The Pro Bowl voting is over for the fans, which counts toward one-third of trying to assemble the rosters. The other two-thirds, from the voting of players and coaches, takes place today for the Cardinals.
The Cards will need some help on that end. Only two players ended up in the top five of fan voting at their respective positions in the NFC. Linebacker Daryl Washington, with 159,407 votes, was third among NFC inside linebackers behind the San Francisco tandem of Patrick Willis and NaVarro Bowman. Cornerback Patrick Peterson was fourth among NFC cornerbacks with 154,736 votes, behind the Bears’ duo of Tim Jennings and Charles Tillman and Seattle’s Richard Sherman (although I was reminded by someone via Twitter that if Sherman fails his appeal on his PED suspension, that also means he can’t play in the Pro Bowl.)
No sign of defensive end Calais Campbell or safety Kerry Rhodes among the top five. And while it isn’t surprising given how this year has gone, it’s depressing to see that Larry Fitzgerald isn’t among the wide receivers. No one can argue he should be in there, but no one can argue he isn’t one of the top five receivers in the NFC either.
The Pro Bowl rosters are going to be announced Dec. 26.
Tags: Calais Campbell, Charles Tillman, Daryl Washington, Kerry Rhodes, NaVarro Bowman, Patrick Peterson, Patrick Willis, Pro Bowl voting, Richard Sherman, Tim Jennings
Posted in Blog | 18 Comments »
Pro Bowl voting for fans is over and players and coaches will soon be doing their version for the teams that will be announced next week. I know there is a lot of speculation over how many Cardinals might be able to find their way to Hawaii. Profootballfocus.com named their Pro Bowl teams — not that it means anything with the actual roster — and included defensive end Calais Campbell and safety Kerry Rhodes.
Campbell impressed the PFF guys enough to remain even though he missed a couple of games. “(I)n spite of missing a long stretch of the season Calais Campbell’s impact for the Arizona Cardinals cannot be denied as he put up strong pass rush numbers (5 Sacks, 9 Hits and 17 Hurries) and also brought a greater presence as a run defender than he mustered in 2011.”
As for Rhodes, “Kerry Rhodes has re-discovered some of his best form as a coverage defender and all round safety after missing much of the 2011 season.”
Can’t argue with either one. As for the missing, well, there are arguments to be made. The PFF guys noted they left off linebacker Daryl Washington, who has been very, very good, but apparently not good enough (in PFF’s eyes) to beat out the 49ers duo of Patrick Willis or NaVarro Bowman. And I know a lot of people have wonders about Patrick Peterson. Peterson didn’t get a mention in a group of Seattle’s Richard Sherman, Chicago’s Charles Tillman and Green Bay’s Casey Hayward. Again, we will see who actually gets the call next week, and don’t forget there are always guys who beg off — meaning replacements will be named too as the weeks go.
UPDATE: PFF owner/founder Neil Hornsby saw my post and wanted to give his thoughts on Peterson: “He’s had a very good year and was highly graded and reasonably consistent but as with most things Pro Bowl-related it’s a numbers game. Only someone who doesn’t watch much football would argue against Tillman and Sherman so it comes down to one place. The choice of Hayward was tough because he’s only played nickel so we had to think long and hard especially putting him up against Tim Jennings, Tarrell Brown and Peterson.
“The truth is though, (Hayward) has been unworldly in his 633 snaps. In that time he has only one less interception and twice as many passes defensed as Peterson and quarterbacks have a 23.5 rating throwing at him. Those numbers are not a fluke and he’s one of the few people to live in the middle with Cruz for example. Peterson was our fifth man up, after Jennings but before Brown, but most significantly was much improved on last year and will almost certainly have his day.”
Tags: Calais Campbell, Casey Hayward, Charles Tillman, Daryl Washington, Kerry Rhodes, NaVarro Bowman, Patrick Peterson, Patrick Willis, Pro Bowl, Pro Football Focus, Richard Sherman
Posted in Blog | 22 Comments »
We’ve covered this before, but seriously, the interceptions keep piling up for the Cardinals. They now lead the NFL with 22 interceptions, one more than the team that comes in to visit University of Phoenix Stadium this weekend, the Chicago Bears. (The Cards, with 32 total takeaways, are fourth in the league in that department, with Chicago’s 37 topping the list.) Remember this team had only 10 interceptions all of last season.
