So profootballfocus.com has a series they call “Secret Superstar” in which they try to highlight players who are under the radar or are poised for breakout seasons. This week, they named Cardinals right tackle Bobby Massie a Secret Superstar. You know who noticed? Bobby Massie.
“Oh yeah, I saw that,” Massie said.
Then again, he was also reading with a grain of salt.
“It doesn’t mean nothing to me, because the same people that wrote that were the same people that were talking bad about me (early last year),” Massie said.
There is no question Massie has rebounded from his rough rookie start. He was plugged in at right tackle from jump last season and for half-a-season, struggled mightily. It wasn’t hard to see, and PFF graded him among the worst in the league. Then, things changed for Massie. PFF noted that had Massie performed all season like he did in the final nine games, they would have graded him as the third-best offensive tackle — right or left — in the entire NFL. It’s that kind of performance that the Cardinals noticed, why he likely wouldn’t be moved inside to guard. Why when you already have a solid tackle?
“Last year was my rookie year,” Massie said. “I’m not using it as an excuse, but sometimes it takes some players longer to get adjusted than others. It took me eight or nine games to get everything down, and as Pro Football Focus said, I was one of the top three tackles in the league.”
(So clearly, Massie is reading what is being written.)
“I’m a lot more comfortable, even as I am learning this offense,” Massie said.
Massie will be the right tackle, barring something unforeseen. Levi Brown continues to be the left tackle option, with, by the start of the season, rookie Jonathan Cooper figuring to start at left guard next to center Lyle Sendlein and right guard Daryn Colledge (Right now, Chilo Rachal is holding down the first-strong LG spot). With Massie, the Cards would love to have a homegrown superstar on the offensive line, secret or not.
– Many have been asking, so here you go: Fan Fest 2013 will be held at University of Phoenix Stadium June 11. That’s a Tuesday during minicamp. Save the date. Further details TBA.
Tags: Bobby Massie, Chilo Rachal, Daryn Colledge, Fan Fest, Jonathan Cooper, Levi Brown, Lyle Sendlein, offensive line, Pro Football Focus
Posted in Blog | 35 Comments »
The Cardinals did indeed use their first-round pick to address the offensive line, grabbing physical and athletic guard Jonathan Cooper of North Carolina. The top three tackles were all off the board by the time the Cards picked, and Cooper — given his athletic nature — is probably a better fit to Bruce Arians’ offense than Chance Warmack (and it might not have helped that Warmack has some concerns with the health of his shoulder.)
It makes sense that Cooper will go right into the starting lineup. I’d guess that would likely be in place of right guard Adam Snyder, who could in theory be an all-everything backup to every position. Or the could move on from Snyder, who is due $4 million in salary this season. We’ll have much more on azcardinals.com over the next hour or so, including quotes from Cooper, Arians and GM Steve Keim.
Tags: Adam Snyder, Chance Warmack, draft, Jonathan Cooper, offensive line
Posted in Blog | 71 Comments »
The Cardinals finally added an offensive lineman in free agency Wednesday, signing veteran guard Chilo Rachal. What does that mean for the line going forward? Something. And nothing.
Adding parts that can help in some way, shape or form — starter or depth — has been one of the mantras for General Manager Steve Keim. Rachal could end up as either. So obviously, his arrival carries that significance. But it isn’t going to impact the draft. If the Cardinals decide, for instance, Chance Warmack is their guy at No. 7, they’ll take him and figure it out from there. If they want to take a tackle like Eric Fisher or Lane Johnson and move Bobby Massie to guard, they will do that too. If their top pick is a pass rusher, maybe we see a line of LT Brown, LG Colledge, C Sendlein, RT Massie and a battle between Snyder and Rachal. Or there could be an offensive lineman chosen in the second round or third round — or maybe even later — who could be part of the mix.
At this point, there are dozens of ways this can go, and the Cardinals have set it up just so they have that flexibility. I could see them letting a veteran go in a June 1 move if they felt they had enough other pieces for their puzzle. Certainly Keim has shown he isn’t afraid to make such moves. I’m not certain there couldn’t be a veteran offensive lineman added later in the offseason either.
