Ken Whisenhunt’s final coaching staff with the Cardinals numbered 17 members. With Bruce Arians, the number has ballooned to 24. It’s gone up just since Arians arrived, when he showed up in Tempe preaching how he wanted to teach and how he wanted his staff to be teachers as well. Arians’ theory is simple, and perhaps a given since Arians once thought he was going to get into middle school teaching and coaching: Smaller class sizes work. That goes in the NFL too, so why wouldn’t the offensive line benefit with three coaches (Harold Goodwin, Larry Zeirlein and David Diaz-Infante) instead of one. Why wouldn’t the defensive line need two coaches (Brentson Buckner, Tom Pratt), or there be a separate coach for inside (Mike Caldwell) and outside (James Bettcher) linebackers?
The Cardinals and president Michael Bidwill had to give the OK, of course, but Arians’ called it a “very easy sell.”
“Guys who have big position groups need more teachers,” Arians said. “I wish our school systems would take that approach.”
(I know my wife, who teaches high school down the street, agrees, as do many of her colleagues. But that’s something for another day, and probably another blog.)
“Michael has been great about it,” Arians added. “Rather than having one (coach) make this much money, give me three and let them make this much money. I’m not going to spend any more money, just give me more guys and we don’t care who’s sitting on whose desk in the office space.”
It has made for much more crowded football side of the team’s Tempe facility, but it’s worked. It’s not the only place things have changed with the organization. The personnel department has also grown in size, as has scouting. Heck, the building itself is growing, with new construction ongoing to enlarge the weight room, the cafeteria, the training/medical area and eventually, the locker room.
It’s hard to think anything other than that focused teaching has helped the Cardinals for the past year-and-a-half, that it’s helped a team overcome the kind of personnel losses this team has suffered, and keep playing at a high level.
Tags: Bruce Arians, coaching staff, Michael Bidwill
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Cardinals president Michael Bidwill attended the NFL’s London game over the weekend between the Raiders and Dolphins. The idea was to see first-hand what the league is doing in England as they export a few games there each year. Interestingly, he told fans there as he sat on a panel discussion (reported by MMQB.com) he would like the Cardinals to play in London again — they played a preseason game there in 1983, opening the exhibition schedule against the Vikings — but “as the visiting team.” No doubt the Cardinals would be loathe to surrender a home game now that a) University of Phoenix Stadium sells out every game and b) the Cardinals now have a noticeable home-field advantage.
Besides, the Cardinals have already done the give-up-a-home-game-to-export-a-game-that counts thing. That came in 2005, when the Cardinals figured it was worth being part of the first NFL regular-season game outside of the United States and moved their home game against the 49ers that year to Mexico City. Made sense. The Cardinals got to have a game in which they would set the NFL record at the time for attendance at more than 100,000 and get ESPN exposure on a Sunday night game in exchange for losing a date at Sun Devil Stadium that figured at best to draw 35,000 or so.
It also makes sense that it’s the Raiders and Jaguars that play these London games, with bad stadium situations and a willingness to give up home games. The Cards could have been on the slate for a London game the past couple of years. We’ll see if it comes true anytime soon — as a visitor, of course.
Tags: London, Michael Bidwill
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Forbes came out with another list ranking the (estimated) value of sports teams, in this case, the world’s 50 most valuable franchises. The Cardinals make the list at No. 40, with an estimated worth of $961 million. Only the Raiders and Jaguars don’t make the top 50 list among NFL teams, meaning that even though it is top-heavy with soccer clubs (the top three are soccer, a major nod to the global fan base the sport produces) the list still provides context of how powerful the NFL — which dominates the United States — remains.
The top team is the soccer club Real Madrid, valued at $3.44 billion. The top non-soccer franchise is the New York Yankees, worth $2.5 billion, at No. 4. The top NFL team is at No. 5, with the Dallas Cowboys coming in at $2.3 billion. The Patriots, Redskins and Giants are also in the top 10.
Among NFC West teams, the San Francisco 49ers ($1.224 billion) are 20th, the Seattle Seahawks ($1.081 billion) are 28th, and the St. Louis Rams ($875 million and hoping for a new stadium, which would boost their value) are 45th.
Tags: 49ers, Bill Bidwill, Cowboys, Forbes, Giants, Michael Bidwill, Patriots, Rams, Redskins, Seahawks
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The timing made all kinds of sense for the Cardinals to put Kurt Warner in the Ring of Honor this season. There is a high-profile “Monday Night Football” game in which to do the ceremony (if you have forgotten, Aeneas Williams also went in at halftime of an MNF game) and this is the first year Warner is eligible to be voted into the Hall of Fame — which would happen in downtown Phoenix the day before the Super Bowl here in Arizona, if it were to happen. In a lot of ways Warner was a supernova in Arizona considering he played just five seasons (and barely played in one of those, 2006, when Matt Leinart was trying to make his way in the league.) It was an incredible run though (as this timeline and this top 10 list of his best games says more tangibly.)
