The news broke Thursday that the 49ers were signing quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to a five-year extension worth around $137 million with hefty guarantees (I’ve seen one report of $74M, and another for $90M, so …) It isn’t a surprise that the Niners would pay up for Jimmy G, because that was inevitable once he played well down the stretch. San Francisco has lots of cap room and it would make sense to front-load a big deal, because they can absorb it (we will have to wait and see on the structure), and besides, it became clear he was definitely going to be the Niners’ long-term QB.
Jimmy G! Show me the money!!!! Holy moly donut shop!!!
— ♛Chandler Jones (@chanjones55) February 8, 2018
Now, of course, we’ll see the trickle down effect on more accomplished quarterbacks, like Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees and even Kirk Cousins as they all wait for their next contracts. But bigger picture, it illustrates the potential impact of being able to find that young (i.e. drafted) quarterback that can hopefully help you sooner rather than later, as opposed to getting one established but much more expensive. The Niners, with a ton of cap room, are likely fine for now. But it’s why the Seahawks ascended to where they were for a few years when Russell Wilson was on a rookie deal, why the Cowboys can (should?) contend with Dak Prescott on a cheaper deal and why even the Rams and Eagles are in good spots even with highly drafted QBs. Jimmy G, because his “bargain” years were used up on the bench behind Tom Brady, will never provide such a lift in roster-building.
It’s also why teams needing QBs — like the Cardinals, for instance — benefit from finding someone in the draft. Do that, and the money can be spent elsewhere in trying to create a true contender.
Tags: 49ers, Aaron Rodgers, contracts, Dak Prescott, Drew Brees, Jimmy Garoppolo, Kirk Cousins, Russell Wilson
Posted in Blog | 68 Comments »
So the latest big-time ad featuring Larry Fitzgerald came out recently, a pretty cool concept of Fitz catching passes one-handed from Andrew Luck, Colin Kaepernick and Drew Brees in an empty University of Phoenix Stadium (while he used the other hand to buy jerseys, through Visa, on his phone. It was, after all, a commercial.) It was through the magic of TV however. Luck, Kaepernick and Brees weren’t there — except Luck and Kaepernick were, sort of, thanks to ex-Cardinal QB Ryan Lindley and the man who beat him out for a roster spot, Logan Thomas.
Fitzgerald enlisted the help of his teammates (the Brees part, Fitzgerald said, was done by an arena league quarterback.) The shoot was during one of the Cardinals’ off days in training camp, and Thomas estimated it was a seven-hour day, with four of those spent on and off with Andrew Luck Lindley and Colin Kaepernick Thomas flinging a total of about 300 passes.
“We just had to keep throwing to the same hand,” Thomas said. “But it was fun.”
Thomas and Lindley each were dressed as their Pro Bowl alter egos. Thomas even got his arm treated to simulate the tattoos on Kaepernick’s arm. At the time, Lindley was sporting a full beard and looked a lot like Luck (no word, in hindsight, if Lindley grew the beard just for the part.)
It’s only too bad there isn’t a picture out there of the three of them in uniform to commemorate the moment. Ask and you shall receive, as you can see.
Still, “anything to help a teammate,” Thomas said with a smile. “You get to see the personality, especially for Fitz. If it becomes my turn down the road (for a commercial), that would be cool.”
Tags: Andrew Luck, Colin Kaepernick, Drew Brees, Larry Fitzgerald, Ryan Lindley
Posted in Blog | 14 Comments »
The NFL Network’s summer tour of the top 100 players — as chosen by a vote of players — wraps up tonight. Somewhere in the final 10, Larry Fitzgerald will have his named called.
(The show airs at 5 p.m. Arizona time. And I am sure we will have Fitz’s segment available on the site soon after. … And here it is.)
Last year, Fitz was No. 14. Where will he be in a couple of hours? Don’t know. Guys like Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Calvin Johnson and Patrick Willis remain. I will be interested where Fitz is in relation to Johnson. Something tells me that could get the fans riled up. I already know — since I watched it unfold on Twitter — that people aren’t thrilled Calais Campbell/Adrian Wilson/Darnell Dockett didn’t make the list. Only Patrick Peterson will join Fitz.
