Tags: Arizona Cardinals, AZ Cardinals, AZ Cards, Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions, Instagram, Lions, Patrick Peterson
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Tags: Arizona Cardinals, AZ Cardinals, AZ Cards, Detroit Lions, Lions, NFL
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Karlos Dansby was still trying to make sense of that interception he didn’t get Sunday. That one where Matthew Stafford lasered into Calvin Johnson in between Dansby and Patrick Peterson. Johnson got a 72-yard touchdown and Dansby – who said he knew the pass was coming and jumped the route and did everything right but actually pick off the pass – was left with air.
“I still got a fine to pay,” Dansby said, in a reference to the Cards’ kangaroo court. “I got a big fine to pay. You don’t understand. That’s a fine out of this world. That’s the crazy part about it. Oh man, you don’t understand this fine I gotta pay. You really don’t understand. It’s huge. It’s huge, bro.”
Dansby could smile. Always easier to talk about the bad after a win, and, especially with the way the Cards’ defense stepped up in the second half and shut down the Lions. The Cardinals had to have a win Sunday. Couldn’t go 0-2 heading into two straight road games back East. They got it. So, before I shut down for the night, some notes and thoughts from today’s win:
– Bruce Arians has said it before, and he said it again. “I have no problem with young players,” he said, and it’s not just the high picks. We already know the impact third-round draft pick Tyrann Mathieu has had, and it was Mathieu’s solid tackle of Nate Burleson on fourth-and-4 a yard shy of the line that sealed the win Sunday. Running back Andre Ellington has already proved to be a weapon as both a runner and receiver and a blocker, nice from a sixth-round rookie (who scored his first TD Sunday). And undrafted safety Tony Jefferson had three tackles in his first NFL defensive work as part of a dime package that was used for the first time.
“It’s a huge opportunity for us (young players) and you have to make the best of it,” Jefferson said. “To put a young rookie in and going against an explosive offense like that and they trust in you. You have to perform.”
– As for Ellington, he played more than any of the running backs not named Rashard Mendenhall. Does that mean he made a move up the depth chart? “I’m not sure how that works,” Ellington said. “We don’t really have a set depth chart. Coach just kind of calls you out there when he wants you out there. Whenever my name is called, I want to make the play.”
– After failing to come up with a pair of crucial third-down conversions late in the St. Louis game, the Cards never could get that going Sunday. They had just one third-down conversion in 11 tries (by contrast, they got two first downs on penalties that came on third downs) and it stalled the offense too often.
Asked if he was frustrated by that on the sideline, Arians said “I’m always frustrated. I’m pissed the whole game, nothing satisfies me. … We weren’t three and out, three and out. It was first down, first down, chunk play and manageable (third downs). We just didn’t convert.”
– Wide receiver Kerry Taylor, promoted Saturday from the practice squad, made his first three NFL catches. His first? Seventeen yards, from the arm of none other than Swiss Army knife Patrick Peterson. “It was brought to my attention that it was my first catch in the NFL thrown by a corner,” Taylor said. Taylor was impressive with Fitz down. It’ll be interesting to see if the Cards keep him up on the roster.
– There was better pass protection from the Cardinals. Some of that had to do with the Lions, some had to do with scheme, but for the most part, the offensive line kept Carson Palmer clean enough to throw his passes (although Arians said Palmer was hit too often.)
– The Reggie Bush injury, which basically took him out of the game in the second half, definitely seemed to impact the Lions. They couldn’t run – 49 yards total in the game – and getting Bush in space on pass receptions had been a major threat for Detroit in their Week One win.
– I know it’s early, but it seems Justin Bethel should already be getting attention as a potential Pro Bowl special teams player in the NFC. He’s been excellent in coverage, and then he got the big block of the David Akers field goal in the fourth quarter to keep it a two-point deficit. Bethel got an earlier running-into-the-kicker (which didn’t hurt when Akers missed a second straight try) but it gave him confidence for the fourth-quarter block.
“You’ve got to take the right angle, especially with a kicker who keeps his leg out there,” Bethel said. “(On the penalty) I saw his leg. I jumped and thought, ‘Oh, he’s going to leave his foot out here.’ I was like, ‘Oh, man.’ But I had a good takeoff and I was thinking, ‘OK, I know I can get there.’ And I got another chance.”
– Now, about that Dansby “fine” …
Tags: Andre Ellington, Bruce Arians, Carson Palmer, Justin Bethel, Karlos Dansby, Kerry Taylor, Lions, Patrick Peterson, Tony Jefferson, Tyrann Mathieu
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Tags: Arizona Cardinals, AZ Cardinals, AZ Cards, Detroit Lions, Lions, NFL, Twitter
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Tags: Arizona Cardinals, AZ Cardinals, AZ Cards, Detroit Lions, Lions, NFL, University of Phoenix stadium
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This may be a game between the Cardinals and the Lions, but it feels like in some way, shape or form this week has been about arguably the best two wide receivers in the game (with a little Levi Brown sprinkled in.) Seeing how the Cardinals deal with Calvin Johnson – through Patrick Peterson, of course – was a natural, and then Larry Fitzgerald had to go and tweak his hamstring Wednesday and make his status a big part of the narrative.