And in all honesty, the Cardinals could have more this year. There was the one Adrian Wilson couldn’t quite hold on to against the Dolphins this year (although that would have been a spectacular effort and it certainly wouldn’t be considered a drop), and I can think of at least three that I remember in the hands of William Gay that he couldn’t quite snare. That’s just off the top of my head. Patrick Peterson gets the headlines with his seven, and deservedly so. But Kerry Rhodes has four, Gay, Rashad Johnson and Greg Toler two each.
“I wish we could lead the league in a number of different categories,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said Monday. “Maybe that would help us be a little bit better record-wise.”
They even punctuated this weekend’s trio with 186 return yards, the fifth-most interception return yards for an NFL team since 1970 and 66 more yards than the Cards had totaled on their first 19 picks of the season. The interceptions are a big reason the Cardinals are tops in the NFL when it comes to passer rating-against (68.0) and third in the NFL in completion percentage-against with 54.5.
“When you have 22, obviously it’s not going to be one guy or otherwise he’d be defensive MVP,” Whisenhunt said. “You’ve got a number of different guys that are making those kinds of plays.
“You think about the interceptions Patrick has had, some of those acrobatic ones down the field and even (Sunday’s) was another one like that. Our guys believe in what they are doing and they’re playing hard, and it’s nice to see them making some plays.”
Tags: Adrian Wilson, Greg Toler, Ken Whisenhunt, Kerry Rhodes, Patrick Peterson, Rashad Johnson, William Gay
Posted in Blog | 8 Comments »
So the Cardinals head to Seattle tomorrow, and we turn to locker room sage Larry Fitzgerald – man, if you would have asked me in 2006 if I’d ever write that descriptor for Fitz, I’d have thought you were crazy – to put these last four games, the playoffs realistically if not officially out of reach, into perspective.
“It’s never to the point where you can’t improve and get better,” Fitzgerald said. “That’s top to bottom, I don’t care about your position on the team. It teaches all of us how to deal with adversity. It’s a microcosm of life. Sometimes it doesn’t go your way and you have to continue to battle.”
It doesn’t hurt that the Seahawks have a chance to make the playoffs and the Cards have a chance to crimp that possibility. It’s cliché, but I do believe playing spoiler – especially to a division rival – is motivation and I do think it is real. The Cards would love to sweep the Seahawks, even if both teams are a lot different than the teams that met at UoP Sept. 9.
— I am very interested in seeing how John Skelton reacts to this start. Seattle is not an easy place to play. He struggled against the Seahawks’ defense in the opener this season before getting hurt. But as he noted Wednesday, he gets another opportunity, one that if not for the major problems of Ryan Lindley, he probably would not have gotten.
I don’t know if there is less pressure on Skelton or more. Obviously coach Ken Whisenhunt proved he’d go to Lindley. Then again, after seeing where Lindley is in his development, it’s tough to see the Cards turning to him again. Impossible not to watch that storyline play out.
— Safety Kerry Rhodes said this week, talking about how the defensive players can’t talk bad about the offense, that until the defense holds a team to zero points and zero yards, they have to tend to their own business. Zero yards? Hyperbole. Zero points? Defensive coordinator Ray Horton was asked if that was realistic.
“That’s probably every defensive player’s mantra,” Horton said. “Is it realistic? Sometimes it is. I think it is the mentality they have which I love, that they think that way.”
— I think the Cards should have defensive end Calais Campbell back this week, a good thing because Campbell always plays well against the Seahawks. Then again, I thought Campbell was going to play in New York, so I will wait and see on that one.
— A final capper on the Kerry Rhodes-Darnell Dockett dustup, where Rhodes said it wasn’t a big deal and Dockett said he was sorry but he was never going to quit. The reference was to the unsaid-yet-out-there reason that the Cards’ decision to try and let the Jets score at the end of last week’s game – statistically, the best way (however long of a shot it was) to try and win – was at the root of the problem. So Horton was asked his philosophy about letting a team score.
