The roster is churned, veterans are moved out and the program undergoes an overhaul. So, Bruce Arians, some think the Cardinals are rebui….
The word doesn’t even get all the way out.
“Never use that word. Never use that word,” Arians said Wednesday morning. “We are reloading not rebuilding. We refused to use that word last year in Indianapolis and it was 37 new players on the roster. (Veteran defensive end) Robert Mathis said, ‘I ain’t got time to rebuild.’ And we were in the playoffs. There is no rebuilding going on. We are just plugging in new faces and different faces. This team is not very far off.”
The won-loss record is going to determine that, of course. Certainly the Cardinals are headed toward underdog status at the very least, especially in a division with Seattle, San Francisco and a Rams team that — don’t forget — went 4-1-1 within the NFC West. Arians said the division reminds him of the AFC North, where he coached many years with both the Browns and Steelers.
“One year ago, I don’t think anyone had Seattle that high,” Arians said. “(Quarterback) Russell Wilson made all that happen. Pete (Carroll) did a great job with his defense. One guy can change your whole outlook.”
(Which is true — if a team finds the right QB to be the one guy.)
“I like our defense against anyone’s defense in the division,” Arians added. “We’ve got to make our offense up to speed so we can compete in the division. It starts with division dominance. We have beaten these teams in the last two years, so it’s not like they are dominating us. I’ve always said, win your home games and scratch out a few on the road, you’re in the playoffs.”
– During the meetings, the NFL officially set the date of Super Bowl XLIX (49) at University of Phoenix Stadium following the 2014 season. It will be Feb. 1, 2015. So plan your time accordingly.
– Restricted free agent quarterback Brian Hoyer officially signed his $2.02 million one-year tender offer Wednesday. He is now officially a Card for 2013 and can’t shop around. (Although, unlike a franchise tender offer, a restricted free agent contract is not guaranteed if he is released.)
Tags: Brian Hoyer, NFC West, Super Bowl
Posted in Blog | 26 Comments »
Every single team in the NFC West is above .500 five games into the season.
That’s never happened before. At least, it’s never happened since the NFC West was reconfigured to include the Cardinals, so we’re going back a decade-plus, back to when Arizona “moved” west in 2002. In fact, after five games, the division has never had more than two teams above .500 at this point.
But there the standings show today with the Cards and 49ers at 4-1 and the Seahawks and Rams at 3-2. The Niners are coming off an incredibly impressive performance, crushing visiting Buffalo, 45-3, and becoming the first team in NFL history with both 300 yards passing and 300 yards rushing in a single game. The Bills now will spend this week here in Arizona, practicing at Arizona State University to prep for their game against the Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium, perhaps reeling as they visit.
The ante has certainly been raised for the division, however. It’s clear that each team has a defense that will leave the opponent bruised and beaten up after a game. The Cardinals can attest to that after having seen both the Seahawks and Rams (and everyone knows what the Niners can do.) It’s going to make for an intense season for the division that in recent years, most have loved to pick on. Not anymore.
Tags: 49ers, NFC West, Rams, Seahawks
Posted in Blog | 28 Comments »
Forbes.com has come out with a list of the 50 most valuable sports teams in the world, and the Cardinals rank 30th, with a Forbes-estimated value of $919 million. That’s third in the NFC West, with the Seahawks at No. 25 ($989 million) and the 49ers at No. 29 ($925 million). The Rams are 40th ($779 million). Not shockingly, all 32 NFL teams made it into the top 50.
The top 10 teams in the world? Soccer’s Manchester United is No. 1, valued at $1.86 billion. They are followed by the Dallas Cowboys ($1.81 billion), New York Yankees ($1.7 billion), Washington Redskins ($1.55 billion), soccer’s Real Madrid $1.45 billion), New England Patriots ($1.37 billion), soccer’s Arsenal ($1.19 billion), New York Giants ($1.18 billion), then somewhat surprisingly the Houston Texans ($1.17 billion), and, rounding out the top 10, the New York Jets ($1.14 billion).
Tags: 49ers, Cowboys, Forbes, Giants, Jets, NFC West, Patriots, Rams, Redskins, Seahawks, Texans
Posted in Blog | 5 Comments »
The Cardinals were back at practice Monday to start up what will be the stretch run of 11 games. Plus, they are in an NFC West division that looks like it can be very interesting. Because there is no injury report, nothing official was said, although wide receiver Steve Breaston did return to practice and said there was “no doubt” in his mind he will play Sunday. Wide receiver Early Doucet is also hoping to play, although his status may be more wait-and-see. Injuries are always an iffy issue on a Monday like this anyway; because it isn’t a “normal” practice, the Cards usually err on the side of extra rest this early in the week.
Linebackers Gerald Hayes and O’Brien Schofield, because of the rules on their wait lists, can’t practice until Week 6 has concluded and the NFL still has Jacksonville-Tennessee tonight. If there was a 10 p.m. practice tonight, they could go. Instead, they will wait until Wednesday, although both are expecting to give it a try. Once they begin practicing (and technically, the Cards have three weeks to begin that process), the Cards have three weeks to decide whether to activate them to the roster (and release someone else).
