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Friday before the Cowboys – in Dallas this time

Posted by Darren Urban on October 31, 2014 – 4:03 pm

The Cardinals used to go to Dallas every year when they shared a division address. But it’s been almost a decade since the Cardinals visited the Cowboys – all the way back to 2005, when only two current Cardinals were on the team: Larry Fitzgerald and the sidelined Darnell Dockett.

“That was a long time ago,” Fitzgerald said.

Indeed. Those were the days of Marcel Shipp and Josh McCown and Leonard Davis, the Arizona version. Those were the Dallas days of Keyshawn Johnson and Drew Bledsoe and Marion Barber. (The Cards, by the way, were drilled, 34-13, that day.)

Much has changed, not the least of which the venue, gaudy AT&T Stadium with its gigantic videoboard and 100,000-plus seats.  “You can watch it from the sidelines,” Fitz said. “It’ll be fun to watch our defense flying around out there.”

That figures to be the key, doesn’t it? No, not the videoboard but the Cards’ defense. Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo is questionable after skipping practice all week and you’d have to think that makes it unlikely he’d play. But whether it’s a less-than-mobile Romo or a been-sitting-around-and-not-as-good Brandon Weeden, the Cardinals should be able to generate some opportunities. It’ll start by how they handle DeMarco Murray, of course. If Murray dominates, Dez Bryant might be able to be the QB and the Cowboys would be OK. But if the Cards can have some kind of Murray control and force it back into the QB’s hands, then the Cards will be in the game they wanted to dictate.

– Fitzgerald, on following up his stellar seven-reception, 160-yard performance against the Eagles: “A repeat performance all around wouldn’t be a bad thing on the road against the Cowboys,” Fitz said. “I know that much.”

I have a feeling the Cardinals know it too. It feels like Fitzgerald could have another nice outing.

– Fitz needs only 95 yards to surpass Cowboys Hall of Famer Michael Irvin in career receiving yards. It’d be kind of sweet to do it in Dallas.

– The Cowboys’ defense isn’t great. It has been good enough. It definitely took a hit with the season-ending biceps injury to linebacker Justin Durant, though. Durant was the Cowboys’ leading tackler.

– The last three times the Cardinals have played the Cowboys, the Cardinals have won on the final play of the game. In 2008, it was Sean Morey’s blocked punt recovered by Monty Beisel in the end zone in OT. In 2010, it was Jay Feely’s 48-yard field goal as the clock ran out. In 2011, it was a 52-yard screen pass to the Hyphen – LaRod Stephens-Howling – from quarterback Kevin Kolb for a touchdown.

– For those asking – for a road game, even! – the Cardinals are wearing red Sunday. The Cowboys almost always wear white at home.

– I’d expect Marion Grice to get at least a carry or two Sunday now that Stepfan Taylor is sidelined. Bruce Arians said Grice was ready, although he said Friday he was happy with Grice “until he dropped that handoff today.”

– Safety Deone Bucannon was not fined for the helmet-to-helmet hit on Eagles receiver Jeremy Maclin, the one that caused the Patrick Peterson concussion. Cornerback Jerraud Powers was fined, $16,537 for his horse collar tackle in the same game. Eagles defensive lineman Trent Cole was dinged $22,050 for hitting Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer in the helmet.

– Arians said Peterson will cover Dez Bryant some of the time Sunday, but Peterson will not exclusively be on the Pro Bowl wide receiver.

– Punter Drew Butler has played at “JerryWorld” before, having punted for the Steelers in a 2012 overtime loss to the Cowboys. Did he hit the videoboard with any punts?

“Of course you try in pregame,” Butler said. “It’s a little ego boost there. I hit it a few times.”

Butler said hitting it in-game isn’t an issue because it’s inside the hashmarks and kicks are almost always angled outside the hashmarks. A bigger issue, he said, is because it gets dark higher up, sometimes the gunners have a hard time picking up the ball as it drops from the sky.

– Arians had his own description on playing in the Cowboys’ Dallas palace.

“It’s different,” Arians said. “It’s all those fans when you come in, like you’re walking out of a nightclub. It’s got an unbelievable gladiator feeling to it because you’re walking through the fans and they’re throwing (expletive) at you.”

On to Dallas.

