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Blogs

Creating Larry Fitzgerald

Posted by Darren Urban on June 16, 2011 – 4:55 pm

Apropos of nothing, I noticed Larry Fitzgerald re-tweeting this video the other day, and it’s fascinating. It’s a TV piece run when Fitz was a Pitt sophomore (right before he came out of school) gunning for the Heisman Trophy in 2003 (he finished second behind Oklahoma QB Jason White). More importantly, it traces Fitz’s life at the end of high school and for his year in a military prep school because he didn’t have the grades to go to college. There’s also good stuff of Fitz talking about his mother’s (ultimately losing) battle with breast cancer.

Oh, and there are lots of good pictures of Fitz with very short hair, long before the dreads.

Speaking of Fitz with dreads, he is back in Minnesota as usual this time of year working out with various fellow NFLers. Why, just this morning he put out the picture below of this morning’s workout partners — including, standing next to Fitz,  Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton … wait, what?!? I mean, if Donovan McNabb was coming to the Cardinals just because he happened to work out with Fitz and the Cards at Arizona State, then Orton flying to Minnesota just to be with Fitz must mean …

OK, I can’t do it. Orton apparently has known Fitz for a long time and besides, this happens all the time (Greg Jennings has long been a regular with Fitz in Minny; why doesn’t anyone peg Jennings as a future Card?). It’s probably not a coincidence that Orton’s Broncos teammate and one-time University of Minnesota Gopher, receiver Eric Decker, is also in the picture having worked out. Maybe that’s the real Orton connection?

Orton’s dad is the fourth guy to make it into Fitz’s shot, leading to the Tweet of the day by @ScottHoward42: “Based on that Larry Fitzgerald twitpic I now think there’s a strong chance Kyle Orton’s Dad will be the Cards QB. Thoughts?”


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Feeling familiar

Posted by Darren Urban on May 19, 2011 – 3:26 pm

While everyone waits for the league year to start — and, at its root, waits for the Cardinals to have a chance to figure out its quarterback situation — the possibilities remain open speculation. Suddenly, it begins to feel very familiar.

In fact, as I read about how NFL Network analyst Michael Lombardi felt about Kevin Kolb during a Sports 620 KTAR interview this morning, and how Kolb has generated a range of believers and non-believers when it comes to his abilities and what it could mean to the Cardinals if there indeed was a trade here, it felt very deja vu. Is Kolb the right guy? What’s he worth in a trade? Is what the Eagles want and what the Cards (assuming they’d want Kolb) are willing to give up at least in the same ballpark? Hard to know, given Kolb’s relatively short career and seven NFL starts.

This is about more than Kolb, though. So many questions are flying around about Marc Bulger too, and he’s got a much longer resume. And Donovan McNabb and Kyle Orton and even Carson Palmer. I realized it reminded me so much of the ramp-up before a draft when it comes to quarterbacks. Obviously, the veterans have played in the league, but this feels a lot like how Blaine Gabbert and Cam Newton and Ryan Mallett, etc., were deconstructed over and over. Such as Sam Bradford last year.

It’s the position, of course. It’s the position and the importance it carries and, this offseason, its the days of dead time that allows for possible paralysis by analysis. The trade market for a player like Kolb doesn’t hurt either; unlike the draft, there is someone on the other side of the equation (the Eagles, in this case) hoping Kolb’s value is driven up during all these discussions.

Like the draft, however, it’ll be impossible to know what any of these quarterbacks could really do in a different situation until they get to a new place. Until someone gets here to Arizona. The naysayers could be right about Kolb, for instance. But like the draft, that’s why a team has scouts. They scout veteran players too. You have to assume, whichever player the Cards chase, they believe he will be successful. Why else get him?



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Doing work, just not here

Posted by Darren Urban on May 5, 2011 – 5:06 pm

As I noted a few weeks ago, some Cardinals players (and some guys from other teams) continue to work out over at Arizona State trying to stay in shape, with Larry Fitzgerald’s power as the Pied Piper in full effect. This week, Donovan McNabb happens to be there, which caused a stir (unfortunately for me). But as you can see in this NFL Network piece (nice catch, Andre Roberts!), the work goes on.

