briefly, and he didn’t want to take a chance at fumbling a punt out there.
– The defensive linemen were huddled around after the game wanting to know how many yards the Bucs rushed for, and were disappointed when they heard 80 (on 31 carries). Of course, that was skewed by Goldson’s 22-yard fake punt. Doug Martin gained just 45 yards on 27 carries – 1.7 yards a tote – and that’s a good day’s work for the D.
– By the way, confirmed by Elias, there has only been eight times when a player had 25 or more carries and gained 45 or less yards since 1935. Only the second time it’s happened in a team’s loss. So again, a good day’s work for the D. Martin was a key Sunday.
– Arians wasn’t sounding overly concerned about Carson Palmer’s play. He did say he thought getting sacked on the first play didn’t help Palmer’s confidence. But “it’s not just him,” Arians said. “It’s 11 guys on offense. We have about eight of them playing in the first quarter the last two games.”
– I did think the pass protection was generally better in the game after a rough start. Palmer was sacked on that first play and then wasn’t sacked again.
– In their two wins, the Cards are a combined 2-for-21 on third-down conversions. Mind-boggling.
That’s enough from 35,000 feet. It’s been a long week.
Tags: Bruce Arians, Buccaneers, Calais Campbell, Carson Palmer, Daryl Washington, Doug Martin, Jaron Brown, Larry Fitzgerald, Mike Glennon, offensive line, Patrick Peterson, Tyrann Mathieu
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Tags: Arizona Cardinals, AZ Cardinals, AZ Cards, Big Red Rage, Calais Campbell, Honey Badger, NFL, Tyrann Mathieu
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The Cardinals have changed up availability times for Mondays, so the players aren’t talking until later on, but a few notes from lunch with Bruce Arians:
– Rookie running back Andre Ellington continues to impress and it’s not like Arians only sees him has a third-down, change-of-pace guy. “This kid can carry the load,” Arians said. (And to clarify: “Can” carry it doesn’t mean he will. Rashard Mendenhall is the starter.)
– Of the seven game balls awarded for the Lions game, three went to special teamers: kicker Jay Feely, punter Dave Zastudil and Justin Bethel, who blocked a field goal and who has to be in the discussion as best gunner in the NFL. The others went to DE Calais Campbell, CB Patrick Peterson, WR Kerry Taylor and QB Carson Palmer.
– Palmer did have the pick-six interception, but Arians praised his leadership, especially late in the game with no Larry Fitzgerald and the offense struggling on third downs. “He sent the best signals (that) ‘We’re fine,’ ” Arians said.
– Arians was happy with the play of Taylor but he did not commit to keeping Taylor on the roster once Fitz returns to full strength. That, he said, will depend on injuries. The bottom five roster spots are always churning.
– The hope is tight end Rob Housler (ankle) will play this week. But it’s still we’ll-see mode, as it will be with the rest of the injuries. Arians said he wants to see where the Cards are Wednesday before talking about anyone else.
– Safety Yeremiah Bell actually was playing some linebacker Sunday (I can’t wait to hear from everyone who always wanted Adrian Wilson to do the same). It was part of the package to handle the Lions’ offense. “He played great,” Arians said. “We asked him to learn linebacker in two different fronts. I can’t say enough about the guy. He’s the ultimate pro.”
– Arians said the decision to stay back East after the Saints game came with the knowledge the team has back-to-back 10 a.m. Arizona time kickoffs. This will hopefully alleviate some of the issues with the early kickoff in Tampa.
Tags: Andre Ellington, Bruce Arians, Calais Campbell, Carson Palmer, Dave Zastudil, Jay Feely, Justin Bethel, Kerry Taylor, Patrick Peterson, Rob Housler, Yeremiah Bell
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