Tags: 2014 Pro Bowl, Arizona Cardinals, AZ Cardinals, AZ Cards, Karlos Dansby, NFL
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The Cardinals have a lot of players — and key ones at that — who are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents in March. Among those whose contracts will expire: Karlos Dansby, Matt Shaughnessy, Eric Winston, Yeremiah Bell, Frostee Rucker, Javier Arenas, Antoine Cason and Rashard Mendenhall. (For those wondering, John Abraham signed a two-year contract.)
The Cardinals will have varying degrees of interest in bringing each of those guys back. And again, I’m sure the deals will have to fit the Cards’ philosophy. The wheeling and dealing General Manager Steve Keim did in the offseason to bring in so many short-term vets had an upside that it worked for the Cards and the salary cap yet quickly rehabbed the roster. The downside is this. A player has a good year, and he has some leverage to take to the open market (See Dansby, Karlos.)
But Keim said during his weekly radio appearance on the “Doug and Wolf show” on Arizona Sports 620 that he has already begun the process of trying to get some extensions done. Keim didn’t name names.
“We are going to aggressively approach several of these guys,” Keim said. “I have already to some degree. We are going to try and put something in place to try to keep some continuity here, particularly for the guys who are playing well. But in some regard, the fans and media are going to have to understand, sometimes the market dictates what happens.The agents and the players sometimes want to see what’s out there.”
Translation: Some of these guys are gonna want to get paid. Dansby, for instance. Asked last night about getting a new contract. “Why not?” Dansby said. “I can do this three, four, five more years. I am playing at a high level right now and I don’t see anyone outplaying me right now.”
That doesn’t sound like a guy willing to play for $2.25 million like he is this season. But we will see. And even if he might want to make it work in Arizona — and I do think ‘Los would like to stay — it might behoove him to wait to see what other teams want to pony up. Last offseason was ugly for most of the vets listed above when no one came knocking on their door offering what they wanted. I’m sure they’d like to see what is out there one more time. So it could be tough to get many deals pre-March done.
“We just have to be smart about the deals we put in place with the cap situation and make good decisions,” Keim said. “But we will definitely be aggressive in addressing some of the players we feel are core guys.”
Tags: Antoine Cason, Eric Winston, free agency, Frostee Rucker, Javier Arenas, Karlos Dansby, Matt Shaughnessy, Rashard Mendenhall, Steve Keim, Yeremiah Bell
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There was so much good. Carson Palmer, taking – basically – the week off and slicing and dicing the Rams regardless. Larry Fitzgerald being a frequent and effective target. John Abraham coming up with three sacks and making GM Steve Keim look like a genius for signing him. Karlos Dansby having yet another fantastic game and making Keim look like an uber-genius.
But it’s hard here on Sunday night to get past the Tyrann Mathieu knee injury. It’s probably a torn ACL. That’s the mood in the locker room and what Bruce Arians said, although the coach put in the caveat that Monday’s further tests are needed to cement such a diagnosis. Usually, if the team is willing to come out and say that’s probably what it is, that’s what it is. The Cardinals are fortunate to have a ton of defensive back depth, and assuming Mathieu is down Rashad Johnson goes back to starting and the Cards have Antoine Cason and/or Javier Arenas to fill in. It’s not ideal. There is a reason Mathieu was starting and playing so much and his versatility really helped this team. But we’ll hear all about next man up, because what else can you do?
– Abraham has 11 sacks. This was a guy unwanted – for his price, I’m sure – by the rest of the league before the Cards picked him up. He went sackless the first six games. Now he’s a menace. And he’s playing all the time. Abraham was thanking the Cards on Twitter for picking him up when no one else believed in him. The Cards need to be thanking him. He’s the first Card with double-digit sacks since Bertrand Berry had 14½ in 2004. Berry made the Pro Bowl. I don’t know if Abraham makes the Pro Bowl, but he deserves some thought.
– Speaking of Pro Bowl, Dansby anyone?
– I mean, what a season. It’s driving him batty he dropped all those picks early in the season, which cost him gaudier stats and probably a touchdown or two. As it is, Dansby now has six sacks, three interceptions and more than 100 tackles. Re-signing him is not going to be an easy process – which, because it’s because Dansby is playing so well, is not a horrible thing for Keim.
