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 | 10 Comments »
Carson Palmer’s status for Sunday’s game against the Rams is going to come down to a decision on game day, coach Bruce Arians said, and the quarterback — who was limited again Friday — will officially be questionable with his ailing right elbow. Arians expressed confidence Palmer will be able to play.
“He’ll be a game-time,” Arians said. “I’m sure he’ll be ready to go.”
Arians did say he needs to see Palmer throw some Sunday, which is what makes it a game-day choice. Not surprisingly, he emphasized how much faith he has in backup quarterback Drew Stanton should Stanton have to play. “If it comes to that, Drew will do a hell of a job,” Arians said. “There is no doubt in my mind.”
Arians said Palmer’s two interceptions in Philadelphia did not have anything to do with the injured elbow. One game because Palmer was being hit as he threw, Arians said, and the other was a poor decision by Palmer where he was throwing the ball. The limited work all week for Palmer in practice would seem to be a setback in preparation, but Arians said it shouldn’t be in part because the Rams have a fairly straightforward defensive philosophy and in part because Palmer has gotten in tune with the offense.
“Sometimes it is good this time of year to give the veteran a couple days off and let the young guy get some reps anyway,” Arians said. “He got every mental rep. I’m sure he will be fine throwing the ball.”
As for Stanton, he has not thrown a regular-season pass since Dec. 19, 2010, when he had his best NFL game playing for the Lions, completing 23 of 37 passes for 252 yards and a touchdown. Arians said he isn’t worried about having to turn to a quarterback with such rust, if needed. “He’s prepared,” Arians said. “Having been with him all last year, there was never a doubt … because he does know the offense inside and out.”
– Arians said running back Andre Ellington (knee) “looked just like himself” and is no longer wearing a knee brace. He also said wide receiver Michael Floyd (ankle) is fine. Both are expected to play.
Tags: Carson Palmer, Drew Stanton, Rams
Posted in Blog | 22 Comments »
Bruce Arians, first-time NFL head coach, is going back to where he was head coach for the first time — Philadelphia, where he lead Temple University back from 1983 to 1988. And the place and the job that Arians said “almost killed me.”
“I was in the hospital about seven times my last season,” Arians said. “When I was only 36 I felt like I was about 86. Stress will do funny things to you. I had a bunch of migraines every week, and I got fired and never had another one in my life.
“I tried to do too much. The one thing that I learned was that if I ever got a job again, and it took a little while, but I would learn to delegate. I was the head coach, offensive coordinator, quarterback coach, recruitment coordinator, I had my hands on the defense and special teams, so I was trying to do everything and I felt as if it was my job. I’ve learned now to let other people do their jobs, and they’re more than qualified to do them, and relax.”
Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles played for Arians at Temple, and the former safety was one of Arians’ captains.
“He was a good coach from the south,” Bowles said. “He came from Alabama where they ran the option and the veer and played eight-man fronts. He got up to Temple and played an eight-man front, and we were playing against (Doug) Flutie, (Dan) Marino and the other guys. It just wasn’t working. It was like, ‘Coach, we’re up east now, you’ve got to change.’ But he was outstanding. He was hard on us but he was fair, just like he is now. He’s very honest. He tells you when you’re good and when you’re bad.”
Arians is 61 now, finally enjoying his second head coaching job that he wasn’t sure would ever come. The Cardinals leave for the Eagles game Friday, and the team will hold their Saturday morning walkthrough at Temple.
“It’ll be fun,” Arians said. “Hopefully I’ll see some of the pictures when I had hair. But, yeah, it’s always fun going back. Temple kids are extremely dear to me. Those six years were fabulous. Probably stayed in touch with them more than any other college players I’ve ever coached. That group of guys, some were on my staff, I’ve coached with a bunch of them.”
– Here’s what the Cardinals are not giving thanks for on Thanksgiving: Running back Andre Ellington being put on the injury report as limited with a knee problem. He wasn’t on there Wednesday, so I’d guess it happened Thursday, but we won’t know until Arians talks Friday. The Cards need Ellington.