“The ultimate goal is to win the game, whether you give up the safety, whether you give up a touchdown,” Horton said. “My philosophy is whatever it takes to win the game. If it means doing that I’d do it to give ourselves a chance. I asked Coach (Ken Whisenhunt) to do it for time reasons.”
(We won’t go into the details yet again of the situation. I know some of you disagree with the strategy and agree with Dockett’s take. I covered it here.)
— OK, maybe one more point: Mike Jurecki of XTRA broke the news that Dockett was fined six figures by the team and could have his playing time limited in Seattle for what went down. Whisenhunt has made it plain whatever was happening with the situation was going to be handled internally and not commented upon. Clearly, the Cardinals did not agree with Dockett’s take. (Kent Somers is now also reporting the fine and said it was because of both the fight and not heeding the coach’s call.) We’ll see on Sunday about the playing time issue.
— UPDATE: Dockett tweeted out praise for the NFLPA so the assumption is, not surprisingly, Dockett is appealing the fine.
— That late personal foul call against nose tackle Dan Williams last week, the iffy one on Jets quarterback Greg McElroy on the sidelines? Williams was not fined for it. Still hurt though – it gave free yards on the Jets’ lone touchdown drive of the game in a 7-6 Jets win. Usually, if a player isn’t fined for a roughness call, it means the league disagreed that it should have been a penalty.
— With cornerback Brandon Browner out with a suspension, Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman – himself facing a possible four-game suspension – will probably follow Fitz around Sunday. “I would anticipate that, if I were a betting man,” Fitzgerald said. The best on the best makes sense. It just would be nice to get Fitzgerald a handful of catches and maybe sniff 100 yards. It’s been too long. And frankly, the offense needs it.
The good news is that, after nasty forecasts earlier in the week, the rain is supposed to subside after Saturday morning in Seattle and hold off through Sunday. That’d be a plus. But the Cards have a hard game ahead to snap the losing streak. Let the fourth quarter of the season commence.
Tags: Brandon Browner, Calais Campbell, Darnell Dockett, John Skelton, Kerry Rhodes, Larry Fitzgerald, Ray Horton, Richard Sherman, Ryan Lindley, Seahawks
Posted in Blog | 70 Comments »
Darnell Dockett addressed the argument he had with teammate Kerry Rhodes at the end of Sunday’s game, getting his point across but also apologizing in the process.
While he didn’t get into specifics of why the argument happened, it was pretty clear the reported reason — that Dockett did not want to let the Jets score on purpose just so the Cardinals could get the ball back — was behind the rift.
“Me and Kerry had a very heated argument, at a very heatful time in the game and there were things between me and him,” Dockett said. “I apologized to Kerry. Kerry forgave me. That’s it. It was a situation we totally didn’t agree on. So at the end of the day we did what was best to give our team the chance to win. That’s it. I look at Kerry as one of my brothers, I respect him and we had a disagreement. We move on from that.”
As for what the argument was about, “It was something I don’t believe in, something I don’t understand,” Dockett said. “It’s frustrating at the time. At the end of the day, I have never, ever laid down and quit. I’ve been playing football for over 20 years. I’ve been, for this organization, for Florida State, for my high school, giving everything I’ve got. I play with passion and I will never, ever quit. I love what I do, and I will play to the whistle and the clock reads zero.”
Rhodes did not speak Wednesday, but Tuesday put out a statement that emphasized Dockett had not spit on him — as had been reported — and that he and Dockett had worked it out. “We’re both moving on and I’ll leave it at that,” Rhodes said.
That was certainly where Dockett saw it Wednesday. “We were just talking about it outside today. I have no issue with anyone on this team, especially with the guys on defense. We have one goal, and that’s to end up in the top five (in the defensive rankings). That’s the most important thing to me and the rest of this defense.”
Dockett said he didn’t know if he would be punished for the incident. Coach Ken Whisenhunt reiterated it was something that would be handled internally and declined to comment further. “I can’t control that,” Dockett said. “I’m here, and anytime I get on the field I will play my ass off. Whatever decision is whatever. It is out of my hands.”