How much it makes a difference won’t be known for a while, because everything is up in the air. I’m pretty sure strength and conditioning coach John Lott is counting on guys to be in shape whenever he sees them next.


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Warner’s pick would be Palmer

Posted by Darren Urban on May 3, 2011 – 8:55 am

Former Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner appeared on The Dan Patrick Show today and the NFL Network analyst was talking, not surprisingly, about quarterbacks. He spoke about Cam Newton (he’d start him right away in Carolina given the Panthers’ QB situation, although he thinks it is better for a rookie to sit) and then was asked about the QB situation here in Arizona.

Warner said he talked to coach Ken Whisenhunt recently and Whiz asked him his opinion on some possible available QBs. Marc Bulger was one, Donovan McNabb was not (shocker!). Then Patrick asked Warner, out of Kevin Kolb, Carson Palmer, McNabb and Bulger, who would Warner’s pick be for the Cardinals.

Warner said it would be Palmer (who, again, comes with the caveat that he would have to be acquired in a trade and the Bengals have said they will not trade him). Palmer still is playing at a high level, Warner said, and thought that Palmer fits Whisenhunt’s style of offense perfectly. It’s an interesting take, especially since the draft weekend rumors seemed to make Palmer’s destination Seattle if Palmer was indeed moved.

But until the labor situation is cleared up and the Cards can actually get their hands on a veteran QB, this is the kind of stuff we will be speculating about.


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Considering Kolb

Posted by Darren Urban on February 24, 2011 – 9:50 pm

General manager Rod Graves couldn’t talk about it today and realistically, nothing can happen unless/until the new CBA is finalized. But floating around the NFL combine Thursday — not surprisingly — was talk of Eagles quarterback Kevin Kolb, and his possible availability on the trade market.

Let’s say he is available. What would the cost be? The general feeling here is those teams at the top of the draft — many of whom need a quarterback — probably wouldn’t deal a No. 1 pick.

“I’m sure if you asked the Eagles I’m sure (Kolb’s value) is really high,” NFL Network analyst and former NFL GM Michael Lombardi said. “I think there’s so many teams devoid of quarterbacks it creates the market. It only takes two teams and then all of a sudden the player’s value isn’t the same. Donovan McNabb goes for a second(-round pick) and a fifth. Is Kevin Kolb worth more than that? That would be hard for me to think that based on his tape last year.”

The question really is whether the Eagles want to trade him in the first place. Michael Vick is their starter, but he is only franchised right now and thus under control until 2011. Kolb’s contract, as we have said many times before, is incredibly affordable in 2011 — except Kolb doesn’t want to stay as a backup and he could walk away for nothing after next season.

“He’s obviously looking forward to being a good starting quarterback, and a lot could happen,” Eagles GM Howie Roseman said.

“We’re still evaluating all our options and all our positions. Obviously we’ve been really fortunate to have good quarterbacks. There’s Michael, there’s Kevin, and we’ve got a lot of confidence in Mike Kafka, so that’s a position that we’re always going to want to be strong at … We don’t discuss any (trade) discussions, external or internal.”

As for Roseman’s assessment for Kolb’s trade value? “Everything is just projecting.”

True. But right now, that’s all we have.


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To QB and not QB

Posted by Darren Urban on January 12, 2011 – 9:42 am

I made it all the way to January 12.

Obviously, quarterback is going to be a hot topic, probably all offseason. This isn’t the last time I am going to address it on the blog. But it will be the entry I link back to – over and over – whenever someone asks me about one of the popular names floating out there, whether it is a current NFL player or a potential draftee.

So expect to see the URL often in the blog comment section.

