The Cardinals are 1-2. They played one of their worst games of the Bruce Arians era Sunday in Buffalo — GM Steve Keim noted it might have been topped only by the NFC Championship game — and not surprisingly, changes could be made.
Keim, during his appearance on the “Doug and Wolf” show on Arizona Sports 98.7 Monday, said the Cardinals will bring in nine players for tryouts Tuesday. If any of them can help, Keim said, “we will churn this roster.” (He didn’t say who or what positions were coming in.)
It’s not about sending a message. “I don’t make moves just to send a message,” Keim said. “but there is no doubt if you show a tendency to pull the trigger, they understand downstairs (in the locker room) if you don’t consistently produce, there will be changes made.”
One of those players could be long snapper Kam Canaday. Keim was asked if the big hit Canaday took on the first punt of the day — the one on which Drew Butler re-sprained his ankle — could have impacted his bad snap later. Keim noted Canaday’s other snaps seemed fine. “It’s not about excuses,” Keim said. “Bottom line, he’s got to get it done. He hasn’t on at least two instances.”
— Keim talked much about his disappointment, and reiterated his feelings after the first game (which, as a quick aside, too many fans thought he was jabbing fans, when he was talking about the everyone’s feelings, including his own.) “When you lose it feels like the sky is falling, when you win everything is great,” Keim said, noting that not only were there problems in all three phases of the game, but the team’s best players, the Pro Bowl players, did not play well.
Still, “I feel confident coach will have these guys ready to go Sunday,” Keim added.
— Admittedly frustrated, figuring out answers “is what I get paid to do,” Keim said. “The difficult balance is making smart decisions and making decisions based on emotions.”
“You have to do what is best for the organization and you have to keep that in mind,” he added.
— The talent is there, Keim said. Playing consistently is another matter, and the number of “mental busts” on both sides of the ball after three weeks is distressing. He wants the Cardinals to be more physical up front. He didn’t like the confusion on the offensive line dealing with stunts by the Bills defensive lines, and he noted how many bad routes and bad throws messed up the passing game. (Another aside: It does seem like Carson Palmer and his pass catchers have nowhere near the chemistry they featured in 2015.)
— There were many things to want to see get better, but the slow start bothered Keim the most. The Cardinals got a nice defensive stop and great field position to start the game. But Michael Floyd dropped what would have been a nine- or 10-yard pass on the first play, leading to a three-and-out when that one catch would have likely set up a field goal at least.
— “It’s disappointing to be 1-2 when you have expectations,” Keim said.
Tags: Kam Canaday, Michael Floyd, Steve Keim
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That first possession – the one the Bills had – went pretty well. A three-and-out, a Kevin Minter sack, and the Bills fans were already itchy in their seats.
But as the fruitless possessions for the Cardinals’ offense piled up, the defense couldn’t match. For a chunk of the game, it felt like many of the East Coast games of Cardinals yesteryear. This was a team that, frankly, hadn’t been part of the Bruce Arians era. At all. Even the NFC Championship game felt like an overwhelming performance by a better team. This just felt like the Cardinals never got into sync.
It’s certainly not where you want to be three games into the season. Carson Palmer and Michael Floyd still don’t seem to be on the same page. The run defense slipped hard, especially when the Cards all but predicted LeSean McCoy and, as a scrambler, Tyrod Taylor, were going to be the key to the Bills’ offense.
Now comes two straight NFC West games in what will be a five-day window. They are crucial, against two teams you expected to find behind you in the division standings. They won’t be if the Cardinals don’t find consistency.
— Not a lot of good in the game. But the Patrick Peterson one-handed interception was an incredible athletic feat.
— Speaking of incredible athletic plays, Tyrann Mathieu made one to force that fumble. If he could have only picked it up. He would’ve scored a touchdown. It could’ve been a one-score game with eight minutes left.
— There are – obviously – some decisions coming on the special teams front. Punter Drew Butler was clearly limping every time he was on the field and when he was headed to the locker room. It would seem likely they’ll need someone to at least fill in a week. The long snapper issue isn’t about injury. The Cardinals never had to worry about the position for the longest time. Mike Leach was as close to perfect as you could get. Kam Canaday is struggling. Arians had already acknowledged it. And with that position, it’s tough to wait out growing pains.
