This isn’t easy to absorb, since the Cardinals still have a full week of OTAs and a mandatory minicamp to go (and I still have a vacation to take), but today marks 100 days until the Cards open the regular season in St. Louis.
(To take a trip down memory lane of season openers past, check out this photo gallery. Remember Fitz’s first NFL catch on the flea-flicker in St. Louis in 2004, seen below?)
There is much left to do before that day of course. Not only do the Cardinals finish out the offseason work but there is still training camp to go. There’s too much time left to really know how this roster is going to break down, but there will be interesting battles for playing time coming. Has Lorenzo Alexander usurped O’Brien Schofield for good? How will all the inside linebackers fit together once Daryl Washington’s suspension ends (although that’s a story for well beyond the opener)? How will Levi Brown look once he is completely cleared to play?
Most importantly: How will the new-look Cardinals perform when the games count for real? In 100 days, we’ll find out.
— Many have asked about the Larry Fitzgerald comments regarding the health of Ryan Swope. As I have indicated to some, I frankly hadn’t been looking for Swope one way or the other of late. On-field work resumes next week, and at some point, coach Bruce Arians will be available to talk again. I’d guess it will be addressed then.
— An NFL.com story talking about Ken Whisenhunt, now the Chargers offensive coordinator, working with QB Philip Rivers. “It always starts with the quarterback,” Whiz says, and we all know not only is that true, but that Whiz lived with the consequences of it.
— Speaking of Whiz and one of his former signal-callers, wondering where Max Hall is these days? Trying to QB in Canada.
Tags: Daryl Washington, Ken Whisenhunt, Levi Brown, Lorenzo Alexander, Max Hall, O'Brien Schofield, Rams, Ryan Swope
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The shocking news Wednesday that Oregon coach Chip Kelly — who had long been thought of as the Eagles’ top choice for head coach but who seemingly made it clear he wasn’t leaving Oregon last week — was indeed going to be Philly’s new coach means there are two open head coaching spots left. Jacksonville and Arizona. (The Bears officially hired one-time Cardinals offensive coordinator Marc Trestman earlier in the morning.)
Seattle offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell is interviewing with the Cards today. The Cards are reportedly trying to get permission/set up an interview with Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians. The other known candidates are Ray Horton, Todd Haley and Jay Gruden, and that doesn’t preclude that there might have been unknown candidates at some point.
The Jaguars’ known list is Jay Gruden, Bevell, in-house defensive coordinator Mel Tucker, Seahawks DC Gus Bradley and Rams OC Brian Schottenheimer. They are also expected to wait for and talk to 49ers OC Greg Roman — untouchable until San Francisco’s season is over — who is close with new general manager Dave Caldwell.
In the meantime, we wait.
— Ken Whisenhunt missed out again. Just when it looked like he again was making a push to be a head coach — this time with the Eagles — the Kelly bombshell dropped. Whiz was apparently in the mix in Buffalo, Cleveland and Philly (he also talked with the Chargers) but instead, it seems likely that if he coaches this year, it will be as an assistant. The idea that he could end up in Denver as offensive coordinator with Peyton Manning seems to be gaining steam. He’s not going to be on Jacksonville’s HC list.
Tags: Bears, Brian Schottenheimer, Bruce Arians, Chip Kelly, Darrell Bevell, Eagles, Greg Roman, Gus Bradley, Jaguars, Jay Gruden, Ken Whisenhunt, Marc Trestman, Mel Tucker, Ray Horton, Todd Haley
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The Cardinals, it seemed, wanted to get a second chance to talk to Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy about their open head coaching job. It certainly doesn’t look like they will get it, not after the news early Tuesday that McCoy is finalizing a deal to become the Chargers head coach and has told the Broncos he is leaving. (In an interesting twist, former Cards coach Ken Whisenhunt reportedly would be a candidate to replace McCoy as Broncos offensive coordinator, which if it comes to pass would mean Whiz got to team up with Peyton Manning after all.)
UPDATE: McCoy to Chargers is done.
With McCoy going elsewhere, that leaves defensive coordinator Ray Horton and Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden. (I know I don’t have Todd Haley in here. Maybe I should but I just don’t see it. Could be totally wrong.) I am going on gut here only, but I’d think Horton would have a strong chance at this point. I have no idea who his assistants would be on the offensive side of the ball — I’m not sure anyone does, outside of Cards’ ownership and the front office — but I don’t think anyone would be hired without confidence in those choices. Again, president Michael Bidwill and general manager Steve Keim know how poorly the offense played and how it must be fixed. Bidwill insisted he wouldn’t make a choice based on offense/defense, but Gruden is an offensive guy.