FITZGERALD WILLIAMS NEWMAN DAVIS


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#ThrowbackThursday – Larry Fitzgerald and Dez Bryant in 2013

Posted by since1898 on October 30, 2014 – 10:49 am

tempTBTC2013DezFitz--nfl_mezz_1280_1024

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After Week 8, Cardinals best team in NFC

Posted by Darren Urban on October 27, 2014 – 9:49 pm

Maybe the Cardinals are first and foremost survivors. Maybe they need to find more of a pass rush and be more consistent offensively. (Maybe those aren’t maybes.) Regardless, after tonight’s Washington overtime upset win in Dallas, the 6-1 Cardinals are alone at the top of the NFC standings.

It doesn’t change the impact of the coming road trip to Dallas. If the Cardinals lose, they are still in good shape as they hit the season’s midway point. But they won’t be the top team in the NFC. With nine games left on the schedule, a lot can still happen, with five games inside the division, with the Cowboys, with the 6-2 Lions coming to Arizona. Always nice to be in control of your own destiny, though.

The Cowboys game got a little more interesting, though. DeMarco Murray was great again. But Tony Romo had to leave the game with a bruised back, and while he came back in, you wonder if Romo — who had back surgery in the offseason — will have any lingering effects. Plus, the Redskins blitzed the heck out of Romo, leading Romo to comment about how much the zero blitz came. Clearly, he hasn’t watched any Cardinals’ film yet.


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Cards’ run defense must hold up

Posted by Darren Urban on October 10, 2014 – 10:26 am

Before Calais Campbell got hurt a couple of plays into the second half of last weekend’s game in Denver, the Broncos had exactly four rushing yards. On seven attempts. With Campbell out of the game, the Broncos got 88 yards rushing on 21 tries.

There were, of course, other factors. The defense eventually got tired in the fourth quarter because the Cardinals could not generate any offense and stay on the field. But make no mistake, Campbell is an important part of the run defense. So too is Matt Shaughnessy, who was playing hurt in Denver and now is out a couple months with a knee injury. How the Cardinals deal with the loss of Campbell and Shaughnessy and hold up against the run, in my opinion, is the linchpin of keeping this season together as the Cardinals deal with all their injury-related setbacks.

If the Cardinals can continue to play like a top-five run defense — and they are fifth right now — they will stay in games. Certainly, the next stretch of the schedule will test that. The Redskins have Alfred Morris. The Eagles have Shady McCoy. And the Cowboys have the leading rusher in the NFL in DeMarco Murray. Getting Campbell back sooner rather than later will help, but there no way to know right now exactly when that will be. At this point, the Cards can’t afford to wait for reinforcements anyway. They must perform with who they have.

RunDefenseBLOG


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Cardinals among top 50 valued sports teams

Posted by Darren Urban on July 16, 2014 – 9:54 am

Forbes came out with another list ranking the (estimated) value of sports teams, in this case, the world’s 50 most valuable franchises. The Cardinals make the list at No. 40, with an estimated worth of $961 million. Only the Raiders and Jaguars don’t make the top 50 list among NFL teams, meaning that even though it is top-heavy with soccer clubs (the top three are soccer, a major nod to the global fan base the sport produces) the list still provides context of how powerful the NFL — which dominates the United States — remains.

The top team is the soccer club Real Madrid, valued at $3.44 billion. The top non-soccer franchise is the New York Yankees, worth $2.5 billion, at No. 4. The top NFL team is at No. 5, with the Dallas Cowboys coming in at $2.3 billion. The Patriots, Redskins and Giants are also in the top 10.

Among NFC West teams, the San Francisco 49ers ($1.224 billion) are 20th, the Seattle Seahawks ($1.081 billion) are 28th, and the St. Louis Rams ($875 million and hoping for a new stadium, which would boost their value) are 45th.

Forbesuse


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Ryan Williams lands with Cowboys

Posted by Darren Urban on May 18, 2014 – 8:25 am

The Cardinals released Ryan Williams last week, and Saturday — after a tryout with the Dallas Cowboys — Williams tweeted out that he was going to be signing with Dallas. Considering the marketplace for running backs these days and Williams’ history of injuries, it really was a remarkably quick move to another roster. The top three running backs on the Cowboys’ roster right now are DeMarco Murray, Joseph Randle and Lance Dunbar. Murray is the unquestioned starter, but there’s a chance Williams could burrow his way in the mix.

Whether Williams sticks around into the season, and whether he is playing at all when the Cardinals go play the Cowboys in Dallas Nov. 2 is a whole different story. But it will be intriguing to see if fresh surroundings can jump-start the former second-round pick’s career.