Tags: Darnell Dockett, Kerry Rhodes
Posted in Blog | 64 Comments »
In regard to the incident between Darnell Dockett and Kerry Rhodes chronicled below, Rhodes Tuesday morning wanted to clarify some of the details floating around.
“Just to clear up what happened between Darnell and me at the end of the game Sunday and some of the reports that are out there,” Rhodes said. “Yes, we had a disagreement on the field but, no he did NOT spit in my face. Absolutely did not. I’m not going to get into all the details because I think those are things you keep within the team. But Darnell and I talked after the game, we’re both moving on and I’ll leave it at that.”
I’ve had a lot of people ask me about some sort of incident between Darnell Dockett and Kerry Rhodes at the end of Sunday’s game. I didn’t see anything nor hear anything until a couple of people asked me about it on Twitter. Today, Arizona Sports said Dockett could be disciplined but gave zero details to what the altercation was about besides it being an “on-field incident.” XTRA’s Mike Jurecki, after talking with Dockett, said only that Dockett acknowledged something had happened but didn’t want to get into details. Both Dockett and Rhodes seemed normal in the post-game locker room last night and I was on the field at the end of the game on the sideline and didn’t notice anything.
“We generally prefer to keep internal matters like that within the team and not discuss them publicly,” said coach Ken Whisenhunt during his weekly radio show Monday afternoon on Arizona Sports 620. “We will continue to do that going forward.”
UPDATE: profootballtalk.com is reporting on the details of the incident. Apparently it started with an argument about whether the Cards should let the Jets score at the end of the game to give the Cards a final chance to score.
A quick clarification by the way, since the commenters at PFT don’t seem to get it. Given the Cards lack of timeouts and the clock late in the game, the only chance the Cards were going to have to get the ball back was to let the Jets score. In fact, the Cards did try to let them score on the final running play of the Jets, but running back Shonn Greene smartly dropped at the 1-yard line. It allowed the Jets to kneel a couple times and run out the clock.
Tags: Darnell Dockett, Kerry Rhodes
Posted in Blog | 82 Comments »
I don’t think it’s out of line to think the most interesting question of the week will be who the Cardinals start at quarterback in Seattle next weekend. (Yes, I am aware of the understatement there.) Seattle has never been a particularly easy place to play for any Cardinals QB – I remember some rough games for Kurt Warner – and the last two years, Max Hall and Kevin Kolb have had trouble putting up points.
So after Sunday, when rookie Ryan Lindley had so much difficulty in production, will coach Ken Whisenhunt go back to him again? There’s no way to know if Kolb will be ready this week, but if he isn’t, Lindley is in the middle of six quarters of play he isn’t going to file among his NFL memories.
Whiz noted there were some poor routes/adjustments by receivers – one time, it seemed Michael Floyd just slowed up on a deep pattern, and the ball ended up well over his head – but Lindley knew he struggled. To have 10 three-and-outs as an offense (one ended on an interception), plus a four-and-out when the Cards couldn’t pick up a first on fourth down, was just devastating. When you lose a game by a single point, it’s that much more magnified.
“We just have to play better,” Lindley said. “I have to play better.”
— There is no need to belabor the point. I know there were plenty asking if/when Whiz was going to put in John Skelton. Was I surprised a change wasn’t made? I guess I was. Whisenhunt said he stuck with Lindley because he understood the scheme and what needed to be done. That’s got to translate into the game play, though.
I’m sure the comments below will be dominated by this subject.
— What a day for Kerry Rhodes. He promised on the Big Red Rage “I’m going to make plays, don’t worry about that one” when asked about his return to New York. It was Rhodes’ first chance to go against the Jets and coach Rex Ryan, who ripped Rhodes pretty good after Rhodes was traded away. Had the Cards won,’ Rhodes’ two interceptions and forced fumble would have been the perfect narrative. Losing takes the luster off, for sure, but you have to think Rhodes made his point while continuing to have a good season. Officially, Rhodes had six tackles and three passes defensed too.
— The interception by Patrick Peterson was a heck of an athletic play. It looked like he was definitely beaten, yet he not only made up the ground but grabbed the pick.
