Every year ESPN puts together an “Ultimate Standings” list, ranking all the teams in the four main pro sports in categories like “Bang for your buck,” affordability, ownership, fan relations, stadium experience, coaching and players. And the Cardinals did quite well, thank you. The Cards are 19th overall among 122 franchises, and fourth overall in the NFL — behind just the Saints, Colts and Packers (the Saints, coming off their Super Bowl win, are also No. 1 overall). The Cards’ highest marks are in coaching (another good reason the Cards extended Ken Whisenhunt), which comes out seventh among the 122 teams, and “bang for the buck,” which the team is ninth overall. The Cards also are rated as having the sixth-best stadium experience in the NFL (and 18th overall).
Interestingly, the Phoenix Suns — who just had a run to the conference finals — are the lowest rated of the local franchises at No. 47 overall. The Coyotes are one notch ahead of the Cards at No. 18, and the struggling Diamondbacks are still No. 26.
The rest of the NFC West, by the way? The Niners are 77th, the Seahawks 83rd and the Rams 114th — one spot ahead of the Raiders.
Tags: 49ers, Cardinals, Colts, ESPN, Ken Whisenhunt, Packers, Rams, Saints, Seahawks
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The Cardinals have wrapped up practice for the week — they’ll be back together Monday — so here are a couple of things to get to, besides DRC’s fractured finger.
– The Cardinals aren’t going to get LB Monty Beisel. Said GM Rod Graves in a text message from the road, “MB does not fit into our plans. We won’t be re-signing him.”
– The mood seemed a little lighter all the way around Thursday at the workout. I’m sure some will wish the Cardinals stayed angry from the Colts’ loss, but that rarely happens in the NFL, where the players are taught to let the previous game go — win or loss — by Tuesday night. Sometimes, the irritation to coaches or players lasts through that first practice of the week, but usually by Thursday everyone has moved on. The Cards have done that.
“It was a very emotional loss for us because we have a lot of proud players on this team and it was embarassing the way we played,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “It’s tough when you go into a bye week having to deal with that. But I feel it puts our focus where it needs to be.”
– Whisenhunt will stay in town, watch his son play high school football Friday night, and then he’ll watch NFL football Sunday. He’ll try to do it as a fan, but inevitably, he said, he’ll fail.
“It’s hard not to watch it as a coach,” Whisenhunt said. “I try to watch it as a fan but then you start thinking about plays or looks you are seeing. I think that’s the natural reaction.”
Of course, Whisenhunt said the top two games he’ll be watching just happen to be the next two teams on the Cardinals’ schedule: The Texans (home against Oakland) and the Seahawks (at Indianapolis).
Tags: Colts, DRC, Ken Whisenhunt, Monty Beisel
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Obviously, not a good night. It looked like it would be, after the way the defense handled the Colts in the first quarter – three punts and an interception. After that, well, ugh. Coach Ken Whisenhunt used the word “disappointed” a few times, including when he talked about starting 0-2 at home. “I’m disappointed we haven’t lived up to our end of the bargain for our fans,” he said, and judging by the comments I have seen via e-mails/on the blog/Facebook/Twitter, the fans are none too happy about it.
Other thoughts on Sunday night, here on a Monday morning because it just got too late to write:
– I know many were wondering about the lack of Beanie (two carries for minus-2 yards) in the game. Simple, really. Beanie can run right now, but the other parts of the game, like catching and blocking, are better served with Tim Hightower in the game. The way the game developed meant Beanie sat.
– Speaking of running backs, I don’t think anyone would have guessed the Cards, after the Colts gave up 239 yards rushing the week before to the Dolphins, would only gain 24 yards on the ground.
– Kurt Warner could have thrown the ball away on his end-of-the-half fluky interception, but he saw a chance with Larry Fitzgerald – and it’s exactly the kind of play Fitzgerald has been looking for from his QB. “I felt he was in a favorable position on a smaller corner,” Warner said. “I think we had a window there.”
– That said, the turnover was obviously a killer, since the Cards did manage to march down for a touchdown to open the second half.
– Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie said he is still learning, but the learning curve really hurt the Cards. All week the Cardinals talked about how Peyton Manning would rip them apart if they didn’t handle their assignments, and the couple of times DRC didn’t, Manning found the opening. Even on the bomb DRC barely missed, though, Manning threw a perfect pass.