I don’t know who is going to play quarterback for the Cardinals in 2011. I don’t know who is going to be on the roster. I don’t think they know right now, and they can’t. The draft isn’t until late-April, and the nitty-gritty talks about who will be available and where they rank on the draft board have yet to occur. Free agency is a little less than two months off, and that’s only if there is no work stoppage. If there is a work stoppage, no free agents can sign anywhere until it is resolved. The same will go for trades involving players.

Those are some of the many reasons I have tried to hold out on talking about potential QBs. I didn’t last very long. So here goes, with the understanding of my limited knowledge of the college guys relegated to watching them on TV here and there:

Kevin Kolb: Might as well start here. If Kolb doesn’t get to start in Philly, he wants to start somewhere else. Ears all over Arizona perked up. But then Andy Reid talked about keeping both Kolb and Michael Vick, and reality sets in. Let’s say the Cards want Kolb (and I don’t know if they do). Forget about working out a trade for a moment. Why would the Eagles deal Kolb? He is under contract for relative peanuts in 2011 ($1.4M) and for now, Michael Vick isn’t under contract at all. Vick might be franchised, or there might not be any tag. Plus Vick got beat up by the end of the season. The Eagles need a backup. Lot of hoops to be jumped before you could ever see Kolb out West (or anywhere besides Philly).

Donovan McNabb: Ahh, my favorite subject. First, he has to be released. If it happens before the lockout, I believe he can be signed. But will that happen? Regardless, I don’t see it here. McNabb will have been let loose by two different teams. His play was less than consistent this year (and yes, I know some people don’t think he had enough weapons). There are questions about his fitness (the Washington stuff earlier this season wasn’t out of the blue), his accuracy and his age. Plus, he’s spent almost his entire career in a West Coast offense that doesn’t exactly mirror the Cards’ offense. I just don’t see it.

Marc Bulger (pictured below): He was a candidate this last offseason and is expected to be one again. He followed Kurt Warner once before. He’ll be available and he’s experienced. These are the plusses. He also hasn’t had a good season since 2006, struggling with less talent in St. Louis and declining skills.

Matt Hasselbeck: Why would the Seahawks let him go now? Or might he have made himself that valuable where they can’t keep him?

Kyle Orton: Has probably proven himself better than many expected. But the reports are the Broncos want a second-round pick for him. I don’t see the Cards doing that, unless they see Orton as a long-term solution (with, for example, Skelton as a backup for now). Would the Cards negotiate a lower pick? I could see that. Again, however, it’s a trade, so until there is a new CBA, Orton is a Bronco and in limbo.

Vince Young: Has skills and has been a winner. Also has reputation for not working hard enough at his craft and has proven he doesn’t handle adversity well. Not a good combination. I don’t see him as a realistic option.

Cam Newton: Was great this past college season – with the operative word being “college.” He was just OK in the national championship game. He’s not Vick, so you can wipe out most of the running part of his game as it translates to the next level. He’s got a ways to go if he is ever going to be a top-flight NFL QB, and I don’t see – right now – how you spend the No. 5 overall pick on him.

Ryan Mallett/Blaine Gabbert: Again, I need to see how these guys sort themselves out during workouts/combine, etc. But right now, hard to tell. Gabbert seems more highly regarded than Mallett, but things can always change as the draft approaches. There are also teams ahead of the Cards who will be looking at QB. I’ll say this: No one left in the draft is Andrew Luck. And the Cards can’t afford to whiff on the No. 5 overall pick.


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Friday before the Panthers

Posted by Darren Urban on December 17, 2010 – 5:05 pm

We’re in the air on the way to Carolina for this edition of “Friday before.” Derek Anderson missed a second straight week of practices, so – barring something unforeseen – the Cardinals will have two QBs Sunday: John Skelton, and backup Richard Bartel.

So that leaves who as an emergency quarterback?

Coach Ken Whisenhunt hasn’t said. Maybe he’d rather not jinx it. But looking at the guys who could, wide receiver Early Doucet – who has played the spot from the wildcat position once or twice – seems like the guy.