The Lions are a better team and more importantly, in a better place, than the group that showed up to University of Phoenix Stadium last December and got pounded, 38-10. Then again, and I think this gets lost, so are the Cardinals. That Cardinals team was floundering on offense (and did so again in that game, mostly, even with the lopsided score) and on a nine-game losing streak. So it’s not like the Cards haven’t moved forward themselves.
It comes down to this: You can’t afford to start 0-2. Not in this division, not with this schedule, not with a team coming cross country to play in your home opener.
“We need a great crowd and the energy that will be there in the stadium,” coach Bruce Arians said. “Hopefully it will ignite us even more. Sometimes you use the opponent’s crowd cheering for them, but it’s nothing like when they are cheering for you.”
– Fitzgerald was asked this week if there are any matchups against a cornerback he relishes like Peterson does going against a guy like Johnson. Fitz said – no doubt knowing exactly what he meant – that it would be Peterson.
“Every day I match up with Patrick is special, in practice,” Fitzgerald said. “I have the benefit of having the top guy in my own locker room.”
We will take him at his word. Fitz did note how Peterson has gotten so much smarter as a cornerback, using safety help to create better leverage and just overall taking a step forward in the mental game when he already had a lot going for him physically. “That’s a deadly, deadly combination,” Fitz said.
– Life on an island against great receivers isn’t easy. But it can’t matter, cornerback Jerraud Powers said. “You know what you are getting into once you play this position,” Powers said. “You know some of the big-time names and guys in the league out there who have proved it, Calvin and Larry, that you know are top-notch. You have to believe in your technique and believe in your ability. They put their shoes on just like they do. You just have to have that type of confidence.”
– Big game for left tackle Levi Brown. It’s one thing to deal with speedster Robert Quinn on the turf. He’ll be back on grass, and the Lions don’t have an edge guy like Quinn. For all the focus on the Peterson-Megatron matchup, everyone knows Brown will be under the microscope too, after last week.
“We have a high expectation for that position and he has to meet that,” said offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Harold Goodwin. “(He needs to) carry over things he does in practice and take it to the game. That’s all he has to do and he’ll be fine.”
– Arians said he thought inside linebackers Jasper Brinkley and Karlos Dansby played “solid” in St. Louis, although he said Brinkley got caught in space a couple of times. Profootballfocus.com gave both good grades against the run but noted their struggles in pass coverage.
– Missed tackles were an issue last week too. “I’m not surprised,” defensive coordinator Todd Bowles said. “Probably disappointed. (The Rams) are a good football team. We just have to tackle better. We had been doing a good job of it, but we didn’t last week.”
– Defensive tackle Darnell Dockett was credited with two tackles and one quarterback pressure last week, according to the coaching staff. Dockett will need to make more of an impact for this defense to really shine.
“I don’t feel I played bad,” Dockett said. “I played well in spurts. I can do better. No matter what the stats say I always feel I could have done something better. The biggest thing was creating pressure when I had one-on-one blocks, I could have done a lot better with those.”
– The Cardinals, if you wanted to know, will be wearing their red jerseys. I anticipate white pants.
– There were no fines last week for the Rams for any of the hits on Andre Roberts. But cornerback Cortland Finnegan was fined $7,875 for a late hit (I believe on Michael Floyd, that was the play Finnegan drew an unnecessary roughness flag) and so was St. Louis linebacker William Hayes, who hit someone late after the play on a punt.
– Almost a week later, Tyrann Mathieu still isn’t going to get all giddy about his forced fumble against Rams tight end Jared Cook last week. He’s much more matter-of-fact.
“It definitely boosts your confidence, let’s you know you can make plays in the NFL,” Mathieu said. “I am looking forward to making more plays like that in the NFL. It’s all about how you practice. If you practice those things, 100 percent of the time you will make those plays in games.”
I mentioned that both Arians and Hall of Famer Deion Sanders (who happens to be a Mathieu mentor) called it one of the best plays they had ever seen. Mathieu shrugged his shoulders. “If I forced a fumble and picked it up and ran it back 100 yards, that’s amazing to me,” Mathieu said. “But I understand why they said it. It was a big-time play. I’m happy those guys are rooting for me.”
OK, that’s plenty. Cards-Lions Sunday. I’ll be on pre-game radio at 10 a.m., on KTAR 92.3 FM, if you want to give a listen.
Tags: Andre Roberts, Bruce Arians, Calvin Johnson, Cortland Finnegan, Darnell Dockett, Deion Sanders, Harold Goodwin, Jasper Brinkley, Jerraud Powers, Karlos Dansby, Larry Fitzgerald, Levi Brown, Lions, Patrick Peterson, Tyrann Mathieu
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It’s easy to think of the Lions and wide receiver Calvin Johnson and get locked in on him, but Bruce Arians tried to zoom out a bit when talking Wednesday about the Cardinals’ Sunday opponent.
“Everybody that they have is capable of beating you,” Arians said. “You can’t just look at one guy.”