Does this mean a decision will be made today? We will see. Anymore, it’s tough to forecast anything in a world of coaching searches that seem to change every few hours.
Tags: Broncos, Chargers, Jay Gruden, Ken Whisenhunt, Michael Bidwill, Mike McCoy, Peyton Manning, Ray Horton, Steve Keim, Todd Haley
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We know that linebacker Daryl Washington was named second-team all-pro by the Associated Press — that’s the “big” one — but the Cardinals, at least defensively, did OK on a couple of recent all-NFC West teams that came out.
Defensive end Calais Campbell, cornerback Patrick Peterson and safety Kerry Rhodes were all named to profootballfocus.com’s team, which isn’t a surprise. They had been pointing out the years of Campbell and Rhodes all season, pushing them for Pro Bowl status. And they had good things to say about Peterson, even if they didn’t see him as one of the top two corners in the conference. They acknowledged Daryl Washington’s big year, but didn’t pick him.
Mike Sando over at ESPN had the Peterson, Campbell and Washington, leaving off Rhodes. The play of that young trio is why people have such enthusiasm for the Cards’ defense, even as older vets like Adrian Wilson and Darnell Dockett move toward passing the torch.
— Ken Whisenhunt’s head coaching interview tour continued Monday. He had already talked to Buffalo, Cleveland (twice), San Diego and then Philadelphia on Monday.
Tags: Adrian Wilson, Calais Campbell, Darnell Dockett, Daryl Washington, Ken Whisenhunt, Kerry Rhodes, Patrick Peterson
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If you put your head down for a moment and just listened, you can definitely hear the Jon Gruden in Jay Gruden’s voice. That’s natural since they are brothers, but kind of funny since everyone is so familiar with Jon’s voice because of “Monday Night Football.”
(The similar-voice-with-brothers can be fun, though. My brother and I have gotten my Mom and my wife on it a couple of times over the phone.)
Jon also helped Jay a bit with his first-ever coaching interview Thursday. “Jon’s always got his two cents to add,” Jay Gruden said. “He can talk with the best of them. He’s been around the block a few times.”
Whether Jay Gruden actually will make a push to be head coach is anyone’s guess. The Cards have played this pretty close to the vest, even as they announce who they are talking to. It’s an impressive walk of the tightrope. Next week will be interesting, depending on how the Broncos — and offensive coordinator Mike McCoy — do. If they lose, something would go down next week you’d figure. Barring more interviews, you’d think the process would move forward with all candidates available. If they win, something could still happen next week, just not with McCoy, who is off-limits until his team is out.
But there is no puff of white smoke yet from 8701 S. Hardy.
You know, if the building had a chimney.
— XTRA’s Mike Jurecki is reporting that Ray Horton has reached out to Norv Turner to gauge interest in Turner taking the offensive coordinator job if Horton were to get the head coaching job. Not that Turner has said yes, but it’s interesting if true. I mentioned that possibility last week.
— I have seen the report that former Eagles offensive line coach (and DC, but in this case, it’d probably be line related) Juan Castillo would interview with the Cards. That has not been confirmed. I would think a head coach would be in place before more assistants would be hired, but Castillo’s reputation as a line coach is a good one.
— The Browns reportedly brought Ken Whisenhunt in for a second interview for their head coaching job. Horton was interviewed by the Browns (but just once thus far). The Browns have a lot of candidates they have talked to thus far. It doesn’t seem like Horton — who also interviewed for the now-filled Bills job — is in the mix.
UPDATE: It turns out the Browns hired Panthers OC Rob Chudzinski as head coach. And other reports have Chudzinski pursuing/hiring Norv Turner as OC, which if it happened would obviously mean Horton couldn’t get him.
Tags: Browns, Jay Gruden, Jon Gruden, Juan Castillo, Ken Whisenhunt, Mike McCoy, Norv Turner, Ray Horton
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Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald put out a statement in regards to the firings Monday of coach Ken Whisenhunt and general manager Rod Graves:
“We all shoulder the blame for a disappointing season which began with such promise. A unique relationship with all of my coaches past and present is a valued life experience. I would like to thank them all, especially Coach Ken Whisenhunt and General Manager Rod Graves who gave me the opportunity to live my dream in the NFL.
“Even in the midst of a tumultuous season, it was still a pleasure to work for the staff we served under, and for that, we remain grateful. Their professionalism will provide for renewed accomplishments in different environs. We all, to a man, thank them and wish them the best.”