“I think so,” Doucet said.

And what does he think about that? Like most non-quarterbacks, the idea of playing the spot in the NFL does bring a smile to his face.

“Obviously you want everyone to stay healthy but if that opportunity did present itself, I am confident enough and played the position all through high school and a couple times in college, so I don’t think it’d be something completely new,” Doucet said. “It would be fun, but at the same time I’d rather have the quarterbacks stay healthy.”

I think it’s safe to say the rest of the Cardinals are thinking the same.

– Speaking of quarterbacks …

I’m going to write on Donovan McNabb because, well, I have to. The news came down that not only is McNabb not starting for Washington, he’s not even the backup. Yikes. So obviously, he’s not going to be in Washington next season (unless the Redskins want to take this mess into 2011, which I can’t see why).

So everyone – again – wants to see him in Arizona. They try to connect the dots out there around the NFL. Here’s my non-Twitter take: It won’t happen. Will I say that 100 percent? No. The veteran list out there this offseason is very, very thin. The Cards still need one. But I will repeat what I have said many times: For the Cards to get him, it means two teams will have given up on McNabb in one year. If that isn’t a red flag, I’m not sure what is. The Cards haven’t had interest in chasing him before, and I don’t think that will change.

– It’s been quite the week for kicker Jay Feely, and deservedly so. Yet, as a kicker, he still was taking some good-natured shots this week. Why, I ask. Why? Here was Larry Fitzgerald talking about getting the offense going a little more: “We love for Jay Feely to get points but we need some touchdowns this week.” Then there was Panthers coach John Fox, who was asked in the conference call if he might, you know, scheme a little defense for our man Jay. “Our media ask me about that,” Fox said. “I told them, ‘No offense’ but I did giggle.”

– You want to see a cool interview, Paul Calvisi sat down with Fitz to watch some video of Fitz’s greatest catches after he broke the franchise record for catches. I got a sneak peek and it was worth the time. It’ll air on “Maximum Cardinals” Saturday on NBC (Ch. 12) at 4 p.m. If you miss it, it’ll be posted on the website Sunday.

– Strange note of the week: Fox is going to use music during Sunday’s broadcast of Cards-Panthers, as an experiment. According to the USA Today, it could include popular music, but this weekend will definitely have some original pieces. Kind of like a movie score, I’d guess. I’m a huge fan of movie scores, but not sure it’ll work in this setting. We’ll see. (Yes, the game will still have announcers).

– Loved this quote from Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who was praising Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith and saying he enjoyed going up against someone that good: “He’s a little angry guy and he’s going to give you 100 percent.”

DRC came out ahead the last time these two saw each other in Charlotte. And the cornerback did have one of his better games last week. Having him finish strong is important.

– OK, that’s long enough. See you on the other side. Or at least when we land (love in-flight internet).


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On Keith (… OK, and McNabb)

Posted by Darren Urban on November 16, 2010 – 5:59 pm

The Cardinals didn’t think Brandon Keith was going to end up on IR after he got hurt. The man played through what turned out to be a torn hamstring. But it will be interesting to see how the line does going forward. Keith has had a bumpy first year as starter — coach Ken Whisenhunt acknowledged as much — and I’d guess, even though Whisenhunt said newcomer D’Anthony Batiste will get an RT looksee, that Jeremy Bridges will be the starter.

I know there have been plenty of people wanting Bridges to get a shot and/or Keith to be benched. Well, you get your wish. I’m not sure it changes things significantly. And Whiz made it clear Keith is this team’s right tackle for the future.

As for Donovan McNabb, the news about his contract — the true news, the details — came out today with the crucial piece of info that the Redskins owe McNabb only a $3.5 million bonus this year and then another option bonus next offseason. It means the Redskins, if they don’t like how McNabb plays the rest of the year, can cut him after the season with no problem. And even if they keep him through 2011 — say, if they draft a young QB and want a bridge guy (sound familiar?) — it still would only cost about $16 million for the two years, very affordable. The contract is also set up so that it’s unlikely McNabb stays under the current structure in 2012.