(The Cardinals, prior to the Rachal signing I would guess, had $9.496 million in salary cap space as of Wednesday according to the NFLPA.)
One thing to keep in mind when it comes to the Cardinals and the draft. The braintrust has reiterated a few times how deep in offensive line talent this class is, beyond just the top 10. Will it shock me to see them pick a player that isn’t an offensive lineman? Absolutely not. Stop me if you’ve heard this before — Keim believes in a difference-maker at the top. That doesn’t mean a difference-maker can’t be an offensive lineman if his grades are the right ones, but I truly believe the idea of reaching there for need over a guy graded much better makes Keim’s stomach turn.
Tags: Adam Snyder, Bobby Massie, Chance Warmack, Chilo Rachal, Daryn Colledge, draft, Eric Fisher, Lane Johnson, Levi Brown, Lyle Sendlein, offensive line, salary cap, Steve Keim
Posted in Blog | 45 Comments »
In February, general manager Steve Keim was talking about what he wanted to accomplish in his new job. One of them had to do with a big picture view of free agency and the draft in tandem.
“I wanted to spend more time forecasting, as in taking a deeper look at the free agency market and the depth at each position as opposed to the draft at each position and have a little more calculated plan as far as how we approach those from an evaluation standpoint,” Keim said. “We’d weigh that against the financial part of it.”
It sounds reasonable and sound, and it also could give some insight into how this free agent period is playing out for the Cardinals.
Two of the positions considered the deepest in this draft? Offensive line and safety. Those are positions that might not be fully addressed until draft time. So the lack of free agent chase for a lineman, or the decision to release both Adrian Wilson and Kerry Rhodes and sign only Yeremiah Bell could very well just be playing into Keim’s big-picture view. Again, I could see Bell being this year’s starter, and I can see him being this year’s James Sanders. (Heck, for the $840,000 he is reportedly getting, and a $65,000 signing bonus, he could eventually be this year’s Keith Lewis, a veteran safety signed in 2009 who ended up being cut at the end of camp when it was all said and done.)
I do expect more free agent signings. At what position, we will see, but there are reasons to think the Cards will wait at certain positions.
Tags: Adrian Wilson, free agency, Keith Lewis, Kerry Rhodes, offensive line, Steve Keim, Yeremiah Bell
Posted in Blog | 67 Comments »
Bruce Arians sat at the interview table next to his new offensive coordinator, Harold Goodwin, and was asked — bluntly — what they were going to be able to do so that the Cardinals didn’t have the “worst” offense in the NFL, after the team was last statistically in 2012.
“There’s nowhere to go but up,” Arians said with a smile, cracking Goodwin up next to him and drawing laughs from the media. “I guarantee we won’t be there this year.”
There were a few smiles between the two of them Wednesday as Goodwin, 39, got to be a coordinator in public for the first time. The one-time college offensive lineman at the University of Michigan (he played there with Cardinals kicker Jay Feely) has a background in offensive line and was the offensive line coach for the Colts last season. That will remain important in his role. Arians emphasized there will be a “group of people” teaching blocking on the Cardinals, including Goodwin, assistant head coach Tom Moore, assistant offensive line coach Larry Zierlein, tight ends coach Rick Christophel and assistant tight ends coach Steve Heiden.
Goodwin will indeed be the coordinator of the offense, however. Arians said that too, noting that while Arians will call plays, Goodwin will work all the other normal coordinator duties.
– Goodwin and Arians didn’t get super specific on the offensive linemen, although Goodwin mentioned Levi Brown and Nate Potter in passing and said he thinks the group has some talent. He wouldn’t speculate why the unit would have been so poor last season. Said Arians about the line, “We’re not far off.” Injuries were a factor, both of them said.
– There were a couple of jokes about how intense Goodwin can be. If it gets emotional it will be a change for the offensive linemen. Russ Grimm saw his players through the “they are professionals and know what they need to do” lens.
– Arians opened the presser before anyone could ask about the quarterbacks by talking about the quarterbacks. “Nothing has changed on my comments on quarterbacks since the last time we talked,” Arians said, adding, “the quarterback situation will take some time.”
