Larry Fitzgerald is always going to say the right things. But it’d be interesting to crawl into his head right now and find out his true feelings about where the Cardinals and their offense are right now. Maybe he indeed is absorbing it all rationally. Of course, if he was, I’d start to wonder if he was human. When Fitz was trying to find the right way to explain Sunday’s loss despite the Cards making play after play defensively, you had to feel for him. One catch for 11 yards isn’t what you need from your star, your Pro Bowler. Then again, had he been able to pull down that last pass – and, standing just 20 yards or so away, I thought he was going to make it – he’d have been the hero and I believe the Cards would have punched in the game-winning points.
That didn’t happen.
Where from here? You can’t ask for much more from the defense. Daryl Washington may say the defense has to do more, but I’m not sure that’s possible. If the Cards just get one more touchdown – and the Cards had the ball at the Falcons’ 35 or closer four times without being able to make that happen – they win.
– At this point, I don’t know who will be the quarterback against the Rams next week. As I sit here on the charter flight home, you could see a scenario where it could be any one of the three guys on the roster. Next week will be six weeks since Kevin Kolb got hurt. I still don’t see Kolb, who was throwing some but not practicing last week, coming back yet. John Skelton could start. Ryan Lindley could.
– Was I surprised Lindley went in? Yes and no. The Cardinals were up 13-0 and, at least at that point, what they would get from Skelton was probably a known quantity, especially with his teammates. Then again, Skelton missing Fitzgerald in the end zone, that wasn’t the first time that kind of thing had happened. And I do agree with Whiz when he said if people are going to be held accountable, that has to include the quarterback.
Whisenhunt acknowledged he made the decision after Skelton missed Fitz for that TD.
“We had a play that’s open (and) you’ve got to make that throw,” Whisenhunt said.
– Let me head off a couple of questions I will inevitably get. Yes, I think the Cards will chase someone new at quarterback this offseason. No, I don’t know who, and right now, I just see that as a discussion for another day. It’s Kolb/Skelton/Lindley the rest of this season, regardless.
– Here’s another question I want to head off (and I’m not saying you can’t pontificate on this in the comments, just that I don’t plan on answering it again): No, I don’t think Whiz will be fired now. I don’t think there will be any coaching changes in season. After the season, once all the games are played, yes, there will probably be changes going in this direction. No, I don’t think it will be Whisenhunt. As I have said many times, I expect him to be coaching here in 2013.
– Adrian Wilson didn’t have much to say about being what turned out to be benched, kind of. Wilson still played in the base defense, but since the Cards started in nickel, he didn’t start. I’m sure he’s not happy – the man has played in four straight Pro Bowls, then was asked to take a pay cut and now this – but today, after the defense forced six turnovers, it’s hard to argue with the decision-making on that side of the ball. UPDATE: Wilson still played 41 of 73 total defensive snaps — 56 percent.
– Patrick Peterson did come back in the game after hurting his hamstring, but that will be something to watch this week.
– Apparently, according to ESPN’s research, Matt Ryan was the first QB to throw five interceptions in a game without a touchdown and win a game since the Packers’ Bart Starr did it in 1967.
– Fifth-round pick Senio Kelemete, who was inactive today, was the only player in the seven-man draft class not to play today. Didn’t see that coming during the 4-0 start.
– If there was any déjà vu involved while watching today’s game, there was reason. The Cardinals have been crazy playmaking productive on defense in the recent past and somehow lost before – the Monday Night Meltdown game in 2006. Rex Grossman had four picks and two lost fumbles.
Well, I certainly can’t complain, coming off the bye, of a lack of things to talk about this week. There will be plenty on which to chew before the Rams’ game. Signing off for now.