Does that mean he’ll be available? Maybe. But remember, if the Redskins dump him, that’ll be two teams in two seasons who decide he’s not a franchise guy anymore. Something to keep in mind.


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A-Dub at his most blunt

Posted by Darren Urban on November 15, 2010 – 3:06 pm

Some afternoon tidbits on The Day After:

– Adrian Wilson passed on talking to the media after the game, so he did so today. Today’s topic, among other things? His play. So, Adrian, how would you assess how you’ve played this season? “Like s***.”

“I have to make those plays whenever they come my way,” he said. “That is always what I would say I’d do and for whatever reason it’s not happening this year … Yet.”

Later, Wilson seemed to clarify his original assessment (or contradict it, I suppose). “It’s not that I’m not playing well, it’s that I’m not making the plays I’ve normally been making,” Wilson said. “You can’t get frustrated going to work Wednesday through Saturday. You have to believe in your work and I do believe in that.”

– Safety Kerry Rhodes was asked to break down the play where he, Wilson and linebacker Paris Lenon were back on Seahawks receiver Deon Butler, only to have Butler not only catch it but dodge all three defenders to complete the 63-yard touchdown. “The play to Butler? I’m not going to put anyone out there. It was a good play by them. He made the catch, make some people miss and they made a big play.”

– As everyone has heard by now, the Redskins and quarterback Donovan McNabb have agreed to a five-year extension with $40 million in guarantees (Which, by the way, WOW). Anyway, that means McNabb isn’t going to be a free agent, he doesn’t have a chance to come to Arizona (not that it was any guarantee anyway, even that the Cards would be interested) and so this blog is now a McNabb-free zone. Unless the Cards and Redskins meet. UPDATE: Yes, I know there is now more info about McNabb. I actually tweeted it first thing Tuesday morning. I’ll have a blog on it later.

– This probably could be stepping into something dangerous, but I will do a live chat tomorrow at 1 p.m. Arizona time (3 p.m. EST). So if you have questions, bring ‘em on (and here is the link).


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A predictor of Leinart’s success

Posted by Darren Urban on July 8, 2010 – 1:57 pm

We’ve analyzed and dissected what it means for the Cards to have Matt Leinart starting at quarterback this season a bunch of times already, and training camp hasn’t even arrived yet.

But hey, it’s the summer. The players are gone. So here’s another thought.

SI.com has a story posted today about the “Rule of 26-27-60″ as a guide (although not a guarantee) of NFL quarterbacking success. And, according to the rule, Leinart should work out. The idea? If a guy scored at least a 26 on the infamous Wonderlic exam at the combine, had at least 27 college starts and completed at least 60 percent of his collegiate passes, usually, it means the guy can succeed on the NFL level.

Leinart scored a 35 on the Wonderlic. He started 39 games in college. And he completed 64.8 percent of his passes. Check. Check. Check.

Among current names that also accomplished all three parts of the “rule?” Both Mannings, Philip Rivers, Tony Romo, Matt Schaub, Drew Brees. Among the names that fell short in at least one category? Ryan Leaf, Akili Smith, Tim Couch, David Carr, Joey Harrington, JaMarcus Russell.

Now, there are always exceptions. Ben Roethlisberger, Joe Flacco, Donovan McNabb and Brett Favre have all done pretty well. And you may not be printing Super Bowl tickets if Ryan Fitzpatrick or Kyle Orton (both of whom reached all three benchmarks in college) is your QB.

But it’s a talking point, and one to consider. Until gets a chance to wed significant playing time with his acknowledged more mature preparation methods, we won’t know for sure either way. UPDATE FOR THOSE WONDERING: Here are the numbers for the other QBs on the roster, again with the caveat that this “rule” isn’t the end-all-be-all. Derek Anderson 19-38-50.7, John Skelton 24-41-58.8, Max Hall 38-39-65.3.


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