– A good story by SI’s Jim Trotter on the improving Cards’ offense. It’s something I wrote about earlier in the week, but it was interesting to hear Carson Palmer saying the mental error list was a page-and-a-half much of the season and now it is down to a quarter page. Another Palmer quote on the early-season offense: “It was a mess.”
– Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.
Tags: Andre Ellington, Bruce Arians, Carson Palmer, Eagles, Temple, Todd Bowles
Posted in Blog | 8 Comments »
Tags: Arizona Cardinals, AZ Cardinals, AZ Cards, Carson Palmer, NFC, NFC West, NFL
Posted in Since1898 | 7 Comments »
Tags: Arizona Cardinals, AZ Cardinals, AZ Cards, Carson Palmer, Instagram, NFL
Posted in Since1898 | 2 Comments »
There are more than a few Cardinals players that have taken part in the Movember movement this month, although none have been quite as front and center as Carson Palmer — for better or worse.
I’ve seen some bad Movember mustaches. Carson Palmer’s might take the cake.
— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) November 24, 2013
Palmer understands the power that his mustache brings. In his own video, he says “my mustache is ginger, but very Tom Selleck.” A quote that will live in infamy. But wait, this might go even deeper. The mustache was started in November. Palmer has played in three very good games in November. The coincidence is staggering.
Palmer has 111 attempts in those three games, completing 76 of those for a percentage of 68.5. He has totaled 974 yards, six touchdowns, one interception and a passer rating of 110.0. Those are impressive numbers, especially for a fan base that is now reaching out to implore Palmer not to shave. Technically, Sunday’s game against the Eagles is in December — the time will have passed for a mustache Palmer already had acknowledged wasn’t a favorite with his family. But that might just change.
“I don’t know,” Palmer said. “I have to talk to my Mo bros, my other QB guys,” Palmer said. “We will come to a decision here.”
There are only so many QBs that can pull it off (although Drew Stanton has worked the mustache angle hard this month.) One guy who did it was Joe Namath, who sported that look back in 1968. Oh, and hey, how did Namath’s season go in 1968? The Colts know. Maybe it’s another reason to stick with the ‘stache.
Tags: Carson Palmer, Drew Stanton, Joe Namath
Posted in Blog | 23 Comments »
Sometimes, practice doesn’t make perfect. Sometimes, it’s only game-action that truly can forge what a player can do. That’s often tackling, because you can’t practice it live against your own teammates. And for similar reasons, it’s the same for the jump balls a quarterback throws to a receiver.
From the lofted fade pattern to Larry Fitzgerald for a touchdown to the 29-yard bomb to Michael Floyd early in the second quarter, Carson Palmer tossed it up and counted on his receivers to bring it down.
(Poor Vontae Davis, who was the cornerback victimized on both plays. Obviously, the Cards sensed a weakness.)
Those jump balls weren’t being caught early in the year, for a variety of reasons. Who can forget the interception early in the year on the long jump-ball pass to Floyd, the one Bruce Arians said he thought Floyd should have broken up? Or even a lack of jump balls thrown to Fitz, which might’ve just been a case of Fitz’s hamstrings and being physically limited. But if the Cards can try more of those down the stretch to Fitz and Floyd, the chunk plays and the scoring plays should keep coming.
Especially now that Palmer has a trust good things will happen. He couldn’t have known that this summer, or even really in training camp.
“With those kinds of things, you don’t gain trust and know the plays the guy can make or can’t make until you’re playing games with guys,” Palmer said. “In practice, nobody is going up for 50-50 balls, risking an ankle injury or coming down on a shoulder, so you have to see it in games.
“I’m starting to realize the types of plays that those guys have the ability to make and the types of plays they don’t. I’m getting a feel for where I can put certain balls. It’s just something that when you see it on the film and when you see it on the field, you can’t practice that. You can’t see it in practice and all of a sudden go, ‘OK, I know exactly how he’s going to react to this.’ You’ve got to see it on game day. Mike (Floyd) has done a great job making those plays recently.”