Side note of the day: ESPN.com’s in-depth writer, Elizabeth Merrill, was on hand to report for an upcoming Max Hall story.
Tags: Early Doucet, Gerald Hayes, NFC West, O'Brien Schofield, Steve Breaston
Posted in Blog | 48 Comments »
I’m not going to call it a guarantee, since technically, the word wasn’t used in Jed York’s text message to someone at ESPN — I am guessing Adam Schefter, since Adam wrote the story — but the 49ers owner/president made it clear what he believes today when he wrote out the words “We’re going to win the division.”
And if it walks like a guarantee and talks like a guarantee …
For such a short sentence, it’s a big concept for a team that stands 0-5, may be benching its quarterback and is reeling after all kinds of predictions of greatness before the season.
Look, it’s impossible to write the 49ers off. They are only three games back of the NFC West-leading Cards with 11 games left, and San Francisco still gets to play the Cards twice. History, however, says otherwise. Since the current playoff system was implemented, no team has come back to make the playoffs after an 0-5 start (and, as Football Outsiders’ Bill Barnwell noted last night, no team has done it after a 1-5 start either). Schefter rightly notes the 49ers don’t exactly have a killer schedule on paper the rest of the way, but you can make the same argument for the Cardinals (Hey, they have the 0-5 49ers left twice, right?).
More importantly, why fan flames that don’t need to be fanned? If you are the 49ers, the best place to have the Cardinals is fat and happy, thinking they are in control. That’s when they get dinged. There is already plenty of, let’s say, irritation for the 49ers downstairs in that locker room. To throw this out there, now, only riles up a team that already felt disrespected in the face of all those glowing Niner reports in the offseason.
UPDATE: Coach Ken Whisenhunt’s quote on the matter: “You know what, I’m really not worried too much what the 49ers are doing right now. When we face them in a couple of weeks I will be, but I am more interested in trying to improve with our football team.”
Tags: 49ers, Jed York, NFC West
Posted in Blog | 60 Comments »
This isn’t going to be the last time this topic comes up, certainly. But with training camp closing in, pondering the NFC West is never a bad talking point. Mike Sando over at ESPN.com (who will be in Flagstaff Aug. 1) pointed out during his various roles today that when people want to talk about the West, there probably should be consideration for the Seahawks in the mix with the Niners and Cardinals (No one is saying the Rams have any shot whatsoever, and in 2010, I think that’s fair for such a rebuilding franchise).
Here’s why it’s impossible to ignore the Seahawks — because they have a proven NFL quarterback. Can Matt Hasselbeck stay healthy all season? I’d bet no (and in the end, I don’t see the Seahawks, under a new staff and retooling, being able to keep up). Yet too many things can happen over an NFL season. If the 49ers and Cards are the ones shredded by injuries, the Seahawks can step right in. Who really knows? The Patriots started 0-2 in 2001 and lost their starting quarterback in the process, and all that happened was they ended up winning the Super Bowl and starting a dynasty.
If anyone really knew what was going to happen, they’d quit prognosticating and make a fortune in Vegas (not that I, an NFL employee, would advocate such things).
In the meantime, the Cards are going to have to figure out their own issues in camp. I don’t know if they will chase a veteran linebacker now that Keith Bulluck is gone, but they may — at this late date — prefer to check out their own guys for a week before moving in that direction. As for signings, the only player I think could miss any time in camp could be Dan Williams, and that’s not based on anything but my gut (and the recent past with No. 1 picks). He won’t miss significant time. Frankly, and maybe it’s because I’ve been covering this so long, but unless a guy misses the majority of camp, any rookie holdout rarely makes much of a difference (although it does provide a storyline to write about).
Speaking of which, I’d better start putting together my story budget for camp. I’ll post again tomorrow. As we go to camp though, if you have any interest in following early and often, sign up to Twitter and follow me at Cardschatter.
Tags: 49ers, Dan Williams, Matt Hasselbeck, NFC West, Rams, Seahawks
Posted in Blog | 20 Comments »
I’ve never been a big fan of NFL power rankings. Like any other pro sport rankings — or even the NCAA hoops rankings — they prove meaningless because of the playoffs (although at least the NCAA basketball rankings can influence seedings for said playoffs). But there is little question rankings can be a jumping-off point to debate. So SI’s Peter King decided to put out some May rankings, and has the Cardinals down at No. 22 and out of the playoffs.
His blurb on the Cards: “Let’s just say everything I hear about Matt Leinart is lukewarm. I don’t get a confident feel that he’ll be a good or long-range replacement for Kurt Warner, and without a strong passing game, the Cards can’t score enough to help an OK defense with some holes. Now, if Joey Porter can turn back the clock six years …”
Here’s the interesting part: King has the Seahawks 11th in his rankings, and tops in the division. He only has the 49ers at No. 19 — one spot above his “Wait ’til next year” group — so he doesn’t have strong feelings with San Francisco. He is calling the Seahawks his choice for “Turnaround team of the year.”