Is Campbell or one of the others one of the current 100 best players in the league? An argument can be made, sure. I don’t know how many players participated in the voting, but someone came up with this list. (I mean, is Eli Manning really only the 31st best player? Worse than James Harrison? Or Wes Welker? Um, no.) This is about talking about the NFL in the deadest time of the NFL calendar, however. Don’t ever forget that. Lists are popular to make because they generate such conversation. And we are certainly talking about it, right?
UPDATE: Fitz was seventh. Calvin Johnson was third, behind Rodgers and Brees. Said Fitz on Twitter, “Honored 2 b voted a top 10 player by my peers. Congrats 2 all others. I will continue striving 4 perfection. 6 spots 2 go.
UPDATE, THE SEQUEL: Fitz had an even longer — and poignant — response on Facebook:
“Having been voted a Top 10 NFL player for the 2012 season is a cherished honor because the selection was made by my peers, and a player can have no greater accolade nor satisfaction than knowing that those he lines up against for 60 minutes every week value to the highest degree his talent, competitiveness, effort, productivity and achievement.
“I’ve completed 8 NFL seasons, & while I am somewhat satisfied with personal achievements, I have come close only once to achieving the ultimate team goal.
“Being a productive WR is no longer enough. I’ve grown into a position of leadership as a Cardinals team captain and have tried to expand my role as a mentor and example for our core of young players.
“My sincere hope is that we can get back to the playoffs on a regular basis and become Super Bowl Champions.
“Our team was 2minutes away from that goal on February 4, 2009, and similarly, my 7th rank of NFL top players leaves room for improvement.
“I will strive as always to expand my role and contributions to team success, be as productive as possible,and win a Championship…..”
Tags: Aaron Rodgers, Adrian Wilson, Calais Campbell, Calvin Johnson, Darnell Dockett, Drew Brees, Eli Manning, James Harrison, Larry Fitzgerald, Patrick Willis, Tom Brady, Wes Welker
Posted in Blog | 28 Comments »
Free agents can’t sign anywhere but with their own teams until March 13, but that doesn’t mean free agency — from a certain perspective — isn’t already underway. With the final day teams can apply franchise tags coming Monday, we are now counting down the last handful of days that a deal can get done with possible tagged players. Of course, all a tag means in the short-term is that teams can buy time to negotiate with those players for a longer contract extension. If, for instance, defensive end Calais Campbell is tagged by the Cards, that’s the expectation. So too, as another example, with Saints quarterback Drew Brees.
But those things — along with deals/potential deals with guys who might not have had the tag, like 49ers linebacker Ahmad Brooks — will make an impact on “real” free agency. If the Saints have to tag Brees, for instance, Pro Bowl guard Carl Nicks cannot be tagged and will be free to shop himself. And every non-tag guy who signs between now and March 13 obviously removes himself from the market and changes the possibilities. In some cases, it won’t mean anything to the Cards, in others, it might.
(And we won’t even get into any possible cuts for monetary reasons that teams will do for cap and other reasons, like speculated moves such as Raiders linebacker Kamerion Wimbley, any number of Steelers or some guy whose brother just won a second Super Bowl. All those change the landscape too.)
Tags: Ahmad Brooks, Calais Campbell, Carl Nicks, Drew Brees, franchise tag, free agency, Kamerion Wimbley
Posted in Blog | 42 Comments »
Let’s start with this disclaimer: The Cardinals need to play better defense. Everyone knows that, acknowledged that. “We let them get some first downs, move the ball on us,” defensive end Calais Campbell said. “Cam Newton played a great game. He’s a lot better quarterback than a lot of people thought, I’m sure. But we found a way to get it done at the end.”