A full story coming later on azcardinals.com. Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles is set to meet with the media tomorrow, with Moore and special teams coordinator Amos Jones coming on Friday.
Tags: Bruce Arians, Harold Goodwin, Larry Zierlein, Levi Brown, Nate Potter, offensive line, Rick Christophel, Steve Heiden, Tom Moore
Posted in Blog | 27 Comments »
The Cardinals finally released a list of their new coaching staff Tuesday. They had already announced, after the hiring of head coach Bruce Arians, the addition of assistant head coach/offense Tom Moore, offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin and defensive coordinator Todd Bowles. Now comes 13 new names, along with keeping four holdover coaches:
– Special teams coordinator: Amos Jones (last job, special teams coach, Pittsburgh Steelers)
– Quarterbacks: Freddie Kitchens
– Wide receivers: Darryl Drake (receivers coach, Chicago Bears)
– Running backs: Stump Mitchell (head coach, Southern University)
– Tight ends: Rick Christophel (head coach, Austin Peay)
– Assistant tight ends, assistant special teams: Steve Heiden (tight ends coach, Concordia University)
– Assistant offensive line: Larry Zierlein (OL coach, Hartford of UFL; was Steelers’ OL coach from’07-’09)
– Defensive line: Brentson Buckner (intern DL coach, Steelers, 2010-12)
– Pass rush: Tom Pratt (consultant, IMG Academy)
– Linebackers: Mike Caldwell (linebackers coach, Philadelphia Eagles)
– Outside linebackers: James Bettcher (special assistant to head coach, Indianapolis Colts)
– Defensive backs: Nick Rapone (defensive coordinator, University of Deleware)
– Cornerbacks: Kevin Ross (safeties coach, Oakland Raiders)
– Defensive assistant/assistant defensive backs: Ryan Slowik
– Offensive assistant: Kevin Garver (offensive assistant, University of Alabama)
– Strength and conditioning: John Lott
– Assistant strength and conditioning: Pete Alosi
An interesting note: the offensive line doesn’t have a offensive line coach per se. Duties teaching the line will be split between Zierlein, Moore and offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin, who has spent his coaching career as an offensive line coach.
Kitchens had been coaching tight ends under Ken Whisenhunt, but moves to quarterbacks, a position Kitchens played in college. Slowik was outside linebackers coach on the last staff, and of course, Lott and Alosi remain in their former jobs. The staff of 21 is four more coaches than was on Whisenhunt’s staff. Arians said he preferred to have extra coaches on staff, and said he likes the diversity of experience and youth. The group moved into offices and began their meetings today. More in a bit on azcardinals.com, including more background on the new group. (And here it is.)
Tags: Amos Jones, Brentson Buckner, Bruce Arians, coaching staff, Darryl Drake, Freddie Kitchens, Harold Goodwin, James Bettcher, John Lott, Kevin Garver, Kevin Ross, Larry Zierlein, Mike Caldwell, Nick Rapone, offensive line, Pete Alosi, Rick Christophel, Ryan Slowik, Steve Heiden, Stump Mitchell, Todd Bowles, Tom Moore, Tom Pratt
Posted in Blog | 40 Comments »
The day Steve Keim was named general manager, the one-time offensive lineman spoke about his offensive line — the much-maligned line in 2012, for a variety of reasons.
“I think we have some pieces in place,” Keim said. “The level of physicality, the ability to run the ball consistently, that is a huge issue and that needs to be fixed.”
Last week before the Super Bowl, new head coach Bruce Arians said the offensive line situations is “not as dire as some might make it out to be.”
So what does that all mean? Certainly, injuries took their toll on the unit last season. Reading between the lines — and that’s all it is right now — it seems to me there is a good chance Levi Brown will be part of the unit in some way, shape or form. I don’t know if that means at guard or tackle. It would seem to be Bobby Massie has a chance to be a tackle going forward after he finished well in his rookie year after a difficult start. Where does Nate Potter fit in? And how do the current interior starters — guards Daryn Colledge and Adam Snyder, with center Lyle Sendlein — fit?