So who is next?
We already know Adrian Wilson will get there. Michael Bidwill has already said as much. First, though, Wilson has to retire, and he’s not ready to do that quite yet as he hopes to find a job somewhere in 2014. At some point, you figure Larry Fitzgerald is a lock, regardless of what happens in the future. Obviously the hope is that Fitzgerald plays out his career in Arizona, but the NFL is a business and Fitz staying is anything but a guarantee. Certainly, he’s done enough on and even off the field that he’ll be Ring-bound some day.
Beyond that, though, I don’t see any sure bets. It’s way too early to think about Patrick Peterson. Does Darnell Dockett warrant a discussion? Could Calais Campbell some day be worth it? I think Anquan Boldin was headed in that direction, but the way his tenure (and his last two seasons) ended in Arizona I’d call that a very long shot, which is too bad. He was a part of the renaissance of this franchise. I don’t know if some of the other guys from the 1998 team — a Larry Centers, a Jake Plummer — would fit.
Again, with Bidwill noting that 11 of the 13 previous Ring members before Warner are in the Hall of Fame, that means something. They are, Bidwill said, “the best of the best” and that’s a lofty ideal. The franchise has been around since 1898, and only 14 guys have gone in. It’s not an easy honor to obtain. It is a fun subject to debate.
Tags: Adrian Wilson, Aeneas Williams, Darnell Dockett, Jake Plummer, Kurt Warner, Larry Centers, Matt Leinart, Michael Bidwill, Ring of Honor
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Tags: Arizona Cardinals, AZ Cardinals, AZ Cards, Honey Badger, Michael Bidwill, NFL, Patrick Peterson, Tyrann Mathieu
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Obviously, Deone Bucannon has to be able to play football, and play it well. Otherwise, the other stuff, frankly, doesn’t matter. Not from the NFL perspective. But one of the reasons he is a Cardinal is because of the impression he left with those in the organization he spent time with before the draft, and getting a chance to talk with him for about 45 minutes as he arrived in Tempe, I can see why. He handles himself with maturity and smarts. He is humble. He comes from a military family that definitely has left a positive impact.
In fact, the Cardinals have now drafted safeties in back to back drafts that while they couldn’t have come from more diverse background, seem to work through the same personality: Bucannon and last year’s third-rounder, Tyrann Mathieu.
“You go back to the top of the pyramid, that’s what our owner (Michael Bidwill) wants, that’s what Steve (Keim) wants, that’s what B.A. wants, it’s what Todd (Bowles) wants,” defensive backs coach Nick Rapone said. “We are trying to build a quality team on the field and off the field. Like Deone, Ty doesn’t say a word, he just plays football.”
Both have chips on their shoulders. We all know why Mathieu was hoping to prove people wrong. Bucannon has been undervalued since high school, when he was recruited by just four schools. One was Washington State. One was San Diego State, and interestingly, Bucannon chose Pullman over the beach. (Growing up in a military family, Bucannon said he lived in San Diego for a while when he was growing up and wanted to go someplace different. Pullman is definitely different.)
An example of how Bucannon knows how to handle himself? He was asked today about his big-hitting style and how it might not work all that well in today’s quick-to-fine-on-hits NFL.
“I’m definitely aware, but that’s part of being a professional and becoming a professional,” Bucannon said. “I’m not going to sacrifice any of what got me here, through my aggressiveness and playmaking ability. I don’t want to take away this game I love so much from somebody else by being dumb. That’s not what I want to do. I’m going to be professional about it and be aggressive and I’m going to bring something to this team that the coaching staff and the people in the front office see in me.”
Tags: Deone Bucannon, Michael Bidwill, Tyrann Mathieu
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The draft, in a “normal” year, would have begun April 24. It instead has been pushed back two weeks, to May 8. But that doesn’t mean the Cardinals won’t have some significant draft discussion the night of April 24 — and the fans will have a chance to be part of it.
That Thursday night, which has usually wed the draft party with the opening of the Big Red Rib & Music Festival on the Great Lawn outside University of Phoenix Stadium, there will be a live TV special shot during the Cards’ “Spring Tailgate” event. Admission is free. Gates open at 5 p.m., and at 7 p.m., a draft preview shown on Fox Sports Arizona will take place with fans as the studio audience. The show, hosted by Paul Calvisi and Ron Wolfley, will feature team president Michael Bidwill, GM Steve Keim and coach Bruce Arians, along with safety Tyrann Mathieu and new left tackle Jared Veldheer.