— As they did in the first two games, both Chandler Jones and Markus Golden got a sack. They each have three sacks in three games.
— The Cardinals had no turnovers. Now they have five, including four straight interceptions by Palmer to end the game.
— Painful stat of the day: Beginning with the first drive of the game, when the Bills set the Cards up with a punt and the Cardinals began at the Bills’ 36 and went nowhere, the Cardinals got to the Buffalo 36 or closer seven times but only scored twice.
Then again, most of the stats ended up painful.
Tags: Bills, Carson Palmer, Chandler Jones, Drew Butler, Kam Canaday, LeSean McCoy, Markus Golden, Michael Floyd, Patrick Peterson, Tyrann Mathieu, Tyrod Taylor
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Justin Bethel came flying down the field on the Cardinals’ second punt of the game and lit up return man Adam Humphries after a one-yard return, Bethel’s helmet flying off and Bethel emotionally jumping up and celebrating. Last week, Bruce Arians said Bethel had to decide if he wanted to play. This week? “He looked like Justin,” Arians said.
“It felt good to get back to my regular self, especially when it comes to special teams,” Bethel said. “I definitely felt I was myself, playing at the level I should be playing.”
Bethel might’ve been talking about everyone. The Cardinals had an off Week 1. You can talk about being overconfident or overhyped or too anxious or whatever, but the Cards clearly put that game in the rear view Sunday (Jimmy Garoppolo clearly showed this week it wasn’t a fluke of a game either, before he got hurt against the Dolphins.) It’s a week-to-week thing, and the Cards have to go cross country this week to play an early kickoff game in Buffalo. But for now, the ship has been righted. Pretty emphatically.
— Bethel said he predicted he’d have three special teams tackles in the game, and he had three tackles.
— Training camp MVP Jaron Brown was excellent Sunday. He had a huge 27-yard reception on third-and-10 that helped spark a touchdown drive (Michael Floyd’s one-yard TD catch) and, of course, hauled in the 51-yard touchdown with 20 seconds left in the first half. With Floyd’s future in Arizona uncertain because of upcoming free-agent status, Brown (who will be an unrestricted free agent himself) is an intriguing option.
“All his catches seem to be in the biggest time of the game,” fellow wideout Larry Fitzgerald said.
— Bruce Arians wasn’t happy that David Johnson ran the wrong route in the end zone, not only possibly costing the Cardinals a TD pass but nearly costing Carson Palmer an interception when Brent Grimes dropped the ball. Palmer, however, was forgiving of his star back. “He had just run like 90 yards and broke a bunch of tackles,” Palmer said. Close — it was right after Johnson’s awesome 58-yard catch-and-run into the red zone. “I was tired from just jogging down.”
— The Cardinals, after forcing five turnovers Sunday, are now a plus-7 after two games and have yet to turn the ball over. It won’t last — not like that — but it’s impressive.
— Don’t forget coming back out to University of Phoenix Stadium tomorrow for the weekly “Monday Nights at the Big Red Brew Haus” event. This week, running back David Johnson will be in the haus.
— Patrick Peterson’s first interception of the season, on a long bomb try from Jameis Winston to Mike Evans, had to make Fitzgerald proud. Peterson ended up behind Evans and then expertly kept his body up against Evans, cleanly squeezing Evans until the ball got over the 6-foot-5 Evans’ hands and into Peterson’s.
Of course, later Peterson could have had a second pick, but he dropped it. On the drive, the Bucs eventually scored on a TD pass to Evans over Peterson. “Usually when you drop an interception, bad s*** happens,” Arians said.
— Linebacker Chandler Jones got a sack in the waning moments, but he had a very quiet night. The Cardinals will need more QB pressure from him going forward.
— Arians wasn’t thrilled kicker Chandler Catanzaro missed an extra point. I’m not sure of the snap on the play, but a later snap on another Cat Man kick looked a little low. Rookie Kam Canaday is going to be watched carefully after his opening game.
— After two games, no defender is playing better on the Cardinals than safety Tony Jefferson. He too is going to be a free agent after the season. Not sure what will happen with him, but he’s played excellent football.
