The play was a risky one, with Carson Palmer dropping back deep into his own end zone, the line of scrimmage the Cardinals’ own 1-yard line. But it was executed well, with the Packers getting no pressure on Palmer before he delivered a 17-yard pass to an open Larry Fitzgerald.
It was hard not to notice, however, that — on a pass play — one of the key points of protection was wide receiver Michael Floyd blocking Pro Bowl pass rusher Clay Matthews. An odd matchup, to be sure, and certainly an unexpected one for Floyd to win. Floyd isn’t small at 6-foot-3, 225 pounds, but he isn’t Matthews’ 6-3, 255, nor does he have the experience to fend off a pass rusher in such a situation.
“(Michael) handled Clay pretty well on that play,” Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said. “I wasn’t really happy he was matched up on Clay. It was supposed to be a quicker pass. He blocked the crap out of him. Mike is a big strong guy. But hopefully, I think my coaching would be questioned if we put him on pass rushers like that every day.”
Floyd’s reputation from college was one of a willing and able blocker. That part isn’t a surprise. “You know, if Coach puts me in a position where I’ve got to do something, I’ve got to do it,” Floyd said of the play. “If I don’t, that’s a sack for him and that’s a no-play for us. It’s something I’ve got to take care of. I take a lot of pride in my blocking and I have to get it done.”
What seems more surprising is having Floyd, one the top receivers, stay in on a passing play. On running plays, Floyd has already shown he can and will be effective as an edge blocker.
“I want to be an all-around receiver, not just making big plays and scoring touchdowns,” Floyd said. “I also want to help those guys running the ball be successful. If it means blocking a guy to get them in the end zone, I’ll do it.”
That’s the kind of attitude and performance most coaches appreciate. And Friday night, it helped lead to a completion (as seen below) and should be a point of pride. “When he watches the tape,” Arians said. “there will be some chest poking.”
Tags: Clay Matthews, Michael Floyd
Posted in Blog | 10 Comments »
The Cardinals are back at practice this morning at the team’s Tempe facility for the first time since playing Friday night. A few notes and thoughts from coach Bruce Arians in his first media session since the game.
— The running back situation isn’t cleared up right now, starting with the fact running back Ryan Williams (knee), who insisted last week he’d be back for the Cowboys game, might not be back yet. “I don’t know if he’ll play this week,” Arians said. Andre Ellington is still being handled with kid gloves with his neck issue (he is sitting today) and Arians said Rashard Mendenhall is still trying to get the stiffness out of his knee.
— Safety/special teamer Jonathon Amaya suffered a slight MCL sprain in the game. Arians said he’d be out a couple of days,
— Arians liked the job of the offensive line and specifically praised LT Levi Brown for his work on Clay Matthews, although he noted Brown will have to deal with DeMarcus Ware this week. All four tackles played pretty well.
— G Daryn Colledge (leg) is close to coming back, but it’s clear Arians is looking at Paul Fanaika at right guard too. “We’re solidifying (the line) without (Colledge) pretty good right now,” Arians said. “Paul played really well. Hoppefully Daryn can get back out there. There’s competition now.”
— The Cards will practice half outside and half in their new bubble today. Long-term, it’s a big deal to have the bubble, Arians said. “We’ll be able to stay on a normal practice schedule,” he said. “It will show dividends I think throughout September. We’ll have normal teaching routine as opposed to having to bus over to ASU or morning practices or things that are different.”
Tags: Andre Ellington, Bruce Arians, Clay Matthews, Daryn Colledge, DeMarcus Ware, Jonathon Amaya, Levi Brown, Paul Fanaika, practice bubble, Rashard Mendenhall, Ryan Williams
Posted in Blog | 29 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 »
The math seems pretty simple.
The Cardinals and Packers are currently tied for the NFL lead with 26 sacks each, and each have a dynamic linebacker who is leading the way (Daryl Washington has eight for the Cardinals, Clay Matthews has nine for the Packers). On the flip side, while it’s known around these part the Cardinals have surrendered the most sacks while on offense (39), the Packers have allowed the second-most sacks (28).
“(The Cardinals) have a have a uniqueness to their pressure in that their interior three guys are all very good pass rushers, which you don’t always see in a 3-4,” said Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, and certainly it seems that Calais Campbell and Darnell Dockett can create more havoc than most 3-4 ends. “This is a unique challenge because it’s a defense that kind of throws a different pressure package at you, so it’s been an intense week of preparation.”
Given all that, it would sure seem like the team that can best protect its quarterback Sunday would gain an advantage. It may not be easy. It also isn’t a surprise to note both teams have had trouble running the ball this season, another way opposing teams can amp up its pass rush — knowing a pass is coming. Of course, in this matchup, props must also belong to defenses that know how to get to a passer. The Cards and coordinator Ray Horton can bring pressure from a lot of different places, and Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers can do the same.