– The Cardinals went 8 for 14 on third downs. That was impressive. Easily the best percentage (57) of the season.
– I am probably the only one who cares, but I loved that Abraham was rocking the Vancouver Grizzlies Mike Bibby jersey as his post-game dress today. Not sure he knows Bibby is a Valley product, but Mike Bibby Griz? Priceless.
– Michael Floyd did not look like himself on his gimpy ankle. They got him a couple of late catches, but they need him to be healthy down the stretch.
– Jay Feely misses a 50-yard field goal, barely. OK. But then he missed a 25-yarder and we all know that does not sit well with Bruce Arians.
– They gave left tackle Bradley Sowell help and Palmer was smart about things, but the offensive line deserves credit for holding up the way they did in pass protection. And Arians deserves credit for making sure the coaching staff adjusted from Week One.
– Tight end problems? What tight end problems? Jared Cooks sliced up the Cards last time. Today? Three catches (in six targets) for 49 yards. And 31 of those yards were meaningless on the final play of the first half with the Cards playing prevent.
– The Cardinals got unlucky that tight end Jim Dray fumbled right before the goal line on what should have been Palmer’s second TD pass. They got lucky it was called a TD so a long return was negated – although the Cardinals clearly didn’t chase Janoris Jenkins on the runback having seen a touchdown signaled.
– You can’t say enough about Palmer. That first drive? Impressive. That TD drive right before halftime? More impressive.
– It was good the Cards snapped the NFC West losing streak. But as solid as the Rams can be, they aren’t the Seahawks or 49ers. Those tests still await.
Tags: Bradley Sowell, Carson Palmer, Jay Feely, Jim Dray, John Abraham, Karlos Dansby, Rams, Tyrann Mathieu
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It probably shouldn’t be a surprise, both with his play and most importantly, his fan base, that Tyrann Mathieu is rising up in the Pro Bowl balloting at free safety. Mathieu, who wasn’t even on the ballot the first few weeks voting was open, is now sixth at his position with 42,359 votes. Seattle’s Earl Thomas leads with 277,482 votes; no other free safety has reached 88,000. Mathieu remains one of five Cardinals among the top 10 at his position in this new year of “unconferenced” teams in the Pro Bowl. Fan balloting remains one-third of the final voting, with coaches and players counting for the other two-thirds. Once players make it, the teams will be “drafted” by former players who are serving as captains.
The other four Cardinals showing up on the voting list:
– DT Darnell Dockett is ninth (99,561 votes, trails first-place Dontari Poe of the Chiefs, who has 233,212.)
– ILB Karlos Dansby is ninth (79,050, Buffalo’s Kiko Alonso, 265,232)
– CB Patrick Peterson is third (253,688, Seattle’s Richard Sherman, 367,076)
– Special teamer Justin Bethel is eighth (35,775, Denver’s David Bruton, 95,841)
Voting concludes Dec. 26. If you want to vote, click here.
Tags: Darnell Dockett, Justin Bethel, Karlos Dansby, Patrick Peterson, Pro Bowl, Tyrann Mathieu
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Tags: Arizona Cardinals, AZ Cardinals, AZ Cards, GIF, Karlos Dansby, NFL
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The Cardinals smartly talked around the penalties that were and weren’t called late in Sunday’s loss to the Eagles. They gave some matter-of-fact answers. Coach Bruce Arians said he wanted to watch the video carefully before he really passed judgment (and here’s a guess he won’t talk much about it even then. No upside.)
But as frustrating as that was, it didn’t trump the issues the Cardinals had of their own doing. What Arians and his team will see on video is a team that could’ve been in a much better place by the times the flags were or weren’t thrown. Linebacker Karlos Dansby – who had a pair of sacks — was not a happy camper in the locker room, and penalties didn’t have much to do with it. I asked him if it was going to be hard emotionally to bounce back from a loss like Sundays, given the fact the Cards had been talking about every game like it was a playoff game.
