2014 Pro Bowl balloting is now open! For the first time, the Pro Bowl will be unconferenced. You vote for the best players regardless of conference. Then, the stars will be realigned through a fantasy draft format with Pro Football Hall of Famers Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders serving as alumni captains. Vote now for your favorite Cardinals at AZCardinals.com/probowl
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The Cardinals were hoping to at least get a split in this five-game stretch against the elite of the NFC West. That didn’t happen, clearly. So the Cards move on, with an extra couple of days to prep for a flailing Atlanta team that will come into Arizona a week from Sunday. The next three games are home against the Falcons and Texans – neither of which have played very well and have been punished with injuries – and then a road trip to Jacksonville. The season could turn quickly. But the Cards better figure out what ails them, especially offensively.
It’s late. This won’t be long. But in light of a rough game against the Seahawks Thursday night:
– Bruce Arians said he didn’t consider a quarterback change. What would go into the process, he was asked. It’s not just interceptions themselves.
“It’s the reasons for the interceptions,” Arians said. “Is it his decision-making? If it’s his decision-making, then we will make the change. The first (interception) to me was obvious pass interference (on Larry Fitzgerald), and the safety makes a great play. The second one was just a poor decision. Those are the ones we have to look at.”
– No surprise defensive end Calais Campbell played. He said there was a doubt coming into the day, but once he ran around he felt ready. He had a team-high eight tackles. Campbell also warmed up in an old-school Bryan Cox neck-brace/extension (google the image) but apparently discarded it before coming out for kickoff.
– I haven’t seen Andrew Luck play yet, but my vote right now for the best QB out of the current young bunch is Russell Wilson. He is so impressive on so many levels.
– The slow start was on both the offense and defense Thursday. Veteran safety Yeremiah Bell lamented too many busted coverages early — something that shouldn’t be happening — and Daryl Washington complained about the shoddy tackling. The offense needs to be much, much better but that’s 66 points allowed in the two games this week.
– So in the last two Thursday games the Cards have played, they have allowed a total of 16 sacks. That’s a tough way to live on national TV.
– Not the way I’m sure Machine wanted his send-off. Regardless, good luck in retirement.
– Larry Fitzgerald could have drilled defensive back Walter Thurmond on a blindside block early in the game. He did not, and Thurmond, while blocked, could’ve been much worse for wear. Later in the game, Fitzgerald did pop Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman harder, although replays showed Fitz could’ve creamed him much harder. And you wonder why Fitz has such a good reputation among his peers.
“I tried not to hit him too hard,” Fitzgerald said. “They fine you on those crackbacks and penalize you too. I didn’t want to put my team in a position to lose 15 yards in the red zone like that. I just tried to make a smart play.”
– GM Steve Keim said Bradley Sowell was going to have his ups and downs at left tackle. Thursday was definitely a down. He had a rough game getting pushed back, down and away by what is a very good Seattle defensive line. There were plenty of plays where other linemen had issues, but Sowell – with the Seahawks able to pin their ears back and come without fear of the run – was overmatched one-on-one much of the time.
– Not a whole lot else to say on this one. The Seahawks a good team. Better than the 49ers right now. After these two games, the Cards know where they stand. They wish it was in a better spot.
Tags: Bradley Sowell, Bruce Arians, Calais Campbell, Carson Palmer, Daryl Washington, Larry Fitzgerald, Richard Sherman, Russell Wilson, Seahawks, Yeremiah Bell
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Karlos Dansby was an extra.
Yes, the Cardinals already had Daryl Washington and knew Washington was going to be suspended the first four games of this season. So the team brought in veteran Jasper Brinkley on a two-year deal and had just spent a second-round pick on Kevin Minter. They still had Reggie Walker at the time. They’d bid their time at inside linebacker until Washington returned. Dansby was too expensive anyway. But then Dansby wasn’t, dropping his price and his thoughts on an extended contract, and he was willing to sign in Arizona for one year and $2.25 million. It was a bargain if Dansby could play like the Cardinals remembered. Now, he is doing just that.
But again, in this ever-changing, fluid world of roster churn, Dansby wasn’t part of the plan when GM Steve Keim first started this overhaul. So now the question is whether Dansby is now part of the plan.
Dansby’s play has been fantastic. He is in great shape, he and Washington are pushing each other and ‘Los smiles all the time. He’s a happy man. Some have suggested that having Minter sit on the bench is crazy, that Minter is a second-round pick and should play. To that I answer this: For who? Minter was probably going to play at some point until Dansby landed in the Cards’ laps. Right now, both Dansby and Washington are playing well. You don’t break that up just to say you are playing your second-round pick. Minter, at some point, will get his chance.
