It didn’t take long before Bruce Arians made it known he was going to be comfortable playing young players after doing it last season in Indianapolis. Then, as March played out, the Cardinals either didn’t bring back older players who were free agents and released others who were on the wrong side of 30. Now, with the offseason roster nearly set, the numbers emphasize just how much younger General Manager Steve Keim has made his team.
The team’s 53-man roster by the end of last season — and that means younger players were on it in place of IR’d vets like Levi Brown, Kevin Kolb and Lyle Sendlein — had an average age of 29.7 years. The Cardinals’ current extended offseason roster (subtracting the 16 long-shot undrafted rookies who would obviously bring down the average age by their sheer numbers) features an average age of 25.8 years.
The Cards had 12 players 30 and older on their final 53. As of today, they have eight: Carson Palmer (33), Yeremiah Bell (35, pictured below), Daryn Colledge (31), Darnell Dockett (31), Jeff King (30), Jay Feely (36), Mike Leach (36) and Dave Zastudil (34). Take out those three specialists and the Cardinals’ current average age is 25.4.
The age could rise depending on how the roster is shaped going into the season, because of those 30-year-olds, I don’t right now see any of them being let go. But while Keim’s overhaul was in part about clearing salary cap room this offseason, it was also about an infusion of youth after a Ken Whisenhunt era that relied heavily on veterans.
Tags: Bruce Arians, Carson Palmer, Darnell Dockett, Daryn Colledge, Dave Zastudil, Jay Feely, Jeff King, Levi Brown, Lyle Sendlein, Mike Leach, Roster, Steve Keim, Yeremiah Bell
Posted in Blog | 19 Comments »
The last time the Cardinals played against a Tim Tebow team in the regular season, they probably should have seen him play — but he didn’t.
You remember that game, at the end of the disastrous 2010 season. The Cardinals crushed the Broncos, 43-13, in rookie quarterback John Skelton’s first start. Skelton didn’t play well (15-for-37, 146 yards) but he didn’t turn the ball over, and the game was dominated by kicker Jay Feely (25 points, including a touchdown run on a fake field goal) and running back Tim Hightower’s 148 yards rushing on only 18 carries.
(Looking back on my story, I forgot about then-rookie Daryl Washington pulling a Leon Lett. Oops.)
Anyway, not only did the Broncos get throttled but quarterback Kyle Orton was bad, completing just 19-of-41 passes for 166 yards and three interceptions. The Broncos were going nowhere. Kind of seemed like a natural time to give backup QB Tim Tebow a chance to play. But interim coach Eric Studesville decided against it.
Flash forward to Sunday, when the Cardinals play the Jets, and Tebow again is the backup. Tebow is dealing with bad ribs, bad enough to the point where third-stringer Greg McElroy may be the wiser choice to have as Mark Sanchez’s reserve option. Coach Rex Ryan isn’t committing to anything, although he said he thinks Tebow will be able to be active Sunday. Tebow playing, in some way, would certainly add a storyline to a game that could use an extra boost. Clearly Sanchez isn’t going anywhere as the starter.
The Cardinals aren’t taking chances. “You have to prepare for (Tebow),” coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “Whether he plays or not, we’ll see. But you’ve got to be prepared for him. When he’s in the game, it’s different.”
Another side note: That win against the struggling Tebow team also snapped a seven-game losing streak. Maybe history has a chance to repeat itself Sunday against another struggling Tebow team.
Tags: Jay Feely, Jets, John Skelton, Tim Tebow
Posted in Blog | 23 Comments »
There aren’t a lot of times when the kicker is talked about. It’s kind of like the offensive line in that way. They get the attention on a game-winning field goal. Or after a 61-yard field goal. Or, as is the case of late with Jay Feely, after a couple of key misses. It picks up steam a bit when reports get out that the Cards also tried out a kicker (although teams try out players all the time, not always to make a move.) Feely has missed a field goal in each of the last three games — one was partially blocked — but he also was coming off a stretch of 19 straight makes. Part of the problem is that points are of such a premium right now with the Cards’ struggling offense, those misses are magnified.
One person that doesn’t think there needs to be a ton of discussion — whether about or even to Feely — is his coach. Every player is different, Ken Whisenhunt said, but in Feely’s case, Whiz knows Feely realizes what is at stake and doesn’t sound worried about it at all.