Of course, Johnson is the guy people think of first. Patrick Peterson will not cover Johnson one-on-one all the time, Arians said, but he will do it some. That will likely work for Peterson, who cherishes these matchups (Peterson was not available during the media session today, so we’ll have more on this tomorrow.) Arians smiled with that assessment of Peterson, though. “You have to watch what you wish for sometimes,” Arians said.
Lions coach Jim Schwartz did say, if officials hadn’t overturned two touchdowns in the opener, Johnson would have come out much better than his four-catch-for-37-yard day. “If he has those two, it’s a Megatron game.”
– The ability of Detroit DTs Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley will mean the pressure this week will be on the Cardinals’ interior line of Daryn Colledge, Lyle Sendlein and Paul Fanaika, as opposed to the pressure the tackles were under in St. Louis, Arians said.
– This from Arians, which was important to note: He said newcomer tackle Bradley Sowell can play both sides. But he said Bobby Massie cannot play left tackle — which would be a reason, for all of you who have asked, why he has not been tried there. Arians did say he thinks Massie “has all the talent in the world.”
– Arians, asked for his evaluation of Suh’s reputation as a dirty football player, said he only thing he goes off of is the video. “When I watch tape I see a great football player,” Arians said. “All the rest of the stuff, I don’t have to deal with.”
– Arians said the only player sitting out of practice was tight end Rob Housler, whom Arians already said would probably miss the Detroit game. Some players will be limited today. We will see the official injury report later today.
Tags: Bobby Massie, Calvin Johnson, Daryn Colledge, Lions, Lyle Sendlein, Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley, Patrick Peterson, Paul Fanaika, Rob Housler
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Tags: Arizona Cardinals, AZ Cardinals, AZ Cards, Cardinals, Detroit Lions, Lions, NFL
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One of the clichés that always floats around at draft time is that a team never ever ever should fall in love with a player. I mean, if you’re picking No. 1, fine. But otherwise, there is always a risk that said player or players isn’t going to be there. And you don’t want to be disappointed or let the emotion of losing out on such a crush drive you to do something dumb when you are on the clock.
That crossed my mind this morning when NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock talked about what has become a growing sentiment — that all three high-end offensive tackles available: Luke Joeckel, Eric Fisher and Lane Johnson — will all be off the board by the time the Cardinals pick at No. 7. Let’s make this clear, no one knows for sure the Cards even like all three at that point, although it stands to reason they do. For a while, it was people thinking Fisher would be there and Joeckel wouldn’t. Then it was Fisher being gone and Johnson being the consideration. But there is a strong likelihood that the Chiefs take Joeckel at No. 1 (KC wants to trade Branden Albert) and the Eagles (No. 4) and the Lions (No. 5) both easily could take the other two tackles. Even if one lasts to No. 6, the next scenario could be the Browns trading out of No. 6 to the Chargers or Dolphins, both of whom need a left tackle like Johnson (pictured below).
Now, the Dolphins are talking with the Chiefs about the Albert trade, which would take them out of the mix. But the Chargers, picking 11th, could try to jump up (with Ken Whisenhunt’s new team potentially stealing a tackle out from under his old team.)
What does this all mean? Well, this is operating under the assumption the Cards are focusing on a tackle. That was the thought last year too and they took Michael Floyd over Riley Reiff, so there’s that. I don’t see the Cards trading up and surrendering a pick, although I’m not positive on that. If all the tackles are off the board in the top five, I could definitely see the Cards trying to trade down a little, although other than the tackles, I don’t know who would trade up. And again, if three tackles go off the board that early, someone is sitting there that hadn’t been expected. Will it be someone the Cards want?
– As long as we are talking about potential picks at No. 7, we have our annual mock draft contest ready for play right here. Hope you decide to take a crack at who you think the Cardinals will select.
Tags: Chargers, Chiefs, Dolphins, draft, Eagles, Eric Fisher, Lane Johnson, Lions, Luke Joeckel, Michael Floyd, Riley Reiff
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The playoffs are a long-ago dream, but the Cardinals still can have a hand in it. This week, the Bears — reeling as they are — come to town losers of 5 of their last six after a 7-1 start. Once the playoffs seemed a foregone conclusion. But if Minnesota pulls off an upset in Houston in an early game Sunday, then the Cardinals would eliminate the Bears from the postseason if they can beat Jay Cutler’s crew.
“In order for us to be relevant, we have to win,” Bears coach Lovie Smith said. “This time of year everybody knows what has to happen for their football team. We are aware of the path we have to take.”
The Cards actually could be in position to do some damage in both the final two games. In the finale at San Francisco, the 49ers could have something on the line. If the Niners lose in Seattle this weekend, they could actually lose the division title the following week if the Cards won. Even if the Niners clinch this weekend by toppling the Seahawks, San Francisco will likely have a chance to clinch a first-round bye on the line in the final week.
What’s amazing is the difference a week makes. The Lions, playing poorly, came into University of Phoenix Stadium as the favorite last week because the Cardinals were on their nine-game losing streak. Now, it seems, many believe the Cardinals have a good shot to knock off the Bears and cripple their playoff chances. At this point, it’s what the Cards have to play for.
Tags: 49ers, Bears, Lions, Lovie Smith, playoffs, Seahawks
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