Admittedly, King had the Saints at 24th at this time last year and the Bears going to the Super Bowl, so take it with a grain of salt. Clearly, there are a lot of unknowns in the NFC West. Unknowns that can be discussed.
Tags: 49ers, Bears, NFC West, rankings, Saints, Seahawks, Sports Illustrated
Posted in Blog | 49 Comments »
Here at the combine, 49ers coach Mike Singletary was one of the first men to speak to the media, and he was asked about the idea that the NFC West was for the 49ers to take now that Kurt Warner retired.
Singletary slowly shook his head as the question was finished.
“It is a grave mistake for us as a football team that just because you take Kurt Warner out of the mix, to think it is our division,” Singletary said, building into one of those quotable moments for which Singletary has quickly become famous. “We have to make sure we are not looking at Seattle. We’re not looking at Arizona. I don’t care about those things.
“I was thinking it was our division before you get Kurt Warner out. I was hoping we’d think that last year. Think that way this year. I want them to think that way every year.”
I notice Singletary didn’t mention the Rams.
Tags: 49ers, Kurt Warner, Mike Singletary, NFC West, Seahawks
Posted in Blog | 19 Comments »
Here in Detroit, there is a little bit of snow on the ground but certainly nothing that was going to affect the team’s trip today and again, with the dome situation, definitely nothing that will mess with tomorrow’s game. The same can’t be said for the 49ers’ game in Philadelphia, since Philly is one of the eastern cities getting hammered with the snow right now. The NFL officially pushed kickoff back of the Eagles-49ers game from 11 a.m. Arizona time (same as Cards-Lions) to 2:15 p.m., meaning the Cards — assuming a win tomorrow — will be on a plane when they could conceivably clinch the NFC West title. That happens with a Cards’ win and 49ers’ loss.
Of course, the 49ers may actually benefit from bad weather, because the Eagles’ offense has been so explosive of late, you figure bad weather may be the only thing that could help slow it.
Anyway, the Cards have to take care of their end first. That can’t happen until tomorrow, a few blocks from the Westin here in downtown Detroit.
Tags: 49ers, Lions, NFC West
Posted in Blog | 1 Comment »
The players are streaming back this morning and there is another hour-plus practice today with the Cardinals getting back into a groove following the bye. There isn’t a whole lot Cardinal-related going on yet, but otherwise …
– So if you’re with the Buccaneers, there’s got to be a part of you that is hoping with then 2010 schedule comes out in April you see a trip to Glendale in Week Two of the season. Yes, it could mean a loss, but it could mean so much more. Why? Well, the Dolphins played the Cardinals in Week Two of 2008 after losing their opener and were whacked by the Cards, 31-10. The Dolphins went on to win 11 of their final 14 games. This year, the Jaguars lost their opener and then were whacked by the Cards, 31-17, in Week Two. They have followed up with two big victories within their division. So it stands to reason that if you are a Florida team and the Cards run you off the road in Week Two, it’s a harbinger of good things, right? (And yes, Tampa Bay is already set on the Cards’ list of opponents in 2010. The Cards have home games against Tampa, New Orleans, Denver, Oakland and their “matching” NFC East finisher; they have road trips to Atlanta, Carolina, Kansas City, San Diego and the “matching” NFC North team).
– No, no one was expecting the Rams to be very good this season. But to see the 49ers dismantle them yesterday, well, I think the Niners have proven they are for real, especially in context of the NFC West.
– Early byes don’t have to hurt. Last year, six teams had byes after three games. Two were doomed for non-bye reasons: Seattle (injuries) and Detroit (just a mess). The other four did just fine: New England (missed the playoffs but went 11-5) and playoff teams Indianapolis, the Giants and aforementioned Miami.
– Good stuff from Peter King on Pat Tillman looking back into NFL prospects before his death. I knew about the part where he could have gotten out of the Army early and that he could have been on an NFL roster (Seattle, in case you’re wondering, is where former Cardinals defensive backs coach Larry Marmie, who coached Tillman, was and still is, in addition to the Ferguson connection). I agree with Dave McGinnis in the article about Tillman being great on special teams. Even if Tillman had returned to the Cards in 2003 and never joined the Army, he would have likely been beaten out as a starter by Adrian Wilson. But I always thought Tillman would have evolved into a long-term Bill Bates/Steve Tasker/Ron Wolfley/Sean Morey type star of special teams.
– Finally, props to the man behind Cardinals Underground/Big Red Rage and everything Cardinals radio, Jim Omohundro, for slaying the competition with his bowling game of 242 last week. I told him I’d give him a shout-out.
Tags: 49ers, Buccaneers, Dolphins, Jaguars, Jim Omohundro, NFC West, Pat Tillman, schedule
Posted in Blog | 4 Comments »