Tags: Adrian Wilson, Daryl Washington, John Skelton, Ken Whisenhunt, Kevin Kolb, Larry Fitzgerald, Matt Ryan, Patrick Peterson, Ryan Lindley, Senio Kelemete
Posted in Blog | 144 Comments »
The talk about grabbing a “safe” pick high in the draft has been used for a long time now. As I have responded to a few people in blog post comments over the past month or so, there really isn’t such a thing as a “safe” pick. Now ESPN’s John Clayton has written a really good column on the subject, and the reality of going “safe.”
Clayton uses the example of the Dolphins going with tackle Jake Long (three Pro Bowls in three seasons already) and then taking QB Chad Henne in the second round, instead of taking QB Matt Ryan over Long. Henne isn’t working. They are still looking for a QB. Long was “safe” and he has been excellent. But was the pick for the best?
That’s why there is so much hair-pulling (figuratively, of course) about Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert, and what they could mean. If you are the Bills, for instance, and you go with Von Miller over Gabbert, and Gabbert turns into Matt Ryan — even if Miller is another, say, Clay Matthews — did Buffalo make the right call? (The same argument can be made for the Cards, for instance, for taking Larry Fitzgerald over Ben Roethlisberger). It’s why the Panthers seem likely to take Cam Newton No. 1 overall, because no matter how “safe” a Patrick Peterson or Marcell Dareus might be, they can’t trump the impact of a franchise QB.
Then again, you don’t know if that QB is going to be a franchise guy (see Leinart, Matt — among others). Another concept: Is it better to take a QB who might wash out or end up with a position player who washes out? The upside of impact usually rests with the most important position. It’s another reason why making the decisions on draft day are never simple, even when sometimes they look that way.
Tags: Blaine Gabbert, Cam Newton, Chad Henne, Clay Matthews, draft, Jake Long, Larry Fitzgerald, Marcell Dareus, Matt Leinart, Matt Ryan, Patrick Peterson, Von Miller
Posted in Blog | 73 Comments »
This year, EA Sports has decided to make a contest out of who will be their cover photo for this year’s version of the Madden football video game. Given the past season, I guess I assumed Aaron Rodgers was a shoo-in for Madden ’12, but no, Rodgers is just one of 32 candidates — one from every team. It’s also set up in bracket form, so we aren’t just talking about the total number of votes.
There are many cover possibilities that make sense — Rodgers, Matt Ryan, DeMarcus Ware, Patrick Willis, Adrian Peterson, Julius Peppers, Andre Johnson — and others that I look at and think, ‘A good player, but a cover?’ — guys like Peyton Hillis, Jake Long, Josh Freeman. There are repeat candidates, guys who have already been on the cover before, like Drew Brees, Michael Vick and, for the Cardinals, Larry Fitzgerald.
But just when you find a couple of head-scratchers (The Bengals’ Carlos Dunlap, the Bills’ Steve Johnson, the Patriots’ Danny Woodhead, Tim Tebow?) you end up freezing on the option for Seattle. Apparently, they have no player worthy of the honor, at least none important enough to usurp “The 12th Man” — the name the Seahawks give to their crowd (which yes, can be very loud, but is generally a non-factor if the team is lousy — just like any other crowd).
The 12th Man faces the aforementioned Willis in the first round, so I’d guess Willis will be the one to advance there. But still, the Qwest crowd? Really? Not, oh, maybe Mike Williams? Marshawn Lynch?
Besides, how exactly does the Madden curse affect that group — I’d be afraid of a natural disaster on game day.
Tags: 49ers, Aaron Rodgers, Adrian Peterson, Andre Johnson, Carlos Dunlap, Danny Woodhead, DeMarcus Ware, Drew Brees, Julius Peppers, Larry Fitzgerald, Madden, Matt Ryan, Michael Vick, Parick Willis, Rams, Seahawks, Steve Johnson, Tim Tebow
Posted in Blog | 18 Comments »
The regular season has arrived. And frankly, it’s impossible to know what the next four months holds for this team.