– The plays that summed up the game to me, other than the turnovers. The juxtaposition of the two bombs: Manning’s right-on 53-yard TD toss to Pierre Garcon, and Warner’s overthrow of Fitzgerald when Fitz was wide open after the defensive back fell. You can’t miss those opportunities. Oh, and you can’t forget Warner running for his life backward on his final fourth-down play when he ended up losing 28 yards on a sack. This game will not be on the highlight reel for left tackle Mike Gandy or any of the offensive line, for that matter. “I don’t feel I won my share of battles out there,” Gandy said.
– Given the way this team is constructed, you have to wonder (worry) when the offense makes early mistakes on how it affects the whole team. We all know how badly the Hightower fumble at the Colts’ 5 hurt, but on the drive before – which ended on a Neil Rackers field goal and a 3-0 Cards’ lead – the Cardinals were at the Indianapolis 20 with a third-and-1. Warner tried to go down the field to Fitzgerald. Anquan Boldin was wide open on the left side of the play (he was demonstrably angry right after the incompletion, and was lucky he didn’t get a penalty when he ripped off his helmet on the field) about two yards past the first-down marker. The two drives combined maybe should have turned into two touchdowns. But when they didn’t, maybe it takes something away from the defense.
– Then again, maybe Manning is just the best quarterback in the NFL and that 95-yard drive after the Hightower fumble was simply Manning proving his legend once again more than the Cards’ shortcomings.
We’ll see. From here, the Cards have to go 6-0 at home just to match last season’s home record. But if they beat the Texans in their next game, they will be 2-2 after four games, just like last season. With the bye coming, they might as well as go half-full with the glass. What other options are there?
Tags: Anquan Boldin, Beanie Wells, Colts, DRC, Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald, Mike Gandy, Neil Rackers, Peyton Manning, Pierre Garcon, Texans, Tim Hightower
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The Cards trail 21-3 at the half and realistically could be within 21-17 had they just converted when they should have. But turning the ball over twice inside the opponents’ 5-yard line is never a recipe for success. It may not matter either, since Peyton Manning looks like he has solved the Cards’ defense. We’ll see how the second half plays out — the Cards do get the ball first — but there is much work to do.
Tags: Colts, Peyton Manning
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Not only is safety Bob Sanders out for the Colts with a bad knee, but the Colts officially downgraded key defenders LB Gary Brackett (knee) and cornerback Kelvin Hayden (hamstring) from questionable to out on Saturday. Neither Hayden or Brackett even made the plane trip out. We’ll see what that means — it’s not like the Colts haven’t been preparing all week in case Brackett or Hayden, who didn’t practice at all, wouldn’t play. But it would seem to bode well for a Cards’ offense that already was expecting results.
Tags: Bob Sanders, Colts, Gary Brackett, injury report, Kelvin Hayden
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It’s a Friday, and I wanted to try to get back to the late afternoon, wrap-up of the week blogs that I had been doing last season. Big weekend for the Cards, especially going into the bye. There is such a huge difference between 2-1 and 1-2, knowing that with the latter it means an 0-2 record at a home field the Cards thought they could turn into a 6-2 or 7-1 massive advantage. With the Texans, Panthers, Vikings and Packers still left on the home schedule, that’d be a rough goal with a loss Sunday.
But I feel good about this one for the Cards, and I’d like to believe it’s not because I’m drinking the Kool-Aid. This is the kind of game in which these Cards tend to thrive, on national TV, at home, against a good team (and one that many are picking to win on the road). I’ll guess we’ll see Sunday night.
– Coach Ken Whisenhunt on getting hyped for “Sunday Night Football”: “It all started many years ago with the Monday Night games when there were no other games and everybody was watching and you knew everyone was watching,” Whisenhunt said. “Now, it’s Sunday night and the emphasis put on it, it’s the same thing. There is so much more coverage with the NFL than there ever has been which is great. But when you are the only game playing and it is on national TV, your juices do get flowing.
“Now, our team gets excited for 1 o’clock games on Sunday. We’re not just going through the motions. But there is a little bit different air. Everyone talks about how the speed and intensity picks up with the playoffs. Well it’s like that when you play a Sunday night game or a Monday night game.”