“Dom is one of those guys who wants blood,” said Cardinals guard Daryn Colledge, a former Packer. “He’s got a couple of guys who can rush the passer and the way we are doing pass pro right now, I’d assume those guys want to rush the passer too.”
Tags: Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews, Daryl Washington, Daryn Colledge, Packers, sacks
Posted in Blog | 16 Comments »
The Fourth of July has passed and that time when the lockout is creeping up on the season is coming fast. Talks are ongoing, and the hope still is that training camps won’t be delayed. Like everyone else, I am sitting back, waiting and hoping. In the meantime …
— Former NFL coach Herman Edwards was on ESPN’s SportsCenter this morning talking about his top five players to watch this season. At five was Packers LB Clay Matthews. Four was Bucs QB Josh Freeman, three was Rams QB Sam Bradford and two was Cowboys wideout Dez Bryant. And his top guy to keep an eye on? Cardinals rookie cornerback Patrick Peterson. Edwards has long been a fan of Peterson. Here’s hoping Edwards is right. Funny thing, by this time we’ve usually written and talked a ton about the first-round draft pick but because of the circumstances, he remains a relative mystery for this level. Will he jump in? Is he going to take longer to assimilate to the pro game because of no offseason (another reason it seems crazy for the Cards to deal DRC)?
— Speaking of the DRC “trade” — or more specifically, Eagles QB Kevin Kolb, some interesting stuff floating out there right now in this speculation bonanza we have. There is little question the Eagles think they can get a ransom for him right now, but who knows what that means? A Seattle radio station floated last week that the Seahawks would be willing to give up a first- and third-round pick for Kolb. That would change the dynamic of the situation, certainly.
As for Kolb’s play, Adam Caplan and Greg Cosell did an in-depth breakdown of Kolb’s five starts. It’s good stuff for anyone wanting to know more about this potential QB.
— Coach Ken Whisenhunt will be back in the U.S. soon after his trip overseas to visit military troops, a journey that took him to Kuwait and over to Iraq and eventually Baghdad and allowed him to spend Fourth of July with men and women defending the very nature of the holiday. Whiz is also scheduled to return to the American Century Championship according to the tourney. That’s the celebrity golf tournament held every year at Lake Tahoe (This year, it’s July 12-17). Cardinals linebacker Joey Porter is also on the list to play this year.
Then again, you never know what could be happening football-wise. I don’t know what a new labor agreement would immediately mean for the coaches. Hope we get to find out soon.
Tags: Clay Matthews, Dez Bryant, DRC, Eagles, Herman Edwards, Joey Porter, Josh Freeman, Ken Whisenhunt, Kevin Kolb, labor, Patrick Peterson, Sam Bradford, Seahawks
Posted in Blog | 53 Comments »
The talk about grabbing a “safe” pick high in the draft has been used for a long time now. As I have responded to a few people in blog post comments over the past month or so, there really isn’t such a thing as a “safe” pick. Now ESPN’s John Clayton has written a really good column on the subject, and the reality of going “safe.”
Clayton uses the example of the Dolphins going with tackle Jake Long (three Pro Bowls in three seasons already) and then taking QB Chad Henne in the second round, instead of taking QB Matt Ryan over Long. Henne isn’t working. They are still looking for a QB. Long was “safe” and he has been excellent. But was the pick for the best?
That’s why there is so much hair-pulling (figuratively, of course) about Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert, and what they could mean. If you are the Bills, for instance, and you go with Von Miller over Gabbert, and Gabbert turns into Matt Ryan — even if Miller is another, say, Clay Matthews — did Buffalo make the right call? (The same argument can be made for the Cards, for instance, for taking Larry Fitzgerald over Ben Roethlisberger). It’s why the Panthers seem likely to take Cam Newton No. 1 overall, because no matter how “safe” a Patrick Peterson or Marcell Dareus might be, they can’t trump the impact of a franchise QB.
Then again, you don’t know if that QB is going to be a franchise guy (see Leinart, Matt — among others). Another concept: Is it better to take a QB who might wash out or end up with a position player who washes out? The upside of impact usually rests with the most important position. It’s another reason why making the decisions on draft day are never simple, even when sometimes they look that way.
Tags: Blaine Gabbert, Cam Newton, Chad Henne, Clay Matthews, draft, Jake Long, Larry Fitzgerald, Marcell Dareus, Matt Leinart, Matt Ryan, Patrick Peterson, Von Miller
Posted in Blog | 73 Comments »