Fitz hadn’t been available in the locker room Monday, but after the game Sunday, he was asked about if he ever would give his input to the team going into offseason.
“Yeah, in opportune times I speak up, but I don’t think you should air your dirty laundry either,” Fitzgerald said. “This is a close-knit group. We have a great relationship with each other and I think it’s best done in house and I’ve always believed that.”
Fitz, however, added — again — it doesn’t really come up. “If they ask me any questions I’ll be always open to talk and give them my opinion, but it hasn’t happened in nine years so I don’t expect it to happen any time soon,” he said. ” I’ll be ready when my numbers’ called.”
There is little question this move has a potential huge impact on Fitz. The offensive issues killed his season. How Fitz would fit with whatever the new offense will look like — and who would be throwing him the ball — will be one of the top storylines.
— It’s no surprise Ken Whisenhunt is in search of another head coaching job at this point. Kevin Acee reported Whiz was interested in the Chargers job (although no word that the Chargers were actually interested in him.) Tim Graham said the Bills will probably be interested in Whiz, and interestingly, one of the other two known candidates is Cards’ DC Ray Horton. Whiz apparently had contract language with the Cards that means any new job salary he gets comes off the $5.5 million they owe him. That would allow a new team, in theory, to get him cheap in 2013 (since Whiz will get $5.5M regardless) but at the same time, would save the Cards at least some money as opposed to if Whiz just sits out this next season.
Tags: Bills, Chargers, Ken Whisenhunt, Larry Fitzgerald
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The news will move quickly now, on to potential candidates for both head coach and general manager, and the new offensive assistants that will take the places of the ones let go. On the NFL’s “Black Monday,” after weeks of speculation that changes were probably going to happen, the actual move has a relatively short shelf life.
The Cardinals needed to make some changes. That’s what happens after struggles and non-playoff years and extended losing streaks. But make no mistake, both Ken Whisenhunt and Rod Graves deserve to get credit for where this team was a few years ago, during division titles and a run to a Super Bowl. They had help from their players and coaches, yes, but they were part of the equation.
So many want to say that Kurt Warner was the reason this team scaled its heights, and Kurt for sure deserves that. But Warner was also in Arizona for two years before Whisenhunt arrived and never took the team anywhere close to where it went after Whiz’s arrival. Warner got benched by Denny Green, was booed off the field at UoP. Warner helped Whiz but Whiz helped Warner, got him to change the way he handled the pocket. It made a difference. Whiz, and Graves, collected a team that could make steps forward. Yes, Whiz inherited good players but he got those good players winning in a way they never had before.
And Graves was there helping collect those players even before Whisenhunt arrived.
There will be criticisms of both, and that’s fair. Whisenhunt said it yesterday after the Niners’ loss — “Bottom line, we didn’t win enough games.” There is plenty of blame to go around when you lose nine in a row, or six in a row last year, or seven in a row in 2010, but it’s never completely black and white. In a lot of ways, this comes down to the quarterback. There is little question the position could have — and probably should have — been handled differently after Warner retired. But without a top-notch quarterback, winning in the NFL is a difficult chore, regardless of anything else going on. Yes, the offensive line has been under-addressed, but I just don’t believe that it’s something consistent QB play couldn’t have overcome.
So the Cards move on. Both defensive coordinator Ray Horton and VP of player personnel Steve Keim are expected to be candidates for the coach and GM jobs, respectively. Adam Schefter reported the Cards have also put in for permission to talk to Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy. We’ll see what president Michael Bidwill has to say later this afternoon. (The last time the Cards were searching for a head coach, Bidwill let everyone know who was on the list of candidates.)
Change can be good, but change isn’t what you want to have to happen. Stability works in the NFL. The Cards were put in a spot where change was necessary, but the process starts all over again now.
Tags: Ken Whisenhunt, Michael Bidwill, Mike McCoy, Ray Horton, Rod Graves, Steve Keim
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Vonnie Holliday sat back a bit in his locker in the cramped, outdated visiting locker room at Candlestick Park. He hadn’t yet pulled off his uniform pants or his undershirt, quietly taking in the scene after Sunday’s loss.
Change is coming for the Cardinals. Holliday is part of the inevitable part of that change, even if the Cardinals were 11-5 and not 5-11. At 37, he sounds like he is leaning toward retirement. It was he and not Calais Campbell who was in the starting lineup Sunday at the insistence of his defensive linemates. They knew it was probably Holliday’s last NFL game.