Part of the show will be questions from the fans, including some sought through social media. So, using hashtag #CardsTailgate, you can send questions over social (via Twitter, for instance) and some of those will be used in the broadcast. It’ll be two weeks before the draft, so I’m not sure anyone is going to be giving away any trade secrets, but it will be entertaining and a chance to get up close and fairly personal with key Cardinals’ personnel.
UPDATE: Using hashtag #CardsTailgate on Twitter, you can tweet questions for the Spring Tailgate panel. If your question is used, you could win an autographed Cardinals mini-helmet.
Tags: Bruce Arians, Jared Veldheer, Michael Bidwill, Steve Keim, Tyrann Mathieu
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It’ll be easier to see replays this season when you are watching at game at University of Phoenix Stadium. As part of an e-mail message sent to season-ticket holders Tuesday evening, team president Michael Bidwill announced the Cardinals’ home will have new videoboards this season.
Calling it a “collaborative effort” between the team and the Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority, Bidwill said the screens at both the south and north ends will be improved. “At the south end of the stadium you will see an incredible, visually-stunning, high-definition LED board that is more than three times the size of the current one and with 75% higher resolution,” Bidwill wrote. “As part of this initial phase of stadium upgrades, the north end will now feature a scoreboard that is triple the current size.”
Bidwill also addresses WiFi at the stadium, calling enhancements a “priority” and saying there would be more specific information to be shared in the “very near future.”
Across the NFL teams have pushed to improve the in-stadium experience and the Cardinals are no different. In fact, Bidwill closes the note by saying the part of the organization’s mission is to give fans the “world-class stadium experience that you deserve.”
Tags: Michael Bidwill, University of Phoenix stadium
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Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson, one of the founding members of the American Football League and a Pro Football Hall of Fame member, died today at the age of 95. The Cardinals released a statement from team president Michael Bidwill.
“At a critical juncture in the National Football League’s history, Ralph Wilson provided a level of leadership and vision that helped make the NFL what it is today,” Bidwill said. “He not only recognized the sport’s potential popularity and success but was pivotal in helping to achieve it. Our hearts go out to his wife Mary, the Bills organization and everyone in Western New York on their tremendous loss.”
Tags: Bills, Michael Bidwill, Ralph Wilson
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Cardinals president Michael Bidwill said Thursday he is one of those who is in favor of the NFL expanding the playoffs, although he isn’t willing to give 100 percent backing yet.
“I am in favor conceptually of expanding the playoffs,” Bidwill said during an interview on Arizona Sports 98.7. “The question of how and where and all that stuff, I don’t want to get ahead of seeing the analysis. I want to make sure we look at the data and listen to the debate. I want to see and hear what is best for the game. But I think we should have an expanded playoffs, and not just because it was us that didn’t get in this year. Because it is the right thing for the game.”
The Cardinals, who went 10-6, would have been the seventh NFC team in the postseason (six make it to the playoffs now). If the postseason is grown, adding one team per conference is the most likely change.
– Bidwill, talking about the Super Bowl coming back to Arizona in a year and the plan to bring future Super Bowls to the Valley:
“We are all, the Cardinals included, are giving to make sure we get this. From the corporate world, the government side, the public sector side, so we can continue to work hard and compete to be in these (Super Bowl) rotations. It’s a $500 million economic impact. It is invaluable from a tourism standpoint and everything else. We will continue to go after big games. We are a finalist for the Final Four, we’ve got the (college football) championship game for 2016. We as a community and a state will continue to do that.”
– Bidwill, addressing the many free agents of the Cardinals and other offseason issues, like Larry Fitzgerald’s bulky contract:
“It’s a lot of planning and working things out and there might be a person or two that we don’t see eye to eye on the number and there are negotiations,” Bidwill said. “But this is like this every year and people get fired up about it … but I think everything will work itself out. I really feel confident about that. We will build a better team and have a lot of those (free agents) back, restructure some deals and do what is in the best interests of the team.”
(Bidwill told Kent Somers early talks with Fitzgerald’s agents have already begun.)
As for the free agent process for other team’s players, “I’ll let Steve (Keim) and Bruce (Arians) get into the particulars,” Bidwill said. “There are going to be some great free agents out there and we plan to be aggressive in a few areas and then plan to do what we do best, which is draft.”
Tags: Bruce Arians, Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Bidwill, Steve Keim
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