Tags: Bruce Arians, Carson Palmer, Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd
Posted in Blog | 23 Comments »
Bruce Arians stuck with them. That’s what popped to mind Sunday. There were many calls to dump Rashard Mendenhall to the bench and Carson Palmer too. The Cardinals’ coach didn’t. Sunday that paid off.
This isn’t to reignite the Mendenhall-Ellington debate. I still think Ellington is the better back (and oh my he showed some of his shifty goodness against the Colts, especially with that 17-yard run along the sideline) but Mendenhall had a burst against Indy we hadn’t seen. And if he can play like that, he’s worth having on the field and worth being the yin to Ellington’s yang. As for Palmer, the cacophony surrounding him when he was throwing way too many interceptions was hard to ignore. Arians stood by him. Now? Palmer looks like a QB of a playoff team.
“The biggest difference really is trust,” Palmer said, before admitting, “It took a little longer than you’d like.”
There are many things going well for the Cardinals right now. But offensively, they are clicking, and those two vets are in the middle of it.
– It does feel like sometimes, the defense gets a short shrift. They just do what they do, they control the game, and the Cards are winning (or at least have a chance to win). Palmer said it best: “Identity-wise, we’re a defensive football team,” the quarterback said.
– After all the talk all week of Arians and his Colts memories, that was more or less put aside Sunday. Lots of pre-game hugs (and a few postgame) but basically it’s been the B.A. the Cards have known all year. “It’s crazy, he’s been even keel all week,” defensive tackle Darnell Dockett said.
– If there was a question about which better second-half unit would win the second half – the Colts’ offense or the Cardinals’ defense – it came out on the Cardinals’ favor. Arizona took the second half, 13-8, and honestly, I’m not sure how safety Yeremiah Bell didn’t get a hand on the lone touchdown pass to tight end Coby Fleener.
– Then again, if you would have said Luck would give up as many touchdowns throwing the ball as scoring, the Cards would have taken it.
– Good to see you hold on to one, Karlos Dansby.
– Good to see Darnell Dockett not get a sack on that play, too. “I don’t care,” Dockett said. “They say, ‘You had the sack.’ I don’t care, Karlos had the touchdown, and I’ll take the interception touchdown over a sack any day. I’m glad I didn’t hit his arm and knock the ball out.”
– Arians with his quote of the day, talking about his second half defense against the explosive Colts: “We didn’t want any bullets left in the gun. I know I’m not supposed to say bullets anymore. It’s not the politically correct thing. But here in Arizona it’s OK.”
– It was kind of amazing that the Cardinals, on their first two TD drives, did not face a third down. That’s one way to avoid the third-down conversion problem.
– Speaking of that, 7-for-14 on third downs works. And Dave Zastudil only punted twice. He had never had fewer than four in a game since joining the Cardinals in 2011.
– Palmer’s touchdown of 26 yards to Larry Fitzgerald was a thing of beauty. Palmer hung in the pocket a long time and absorbed a crushing hit by linebacker Kelvin Sheppard while delivering the perfect pass – with Fitz being chased by two defenders.
– According to media relations VP Mark Dalton, that makes the Cards 13-3 overall wearing the red-red uniforms and seven in a row. And here I am feeding into the frenzy. I disappoint myself.
– Fitz looked like Fitz on those touchdown catches. He now has eight this season, double his 2012 total. His other numbers don’t match up to what he’d like, but heck. All he does is catch touchdowns. The Cards could live with that.
Tags: Carson Palmer, Colts, Darnell Dockett, Dave Zastudil, Karlos Dansby, Larry Fitzgerald, Mark Dalton, Rashard Mendenhall, uniforms, Yeremiah Bell
Posted in Blog | 47 Comments »
The Cardinals have become stellar on defense in the second half – that’s well-chronicled and came to the forefront against last week in Jacksonville when the Cards shut out the Jaguars the final two quarters. The Colts have been a second-half kind of offense, most recently showing that off when they rallied a week ago from a 17-6 halftime deficit to beat the Titans.