“That’s the kind of guys we have in this room, on this team,” Holliday said. “Great character. Calais kind of joked about it on Saturday and then today, we came into the locker room and he said, ‘I want you to have it.’ It meant a lot to me.”
Holliday’s eyes welled up a bit as he told the story. He doesn’t know yet if he is retiring, but sure sounded like he might be leaning that way. “At some point, the sun sets on us all,” Holliday said. “It’s getting late in the evening for me.”
He mentioned to me last week he might actually want to coach – or more realistically, be a consultant. Already, he’s expecting some of the young defensive linemen to join him in Atlanta to train before the Cards’ offseason work begins.
“The season didn’t play out the way we wanted to play out, but it couldn’t be with a better group of guys,” Holliday said. “All the chances to point fingers or having a divide, guys never did that. It’s been a pleasure.”
Holliday is a class act. The Cards were better for him being in the locker room. Things must change to improve the team, but there was a universal feeling among the players that the character of the roster was impressive.
— As for the actual change that’s coming, I don’t know what will happen. Coach Ken Whisenhunt said he expects to be back next season, which is what he should say. We will see how this sorts out and on what timeline upon which it happens. There is this assumption all kinds of things will happen Monday. I’m not saying they won’t, but I don’t know if it’s is a lock they do, either.
— The Cardinals will draft seventh. So there’s that.
— There are a lot of people wondering about the future of defensive tackle Darnell Dockett. Including, I would guess, Dockett.
“I’m not one of those guys who wants to play 15 or 16 years chasing a ring,” Dockett said. “Wherever God takes me, he’ll take me. If it’s here I’m going to give them everything I’ve got. I just want to be somewhere to win a championship and where I’m wanted. And I want to be somewhere where they are committed to winning, standards all the way around.”
But Dockett went on to talk like a guy who wasn’t trying to get out.
“At the end of the day my loyalty is with the Cardinals,” he said. “I have given this organization everything I’ve got. I love playing here. I love some of the talent we’ve got. At the end of the day, we have to find a way for us to compete for a championship.”
— Running back Beanie Wells wasn’t into analyzing why he didn’t play Sunday despite being active. His fumble last week didn’t help. Whiz said he wanted to ride William Powell’s hot hand, and Powell did start well (50 first-half yards on 12 carries). I’m not sure Wells’ thoughts that he’d be moving on from the Cards after the season helped the cause.
— There were a few times when left guard Daryn Colledge and left tackle D’Anthony Batise swapped places. “It was an opportunity to kind of keep him guessing on what was going on and keeping fresh legs on the guy,” Colledge said. “Just kind of change it up and see how they reacted to it.”
— A rough year for Larry Fitzgerald ended with a two-catch-for-13-yard game.
“Yeah, it wears your patience pretty thin,” Fitzgerald said of the season. “(But) acting out, being a jerk, causing a scene doesn’t make anything any better either so at this point it’s important to make sure you’re a part of the solution and not part of the problem, going out and working hard every day in practice and doing everything you can in your power to make this team better. I’m just trying to stay that course.”
— The team gets together for a final meeting Monday morning. We’ll see how the morning turns out. I’ll be on Twitter (@cardschatter) for immediate updates and azcardinals.com for all the news.
Tags: Beanie Wells, Calais Campbell, D'Anthony Batiste, Darnell Dockett, Daryn Colledge, Ken Whisenhunt, Larry Fitzgerald, Vonnie Holliday, William Powell
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Brian Hoyer will get his chance to start at quarterback for the Cardinals Sunday. Coach Ken Whisenhunt officially made that true Wednesday when he named Hoyer his starter in San Francisco, the fourth different guy to start at QB for the Cards this season. Whiz said Hoyer has earned the chance to play, but it doesn’t hurt to take a little bit of a longer look at someone who could be on the roster for the Cards going forward.
Hoyer’s contract will run out in March. I believe he will be a restricted free agent again — he was for the Patriots last offseason, but I don’t believe he will have earned an accrued season this year (three weeks each with Pittsburgh and Arizona but will have been active just four games) to reach unrestricted free agency. That would mean the Cards can tender him an offer to keep him around (and even if he would be unrestricted, the Cards could still try to re-sign him.) UPDATE: I was wrong. Hoyer will indeed be unrestricted.
Regardless, Hoyer wasn’t about to talk about that Wednesday. Not with his game against the 49ers on deck.
