The Bears, the Cardinals and really, who takes the third game of the preseason like it’s bullspit? Bullspit!
I know it’s only Week 2 for the Bears — and frankly, for the Cardinals, who aren’t marching their main guys out for a half until next week’s Week 4/Week 3 game in Atlanta — so again, this is more of a ramp-up game. Bruce Arians isn’t calling plays until next week (that falls on QB coach Byron Leftwich again.) There will be around 20 plays for the starters, although as usual it could be less if each unit is effective. The biggest story in the game will probably be Chicago QBs Mike Glennon vs. Mitchell Trubisky, so we can see how Tyrann Mathieu and Patrick Peterson and company can mess with the immediate Bears future.
(In ’06, that Bears preseason game was Matt Leinart’s second appearance in the NFL, after playing on only a couple of days of practice — he signed late — in New England the week before. Leinart vs Warner. Those were the days.)
— It’ll be the first game for left tackle D.J. Humphries. Arians said Humphries did fine in his first practice Wednesday. I thought he had a slow start to Thursday’s work. As with the whole offensive line, he needs to ramp up — although again, with so much camp, there is plenty of time to get ready.
— Speaking of getting ready, the same goes for linebacker Karlos Dansby, who has been bothered by a leg issue. Deone Bucannon is ostensibly still on target to return to practice likely after the preseason games are over. Maybe a couple of days before. That inside linebacker crew could be a juggling situation for the first game. Haason Reddick is clearly still learning, and Scooby Wright, while solid on special teams, has shortcomings on defense. Both are players to watch against the Bears.
— DT Robert Nkemdiche has played well in the preseason but this week, the coaching clearly got harder. Nkemdiche is doing the right things as far as effort and intensity. But the technique must improve, because that is what will beat the better players in the regular season. Everyone has the talent.
— Others I’ll be watching in particular this week: Both punters; Kerwynn Williams on another punt return or two; the down-depth-chart receivers like Carlton Agudosi and Chris Hubert in particular since Brittan Golden (groin) likely won’t play; Justin Bethel and Tramon Williams (I haven’t forgotten about CB No. 2); and more Budda Baker.
— It’d be nice to see a little David Johnson but not too much.
— I’ll be curious to see how much John Brown plays. Smoke did much more in practice this week. But he certainly is not 100 percent, and the trainers keep a close eye on that quad injury. Still, Brown made some plays Thursday, and after one touchdown Larry Fitzgerald made sure everyone knew it was Smoke and then made sure to give Brown the side-five.
— Fitz, by the way, seemed like he was having a great time Thursday. For a guy who is usually tops on the list of wishing training camp wasn’t so long, it didn’t seem to be impacting him. That’s probably good, because after the game, there’s still one week left.
Tags: Bears, Brittan Golden, Bruce Arians, Budda Baker, Byron Leftwich, Carlton Agudosi, Chris Hubert, D.J. Humphries, David Johnson, Deone Bucannon, Haason Reddick, John Brown, Justin Bethel, Karlos Dansby, Kerwynn Williams, Larry Fitzgerald, Matt Leinart, Mike Glennon, Mitchell Trubisky, Patrick Peterson, Robert Nkemdiche, Scooby Wright, Tramon Williams, Tyrann Mathieu
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Bruce Arians used the hot read on his first postgame comment Sunday.
“I wouldn’t have any other ending at Raymond James Stadium,” he said. “I’m kind of used to that.”
Of course, Arians was referencing both Sunday’s 13-10 come-from-behind win for the Cards over the Bucs and the Super Bowl he won with the Steelers back in early 2009, and yes, that picked at the scab of the Cards’ fans that remembered that painful ending all too well. Then again, it was nice for the Cards to avoid another painful trip to Tampa Bay. And goodness knows it certainly looked like it was going to be just that.
For a while it echoed the Cards’ last regular-season trip here, a seven-point loss in which the offense could do nothing. The Cards saw exactly what they expected this time out of rookie Mike Glennon. He completed some passes on them but for the most part, the Bucs’ offense did little. Not that they needed to.
But finally, the offense came around. Sure, Patrick Peterson had to play the set-up man – what in the world were the Bucs thinking letting a struggling rookie throw that deep in his own territory when the Cards had been doing next to nothing offensively? – and it’s always nice when your stars shine. Peterson two picks? Check. Fitz clutch TD? Check.
There will be frustration and concern, all rightfully so. Yet there is a world of difference between 1-3 and 2-2, and the Cards made sure they didn’t mess it up. Most, if presented with the possibility of 2-2 after four games – three being on the road – would take it. The Cards will.
— Peterson said the game changed as field position began to change in the second half. The offense didn’t score but at least it was getting yards. Meanwhile, the Bucs stopped moving as the Cards honed in on rookie QB Mike Glennon.