But — and there is always a but, right? — a bit of perspective on Cam Newton’s 422 yards passing, best pointed out by Campbell again. “We still got the ‘W’ and that’s what it is about,” he said.
On my drive home last night I started mulling the 400-yard passing games I have seen over the years. It’s a fantastic number. And frankly, it usually means a loss. Ask Drew Brees, who was great last Thursday night and piled up 419 yards passing with no interceptions and still lost to Green Bay. The rookie record for passing yards in a game, prior to Matthew Stafford’s 422 in 2009 (tied yesterday by Newton) was the Cardinals’ own Matt Leinart, who threw for 405 in Minnesota in 2006. The Cards lost that game, 31-26 (Stafford did win his game, however, 38-37 over Cleveland, with five TD passes).
Kurt Warner had a pair of monster passing yardage days as a Card. He threw for 484 yards at home against the 49ers in 2007, and for 472 in New York against the Jets in 2007. The Cards lost the former in overtime, 37-31, and the latter was also a loss, 56-35. In fact, while Boomer Esiason’s team record 522-yard passing day in Washington in 1996 was an overtime win, the next five top passing games in franchise history (Warner’s two games, Neil Lomax at 468 yards, Jake Plummer at 465 yards and Lomax again at 457) were all losses.
Steve Beuerlein, who threw for 431 yards in Seattle in 1993, did win in overtime.
Newton’s certainly didn’t pile up numbers chasing a big deficit, which is impressive. But the Cards didn’t allow the Panthers to run well — 74 yards, a 2.7-yard average — which is the flip side of the big passing day. The point, again, is that gaudy numbers are always nice. But they are hollow without the right outcome. And in the Cards’ case, they don’t sting nearly as much with the right outcome.
Tags: Calais Campbell, Cam Newton, Drew Brees, Jake Plummer, Kurt Warner, Matt Leinart, Neil Lomax, Panthers, Steve Beuerlein
Posted in Blog | 45 Comments »
This year, EA Sports has decided to make a contest out of who will be their cover photo for this year’s version of the Madden football video game. Given the past season, I guess I assumed Aaron Rodgers was a shoo-in for Madden ’12, but no, Rodgers is just one of 32 candidates — one from every team. It’s also set up in bracket form, so we aren’t just talking about the total number of votes.
There are many cover possibilities that make sense — Rodgers, Matt Ryan, DeMarcus Ware, Patrick Willis, Adrian Peterson, Julius Peppers, Andre Johnson — and others that I look at and think, ‘A good player, but a cover?’ — guys like Peyton Hillis, Jake Long, Josh Freeman. There are repeat candidates, guys who have already been on the cover before, like Drew Brees, Michael Vick and, for the Cardinals, Larry Fitzgerald.
But just when you find a couple of head-scratchers (The Bengals’ Carlos Dunlap, the Bills’ Steve Johnson, the Patriots’ Danny Woodhead, Tim Tebow?) you end up freezing on the option for Seattle. Apparently, they have no player worthy of the honor, at least none important enough to usurp “The 12th Man” — the name the Seahawks give to their crowd (which yes, can be very loud, but is generally a non-factor if the team is lousy — just like any other crowd).
The 12th Man faces the aforementioned Willis in the first round, so I’d guess Willis will be the one to advance there. But still, the Qwest crowd? Really? Not, oh, maybe Mike Williams? Marshawn Lynch?
Besides, how exactly does the Madden curse affect that group — I’d be afraid of a natural disaster on game day.
Tags: 49ers, Aaron Rodgers, Adrian Peterson, Andre Johnson, Carlos Dunlap, Danny Woodhead, DeMarcus Ware, Drew Brees, Julius Peppers, Larry Fitzgerald, Madden, Matt Ryan, Michael Vick, Parick Willis, Rams, Seahawks, Steve Johnson, Tim Tebow
Posted in Blog | 18 Comments »
Let’s just say the bye week is going to be much more enjoyable than expected.