It’s still early. First, the new staff, which will have multiple coaches that will teach the offensive line, need to go through the video and analyze what players are already in place. Free agency gives the Cards some options, especially at tackle, although the cap implications of a big-dollar signing will have to be carefully considered. (Among the tackles currently slated for free agency — knowing a couple could get the franchise tag — include Denver’s Ryan Clady, Kansas City’s Branden Albert, New Orleans’ Jerrod Bushrod and the Giants’ Will Beatty.)
As for the guys already on the roster, the 2013 salary cap numbers for the four vets are as follows: Brown $7.65M, Colledge $7.3M, Snyder $4M, Sendlein $3.1M. (And before you ask, the “dead” money if those players were released would be $5.6M, $4.5M, $4M and $2.1M, respectively.) The draft seems like a more likely spot to add a piece, but whether that would be a tackle (like Central Michigan’s Eric Fisher) or guard (like Alabama’s Chance Warmack) or even after the first round, well, it’s way to early to have a good sense of that. The Cards have to have their meetings and again, the coaches need to evaluate what they have.
There has been a lot of talk about the quarterback and what the Cards will do about it, and that’s clearly the top topic. But what happens with the offensive line — and how that unit is addressed by Keim and Arians — will play into the quarterback story as well.
Tags: Adam Snyder, Bobby Massie, Branden Albert, Bruce Arians, Chance Warmack, Daryn Colledge, Eric Fisher, Jerrod Bushrod, Levi Brown, Lyle Sendlein, Nate Potter, offensive line, Ryan Clady, Steve Keim, Will Beatty
Posted in Blog | 31 Comments »
The Cardinals used their fifth different starting offensive line this past weekend, and that doesn’t include missing Levi Brown since the preseason. And things, right now, have been a little better. Part of that is some improvement by the rookie tackles.
“We’ve gotten the ball out,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “We’ve done a better job with that, but we’ve changed our protections up. Like we’ve said all along during this stretch, we’ve been trying to find out what we can do and what we can do better.”
The Cardinals have made more of an effort to give their tackles more help, which has made a difference. Since rookie Nate Potter went into the lineup full-time at left tackle, the Cards have given up a little more than two sacks a game — which isn’t ideal, but still much better than the average of 6.5 or so the Cards gave up during the five-game stretch before that.
“We had a chance (Sunday) on the one sack where we had a huge play down the field and we couldn’t get the ball off,” Whisenhunt said. “We made a mistake because we were supposed to help out on that block and we didn’t get that done, so we are still by no means even close to being perfect, but we’re varying our protections and doing different things, and our players are doing a good job with that.”
This doesn’t mean the Cardinals won’t work on their offensive line in the offseason. That would seem to be a foregone conclusion. But considering how much the unit was struggling earlier in the year, there has been a change worth noting.
Tags: Ken Whisenhunt, Nate Potter, offensive line
Posted in Blog | 55 Comments »
It’s late, and I’m not sure how many will be reading this before tomorrow morning – or even before coach Ken Whisenhunt talks again. The winning streak comes to an end with a thud. It didn’t look good when the Rams went right down the field to score to open the game, but then the Cards were able to tread water for a long time. They just couldn’t put it together offensively for any consistent stretch in order to get it in the end zone.
So we get to the topic everyone seems like the want to talk about – the offensive line.
“We got beat,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “We got beat on the edge a couple of times. We have to work on technique and our sets and do some things to help those guys out.”
I get there are many out there frustrated. I see on the blog and on Twitter. The reality is the Cards are playing two tackles right now they hadn’t planned on being the starters when training camp opened and there was a reason for that. The reality is if they don’t run the ball better – and yes, I know that is also in part on the offensive line – the opposition is going to have the chance at a field day rushing the quarterback.
There is no realistic option of change on the roster. I don’t see rookie Nate Potter as a possibility right now at left tackle. Do I think the Cards will look elsewhere? Maybe. I’m pretty sure they’ve been paying attention to the waiver wire ever since their injuries struck. They obviously haven’t seen a better option. Again, reality – there’re probably aren’t enough good left tackles out there period, much less when guys start to get hurt. That’s why the Cards wanted to make sure they brought back Levi Brown in the first place.