“I’ve just had bad luck,” Williams told DallasCowboys.com. “Things happen. I believe everything happens for a reason. I’m here to prove that I can be a running back that can come back from these injuries. It’s tough when you’re constantly reminded about it. When you’re constantly doubted about it. I believe in my own abilities. When I’m healthy, there’s no one who can tell what I can’t do.”


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With 2014 schedule, London calling?

Posted by Darren Urban on October 8, 2013 – 3:03 pm

The NFL announced today that three teams will host games in London during the 2014 season: Jacksonville, Oakland and Atlanta. Why does that matter? Because you never know if the Cardinals could get picked to be the visiting team to a London game.

The Cards don’t play Jacksonville next season. But they do travel to Oakland, and with an away game at the “matching” NFC South team wherever they finish, there is a chance the Cardinals could have a road game in Atlanta next season — making then two of the three London games possible. We are far away from knowing for sure, of course, but it’s an interesting tidbit to chew on.

So, as long as we are discussion the 2014 opponents — because why wouldn’t you five games into the previous season — here is the list of the Cardinals’ schedule-to-be:

HOME

Philadelphia Eagles

Washington Redskins

Kansas City Chiefs

San Diego Chargers

NFC North “like” finisher (If Cardinals finish in second place in division, for instance, they play the second-place team from NFCN)

Seattle Seahawks

San Francisco 49ers

St. Louis Rams

AWAY

Dallas Cowboys

New York Giants

Denver Broncos

Oakland Raiders

NFC South “like” finisher

Seattle Seahawks

San Francisco 49ers

St. Louis Rams


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Breaking down Mendenhall’s debut

Posted by Darren Urban on August 18, 2013 – 6:32 pm

The Cardinals got Rashard Mendenhall on the field for the first time Saturday and got a little taste of what their starting running back would look like. It turned out OK. Mendenhall gained 32 yards on seven carries, and for a guy who has a reputation for getting better as his carries move along, that 4.6-yard average was encouraging.

A look at Mendenhall’s seven carries (and a couple of other plays in which Mendenhall was meaningful):

FIRST POSSESSION

1st and 10, AZ 20 – With three tight ends in the game for the first offensive play of the day, left guard Jonathan Cooper pulls right and tight end Jim Dray also pulls from the same side. There is no real running room as Mendenhall gets to the right tackle area, and Mendenhall loses a yard.

SECOND POSSESSION

1st and 10, DAL 22 – Two wide receivers, two tight ends. The Cards come off the ball straight ahead. Tight end Rob Housler manages a decent block to pinch a Dallas defender into the line as Mendenhall goes behind the block and hit apparent daylight – except linebacker Sean Lee, diving, gets enough of Mendenhall’s foot and leg to trip him up so he gains just five yards.

THIRD POSSESSION

1st and 15, AZ 6 – One tight end and three wide receivers. After a holding penalty, With Mendenhall the lone guy deep in the backfield (actually in the end zone), he gets a delayed handoff. He’s nearly tackled at the goal line by charging Dallas defensive end DeMarcus Ware but Mendenhall escapes. Unfortunately, it slows him down enough that the Cowboys collapse, and Cooper is unable to hold off defensive end George Selvie as Selvie tackles Mendenhall after a one-yard gain.

1st and 10, AZ 26 – Two tight ends, although Housler is playing fullback. He and wide receiver Michael Floyd are the key blocks as Mendenhall heads over the Cooper/Levi Brown area on the left side for seven yards.

1st and 10, DAL 26 – Two tight ends lined up on the left. Floyd comes in motion from the left wide to come in tight on the left end of the line. Mendenhall grinds out three yards up the middle with the Cowboys not really giving any room.

2nd and 7 DAL 23 – Three wide receivers. Cards block hat-on-hat. Housler at tight end does OK on his block on the right side. WRs Larry Fitzgerald and Andre Roberts do a nice job on the right side too, and Mendenhall goes over right tackle for six yards.

3rd and 1 DAL 17 – On a short play, rookie running back Stepfan Taylor lines up as a fullback in the offset I with Mendenhall. Taylor gets the handoff as the up back for a two-yard gain.

4th and 2, DAL 7 – The Cardinals call a perfect play-action pass on fourth down. Mendenhall slips into the flat wide-open for what should be an easy first down. Quarterback Carson Palmer is pressured, but the underthrown ball at Mendenhall’s feet is a disappointing end to the play. Incomplete.