The Cards don’t have a game for two weeks but know they will go to Seattle Oct. 24 no worse than tied for first place in the NFC West, and reside there by themselves tonight. The Rams and 49ers both lost Sunday (the Niners 0-5? Wow) and the Cards are where they should be.
All the ills aren’t cured. It’d be easy to say rookie quarterback Max Hall could have had four turnovers and not just one, since the Cards fell on two fumbles and Hall was fortunate his end zone pass right before his infamous fumble-TD-to-Levi-Brown was picked off.
But you can play that game all day. You think the Saints aren’t sitting back saying, “If we just hadn’t fumbled that ball that Kerry Rhodes returned …” etc, etc? This is football. The bounces sometimes have to go your way.
— Kurt Warner, moments before Rhodes had his game-changing fumble return for a TD, was asked by play-by-play guy Chris Rose about the Cards nursing a 16-13 lead in the fourth quarter. “I’m definitely surprised,” Warner admitted. Me too. But in a good way.
— With two big TD fumble returns in two weeks (and a long INT return in the season opener) for Rhodes, who says the Cards lost the ability to have a playmaking free safety with the ball in his hands when Antrel Rolle left?
He doesn’t do flips in the end zone, but I noticed he brought a little Lambeau Leap action to the north end zone crowd.
— Rhodes is the first Cardinal to have two fumble returns for a TD in one season since the great Leo Sugar in 1957. No, can’t say I knew of him either.
— Running back Beanie Wells wore a wide smile when he walked off the field. “Today,” he said, “we ran it.” Beanie only had 35 yards but he had a career-high 20 carries (compared to four for Tim Hightower). I asked coach Ken Whisenhunt if there was a reason the Cards went so heavy with Beanie today and Whiz said “Not really,” but obviously Beanie was thrilled.
— Wells had a fumble Sunday that wasn’t noticed much. It was his last carry on the drive in which Jay Feely booted his final field goal for a 16-13 lead. The ball bounced right back to him, but it was could have been disaster.
— I’m sure I’ll be writing about Hall – again – this week. But let’s say it was a good start. He wasn’t going to rip it up. But everyone can see why he engenders such confidence by the way he played. Was he a little crazy to barrel in toward the end zone on the play in which he was drilled and knocked woozy? I mean, didn’t he see Michael Vick get hurt on the same kind of play?
You know what? I still liked it. So did TD-scorer Levi Brown. “He’s a tough little guy,” Brown said. “He’s trying to gain respect of the team and I think he has it now. He doesn’t need to do that anymore. But he’s trying to make plays.”
— Here are some stats for the Cards’ defense to put on the résumé: The Saints had 13 snaps in the red zone Sunday. They gained 22 yards. Drew Brees threw eight passes, completing just three for all of two yards. And there was a false start in there.
— Cards are 3-2 under Whisenhunt for a fourth straight year. They have never been 2-3 under Whiz. And that’s nine straight times the Cards have followed a loss with a win.
— I feel bad special teams didn’t get more props today. The Hyphen has 60- and 48-yard kickoff returns to start, punter Ben Graham pinned the Saints deep a few times (including the effort by Michael Adams to down it at the 1 just before the Paris Lenon interception) and Andre Roberts looked solid on punt returns. Feely simply kicked all his field goals. A great day for Kevin Spencer’s charges.
— Special teams killed the Saints, especially the miss of the 29-yard field goal by veteran John Carney. That was the Saints’ last chance to lead (it was 13-13 at the time). After the Sebastian Janikowski easy miss last home game, maybe there is a such thing as field-goal defense even without a block.
“It gave us momentum when they missed the field goal, gives you that spark,” defensive end Calais Campbell said. “The big thing, it was getting pressure, getting a push. The kicker he sees us and maybe he adjusts his kick a little bit if we get our hands up. I think our crowd gets in the heads a little bit. They are loud. That was I thought as loud as I’ve heard it since the NFC Championship game.”
— DRC must love Breast Cancer Awareness games. His last two INT returns for TDs came in that game – sporting pink today and last year too in his game-winning pick-6 at UoP Stadium against Houston.