– The Cards made the pass protection manageable when Kevin Kolb’s pass attempts were in the 20s. The last two weeks he’s thrown almost 100 passes. That’s a ratio that’s tough to manage. That’s why everyone, from Whisenhunt to guard Daryn Colledge to Kolb to Ryan Williams, all brought up the need to run the ball better. Better will eventually translate into more.
– The hit on Williams was scary, but he almost looked confused why everyone thought it was a big deal after the game. “I’m straight,” he insisted, and was acting like he was fine. Which he may be. We’ll see. Obviously to lose him for even one game right now, with Beanie already down and LaRod Stephens-Howling a question, would be a killer.
– Darnell Dockett was active, but he didn’t play a ton and wasn’t a major factor. He’s one of those guys the Cards need to get all the way healthy.
– The Cards had themselves just one sack, snapping their 10-game streak of games with at least two sacks.
– The 40-yard missed field goal by Jay Feely was important not just because it would have made the game 10-6 at the half. It felt like it changed the complexion of the fourth quarter. Do the Cards go for it on fourth-and-goal inside the 10 with five minutes left when a field goal would have made it 17-9 and a one-score game? Probably not.
– Kevin Kolb missed too many receivers in the first half. There were drops definitely, and missed chances because pass catchers didn’t make a play they should have. But obviously Kolb missed on some throws he just can’t – including a bomb to a wide-open Andre Roberts, who had gotten behind the defense.
– That said, this narrative that Kolb is “made of glass” or as Tommy Kelly said in the preseason, “skittish” needs to go away. Kolb was beaten up and bloodied Thursday night and kept getting back up. Question him as a quarterback if you want to – and we all know some of you will – but please spare me the other stuff.
– Given the way these last two Thursday night games have gone – Thanksgiving in Philly in 2008 and tonight – I’m guessing Whisenhunt would love to take a pass on these outings for good if he could.
– If you would have told me Sam Bradford would complete just 7-of-21 throws and the Rams would win – rather easily, even – I’d have said you were dumb. Don’t know if I’ve ever seen a team collect more sacks (nine) than pass completions.
– Rob Housler just trucked a couple of defenders on catch-and-runs tonight. It’ll get lost, but man, you can see the potential there.
– We’ll walk off with a Daryl Washington quote: “It’s a long season. The good thing about the division is you get to see them twice. They have to come to our place.” The Cards are still in first place.
Tags: Darnell Dockett, Daryl Washington, Jay Feely, Ken Whisenhunt, Kevin Kolb, Nate Potter, offensive line, Rams, Rob Housler, Ryan Williams, Sam Bradford
Posted in Blog | 135 Comments »
As the Cardinals try and straighten out the offensive line, left guard Daryn Colledge got a couple of reps at left tackle today in practice behind new starter D’Anthony Batiste. Colledge played there at Boise State for five years and for “six or seven” games when he played in Green Bay, but make no mistake — this would be an emergency situation and not a possible plan to play there from the outset.
“Hopefully some athleticism and some practice can take over if that situation arises, but hopefully that situation never happens,” Colledge said. “I’m working to be the best left guard as I can for this team and I feel that’s where they need me. If they need me (at left tackle) because someone goes down, we’ll cross that bridge then.
“It’s not necessarily riding a bike, but with a few practices, I could probably get myself out there and feel comfortable. I’m not here to threaten a job. I’m here to solidify myself at left guard and if there is an injury and they need me.”
Both of the Cards’ starting guards have tackle experience. Right guard Adam Snyder has played right tackle with the 49ers. But with both players, coach Ken Whisenhunt has made clear he wants them to play guard. And Whisenhunt (and Russ Grimm, for that matter) have long been believers in trying to fill a hole on the offensive line with a new piece if at all possible, rather than moving someone already on the line to a new position and then creating two (or more) “new” players on the line for the unit to get used to.
Besides, when the roster is trimmed to 53, and on game days when the Cards may have as few as seven offensive linemen active, the more everyone who is on the active roster can do increases significantly.
Tags: Adam Snyder, Daryn Colledge, offensive line
Posted in Blog | 33 Comments »