“Jay is mentally a tough guy,” Whisenhunt said. “He’s been in this business a while, he’s made kicks and for the most part he has made them for us. You talk about it, but he understands. He understands the pressure being put in that position. I definitely have confidence he’ll get it done.”
Tags: Jay Feely, Ken Whisenhunt
Posted in Blog | 19 Comments »
Sometimes, stats don’t tell a lot. Sometimes, one stat can tell everything. That’s how it feels for the upcoming Monday game against the 49ers.
Over the last 16 games, the top two teams in the NFL in terms of fewest offensive touchdowns allowed will face off at University of Phoenix Stadium. The 49ers have given up just 21 offensive touchdowns, the Cardinals just 22. If anyone is expecting offensive fireworks, that would seem to be far-fetched. The 49ers are coming off a game in which they beat the Seahawks, 13-6. The Cards, of course, lost to Minnesota but gave up just 14 points on defense.
None of this is a revelation. But it seems certain that the Cardinals will be under even more pressure to avoid errors. They probably won’t get a ton of chances to score. Last year, they dented the 49ers in their 21-19 win because quarterback John Skelton was able to get a couple of big plays, long touchdown passes to Larry Fitzgerald and Early Doucet. Plays down the field have been limited for the Cards thus far this season. A couple this week would change the dynamic of the game.
– The Cards reportedly worked out kicker Josh Brown, after Jay Feely’s recent struggles. I don’t see anything happening now, but it’s an option if Feely continues to have issues. He did just complete a streak of 19 straight field goals made earlier this season — plus he made that 61-yarder — so he has produced. But on a team with which points are at a premium, misses loom much larger.
– There will be a food drive at Monday night’s game against the 49ers. Volunteers from Sagicor, St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance and Cardinals Cheerleaders will be at collection points outside of all five stadium gates and the Great Lawn. Fans are encouraged to bring non-perishable food items and/or money for donation.
Tags: 49ers, defense, Jay Feely, Josh Brown
Posted in Blog | 40 Comments »
The game didn’t turn out the way Jay Feely or the Cardinals wanted Sunday, but that didn’t take away from Feely’s excellent and unexpected giant boot to tie the game, a 61-yard field goal that easily set the mark for Feely’s personal best and the best for the Cardinals’ franchise.
Feely became only the 11 kicker in NFL history to make a field goal of at least 60 yards. It’s been done 12 times total (Oakland’s Sebastian Janikowski has done it twice.) What is interesting to note is that, with the 2012 season only six weeks old, there have already been three field goals of at least 60 yards made, or 25 percent of the total all-time. And eight of the 12 have been kicked since 2006. Are kickers getting stronger? Probably. Are coaches more willing to take a risk of a long field goal? Maybe. But the current group of kickers are also dealing with a “K” ball, a change in the rules in 1999 that made the kickers sub in basically brand-new (harder) footballs on kicks, which in theory should make it a little harder. Clearly, as recent history has shown, it isn’t harder.
Still, booting a 60-yard field goal isn’t easy or, despite the recent rash of them, regularly done.
|63||David Akers||49ers||9-9-12||at Packers|
Tags: Jay Feely
Posted in Blog | 14 Comments »
The X-ray to Kevin Kolb’s ribs and sternum were negative, coach Ken Whisenhunt said, although the quarterback is getting a follow-up MRI today to make sure there is nothing that was missed. Obviously, Kolb is sore. But it’s Monday, so Whiz was certainly not going to start talking about who would start in Minnesota. Right now, that’s because all the information isn’t available for Kolb yet. But there’s a chance it won’t change until deep in the week if at all. Everyone knows how Whiz will be cautious with that information.
– Safety Kerry Rhodes is also getting an MRI on his back after it tightened up on him a couple of times. That too will be wait-and-see.
– Asked about if he thought the pass protection improved Sunday, Whiz said “That’s a tough question to answer.” He added, “We did some things better. … Overall we got a little better.” The Cards will need better with the Vikings’ Jared Allen looming Sunday.
– The status for TE Todd Heap and FB Anthony Sherman is to be determined. Whiz acknowledged he was “disappointed” Heap wasn’t able to play Sunday. It was suggested the Cards miss Heap’s blocking.”We miss Todd overall,” Whisenhunt said.