So something has to give when the two teams play Sunday. Right?
“It’ll be a good matchup, two second-half teams going at it,” Cardinals defensive end Calais Campbell said. “Hopefully we can have a good start though. Hopefully we don’t wait until the second half again.”
I don’t think anyone will have to wait for the second half to get a feel for Sunday’s very large game between these teams. But these teams’ respective strengths will collide eventually, and we’ll have to see which comes out on top. The Colts are up three games in the AFC South and it would take an epic collapse for them not to win the division. This game is not as crucial to Indy as the Cards. Then again, the fact Bruce Arians is on the other sideline will mean something.
– That last thought reminds me of the game the Cardinals – and first-year coach Ken Whisenhunt – played against the Steelers at University of Phoenix Stadium in 2007. The Steelers were generally regarded as the better team, as the Colts are now. The Cards won the game, and you could tell it meant a ton to Whiz and his staff. I’d expect that emotion to flow from Arians and his staff too in a win.
– What, you say you don’t fully understand the Arians-Colts connection? Click here for the whole story.
– And if you missed it, this was a sad but important lesson learned by offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin.
– Linebacker John Abraham has been better than the Cardinals could have hoped. He’s playing nearly every snap, he’s defending the run, he’s been upgraded on the injury report so he’s been practicing full, and he’s the sack machine he’s always been. Shut out in the first six games, he’s had seven sacks in his last four games. That’s a franchise record for a four-game stretch, and it’d be tough to bet against him reaching Andrew Luck Sunday.
– Remember Patrick Peterson’s muffed punt in Jacksonville, the one where he somehow got it back and the Jaguars were angry and challenged the call? Yeah, they weren’t allowed to challenge the call. That’s been confirmed in the latest NFL officials video (which you can watch here, along with some more somehow-that-wasn’t-pass-interference call from Patriots-Panthers). At the time, it was pretty clear the muffed punt wasn’t reviewable. How an entire officials crew didn’t know that is surprising.
– Congrats to former Cardinals wide receiver Jerheme Urban, who at age 33 has been named the head football coach at his alma mater, Trinity University.
– It will be a blow if the Cardinals cannot get Justin Bethel back and healthy Sunday. You don’t want to mess with concussions, of course. But the Cards’ special teams clearly took a hit last weekend when Bethel went out of the game. Even Arians acknowledged no Bethel isn’t a good thing.
– At least the NFL recognized the problem with the play. Jaguars defensive back Will Blackmon, the player who hit Bethel with the illegal blindside block that caused the concussion, was hit with a $21,000 fine for the play.
– Don’t forget the Cardinals are going to wear red-on-red Sunday. Here are some images from past red-on-red games. And, against my better judgment, because I have zero belief in correlation of such things, note the Cards are 12-3 wearing red-on-red since 2005. That stat is courtesy of Cardinals’ VP of media relations Mark Dalton.
– If you are coming to the game Sunday, the annual holiday food drive to benefit St. Mary’s Food Bank is taking place. Please bring non-perishable food items to drop off at the gate so those less fortunate can be helped. (You can donate money if you want).
– No Reggie Wayne for the Colts. “It’s like taking out the heartbeat,” Arians said. But they do have tight end Coby Fleener, who has taken a bit to get rolling in the NFL but who is coming off his best game. And we know how the Cards have been with tight ends. Stop T.Y. Hilton first, of course, but they better watch Fleener.
Between the background between Arians and the Colts, the teams’ records, the Cards’ three-game winning streak, this is going to have a playoff feel to it Sunday.
But before that, we walk off with Carson Palmer’s Chronicles video: “My mustache is ginger, but very Tom Selleck.”
Tags: Bruce Arians, Calais Campbell, Carson Palmer, Colts, Jerheme Urban, John Abraham, Justin Bethel, Patrick Peterson, Will Blackmon
Posted in Blog | 19 Comments »