— Crazy how Jets kicker Nick Folk hit both the left upright and right upright on a pair of missed field goals. The Jets weren’t exactly an offensive juggernaut out there. Some of that was the Cards’ defense, but some of that is the Jets’ issues too.
— Running back Beanie Wells had only 22 yards on 15 carries. There weren’t a lot of holes for him to hit for sure, but watching him run he just doesn’t look totally right with the knee, which did limit him in practice last week. I know that when his two straight runs on third- and fourth-and-1 early in the game that the Cards couldn’t convert hurt. The Jets have a good defense, but an absence of a run game shows up when the QB struggles. Then again, the Jets could tee off on the run because they weren’t concerned about Lindley beating them.
— Punter Dave Zastudil tied his career-high with 10 punts which makes sense in context.
— It was a weird game because the Jets’ crowd wasn’t happy with their team much of the game and let them know it. To have Greg McElroy come in to play quarterback and get the kind of cheer he did just shows how much the fan base doesn’t have faith in Mark Sanchez. McElroy didn’t do anything special. But he was the lone QB with a TD drive.
— Dan Williams was just talking about taking advantage of more playing time if he got the chance, and Sunday, he got the chance with the Jets playing a lot of run-first offense. The nose tackle responded with a team-high 10 tackles.
I wish I had a lot more to touch on but I do not. The QB thing is going to overshadow everything I’m sure.
Tags: Beanie Wells, Dan Williams, Dave Zastudil, Greg McElroy, Jets, John Skelton, Ken Whisenhunt, Kerry Rhodes, Mark Sanchez, Michael Floyd, Nick Folk, Patrick Peterson, Ryan Lindley
Posted in Blog | 171 Comments »
As Pro Bowl voting continues, the folks over at profootballfocus.com are prompting readers to pick three Cardinals as Pro Bowl worthy. Two are the same as their last list, with linebacker Daryl Washington and defensive end Calais Campbell getting the nod. The third was safety Kerry Rhodes, who has been having a solid bounce-back season after injuries wrecked 2011. Rhodes had an interception in Atlanta this past weekend.
— Running back LaRod Stephens-Howling, after his 127 yards rushing in Atlanta, is up for the FedEx Ground player of the week. You can vote here until Friday. He’s up against the Bengals’ Ben Jarvis Green-Ellis and the Buccaneers’ Doug Martin.
— Speaking of Stephens-Howling, he will be the guest on the Thanksgiving week edition of Kerry Rhodes’ Big Red Rage, which will be held Wednesday night because of the holiday. The show starts at 6 p.m. as usual at Majerle’s Sports Grill in Chandler.
Tags: Big Red Rage, Calais Campbell, Daryl Washington, Kerry Rhodes, LaRod Stephens-Howling, Pro Bowl voting
Posted in Blog | 10 Comments »
Tight end Todd Heap remains inactive with his bad knee today against the Vikings, on an inactive list that is filled up with injured players.
Only guard Senio Kelemete is a healthy scratch. Sitting out are QB Kevin Kolb (ribs), S Kerry Rhodes (back), CB Greg Toler (hamstring), FB Anthony Sherman (knee), and LB Reggie Walker (concussion). Rashad Johnson is starting in place of Rhodes, while Regan Maui’a is starting in place of Sherman.
The Vikings have all their key players available who were on the injury report, including RB Adrian Peterson, DE Jared Allen and WR Jerome Simpson.
— Also this morning, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported that the Cardinals are expected to work out free agent QB Vince Young this week. If true — and I haven’t heard anything about it — it’s an interesting turn. Young, given his background and recent play, wouldn’t have been a guy I’d think the Cards would consider as an option.
Tags: Anthony Sherman, Greg Toler, inactives, Kerry Rhodes, Kevin Kolb, Rashad Johnson, Reagan Maui'a, Reggie Walker, Senio Kelemete, Todd Heap, Vikings, Vince Young
Posted in Blog | 24 Comments »
Trips to Minnesota since I’ve been covering the Cardinals have frequently ended poorly. OK, not frequently. Always. My first trip there was for a 2000 preseason game, where four or five Cardinals suffered serious injuries on the one-time crappy turf, including the ACL tear for wide receiver Rob Moore. There were not very close losses in 2000 and 2006 (although the Cards were a Hail Mary away at the end to get an amazing comeback). There was the 2010 loss, which looked like it was in the bag with a two-touchdown lead with six minutes left (Favred!) and then last year, when the Cards simply melted down in the first quarter.