“(Being a rookie) definitely played into the thought process,” defensive end Calais Campbell said. “They threw a little more early than I thought they would. He is a young quarterback and he made some young mistakes.”
— That included that game-turning pass thrown to Peterson. Glennon said he made the right read but just a bad throw. Peterson said he knew exactly what the route was and jumped the pass. Regardless, it changed the game.
— And yes, Peterson admitted that as a rookie, or even last year, he probably would have tried for a longer return on his final pick. But he got down because he just wanted to end the thing and get the Cards on their flight back to Arizona. A wise man.
— It was good to see Fitz get involved. Cause/effect? Sure seemed that way.
— The Cardinals will officially get Daryl Washington back. I’m pretty sure it’s as early as tomorrow. Peterson talked about how much more aggressive the Cardinals will be able to get with him in the lineup. I really think he will have a huge impact on the defense.
— The last time the Cards came back to win a road game where they trailed by at least 10 points in the fourth quarter? It was in Philadelphia, Sept. 12, 1999. The Cards were down 12 before coming back to win, 25-24. That’s the year before I started covering the team. The last time they won in regulation down at least 10 in the fourth quarter? That was 2003, with the infamous McCown-to-Poole Hail Mary pass to beat the Vikings, 18-17. That was 17-6 in the fourth.
— Rookie wideout Jaron Brown hadn’t looked sharp in his few chances this season, but he showed a lot by making that 19-yard sideline catch while being blasted by Bucs safety Dashon Goldson. Goldson was flagged (and could be suspended) and the Cards got the easy field goal attempt.
— Tyrann Mathieu got a couple of punt return attempts, but the Bucs kicked it away from him like they did Peterson. The first Mathieu return came after Peterson’s right arm went numb briefly, and he didn’t want to take a chance at fumbling a punt out there.
— The defensive linemen were huddled around after the game wanting to know how many yards the Bucs rushed for, and were disappointed when they heard 80 (on 31 carries). Of course, that was skewed by Goldson’s 22-yard fake punt. Doug Martin gained just 45 yards on 27 carries – 1.7 yards a tote – and that’s a good day’s work for the D.
— By the way, confirmed by Elias, there has only been eight times when a player had 25 or more carries and gained 45 or less yards since 1935. Only the second time it’s happened in a team’s loss. So again, a good day’s work for the D. Martin was a key Sunday.
— Arians wasn’t sounding overly concerned about Carson Palmer’s play. He did say he thought getting sacked on the first play didn’t help Palmer’s confidence. But “it’s not just him,” Arians said. “It’s 11 guys on offense. We have about eight of them playing in the first quarter the last two games.”
— I did think the pass protection was generally better in the game after a rough start. Palmer was sacked on that first play and then wasn’t sacked again.
— In their two wins, the Cards are a combined 2-for-21 on third-down conversions. Mind-boggling.
That’s enough from 35,000 feet. It’s been a long week.
Tags: Bruce Arians, Buccaneers, Calais Campbell, Carson Palmer, Daryl Washington, Doug Martin, Jaron Brown, Larry Fitzgerald, Mike Glennon, offensive line, Patrick Peterson, Tyrann Mathieu
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Last week at the owners meetings, GM Steve Keim was anxious to get them over with. He was going straight to the airport after the meetings closed on Wednesday and flying right to Georgia’s pro day among other destinations. Free agency was the topic still but that was about to morph. Soon. “We will jump into the draft mode because I feel I am significantly behind,” Keim said.
At his core, Keim is about evaluating talent. There are different ways someone rises to the job of general manager, and Keim got there from years of scouting and doing a good job of it. It makes sense he wouldn’t want to turn back on his roots. What will eventually be interesting is whether Keim’s influence on the Top 120 board for the draft changes much than it was when he was VP of player personnel under GM Rod Graves. The point of the Cardinals having draft meetings is for scouts and coaches — and further up the food chain, Keim — to discuss and debate what they think of each player and then come up with a final grade. That’s the number the group will use to set that board and in the end, draft their players.
Mocks will come out constantly in April. The latest Todd McShay version echoes the narrative the Cardinals’ direction has taken overall, which is that the team seems unlikely to take a quarterback first (and in McShay’s picks, Geno Smith — the one guy who seems to make sense as a top 10 pick, is already chosen by No. 7). McShay has Oklahoma tackle Lane Johnson going in the first round to the Cards and then the team taking N.C. State QB Mike Glennon in the second round. Good discussion fodder. Beyond that, who knows.