Tags: Bruce Arians, Buccaneers, Carson Palmer, Chandler Catanzaro, Chandler Jones, David Johnson, Jaron Brown, Justin Bethel, Kam Canaday, Larry Fitzgerald, Patrick Peterson, Tony Jefferson
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No way around it: That one hurt. You can say over and over that it’s the Patriots and Bill Belichick is the arguably the best coach in NFL history, and I do think the Cardinals worked hard this week on avoiding overconfidence, invoking last year’s painful loss in Pittsburgh. Still, losing to the Brady-less (and Gronk-less) Pats would be easier to take if the Cardinals played well and they were outplayed. It didn’t feel that way, though. Losing on a missed field goal actually seemed apropos for the evening. Close, but not enough. The Cards looked off in all three phases.
The last time they lost an opener at home, it was a disappointing outing against the 49ers in 2009. The Cards won 10 games that season. We’ll see how this one plays out.
— Would Mike Leach have delivered a better snap on the final field goal? Probably. But I will say this, I have big-time respect for Kam Canaday, a rookie from Portland State who hasn’t had many chances to be interviewed period but who stood there in front of a flood of cameras and reporters answering questions about a play he’d rather soon forget. He’s in the NFL and it comes with the job, but still, he manned up.
(And props to Chandler Catanzaro too, not only for doing the same but also saying publicly it wasn’t the rookie’s fault.)
— It’s too bad the field goal was missed because a win would have been one of those epic, Fitz-put-us-on-his-back victories. On a day the retirement thing came up again to boot. The vet was spectacular when they needed him.
— Speaking of which, if you get a chance, watch again Fitz’s 21-yard catch on the Cards’ final drive. Down on the field near where Fitz caught it, I have no idea how he did. The ball was on him before he got his head all the way around — it seemed to surprise him how quick it was there — yet he unbelievably snagged the pass and turned it into a 21-yard gain.
— Rough debut for rookie cornerback Brandon Williams, who blew a coverage on a touchdown and had a couple other mistakes. Justin Bethel, dealing with the sore foot, only played special teams I believe. You have to wonder if Bethel getting healthy or newcomer Marcus Cooper getting more practice will change the lineup at any point.
— Bruce Arians said J.J. Nelson could have returned with his shoulder injury. We will see. But there was Jaron Brown making a clutch catch at the end, setting up the final field-goal attempt. He’s there when the Cardinals need him.
— David Johnson looked pretty darn good.
— The defense, overall, didn’t. Or at least, it didn’t look like everyone expected. The Patriots had 363 total yards and converted 10 of 16 third-downs, and it was that last drive that was the killer. The Cards get the lead and then allow Jimmy Garoppolo to convert a 3rd-and-15 from his own 20? Can’t happen. Especially for a 32-yard gain. A stop there, and it’s hard not to think the Cards would’ve been in great shape even only up one with 8 minutes left.
“Back to the lab,” linebacker Kevin Minter said.
Tags: Brandon Williams, Chandler Catanzaro, David Johnson, J.J. Nelson, Jaron Brown, Jimmy Garoppolo, Kam Canaday, Kevin Minter, Larry Fitzgerald, Marcus Cooper, Mike Leach, Patriots
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The first round of cuts are coming soon, but a few quick tidbits from Bruce Arians’ press conference today:
— CB Mike Jenkins tore his right ACL. He will go on injured reserve and is out for the season.
— WR Smokey Brown has had two days of being headache-free. That’s a step in the right direction, but it was without exercise. We’ll see how quickly he can return to full practice.
— Rookie Kam Canaday has won the long-snapper job over Danny Dillon, Arians said.
— RB Stepfan Taylor is out a week-to-10 days with a knee bruise.
— QB Jake Coker may need arthroscopic surgery on his knee, Arians said. The plan is for Matt Barkley to play the entire fourth preseason game if that happens. The Broncos have said the plan is for their No. 1 draft pick, Paxton Lynch, to play the entire game at quarterback against the Cardinals.
— Arians said he expects safety Tyrann Mathieu to be ready to go Sept. 11 against the Patriots, although he likely won’t play against the Broncos.
Tags: Jake Coker, John Brown, Kam Canaday, Mike Jenkins
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