– The Cardinals catch a break with Colts stud safety Bob Sanders still out. The Colts’ defense is simply better when Sanders plays. I’ve noticed that over the years watching them from afar. I don’t know exactly what it is, but it just changes the complexion, beyond just what Sanders does tangibly. It’s a lot like when Adrian Wilson is missing for the Cards (see: Jets and Favre against the Cards’ D, 2008).
– This will be Kurt Warner’s 34th consecutive start for the Cards. Never thought he’d reach such heights, but with the dings he plays with, it makes his record-setting game last week even more amazing – even if he says he feels he “stole” the record because of how the game played out.
– I am much more worried about what tight end Dallas Clark will do against the Cards than Reggie Wayne. I think the Cardinals can deal with a top receiver. They don’t see good tight ends often.
– This stat has been making the rounds: If you include playoff games, the Cardinals are 17-0 under Whisenhunt when they hold an advantage in the turnover battle. When they are even, they are 3-2. When they have more turnovers than the other guys, they are 1-15. Guess we know what stat to look at to analyze the end. (That one victory when losing the turnover battle? The electrifying overtime win over the Cowboys last season, when the Cards scored twice on special teams – the ultimate equalizer. Thanks for that off-the-top-of-the-head info, Little Whiz).
– Anquan Boldin needs 61 yards receiving to move into fourth place in the franchise’s history. As of today, Boldin is 1,913 yards shy of Roy Green’s top mark of 8,497.
– This is a huge test for this defense. They have had two pretty decent games (although I don’t think they were thrilled with the fourth quarter in either outing). But last year, the D surrendered 13 and 10 points in the first two games, respectively, and that didn’t hold up. They aren’t going to shut out Peyton Manning. But they have to slow him.
That’s it. Time to go spend some time with the family. Going to take in a football game at the high school where my wife teaches, and count on the Cards being ready in that atmosphere Sunday night. I haven’t been on the field pre-game yet this season, but I think we’ll have to give that a go this week. When you go to a Super Bowl, these are the games you’re supposed to be part of the next season.
Tags: Adrian Wilson, Anquan Boldin, Bob Sanders, Colts, Dallas Clark, Ken Whisenhunt, Kurt Warner, Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne, Sunday Night Football
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The Cardinals announced the game Sunday night against the Colts is officially a sellout, meaning the “Sunday Night Football” telecast won’t be blacked out locally. There are still a few premium tickets floating around to be purchased, but all others are sold out. The game, of course, will be on NBC, which is Ch. 12 in the Valley.
The Cards are counting on a loud crowd for help. As Darnell Dockett said on his Twitter page today: “Big game in the desert sunday night-if ur coming to the game to sit and eat pop corn & refuse to get loud & wild PLEASE GIVE UR TICKETS AWAY”
Tags: Colts, crowd, Darnell Dockett, sellout
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– I heard former Colts coach Tony Dungy on the radio this morning (Sports 620 KTAR) talking about various things and eventually, he got around to Colts-Cards. One thing that struck me: He said the Cards’ defense had to be disciplined and do what it was supposed to when faced with Peyton Manning’s various pre-snap gyrations. Don’t try and guess along with Manning, Dungy said, because that’s when a defense gets burned. It’s impossible to figure him out.
– Speaking of Manning, he was asked which of the many commericals he has done was his favorite. He said it was the ones he has done with his family or brother Eli, like the ESPN/fighting brothers bit. I have to say that was a good one, but he’s also had the MasterCard gems or the underrated Sprint piece (“with a laser, rocket arm.”) Then again, as long as you are willing to stretch the fact/fiction thing, nothing tops this one. Not even close.
– Big Red Rage tonight at 6 p.m. at Majerle’s Sports Grill at Chandler Fashion Mall. Bertrand Berry’s guest is safety Antrel Rolle. Be there — or Jim Omohundro will find you. (And if you can’t make it, it’s on Sports 620 KTAR live).
– Finally, with the country and the NFL celebrating Hispanic Heritage month, the Cards are doing their part for Sunday’s game. Rolando Cantu, the only Mexican-born player Mexican citizen other than a kicker to appear in an NFL regular-season game when he did so in 2005 for the Cards, will be the alumni captain. And before the game, there will be a “Fiesta Tailgate” on the south turf (closest to Bethany Home Rd) outside the stadium. There will be cheerleaders, kids’ games, live entertainment and Cardinals’ hispanic alumni.