“(Expletive) no,” Dansby snapped. “We’ve got four more games. We’ve got to go play some football. Some winning football. Some inspiring football. We didn’t play with any emotion today. We were flat. Too flat.”
That’s always the danger, playing on the road, playing an early game – even after flying out on a Friday. Tyrann Mathieu called it the Cardinals’ M.O., to start slow in a road game. That seems fair, although it’s a dangerous way to live. Between Sunday and the opener in St. Louis, though, the Cardinals are going to have their share of what-ifs if they don’t make the playoffs.
– The up-tempo portion of the Eagles’ offense didn’t seem to bother the Cardinals a lot. “It was faster in (Cardinals’) practice,” Arians quipped. The play-action part of the offense did bother the Cardinals. That and the fact they couldn’t generate a turnover.
– OK, they did generate a turnover, but Patrick Peterson’s interception was wiped out. I haven’t had a chance to see the Mathieu hold yet. That pick would’ve delivered quite a storyline had it stood.
– I was down on the field with Michael Floyd about 10 yards away on that final pass his way. It did look like a penalty to me from down there, for what that’s worth.
– I’m an ASU grad (and yes, I enjoyed Saturday night very much.) But I don’t see how you can look at Nick Foles and see anything other than a potential long-term QB for Philly. He made a couple errors, but he runs that offense very well.
– Linebacker Matt Shaughnessy quietly had a very good game – seven tackles, four for loss, and a sack. He did get that (questionable) defensive holding call at the end. He’s been a guy whom I’d think the Cardinals want to extend on a contract. It will be interesting to see if they can lock him up.
– I think running back Andre Ellington would have helped had he not sat with the knee injury, but I don’t know if his absence cost the Cards the game. Rashard Mendenhall was good again, and Ellington wasn’t going to be able to block the pass rush or prevent Carson Palmer’s two underthrown interceptions.
– Arians wasn’t guaranteeing Ellington’s return against the Rams next week, either. The coach said he was going to be careful with Ellington, and that notion was reiterated post-game Sunday. “We’ll get him right before he plays again,” Arians said.
– Eagles punter Donnie Jones was fantastic. He punted eight times for Philadelphia. Seven were downed inside the 20. Peterson struggled on punt returns again. It’s odd that unit was so strong just a couple of years ago and now it’s a concern – not just because Peterson doesn’t score, but simply because there seems to be more danger of turnovers and bad field position.
– There wasn’t a lot of head hanging, even though this one could sting in the grand scheme of things. “I don’t think we took a step backward,” wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald said. Said Arians on losing the progress his team has been making, “Progress doesn’t stop because you lost the game.”
Well, there is still a lot of flight left. But we can ponder this more tomorrow.
Tags: Andre Ellington, Bruce Arians, Eagles, Karlos Dansby, Matt Shaughnessy, Nick Foles, Patrick Peterson, Rashard Mendenhall
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The Cardinals would like to get an interception Sunday. That would be a start. It’d be a start in slowing the Eagles’ high-speed offense, and a start in taking young Eagles quarterback Nick Foles down a peg. Foles has thrown 16 touchdown passes in eight appearances (five starts and one other game of significant playing time), but has yet to throw an interception. It’s an impressive stretch for an inexperienced quarterback.
The Cards are among the best in the league in getting turnovers. So maybe this is where Foles’ luck changes a bit.
“You can’t worry about throwing an interception when you’re throwing the ball,” Foles said. “I expect them to come out ready to go, ready to try to mess it up. That’s what a defense does, and they’re a talented defense.”
Cornerback Patrick Peterson, on that potential mess: “Our goal is to try and make turnovers, force him into some bad throws,” Peterson said. “We’re not getting caught up in that. The offense seems to be rolling with him. When that opportunity, if that opportunity does come, we have to make the play.”
Profootballfocus.com said Foles has been under pressure on just 34.8 percent of his dropbacks. That makes life as a QB easier. Linebacker Daryl Washington said there have been times when Foles has thrown balls that can be intercepted. Sunday’s game might just turn on such a situation.