— Larry Fitzgerald had his best game today of the season (seven catches for 93 yards, including a spectacular grab over the middle while being facemasked) but take away the catches and Fitz was just as clutch. Fitz was the one who broke up the near-interception by Malcolm Jenkins in the first half to give Levi his chance, Fitz grabbed the Saints’ try at an onside kick, and he also saved the Cards when Ben Patrick fumbled in the last few moments and the Saints managed to keep it from going out of bounds.
OK, that’s plenty. I write this while watching the game on DVR (Fitz is just getting the onside kick now). A big win. A lot of season to go. But at the bye, 3-2 sounds pretty good.
Tags: 49ers, Andre Roberts, Beanie Wells, Ben Graham, Ben Patrick, Calais Campbell, DRC, Drew Brees, Jay Feely, Ken Whisenhunt, Kerry Rhodes, Kevin Spencer, Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald, Levi Brown, Max Hall, Michael Adams, Paris Lenon, Rams, Saints, Seahawks, Tim Hightower
Posted in Blog | 108 Comments »
It’s funny (OK, maybe not hah-hah funny, the way last week went) but funny interesting that on the week where the biggest news was that the undrafted rookie was taking over at quarterback the most important news may have been acknowledging it is the established players that need to step up their collective game.
“It’s been discussed in our group and meetings,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “That’s an important thing. Our best players have to play better than they have played in order for us to be successful and there is no ambiguity in that message.”
That’s why we had a rash of “I have to worry about myself” talk in the locker room earlier this week, and why Darnell Dockett was talking about accountability (although he briefly left himself out of those who had to step up before properly recovering).
We can talk all day about Hall and what he will do (and make no mistake, he has to be at least adequate for this team to win, i.e., few rookie errors), but there are ways around that if the stars begin to shine. Some are dependent on others, like Fitz. But there is a big group of defenders like A-Dub, Dockett, Calais Campbell, DRC and Joey Porter that could allow the team to lean on them a little while (while Hall learns a bit) and give the Cards the chance to run the ball.
This defense is one of those groups that, every once in a while, turns in one of those dominant performances – like in the Monday Night Meltdown game, or against the Panthers in the playoffs or against the Vikings last year. Maybe the Saints will get the 2010 version.
— I will write more about Hall tomorrow on the homepage but – and don’t let me hear how negative I am being – keep the expectations tempered. If Hall comes out and throws a couple of TD passes and the Cards win, the coronation will happen anyway (even though it’ll be one game) and it will even happen at azcardinals.com. That’s natural. But let’s see what Hall does in the regular game all the way through first.
— Whisenhunt on the way the offensive line and defensive line looked this week, getting very physical (and working in pads Wednesday, which isn’t always the case). “That’s a good sign that our guys are trying to get it right,” Whisenhunt said.
— Fitzgerald is watching the standings in the division, just in case you were wondering. Asked where the Cards were as a team, he said “We’re leading the NFC west, that’s where we are.”
“Obviously we are not playing the kind of football of which we are capable, but things could be a heck of a lot worse, and we know that,” Fitzgerald said, adding, “anybody who says they don’t watch the other teams in their division play and hope for them all to lose is lying to you. That’s the nature of competition. We want to win it. We know we need to put together a streak of games, starting Sunday preferably, and try to take control.”
— The question now is, can Fitz continue to get the ball, even if it’s from the rookie? My guess is yes. And don’t ask Fitz about Hall’s arm strength or is Hall throws a “catchable ball” or anything like that. It’s a moot point to him. “I’ve never seen an ugly ball come in my direction in all the years I’ve been playing,” Fitz said. “Punt it to me, roll it to me, whatever you want to do, I’m going to catch it.”
Fitz does know neither a punt or a rolling ball would count as a reception, right?
— Whisenhunt was asked about handling the quarterback situation early in the offseason after Warner retired, and if the Cards should have signed a veteran now that they are down to a rookie.