– On Jay Feely’s missed 38-yard field goal on the final play — a kick that was deflected a bit by Bills DT Alex Carrington, Whisenhunt said “it wasn’t a matter of protection.” The protection, Whiz said, was good. “I don’t think he got very much of it,” Whisenhunt said, but it was enough.
– The Cards checked into the run play on which Kolb got hurt, but running back William Powell didn’t get the change. That led to the broken play and Kolb getting hurt. “It was a miscommunication,” Whisenhunt said.
Tags: Anthony Sherman, Jay Feely, Ken Whisenhunt, Kerry Rhodes, Kevin Kolb, Todd Heap, William Powell
Posted in Blog | 67 Comments »
With everything that happened – and in terms of writing about a game, that’s one in which everything before the five-minute-left mark of regulation is virtually immaterial – I can’t get past the dropped screen pass to LaRod Stephens-Howling in overtime, the play before John Skelton’s interception. Ken Whisenhunt was sure it was set up for significant yardage, and from my spot down on the sideline at that point in the game, that’s how it looked to me too. Even if it only picks up eight or nine yards, the Cards are in a totally different spot.
Maybe Skelton still throws a pick on the drive, maybe not. It’s just hard to feel, the way the game was playing out (and the way the Bills were calling plays) that the Bills weren’t going to drive for a score. Hindsight and all that, I suppose. But Sunday was a gut-wrencher.
It’s really classic NFL reaction, I guess. Jay Feely’s kick goes through at the end of regulation, or if the Cards find a way to win in OT, and it’s all good, relatively speaking. Instead, you fight the feeling that the sky is falling. I do think this – that game in Minnesota next week might be the tipping point for either one of the two upstart teams, whoever loses.
– I guess we’re going to be back talking about who is the starting quarterback again. I’m assuming we won’t know much more tomorrow about the status of Kevin Kolb’s ribs, unless it’s some devastating injury that ends his season (which I don’t think it will be.) So then we’ll see if Skelton is back under center. Skelton looked rusty when he came in, completing just 2-of-10 throws. He’ll get more practice time this week. It’s the story that just never quite goes away though.
– Larry Fitzgerald had a very good game, when they could get him the ball. There was no cheesy stat-padding today. Every one of his six catches seemed to hold importance (and that one-handed sideline grab that didn’t count because it was out of bounds still is highlight-worthy — check out the photo below.) The grab he made to keep the Cards alive on fourth down before Feely’s 61-yarder was amazing.
Plus he surpassed the 10,000-yard mark for his career. Not that he cared. “It’s been a long time since we’ve been at home and not won so it still hasn’t registered to me, really,” Fitz said. “I’m just disappointed we didn’t come out and protect home field. That’s bothering me right now.”
– Speaking of Feely’s kick, it was blocked. Not enough to knock it all the way down, but enough to cause problems. Alex Carrington, a Bills defensive lineman got it, and I suppose given all the times the Cards have used a blocked kick to save a game, it’s a painful reminder the Cardinals do not have the market cornered on such crucial saves.
– Props to Feely, though, on the 61-yarder. It destroyed his career-high of 55 yards. I didn’t think he had it in him. I guess that was foolish.
– The Cards had 182 yards rushing. Yes, 24 of it came on a fake punt and 66 of it was Kolb’s on scrambles. Yes, it came against a defense that struggles against the run. But still, 182 yards is 182 yards, easily the best of the season. William Powell looked OK, didn’t he? To get 70 yards on 13 carries was impressive. I’m guessing the Cards will be willing to ride this for now.
– If you watched the game on TV, you saw Whiz light into fullback Reagan Maui’a for his post-play spike after a key eight-yard reception. It cost the Cards five of those yards on a delay of game and virtually stopped that drive, which looked good up until that point. Tight end Jeff King false-started after that and everything got backward quickly. “You can’t do that,” Whiz said. “It’s just stupidity.” It’s also never a good thing for a player who is always on the verge of being released anyway, as starter Anthony Sherman tries to return to health.
– Safety Kerry Rhodes left with a back injury and Rhodes was walking like it in the locker room. Bad backs can be tricky. It also looked like a Bills player hit Rhodes low in the leg (kind of cheap-looking, although I’d like to see another replay) before he was carried off, so let’s hope there isn’t anything besides the back to complicate things.