Tags: Antrel Rolle, Bertrand Berry, Big Red Rage, Colts, Hispanic Heritage month, Jim Omohundro, Peyton Manning, Tony Dungy
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The plane ride home is so much different after a win. Why wouldn’t it be, after a big win like the Cards had Sunday? Get into the Way-Back machine for a moment, and try to remember Jake Plummer’s middle screen to tight end Freddie Jones for a touchdown, and Bill Gramatica’s late field goal. That 16-13 win on Oct. 6, 2002 was the last time the Cardinals won a game with a 10 a.m. Arizona time start. Since then they had played nine eight such games, all of them losses:
- 9/7/03 @Detroit 42-24
- 9/26/04 @Atlanta 6-3
- 9/11/05 @NY Giants 42-19 (Oops. Realized in the shower Monday morning this game was a late start)
- 10/1/06 @Atlanta 32-10
- 9/23/07 @Baltimore 26-23
- 10/21/07 @Washington 21-19
- 9/21/08 @Washington 24-17
- 9/28/08 @NY Jets 56-35
- 10/26/08 @Carolina 27-23
So now you can understand the significance of Sunday (and FYI, the Cards don’t have another 10 a.m. game this season).
On to other thoughts:
– Coach Ken Whisenhunt on Beanie Wells’ fumbles: “Trust me, he may be carrying the ball around all day now.” So why wasn’t it surprising to see Wells at the end of the game when the defense was on the field, helmet on his head and ball tucked firmly in the crook of his arm – despite sitting on the bench?
– The punt returns were (very very) ugly. But the whole reason Antrel Rolle is back there was on display during that field-goal return of 83 yards. Six touchdowns on 11 “quick change” plays is insane. His teammates know what’s what. This is Darnell Dockett: “When he gets the ball in his hands, there’s an 80 percent chance he’s gonna score. When he took off I was like, ‘Don’t nobody block in the back, just let him do his thing.’ We learned the lesson when we played Seattle a couple years back, when he gets the ball, everybody just move out of the way. He’ll create his own plays and we don’t want nothing called back.”
I’m not sure if Dockett meant the infamous Cincinnati game where Rolle lost a third touchdown return in the game, but he made his point.
– It was weird hearing this from Whisenhunt: “It is funny, people say practice isn’t important, but it is for us.” I don’t know if anyone doesn’t think practice is important for this team, because the players and coaches often talk about how it matters. I get fans and cohorts asking me all the time how they look at practice, when a) one of the big rules about being able to watch is that you can’t talk about it and b) I can’t really tell who’s having a good practice or not, not when I don’t know exactly what’s being worked on. I think Whiz’s message has to be more for the players, to remind them what practice means.
– Larry Fitzgerald tried to pretend he wasn’t getting upset at not getting many passes, including one point after he looked to be open down the field but didn’t get the ball. “I was just tired,” Fitz said, trying to suppress a smile. “It was humid out there today I was just trying to save my energy so that’s why I walked off so slowly. That’s all that was.” Nevertheless, Fitz got a TD catch in his eighth straight game, including that playoff run.
– Think NBC, which has Colts at Cardinals next Sunday night, is breathing a sigh of relief that the Cards’ offense got out of its funk, and that they aren’t 0-2? Me too.
– The defensive front continues to impress. Calais Campbell is going to be a player (Nice field-goal block, by the way). Clark Haggans had a good game. And Bertrand Berry has two sacks in two games. That’ll be important against a guy like Peyton Manning.
Tags: Antrel Rolle, Beanie Wells, Bertrand Berry, Bill Gramatica, Calais Campbell, Clark Haggans, Colts, Darnell Dockett, East coast, Freddie Jones, Jaguars, Jake Plummer, Ken Whisenhunt, Larry Fitzgerald, Peyton Manning
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Just in case anyone is wondering, there are still tickets available for every one of the seven remaining home games. With the 49ers game over, the “Protect the Nest” plans are over, so that has opened up the ability to buy tickets just for the Vikings and Packers games. Now, there are fewer tickets available for some games than the others — Vikings, Packers, Colts come to mind — but none of the games have yet sold out.
And frequently, even a game that is officially announced as a sellout usually has a few tickets left when the other team returns part of their allotment. So if there is any game you want to go to, don’t give up hope that a ticket can be found until you make a call. (That’s 1-800-745-3000).
Tags: Colts, fans, Packers, tickets, Vikings
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