As for Dansby, yes, he will turn 32 next month, but he would seem to be a candidate for a extension. Does that happen? There is no question Karlos was expecting more from the free-agent market last offseason and now he’ll be a year older. Does he want to test the market? He said he’s not worrying about his contract situation, and I believe him. He already had reality slap him in the face last offseason. But this is where Steve Keim earns his salary, determining not only if and how Dansby fits beyond this season, but also how much to offer. In this new world of football analytics, you just don’t pay a lot for aging inside linebackers, even if they have played well. You are adjusting for what you are going to get, not what you already have gotten, and it will be very interesting to see what the price point will be for Dansby.
Clearly, though, the return of ‘Los to Arizona has been a tremendous success. He may have started as an extra, but he’s become much more.
Tags: Daryl Washington, Jasper Brinkley, Karlos Dansby, Kevin Minter, Steve Keim
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Some newsy quick hitters after Bruce Arians addressed the media today, the day after Daryl Washington’s return-to-action party:
– Arians sees Andre Ellington’s role at 30 to 35 plays a game. But that might top it out. Arians said he doesn’t see Ellington’s body type to hold up with a much heavier workload, and he emphasized Ellington will continue to get work as both running back and receiver.
– Stepfan Taylor is doing a “great job” on special teams. Ryan Williams, as we have said ourselves many times, doesn’t play special teams, Arians said. So Williams isn’t going to be active. I think that changes if there is an injury, but in the meantime, Williams will stay inactive, it looks like.
– The only injury from Sunday was a hamstring problem for linebacker Kenny Demens, which will likely sideline him this week, Arians said. Linebacker Jasper Brinkley (groin) and safety Rashad Johnson (finger) should return this week, the coach added. Arians said he didn’t want Johnson playing with a big “mitt” of a cast, but Johnson should be down to a small splint this week.
– He said Andre Roberts was playing inside early in the season when he was effective, and when tight end Rob Housler came back, Roberts went outside and became less effective. It’s something the coaches will look at.
– As far as Housler, he’s a “work in progress” Arians said. “He’s not on the same page as Carson (Palmer),” Arians added.
– Arians said there would be no change in the schedule to prepare for next week’s short week, which features a trip to San Francisco for Sunday and then a home game against Seattle a week from Thursday. The Cards won’t worry about Seattle until after San Francisco, Arians said.
Tags: Andre Ellington, Andre Roberts, Daryl Washington, Jasper Brinkley, Kenny Demens, Rashad Johnson, Rob Housler, Ryan Williams, Stepfan Taylor
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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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The Panthers, for a while, seemed to be on the Cardinals’ schedule every season.
But there is something about this game that makes it hard to think about any Carolina-Arizona matchup other than the one two years ago – the last time the teams met, which, like Sunday, also happened to be at University of Phoenix Stadium. It was the lockout season, football had ramped up to 100 miles an hour in no time, and the Cardinals had a massive player overhaul that hadn’t really started until the lockout ended. That meant a roster upheaval that had been a month in the making.
But mostly, there were three players that stood out that day, three guys who should once again play a big role Sunday. On Carolina’s side, there is quarterback Cam Newton, who threw for 422 yards (although it was against a defense that didn’t really know what it was doing under new DC Ray Horton after the lockout, and it showed) and proved quickly he was worthy of the No. 1 overall pick.
On the Cards’ side, linebacker Daryl Washington had a huge game. It was the first time Washington really flashed his star potential. It’s fitting that it’s the Panthers against whom he will return this season after his four-game suspension. The Cards need that star once again.
And then there was Patrick Peterson, who won the game with an 89-yard punt return for a touchdown and, like Newton, showed right away that a star was born. It’s been a while since Peterson has made any waves as a punt returner, but as he showed last week, two interceptions that basically won the game for the Cards.
If the Cards can have the same equation of players stand out again Sunday, they should end up above .500 for the first time this season.
– I would expect Larry Fitzgerald to be targeted a few times in the first half Sunday. I don’t see the Cards getting locked into another situation where the halftime adjustments include making sure you start throwing to the top offensive weapon.
– Because practice is closed, and because Bradley Sowell didn’t join the team until after training camp – and thusly, after practices were closed – I have zero idea how he might hold up at left tackle. Obviously Steve Keim and Bruce Arians don’t make the move on Levi Brown unless they had someone they felt they could turn to. It’s not like last year when Brown got hurt and the Cards were forced to make a change. My guess is they took a month to not only assess Brown but also Sowell.