– Safety Rashad Johnson, who ran the 24 yards as the up back on the fake punt, actually walked on at the University of Alabama as a running back before he was switched to safety. “I played running back for two years there,” Johnson said. “Anytime I can get the opportunity to do that – anything to get the offense an extra possession, maybe get points, I’ll lobby for it again.”
Bottom line today: These are the games the Cardinals play. It finally bit them back.
Tags: Bills, Jay Feely, Jeff King, John Skelton, Kerry Rhodes, Kevin Kolb, LaRod Stephens-Howling, Larry Fitzgerald, Rashad Johnson, Reagan Maui'a, William Powell
Posted in Blog | 100 Comments »
Larry Fitzgerald has had a chance to be around former President George W. Bush and former President Bill Clinton before — because, you know, that’s how he rolls — but the Cardinals wide receiver and a handful of teammates got a few minutes in with both Wednesday night, an experience they weren’t going to forget.
Kicker Jay Feely (who has played golf with Bush, actually), linebacker Sam Acho, wide receiver Andre Roberts and former Cards quarterback Rich Bartel all joined Fitz at the debate/speeches by the former Presidents at the Deutsche Bank Financial Summit. Before the event, for about 20 minutes, the quartet even got to sit and chat with the Presidents, talking “sports and policy,” Feely said. And also about Acho’s background.
Fitzgerald went to Africa with Clinton in the offseason to help distribute hearing aids together. The subject came up and Fitzgerald pointed out to Clinton that Acho too had done charity work in Nigeria, adding that both of Acho’s parents do the same after being born and raised there before emigrating to this country. Acho’s father became a doctor, his mother a nurse practitioner. During the “debate” later in front of a couple of thousand people, Acho said, Clinton got a question about immigration in the U.S. and used Acho’s family as a perfect example of why it is important.
“I thought that was unbelievable,” Acho said.
The evening as a whole was fantastic, Feely said, because of the exchange of ideas.
“It was great listening and learning from them,” said Feely, who has talked about his own desire about getting into politics when his football career is over. “Whether you agree with one party or the other, you can learn from people. You have tremendous amount of respect for both men for what they have accomplished. I’ve listened to a lot of debates, there have been none better than that one. It wasn’t party politics. They both said things that wouldn’t necessarily go with their party line. They talked about solutions and answers.”
Hanging out with two Presidents wasn’t a bad deal either.
“To a certain extent, it feels larger than life,” Acho said. “I told Rich, ‘Man, these guys are going to be in stone.’ Look at Mount Rushmore. Yet we were sitting at a table with them and they are normal guys. They are unique. It was so cool to be in that environment. In 20 years I can tell my kids, ‘I was at a table with these guys, and I have pictures to prove it!’”
And the Presidents have jerseys to prove it as well (h/t to Feely on the picture.)
“It was fun,” Fitzgerald said. “I’ve had a chance to be around those guys on several different occasions. It was a great experience. I was happy my teammates could come.”
Tags: Andre Roberts, Bill Clinton, George W Bush, Jay Feely, Larry Fitzgerald, Rich Bartel, Sam Acho
Posted in Blog | 22 Comments »
With 10 days before the next game, the Cardinals need time to get healthy. As usual, coach Ken Whisenhunt didn’t have a day-after injury update, although he reiterated that the Cards have a lot of players banged up. Asked if he would like to be able to get the players on the field today and repair some of the many mistakes from Thursday night’s loss, Whiz said it wasn’t worth it.
“Physically, it wouldn’t be productive right now,” he said.
Take Darnell Dockett, for instance. The defensive tackle tried to play against the Rams, but in the end his injured hamstring allowed him to play only 19 of 56 defensive snaps. The Cards need tight end Todd Heap and running back LaRod Stephens-Howling, and that doesn’t include things that may have cropped up last night, like Ryan Williams’ shoulder injury.
I’ll have more in a story in a bit, but there were lots of questions about the offensive line today. Whisenhunt said he was “not going to panic” about the line situation, which caused a Twitter kerfuffle when I tweeted it out. Look, Whiz isn’t going to panic about anything. That’s his style. Same reason he wasn’t going to rant and rave last season at 1-6 — and the Cards aren’t 1-6. Whiz sees a line that did an adequate job in the first three games and believes it can get back to that level of play. Russ Grimm isn’t going to be fired and it sure doesn’t sound like there are changes afoot.
What stuck with Whiz was the chances, noting the Cards had a first-and-10 at the St. Louis 36- , 38- , and 27-yard lines and first-and-goal at the Rams’ 9 without scoring any points. Those are the missed opportunities he lamented.