Year-to-year doesn’t matter – it’s a new team here, the Vikings are a new team, and for the most part, nothing carries over – but that’s at least the backdrop for the Cards this weekend. I don’t need to get into the schedule again (but if you forgot, it’s Niners, Packers, Falcons in the next three games) but this is important. The coaches know it. So do the players.
— This is an early game, kickoff 10 a.m. Arizona time. The Cards had one of those in New England, but that was after flying in on a Friday. The Cards don’t fly to Minnesota until tomorrow. They can’t afford to sleepwalk through the first quarter.
— I watched the video of Vikings defensive end Jared Allen meeting with the Minnesota media. Not surprisingly, he was asked multiple times about the Cards surrendering 22 sacks the past three games and the opportunity he had. Not surprisingly, he dodged bulletin-board material. Who knows? Maybe he actually made a good point:
“I’ve been in this league for so long, I’ve played teams where they’ve given up … I always go back to the Texans, who had given up, like, 50 sacks and we came in there like Week 10 or Week 11 (when he was with the Chiefs),” Allen said. “All we saw were bootlegs. Teams also know that. So you can’t sit there and say, ‘We’re going to lick our chops and get after the quarterback,’ because you’re going to get burned in the run.”
The Allen pass rush – he’s only got four sacks this season, below expectations — will be under the microscope Sunday, whether it is against D’Anthony Batiste or Bobby Massie.
— Linebacker Daryl Washington repeated the same message over and over: We have to stop 12 and 28. That’s Percy Harvin and Adrian Peterson, in case you weren’t sure. Obvious, yes. But last year, quarterback Donovan McNabb was god-awful against the Cards (another reason why it confounds me a Cardinals fan would suggest signing McNabb) and yet the Vikings rolled. Peterson was awesome (three first-quarter TDs) and Harvin is a Swiss knife of a playmaker.
— Speaking of Peterson, it is still amazing he has returned from ACL surgery so quickly (he blew out his knee Christmas Eve 2011). He already has 499 yards rushing. “He’s not quite as bombastic in what he used to do,” Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton said, “but he still has our full respect.”
“He just never ever doubted,” Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said. “The only time he showed any doubt was when we were flying back from the game when he was injured in Washington. But after that it was full speed ahead from a mental standpoint and he’s never regressed.”
— The Cards are allowing just 16.2 points a game, fourth in the NFL behind the Bears, 49ers and Seahawks. Whatever the rest of the stats say, that works for Horton. “That’s the only stat that should be measured,” Horton said.
— It hurts to be missing safety Kerry Rhodes, down with the bad back. That means the Cards will have gone through a game without Rhodes, Adrian Wilson and Darnell Dockett so far. It’d be nice to have all the key pieces in place, and Rhodes is having a pretty good year. Horton more or less shrugged it off. “Hopefully we’re not built like a house of cards where one guy gets hurt it is doom and gloom,” he said. “I don’t think we are built that way.”
— In case you missed it, my visit this summer to Minnesota turned into this story about how Larry Fitzgerald loves his home state. (But don’t worry, he loves being in Arizona too.)
— Minnesota native Michael Floyd isn’t getting the kind of work he was hoping – 7 catches, 84 yards – but he’s hanging in there. “The ball doesn’t come that way often, so when it does, you have to make the play,” he said. Floyd made the spectacular catch against the Bills after failing to come down with one a couple of weeks previous. Both Ken Whisenhunt and offensive coordinator Mike Miller say Floyd is doing fine in his steps forward.
“If we were doing better offensively (overall), he’d probably be more involved, have more statistics,” Whisenhunt said.
John Skelton, you’re up.
Tags: Adrian Peterson, Bobby Massie, D'Anthony Batiste, Daryl Washington, Jared Allen, Kerry Rhodes, Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, Percy Harvin, Ray Horton, Rob Moore, Vikings
Posted in Blog | 39 Comments »