“I’m not really worried about that right now,” Hoyer said. “I’m worried about what play will be called on third-and 2-to-5. We’re not going to the playoffs and this is the last game and there will be plenty of time to worry about that after Sunday.”
— Whisenhunt said he didn’t know if running back Beanie Wells would start this week, noting it would be a “package-oriented” result. As for Wells’ comments that he was auditioning for other teams in the finale, Whisenhunt put it on the frustration of the season and nothing more than that. “When you’ve had individual players that have played certain ways, there’s going to be frustration,” Whisenhunt said. “Sometimes they’re going to make comments, so you don’t put a lot of stock in what they say.
“(Beanie) has a job to do for us. He’s got to do a better job than what he did last week. He understands that and that’s what you focus on.”
— Tight end Rob Housler (shoulder) was put on injured reserve Wednesday, ending his season. Wide receiver Kerry Taylor was promoted from the practice squad to take his place on the roster.
Tags: Beanie Wells, Brian Hoyer, Ken Whisenhunt, Kerry Taylor, Rob Housler
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One more to go. No more at home. And as I write this the 49ers-Seahawks game is on in the background, and the Seahawks continue to look like the real deal –while the Niners are, one way or the other, going to need that game next week against the Cardinals. Once there was thought it could be about resting. Not anymore. That’s going to make it even more of a difficult finale for the Cards.
Who will coach Ken Whisenhunt go with at quarterback? My money is on Brian Hoyer but since it’s not really my money, who knows. I thought Hoyer looked decent and surprisingly comfortable out there, although he didn’t produce any points and still threw an interception. No one is sitting there saying he’s the answer and the likelihood he’s a long-term solution is small, but again, it’s about looking at every option because, well, why wouldn’t you?
— Seems like forever ago the Cards last blocked a field goal, and then Adrian Wilson got one that Justin Bethel turned into points (below). Fitting that it came at the end of Wilson’s game, which could be his final one at UoP? Well, Wilson wasn’t in the mood to go there. Not really.
Wilson was asked about that final game. “I haven’t thought about it one bit, until (the media) continuously bring it up,” Wilson said. “If they make a decision, I’m pretty sure it’s going to be pretty quick. If they don’t, OK. Either way I go, I’m a good player. We’ll see what happens.”
— Whisenhunt noted that the pick-6s are really hurting the Cards. After Sunday’s TD by the Bears’ Charles Tillman, the Cards have given up five of them this season – way too many. As for trying to find a QB, “it’s not fun, but we keep working at it,” Whisenhunt said.
— The relationship between Whiz and running back Beanie Wells probably wasn’t helped by Beanie’s fumble on his own 1-yard line, which was recovered by the Bears for a touchdown. Beanie slipped – that happens – but he dropped the ball as he slipped without being hit. He got a talking-to by Whisenhunt afterward.
Whiz said he couldn’t explain it. “From what I saw, obviously you can’t put the ball on the ground, especially not there,” Whisenhunt said. Beanie said he didn’t get hurt on the play, and as for what Whiz told him, “It is what it is,” Wells said. “Who knows how it’s going to turn out from here.”
— How it turned out Sunday was that Wells got exactly one more carry the rest of the game as the Cards instead used LaRod Stephens-Howling and William Powell at running back. Beanie noted that everyone on the Cards is “fighting for jobs, whether it’s going to be here or somewhere else.” Wells is under contract for 2013 and with a lot of uncertainty (Ryan Williams health, Stephens-Howling free agency) the Cards wouldn’t just let him go even if they wanted to make a change. But it’s fair to wonder about Wells’ future.
— Given the Cards’ offense, I really didn’t have an issue trying a fake punt. Not sure I’d be comfortable with Feely rolling left, but really, with that offense, you aren’t expecting many points. Field goals weren’t going to do it.
— I know ultimately it came too little too late, but it was nice to see Fitz get more than 100 yards, and it was nice to see some accurate passes thrown in his direction.
— Dave Zastudil, current NFL record holder. Can he hold on to his two-punts-downed-inside-the-20 lead over Kansas City’s Dustin Colquitt and keep that record? Who says there won’t be Week 17 suspense?
OK. A normal Monday coming up, even if it is Christmas Eve. We’ll be working it, and then enjoying the holiday. Hope you all do too. One more to go in the 2012 season.
Tags: Adrian Wilson, Beanie Wells, Bears, Brian Hoyer, Charles Tillman, Dave Zastudil, Justin Bethel, Ken Whisenhunt, LaRod Stephens-Howling, William Powell
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