There can be no opponent/road trip better for a team in transition to play/go than the St. Louis Rams. Yet there can be no opponent/road trip worse. This feels like a no-win in some ways; if the Cards dominate, the thought will linger, “Yeah, but who was it against?” If they somehow lose … ugh.
Of course, I’m probably overthinking things. If the Cards play well Sunday, I am sure there will be a collective sigh of relief more than anything. As Adrian Wilson once said in his famously deep voice during an infamous radio interview the morning after the Monday Night Meltdown, “It’s hard to win in the NFL.” (There might have been an expletive thrown in there, but that’s a tale for another day). It is hard to win, and the Rams have some positive vibes with their new quarterback Sam Bradford.
But the Rams also have 14 rookies on their team and frankly, I am probably selling short this Cards’ defense, which is anxious to have a crack at a rookie in his first game. Bradford is a rookie. By the end of the season, who knows, maybe he does become another Matt Ryan in his first year. He’s just starting out though. No better time to get him than right out of the box.
(Ryan may be a bad example. In his first game, he was 9-of-13 for 161 yards and a touchdown. I’m thinking – and the Cards are thinking – more like Matt Stafford’s 16-for-37, 205-yard, three-interception showing.)
That’d make for a fun afternoon, wouldn’t it?
– I know Larry Fitzgerald told Sports 620 KTAR, in defense of himself in the whole Matt Leinart-was-cut scenario, that he hadn’t even taken any snaps with the newbie, Derek Anderson. Technically that’s true in the preseason-game sense of the situation. But as coach Ken Whisenhunt pointed out Friday, the two did work together sometimes in OTAs and in training camp.
“We said we were going to get Derek some reps with the ones just so he could get a feel for those guys,” Whisenhunt said. “Obviously you’d like to have more reps than we have, but I don’t see it as a situation where we haven’t gotten reps. We’ll see how it plays out Sunday.”
I think Fitz will be just fine, as long as Anderson gets the ball near him.
– Speaking of that, Whisenhunt said earlier this week the Cards have worked hard on Anderson’s footwork, which in turn is supposed to aid his accuracy. Whiz said he has seen results. That’s key. Missing out on chances – like the errant throw to a wide-open Early Doucet in the Chicago preseason game – can’t happen too often.
– I can’t see Beanie Wells playing with his bad knee. But Tim Hightower has been itching to have the load on his shoulders and now it will be, although I’d expect a heaping helping of Hyphen with no Beanie. LaRod Stephens-Howling should be a bigger part of the offense this year anyway, and they’ll need him if/when Beanie is sidelined. Looking forward, it’s hard to tell if there should be long-term Beanie concern. Which, if you think about it, is how Whiz likes it (the part about being hard to tell, not that there could be concern about Beanie).
– The wait to see who returns punts will happen game day. We’ll likely know by who is active; I am betting on Max Komar as the fifth receiver, with Andre Roberts inactive for now.
– I expect Calais Campbell to have a big season, and this game would seem to be a good starting point, with Bradford and everything.
– The Cards have to stop Steven Jackson, although they know that. Since Whisenhunt has taken over, Jackson has missed two of the six meetings, had one 100-yard game, and has averaged 63 yards rushing against the Cardinals. Yes, the Cards need more of that.
It always seems harder to “preview” the opening game because it seems, in some ways, that training camp and the preseason has been one long preview. There really doesn’t feel like much to say here, not until a game is played for real and the play of some of the new guys filters out. It will be strange going back to St. Louis without the Kurt Warner subplot (OK, let’s be honest, the game always felt like the subplot to Warner’s return – and then he’d rip up his old team).
It’s time to go, though. Finally. (P.S. Here’s a video to inspire you for the weekend.)
Tags: Adrian Wilson, Andre Roberts, Derek Anderson, LaRod Stephens-Howling, Larry Fitzgerald, Matt Ryan, Matthew Stafford, Max Komar, Rams, Sam Bradford, Steven Jackson, Tim Hightower
Posted in Blog | 52 Comments »