Keim, though, forges ahead in his work. Nothing is set in stone right now. For a guy who built an NFL career through the draft, it makes sense that he’ll want his team built that way too. I still think a QB is going to be taken somewhere, but that comes with a caveat — I truly believe Keim would be willing to pass on a QB if the right one isn’t there. The Drew Stanton-in-2013 thing isn’t a lock — too much can still happen — but it’s not a smokescreen either. In the meantime, the Cards will look carefully at offensive linemen in a draft filled with them, try to get a key cog in the first round regardless of position, and go from there.
And while Keim might have felt behind last week, something tells me he will catch up very quickly.
Tags: draft, Geno Smith, Lane Johnson, Mike Glennon, Rod Graves, Steve Keim
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A) Your team needs a quarterback;
B) Your team has a top 10 pick;
So C) there is endless speculation about that team drafting a quarterback with their first-round selection.
The Cardinals are in that loop right now. Most of the early mock drafts (mockable totally in the sense that they are based on little but surface connect-the-dots) had the Cards taking quarterback with their first round pick, seventh overall. That seems to have slowed down of late, in large part because of coach Bruce Arians’ own words.
“I think all speculators look at need and not the draft board,” Arians said. “If you draft for need, you’re in trouble. Just because you need one you don’t take one, if there is a better player there who is going to help your football team.”
That doesn’t mean the Cardinals won’t take a QB first. I think that’s being sorted out right now in a draft that many believe isn’t top-heavy in talent and is deep in offensive linemen. But it’s easy to see a scenario where the Cards go elsewhere than quarterback in the first round and save a QB pick for round two or three.
“If there is a quarterback who fits the spot in the draft that you put him in at, that fits the value, then you take one,” Arians said. “That’s why I feel very comfortable with our situation with Drew Stanton in our mix. The need value is not there.”
It is clear that Arians likes Stanton. But it also behooves him to talk him up because there is a chance, in this totally fluid time when no one knows how the draft will go or if another interesting veteran could come available, that Stanton will be the starter and then Arians will have expressed confidence in Stanton from the jump. That makes sense. But I still think that no matter how the rest of the QB roster shakes out the team will draft a QB.
It was suddenly big news that the Cardinals are working out N.C. State QB Mike Glennon but that shouldn’t shock anyone either. The Cards are going to do due diligence on every one of the top QBs and just because there will be a workout doesn’t mean a) they will draft him or b) they will even decide they like him enough. Is he in the mix? I think he could be, but that’s what this time of analysis is for. GM Steve Keim went to N.C. State and has his ties there, and the former coaches at the school did pick Glennon as their “guy” over Russell Wilson (which is why Wilson transferred to Wisconsin), so Glennon must be decent. But I don’t see he or any other QB going in the second round stepping in to be a rookie starter even if Keim and Arians like to get QBs work early.
The speculation is going to play out over and over until the draft actually starts (IMO, by the way, Geno Smith is gone by the seventh pick, so what will really be available early anyway?) But in a world right now where the Cardinals haven’t even started their draft meetings nor come close to setting there Top 120 board (I know I’ve said that before), this is all fluid.
Tags: Bruce Arians, draft, Drew Stanton, Geno Smith, Mike Glennon, quarterbacks, Steve Keim
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The Cardinals officially announced Monday the additions of the three main new coaches to Bruce Arians’ staff: offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin, defensive coordinator Todd Bowles and Tom Moore, the assistant head coach/offense. The addition of Bowles and Goodwin I’ve covered before. Hopefully we’ll hear from Arians soon about his choice. While I understand there are still a lot of questions over going from Ray Horton to Bowles, that too was explained in simple terms by Arians. Now we see how this plays out.
But the addition of Moore is a big deal. Moore had stepped away from the game for health reasons — he did serve as a consultant for the Titans for five games at the end of the 2012 season and consulted for the Jets in 2011 — but he wanted to get back into coaching this year. The Cardinals benefit. Moore was the guru who brought along a young Peyton Manning in Indianapolis. That, along with Arians himself, give the Cardinals a good base with whatever young quarterback they choose to bring along. Between the two of them (below, talking before a Colts-Titans game last season), that’s a good start for any young quarterback.
Now, would the quarterback be Kevin Kolb? Maybe. It would seem very likely a quarterback is drafted this year. Sitting here right now, I don’t see it in the first round and seventh overall, but second round, that makes sense. Jason Cole noted Arians was at the Senior Bowl practice of the North team Monday, a team that features quarterbacks Mike Glennon of North Carolina State, Ryan Nassib of Syracuse and Zac Dysert of Miami (Ohio.)
As for the rest of the staff, I believe most of the decisions — if not all — have been made but the announcements will filter out as the logistics work out.
Tags: coaching staff, Harold Goodwin, Kevin Kolb, Mike Glennon, Ryan Nassib, Todd Bowles, Tom Moore, Zac Dysert
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