“Well, we did sign a veteran,” Whisenhunt said. “We signed Derek (Anderson). If I remember, you can go back and check the timing of it, we didn’t have a lot of options available. I’ve heard a number of talks about certain quarterbacks in the league, but at the time we were in a situation when Kurt (Warner) retired and we didn’t have another quarterback, there weren’t a lot of opportunities available. We did what we thought was the right move in bringing Derek in here as a veteran player who had success in the league. At that time, we tried to make an offer for the guy in San Diego (Charlie Whitehurst) who went to Seattle. We did have a plan that we tried to execute. I don’t know what other alternatives that we had available to us at that time that you would consider us having done.”
Key to remember Matt Leinart was on board at the time too, and – regardless of what people want to think – was still a likely option at that point.
— Two appearances by Kurt Warner in two weeks. One for “Dancing With the Stars.” One for FOX and his analyst job. None for playing football for the Cardinals.
“Did I think Kurt wasn’t going to be busy with things like that? No. I know Kurt would get slammed as soon as he made that decision to come back,” Whisenhunt said. “In fact, I’ll be honest, I think Kurt sometimes wishes he was playing football again so he didn’t have so much stuff going on.”
I think Whisenhunt sometimes wishes that too.
— The Saints aren’t hitting on all cylinders as an offense. That can play to the Cards’ favor. It needs to play into their favor. I don’t see the Cards able to score with the Saints if Drew Brees comes in and puts up a 28-spot. But maybe, just maybe, the Cards get a little magic with Hall and a big defensive effort in front of the home crowd. To be 3-2 at the bye, given everything, would be a spectacular achievement.
— And so I leave with this: veteran back and brainiac Jason Wright – he went to Northwestern – on coming back after that San Diego beatdown, the second in three weeks the Cards suffered: “We need to be harder on ourselves about that loss,” he said. “You can get sucker-punched walking down the street. But if you get sucker-punched a second time, you are a sucker. That’s the reality of the situation. We have to be harder on ourselves because this is the second time around.”
We’ll see what that means against the Saints Sunday.
Tags: Adrian Wilson, Calais Campbell, Darnell Dockett, DRC, Drew Brees, Jason Wright, Joey Porter, Ken Whisenhunt, Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald, Matt Leinart, Max Hall, Saints
Posted in Blog | 47 Comments »
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.
Tags: Ben Roethlisberger, Brett Favre, Derek Anderson, Donovan McNabb, Drew Brees, Eli Manning, JaMarcus Russell, Joe Flacco, John Skelton, Kyle Orton, Matt Leinart, Matt Schaub, Max Hall, Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers
Posted in Blog | 41 Comments »
The stat of the weekend, bar none: Once the current NFL playoff setup began in 1990, the NFC’s No. 1 playoff seed – which obviously got a bye in the first round – won their initial playoff game 17 seasons in a row.
Then the Giants conquered the Cowboys two years ago. And then the Eagles beat the Giants last year.
The Cardinals will try and make it three straight in New Orleans against the No. 1-seeded Saints.
While you let those facts marinate, a few more things to touch upon going into the Divisional round:
— Larry Fitzgerald had two touchdowns last week, including that spectacular one-handed diving catch in the end zone. But he’s a slacker – the 6-catch, 82-yard effort was actually Fitz’s worst playoff game. Of course, that just underscores how unreal Fitz was in the playoffs last year (four games of more than 100 yards). I am pretty sure the Cards will take 6-82-2 every week.
— It was understandable everyone wanted to talk Early Doucet this week after he had his breakout game. But Steve Breaston – who had 125 yards receiving on seven catches – seemed to be ignored in many ways, even though he was great while getting his first 100-yard game of the season.
“I’m just the forgotten man, but it’s never bothered me,” Breaston said. “My whole thing was to be accountable to the team. My coaches and teammates know what I did. I don’t like to get into all that. I told Early the other day I was so proud of him, the stuff he did in the game, showing what he could do on the field. I don’t think, ‘Oh, I’m overshadowed.’ ”
Then Breaston grinned. “Someone will have to pay attention one day.”