– I’ve already touched on the Andre Ellington gimpy knee situation, but obviously, no Ellington would make a difference. Bruce Arians made the point it’s just one guy, but at this point, Ellington is the speed of this offense, the guy who can go all the way on a single play. His status Sunday has to impact this game, one way or the other.
– The last time the Cardinals – winners of four straight – won five straight? That was back in 1977, when Don Coryell’s bunch won six in a row in a weird season when the Cardinals went just 7-7. The winning streak made their record 7-3, and they lost their final four.
– Peterson reflecting on linebacker Karlos Dansby’s interception return for a touchdown last week: “Almost every time we break the huddle, I rub his hands, give him some of my grip,” Peterson said. Peterson smiled. “He could be in the race for defensive MVP if he caught the last six he dropped.”
– The key to this game to me is Dansby and Washington. The two inside linebackers are playing so well, and when the Cards have beat the Eagles the last two meetings, Washington has been a major factor. With the Eagles’ speed and Shady McCoy running the ball, the Cards need big games from their inside men.
– Just like Todd Bowles is having a redemptive season with the Cards after struggling with the Eagles, Eagles defensive coordinator Bill Davis is winning confidence after he was fired as Cards’ DC back after the 2010 season (with a stop on the Browns staff in between).
– I don’t know if Larry Fitzgerald can get free as much as he usually does against the Eagles – Philly is of course running a different look than the Andy Reid years when they always seemed to let Fitz get loose – but the rise of Michael Floyd would seem to be incentive to watch Floyd much more closely. Which should help Fitz.
– “As coach Buck (defensive line coach Brentson Buckner) always says, ‘You are remembered with the games you win in November and December,’ ” Peterson said.
Here’s the Cards’ first chance in December. It’s kind of a big one too.
Tags: Andre Ellington, Bill Davis, Don Coryell, Eagles, Karlos Dansby, Nick Foles, Patrick Peterson, Todd Bowles
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Tags: Arizona Cardinals, AZ Cardinals, AZ Cards, Karlos Dansby, NFL
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Bruce Arians stuck with them. That’s what popped to mind Sunday. There were many calls to dump Rashard Mendenhall to the bench and Carson Palmer too. The Cardinals’ coach didn’t. Sunday that paid off.
This isn’t to reignite the Mendenhall-Ellington debate. I still think Ellington is the better back (and oh my he showed some of his shifty goodness against the Colts, especially with that 17-yard run along the sideline) but Mendenhall had a burst against Indy we hadn’t seen. And if he can play like that, he’s worth having on the field and worth being the yin to Ellington’s yang. As for Palmer, the cacophony surrounding him when he was throwing way too many interceptions was hard to ignore. Arians stood by him. Now? Palmer looks like a QB of a playoff team.
“The biggest difference really is trust,” Palmer said, before admitting, “It took a little longer than you’d like.”
There are many things going well for the Cardinals right now. But offensively, they are clicking, and those two vets are in the middle of it.
– It does feel like sometimes, the defense gets a short shrift. They just do what they do, they control the game, and the Cards are winning (or at least have a chance to win). Palmer said it best: “Identity-wise, we’re a defensive football team,” the quarterback said.
– After all the talk all week of Arians and his Colts memories, that was more or less put aside Sunday. Lots of pre-game hugs (and a few postgame) but basically it’s been the B.A. the Cards have known all year. “It’s crazy, he’s been even keel all week,” defensive tackle Darnell Dockett said.
– If there was a question about which better second-half unit would win the second half – the Colts’ offense or the Cardinals’ defense – it came out on the Cardinals’ favor. Arizona took the second half, 13-8, and honestly, I’m not sure how safety Yeremiah Bell didn’t get a hand on the lone touchdown pass to tight end Coby Fleener.
– Then again, if you would have said Luck would give up as many touchdowns throwing the ball as scoring, the Cards would have taken it.
– Good to see you hold on to one, Karlos Dansby.
– Good to see Darnell Dockett not get a sack on that play, too. “I don’t care,” Dockett said. “They say, ‘You had the sack.’ I don’t care, Karlos had the touchdown, and I’ll take the interception touchdown over a sack any day. I’m glad I didn’t hit his arm and knock the ball out.”