– Kicker Jay Feely was fined $7,875 for his personal foul penalty against the Dolphins earlier this week.
Tags: LaRod Stephens-Howling, Ken Whisenhunt, Darnell Dockett, Jay Feely, Ryan Williams, Todd Heap
Posted in Blog | 76 Comments »
It’s late, and I’m not sure how many will be reading this before tomorrow morning – or even before coach Ken Whisenhunt talks again. The winning streak comes to an end with a thud. It didn’t look good when the Rams went right down the field to score to open the game, but then the Cards were able to tread water for a long time. They just couldn’t put it together offensively for any consistent stretch in order to get it in the end zone.
So we get to the topic everyone seems like the want to talk about – the offensive line.
“We got beat,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “We got beat on the edge a couple of times. We have to work on technique and our sets and do some things to help those guys out.”
I get there are many out there frustrated. I see on the blog and on Twitter. The reality is the Cards are playing two tackles right now they hadn’t planned on being the starters when training camp opened and there was a reason for that. The reality is if they don’t run the ball better – and yes, I know that is also in part on the offensive line – the opposition is going to have the chance at a field day rushing the quarterback.
There is no realistic option of change on the roster. I don’t see rookie Nate Potter as a possibility right now at left tackle. Do I think the Cards will look elsewhere? Maybe. I’m pretty sure they’ve been paying attention to the waiver wire ever since their injuries struck. They obviously haven’t seen a better option. Again, reality – there’re probably aren’t enough good left tackles out there period, much less when guys start to get hurt. That’s why the Cards wanted to make sure they brought back Levi Brown in the first place.
– The Cards made the pass protection manageable when Kevin Kolb’s pass attempts were in the 20s. The last two weeks he’s thrown almost 100 passes. That’s a ratio that’s tough to manage. That’s why everyone, from Whisenhunt to guard Daryn Colledge to Kolb to Ryan Williams, all brought up the need to run the ball better. Better will eventually translate into more.
– The hit on Williams was scary, but he almost looked confused why everyone thought it was a big deal after the game. “I’m straight,” he insisted, and was acting like he was fine. Which he may be. We’ll see. Obviously to lose him for even one game right now, with Beanie already down and LaRod Stephens-Howling a question, would be a killer.
– Darnell Dockett was active, but he didn’t play a ton and wasn’t a major factor. He’s one of those guys the Cards need to get all the way healthy.
– The Cards had themselves just one sack, snapping their 10-game streak of games with at least two sacks.
– The 40-yard missed field goal by Jay Feely was important not just because it would have made the game 10-6 at the half. It felt like it changed the complexion of the fourth quarter. Do the Cards go for it on fourth-and-goal inside the 10 with five minutes left when a field goal would have made it 17-9 and a one-score game? Probably not.
– Kevin Kolb missed too many receivers in the first half. There were drops definitely, and missed chances because pass catchers didn’t make a play they should have. But obviously Kolb missed on some throws he just can’t – including a bomb to a wide-open Andre Roberts, who had gotten behind the defense.
– That said, this narrative that Kolb is “made of glass” or as Tommy Kelly said in the preseason, “skittish” needs to go away. Kolb was beaten up and bloodied Thursday night and kept getting back up. Question him as a quarterback if you want to – and we all know some of you will – but please spare me the other stuff.
– Given the way these last two Thursday night games have gone – Thanksgiving in Philly in 2008 and tonight – I’m guessing Whisenhunt would love to take a pass on these outings for good if he could.
– If you would have told me Sam Bradford would complete just 7-of-21 throws and the Rams would win – rather easily, even – I’d have said you were dumb. Don’t know if I’ve ever seen a team collect more sacks (nine) than pass completions.
– Rob Housler just trucked a couple of defenders on catch-and-runs tonight. It’ll get lost, but man, you can see the potential there.
– We’ll walk off with a Daryl Washington quote: “It’s a long season. The good thing about the division is you get to see them twice. They have to come to our place.” The Cards are still in first place.
Tags: Darnell Dockett, Daryl Washington, Jay Feely, Ken Whisenhunt, Kevin Kolb, Nate Potter, offensive line, Rams, Rob Housler, Ryan Williams, Sam Bradford
Posted in Blog | 135 Comments »