– All that said, like Keim noted Wednesday, Sowell is going to give up some plays. But the offensive line has to pick it up as does the offense. Whatever the unit’s issues are, the current level of play is not going to have a chance against all the playoff teams coming up on the schedule.
– Don’t forget about the bag policy. It should be in everyone’s head by now, but just in case …
– The Cardinals will be wearing their black uniforms. That’s good, because it’s also the breast cancer awareness game and frankly, the pink goes much better with black than red.
– I think Daryn Colledge finds a way to start at left guard with his shin injury. But Earl Watford is now working as Colledge’s backup now that Brown is gone, Sowell was promoted and Nate Potter was moved back to work more at left tackle as backup.
– With as much as the Cardinals have struggled on third downs, does that ever become a mental hurdle for the unit, a “here we go again” issue? Fitzgerald couldn’t say no fast enough.
“You can’t ever allow doubt to slip into your mind,” Fitzgerald said. “That’s how you have to be wired to play this game.”
– The Panthers have the third-ranked rushing offense. The Cards have the second-ranked rush defense. Something is going to give. I know that the Cards’ defenders take great pride in that ranking.
– If something happened to Newton – not that anyone wishes such – the Panthers would turn to backup Derek Anderson. That would be interesting. You know he takes this, um, stuff serious.
Then again, who doesn’t? See you Sunday.
Tags: black uniforms, Bradley Sowell, Cam Newton, Daryl Washington, Derek Anderson, Larry Fitzgerald, Panthers, Patrick Peterson
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Bruce Arians just held his day-after presser. Some of the highlights:
– Linebacker Daryl Washington, returning to the roster this week after his four-game suspension, will go right into the starting lineup. “That one’s easy,” Arians said. Karlos Dansby will likely be the other inside linebacker starter.
– Special teams was excellent. The defense was excellent. The offense, Arians said, “was putrid.” Asked if this offense usually takes this amount of time, Arians shook his head. “I haven’t seen it take this long ever.”
– Arians said the injuries suffered Sunday (Dockett, Colledge, Brinkley, So’oto) wouldn’t be updated until Wednesday but he called them “minor.” That doesn’t mean they won’t miss practice time. After last week’s rash of season-enders, the Cards will take it. Linebacker Kevin Minter (hamstring) should return this week.
– Nose tackle Dan Williams is due to return to Arizona Tuesday night after missing the past week or so because of his father’s death.
– The pass protection was better, Arians said, but not good enough. He said QB Carson Palmer would have had to make some “superhuman throws” because of some of the pressure.
– Asked his thoughts on Dashon Goldson’s hit on Jaron Brown, Arians said it was “totally illegal, just like he always does.”
– Arians said outside linebacker John Abraham played his best game and looked particularly good against the run. That would be a great development for the Cardinals if Abraham can keep it up.
– Arians clearly wasn’t thrilled with the Buccaneers crashing hard on the Cards during their final kneeldown at the end of Sunday’s game. Tampa and coach Greg Schiano have raised eyebrows before with the tactic. “That’s their style,” Arians said. “I’ve got no comment on it.”
Tags: Bruce Arians, Dan Williams, Daryl Washington, Dashon Goldson, Jaron Brown, John Abraham, Kevin Minter
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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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Coach Bruce Arians just said on his weekly Sirius XM NFL radio spot that rookie linebacker Alex Okafor has suffered a torn biceps tendon — in New Orleans, like everyone else — and will miss the rest of the season. That’s another killer blow at a position the Cardinals cannot afford losses. That means the only two outside linebackers left on the active roster that were with the team going into the weekend are converted defensive ends Matt Shaughnessy and John Abraham. Brutal doesn’t begin to describe the outside linebacker situation.
Arians also said Kenny Demens will be promoted from the practice squad, but Demens has been an inside linebacker. The Cards signed linebacker Vic So’oto just today, and promoted Dontay Moch from the practice squad — and apparently those guys are going to play right away. Arians talked often this offseason about how the Colts suffered so many injuries last season he often as interim coach had to take a guy and play him only a few days after signing him. Now he unfortunately is in the same boat with the Cardinals.
Linebacker Daryl Washington — who arrived in Florida tonight to take part in the week’s meetings — returns from suspension next week, but that still doesn’t solve the outside issues.
— Alex Marvez (@alexmarvez) September 25, 2013
Tags: Alex Okafor, Bruce Arians, Daryl Washington, Dontay Moch, John Abraham, Kenny Demens, Matt Shaughnessy, Vic So'oto
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