– Arians with his quote of the day, talking about his second half defense against the explosive Colts: “We didn’t want any bullets left in the gun. I know I’m not supposed to say bullets anymore. It’s not the politically correct thing. But here in Arizona it’s OK.”
– It was kind of amazing that the Cardinals, on their first two TD drives, did not face a third down. That’s one way to avoid the third-down conversion problem.
– Speaking of that, 7-for-14 on third downs works. And Dave Zastudil only punted twice. He had never had fewer than four in a game since joining the Cardinals in 2011.
– Palmer’s touchdown of 26 yards to Larry Fitzgerald was a thing of beauty. Palmer hung in the pocket a long time and absorbed a crushing hit by linebacker Kelvin Sheppard while delivering the perfect pass – with Fitz being chased by two defenders.
– According to media relations VP Mark Dalton, that makes the Cards 13-3 overall wearing the red-red uniforms and seven in a row. And here I am feeding into the frenzy. I disappoint myself.
– Fitz looked like Fitz on those touchdown catches. He now has eight this season, double his 2012 total. His other numbers don’t match up to what he’d like, but heck. All he does is catch touchdowns. The Cards could live with that.
Tags: Carson Palmer, Colts, Darnell Dockett, Dave Zastudil, Karlos Dansby, Larry Fitzgerald, Mark Dalton, Rashard Mendenhall, uniforms, Yeremiah Bell
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Cardinals General Manager Steve Keim believes injured first-round pick Jonathan Cooper is a “slam-dunk” as a starter in the NFL. The Cardinals have found gold in third-round pick Tyrann Mathieu and running back Andre Ellington, and the draft class is off to a decent start because of it. But out of sight, out of mind is linebacker Kevin Minter, the team’s second-round pick. Minter plays, but only on special teams. He’s gotten one defensive snap in 10 games. In a league where second-round picks usually come in and play right away, it’s noticeable.
Minter’s situation is easily explained, and fortunately for the Cardinals, it doesn’t have anything to do with Minter being a bust. To the contrary, it has everything to do with veteran Karlos Dansby, who ended up signing — somewhat surprisingly — as a free agent with the Cards after Minter was drafted and who has found a fountain of youth season in his return to Arizona. In the meantime, Minter plays special teams. And waits.
“I mean, it’s alright,” Minter said. “I’m not comfortable with it. I’m ready to play and whatnot, but I know I need to learn more. What he’s got on me is experience and I can envision in the future being able to take that spot. I’m just trying to contribute as much as I can to the team.”
Keim acknowledges the draft class already had a couple of misses in late-round picks Ryan Swope and D.C. Jefferson. Minter is not one of them.
“The one guy who has an asterisk beside him is Kevin Minter,” Keim said. “Kevin just has a unique situation, he came in behind Karlos Dansby who is having a fantastic year. We didn’t draft Kevin thinking he had to come in a start right away. We were drafting him with the mindset we are drafting a really good football player at a position that is going to be a need, whether it was now or the future. He is continually growing.
“We have high expectations for him. It just so happens after the draft we had a chance to sign Karlos and the rest is history. It goes back to not only wanting to improve starting talent but also depth. There’s noting wrong with bringing in a Kevin Minter, who you have high hopes for, playing behind a talented veteran like Karlos, learning the mental side of things.”
That doesn’t make it easier for Minter. Dansby is only signed to a one-year contract and his status for 2014 is up in the air. Dansby has played really well, but he is 32 and it will be interesting to see how both he and the team approach contract negotiations. It’s possible Dansby tests the market value first, although it was that stark reality last year that finally allowed him to accept the Cards’ offer (and one of the reasons it took so long for him to sign, after the draft.) Dansby is happy in his spot, regardless of his contract.
Minter said his role makes him almost feel like he is redshirting in college again. He is playing (and Bruce Arians has praised his special teams play) though, and he understands what Dansby is giving the Cardinals as well.
“He’s doing his thing,” Minter said of Dansby. “He’s playing lights out, playing out of his mind. You just compete every day.”
Tags: Karlos Dansby, Kevin Minter, Steve Keim
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