— I know I mentioned this last week, but it bears repeating: The Cardinals, under coach Ken Whisenhunt, are now 29-3 when they are even or win the turnover battle and just 2-19 when they lose it. If you want a barometer for who will win, that’s the column to watch.
— Here’s a new stat I wasn’t aware of, however: Including playoffs, the Cards have scored at least 30 points in 23 games. The Cards have won 21 of those games, including 15 in a row. Seems to bode well for a shootout. And if you look at the Cards’ postseasons, there’s only one game they haven’t score 30 (damn you James Harrison).
— The Saints have something going with the city of New Orleans that most teams do not have. That, quarterback Drew Brees said, comes in part because a good chunk of players arrived in the 2006 offseason, right after Hurricane Katrina and those players “feel a sense of responsibility to our fans and our city.”
I wonder, however, if that increases the pressure on the team to come through Saturday. It’s about more than just advancing, it’s about keeping a city’s hopes alive.
“We want to win for them because it does so much for their psyche in regards to lifting their spirits and giving them hope,” Brees said. “The rebuilding process is still very much going on here. I know how much they believe in us and lean on us.
“For us, it’s not necessarily feeling it adds pressure but more so gives us strength knowing we have that fan base behind us.”
— That fan base will be loud, but the Cards believe they will be prepared. Once, going on the road in this situation would be a problem, but no longer. There was never a fear of road trips, but there was never this quiet confidence from the Cards’ locker room either before they climbed on a plane. They seem to understand it’s just another football game, it just happens to be in a different venue than the one in Glendale.
— There is no question Brees is a great quarterback, but Adrian Wilson put the brakes on saying the two are alike. “Kurt is a two-time MVP, has numerous Super Bowl appearances, so to say Drew is like Kurt, I wouldn’t say that,” Wilson said. “You can compare the two, but the things Kurt has done in his career compared to what Drew has done, not taking anything away from Drew because Drew is a great player, but Kurt has done a lot.”
— My two cents on the Antrel Rolle-Michael Silver debate: I can see both sides. I don’t know what happened. I have been around plenty of players who say something and later wish they had not. Obviously, Silver (whom I know and who’s always been good to me) has had his controversies around this team, like the Matt Leinart “ride or die” interview in 2007. But to me, the bottom line is this: When I talked to Rolle after the game, he was effusive in his praise of Aaron Rodgers. That’s all he was thinking about that evening. And really, if the Saints need to get revved up over any perceived slights, maybe they aren’t in the best place. (Then again, teams, coaches and players use perceived slights and even made-up slights all the time to get jacked up. It’s a fact of NFL life).
— It’ll be interesting to see if the Cards are willing to turn to rookie cornerback Greg Toler should Michael Adams struggle again.
— Even if Anquan Boldin suits up Saturday – and I would still lean toward him not – it won’t be as the normal Anquan. It’ll be a situation where he’d only play 30 or so plays, when the Cards are using multiple receiver sets. Again, given needs up and down the roster, I don’t know if you can afford to have active such a part-time player.
— I’m not counting on linebacker Gerald Hayes playing either.
OK, that was a long one. Time to wrap this up, given that we have a flight shortly to New Orleans. I have no idea how this one is going to turn out, but I do think the key will be the start. If the Cards can stay settled and not be rattled early (like, say, have two turnovers in the first quarter, right Packers?) I think they have a good chance to win. If they can get a lead and force worry into the Superdome crowd, even better. If they let the Saints jump out early and get the crowd even more excited, that’s a problem.
We’ll see. It’d be nice to be getting ready for a charter flight again late next week too.
Tags: Adrian Wilson, Anquan Boldin, Antrel Rolle, Drew Brees, Early Doucet, Gerald Hayes, Greg Toler, Ken Whisenhunt, Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Adams, playoffs, Saints, Steve Breaston
Posted in Blog | 27 Comments »