FOURTH POSSESSION

1st and 10, AZ 4 – Three wideouts and a tight end. Mendehall is four yards deep in the end zone. Cooper pulls again (see a trend?) and seals linebacker Brandon Magee to create a hole near right tackle. Fitzgerald has a nice second-level block on the defensive back. Mendenhall breaks a tackle and has good power on the finish, driving for a first down.

 MendyBreakdown2BLOG


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Cowboys aftermath

Posted by Darren Urban on August 17, 2013 – 10:42 pm

Perhaps it’s a version of that age-old question: If a potential fourth receiver dresses in a different locker room, does he make a sound the team?KerryTayBLOG

Kerry Taylor spent all of last season on the Cards’ practice squad. While there have been other “unknowns” at receiver getting attention in training camp, it’s Taylor who is fourth on the depth chart and it’s Taylor who had the impressive game with four catches for 85 yards. Taylor said all the right things afterward, about continuing to work hard, but as he already mentioned, he’s noticed he’s been under the radar. But that’s in keeping with his locker room spot, which right now is in the secondary rookie room away from the main locker room.

“Larry (Fitzgerald) gives me some heat about that from time to time,” Taylor said. “ ‘What are you doing back there?’ They put me where they put me.”

Taylor did say the subjects talked about are totally different in the two locker rooms. “Up here there is grown conversation,” Taylor said. “Whereas back there, it’s like high school, with the jokes they make. It’s two totally different worlds. But it’s fun. I enjoy being back there with those guys.”

I’d guess Taylor would enjoy it even more moving back into the main room after final cuts. If he keeps making plays like he did Saturday – although he lamented only getting a couple fingers on what could have been a touchdown catch – the locker room space won’t be an issue.

– Coach Bruce Arians said there were no significant injuries. Knock on wood, the Cards have managed to escape that problem thus far in camp.

– Arians doesn’t like the “explosive plays” the Cards’ defense gave up, and that’s fair. But remember Arians said he didn’t give a “crap” about where his defense was ranked because of yardage. He doesn’t want to give up points and wanted turnovers. Well, after two games, the Cards have forced more turnovers (8) than given up points (7).

– Tony Jefferson remains a longshot to make the roster. But the practice squad may be possible. The guy makes two interceptions against the Cowboys and he made a couple in practice this week too. He also was credited with a pair of tackles for loss and a pair of passes defended.

– Rashard Mendenhall looked pretty good (32 yards on seven carries) and if he stays healthy, the Cards look like they will be OK at running back.

– Mendenhall would have had a nice fourth-down reception for a first too – if Carson Palmer hadn’t thrown a bad pass. Palmer took responsibility for the bad throw and Arians was clearly frustrated, after the perfect play call got Mendenhall wide open. Even the last two incompletions of Palmer – one to Fitz, one to Roberts – looked like they would be open, if the QB and WR had just been on the same page, instead of one zigging when the other thought about zagging.

– Rookie running back Andre Ellington made a couple of nice runs himself, including a good kickoff return. It was against the deep backups, but still, a nice debut.

– Tyrann Mathieu was credited with a team-high seven tackles, not a shock because he played more than any defender, I’d guess. One play didn’t work though – Mathieu tried to anticipate an interception, missed the ball, and Dwayne Harris took a short pass and got 16 yards out of it. “I said, ‘Hey, if you’re going to go for the pick, you better just make the tackle.’ ” Arians said, noting Mathieu had a similar error in practice this past week.

– Palmer was protected pretty well again, with only one real pressure and no sacks.

– Speaking of the offensive line, Nate Potter and Bobby Massie basically played the rest of the game after starters Levi Brown and Eric Winston left. Reps are what it’s about (and it’s hard to think there is any other tackle on the roster who is being considered.)

– Charles Hawkins was drilled pretty good fielding a punt late in the game. “Charles Hawkins will learn how to fair catch in the right instances,” Arians quipped. “It only takes one hit to learn how to fair catch, especially when you are told to fair catch before you go out there.”

– Arians did say he liked how his special teams played, and from Justin Bethel to Lorenzo Alexander to Dave Zastudil to Ellington and even Jay Feely with his 53-yard field goal (although Arians wasn’t happy with a 30-yard miss), special teams did shine.


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Gameday is here #DALvsAZ

Posted by since1898 on August 17, 2013 – 12:03 pm

CalaisEdit

 

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