The focus going in to Sunday’s game was the quarterback. That made sense. The Cardinals were on their third one of the season and it is the most important position on the team. And for the most part, Blaine Gabbert acquitted himself pretty well. There were the two picks late, and you can’t have those, but the Cards were chasing 10 points by then.
No, it was the issues that have been around all season that doomed the Cards in Houston. A running game that has echoed the struggles of the pre-Adrian Peterson ground game. A defense that makes some plays but just can’t clamp down when the team desperately needs it. An offense that needs to find more consistency overall.
— Drew Stanton was healthy enough to be the backup Sunday. Could that mean he’s healthy enough to start next week – and does Bruce Arians drop him right back in? (I know the public-at-large’s answer.) Gabbert did look very comfortable, and he clearly has some chemistry with rookie tight end Ricky Seals-Jones. That makes sense, because Seals-Jones and Gabbert have been working together on third team since the offseason. We’ll see. It’s fair to point out the Texans secondary has struggled quite a bit against the passers it has seen, and next week’s game against the Jaguars will feature one of the better secondaries the Cardinals have seen.
— Speaking of secondary, the Cardinals sure look like they have a star-in-the-making back there with rookie safety Budda Baker. He was everywhere Sunday. He was great on defense and continues to play so well on special teams – I repeat that he deserves (heavy) consideration for the NFC’s Pro Bowl special teams spot.
— Bruce Arians opened his press conference by taking the blame on the failed fourth down. I’ll admit I was on the move when the play happened, seeing it on the TV screen as I made my way down to the field. But I agree that the Cards had been stuffed all day inside. There wasn’t much to get, but the Texans made it obvious the wanted Gabbert to try and beat them. It was going to be tough sledding for Adrian Peterson on every run play, and the fourth-down try was only the one in the spotlight.
–Peterson ended up with 13 yards on 12 carries after his first two totes gained six and seven yards.
— I do think the absent D.J. Humphries makes a big difference when it comes to the run game.
— The Patrick Peterson vs. DeAndre Hopkins battle was exactly how it was expected to go. Peterson did give up the back-to-back big plays, finishing with Hopkins’ TD. But he broke up/defended a bunch of other tries, and nearly got a second interception late in the game with perfect technique. It’s funny that his first pick was on a pass that wasn’t even thrown to Hopkins or at Peterson. A deflection, and the right place, right time.
— Speaking of missed chances on turnovers, the Cards were there. There were a couple of other fumbles on the ground by the Texans that the Cards just couldn’t fall on, in addition to Peterson’s near-pick. Tyrann Mathieu also dropped a deep pass that could’ve been an interception, although the play was wiped out by an Arizona penalty. The Cards need all the turnovers they can get. At least they converted their two short-fields into TDs.
— Arians said he’d be going to different receivers this next week. That would seem to me that Chad Williams has a chance to be active, but other than that, I’m not sure where you turn. Maybe more Brittan Golden? I don’t see them bringing up Carlton Agudosi from the practice squad, but who knows.
— As much as Tom Savage had struggled this season, it hurts to give up a 97.1 passer rating to him, and 31 points to the Houston offense without the aid of turnovers.
— Fitz was asked about playing in 2018. He did not answer, one way or the other, and wouldn’t even say if he’s still thinking about it. So he leaves everyone in suspense – and makes sure the questions keep coming probably more often than not the rest of the season.
Tags: Adrian Peterson, Blaine Gabbert, Bruce Arians, Budda Baker, Carlton Agudosi, Chad Williams, D.J. Humphries, DeAndre Hopkins, Drew Stanton, Larry Fitzgerald, Patrick Peterson, Ricky Seals-Jones, Texans, Tom Savage, Tyrann Mathieu
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Jimmy Garoppolo is not playing against the Cardinals this week. Right?
“I’m expecting to see him, honestly,” cornerback Patrick Peterson said. “I think he’ll start. That’s just my opinion. What do they have to lose?”
(Other than maybe Garoppolo’s head, behind a struggling offensive line that now won’t have left tackle Joe Staley.)
Peterson isn’t the only one. Karlos Dansby said on the “Big Red Rage” Thursday night Garoppolo will play and many of the Cardinals defensive players have said similar things. It makes little sense to me, given how beat up the Niners are and how little time Garoppolo has had to get ready. Jacoby Brissett did start against the Cards for the Colts earlier this year, but that was Brissett’s second week with the Colts, not the first. Dropping in a quarterback that soon is just too complicated on the NFL level, not when you want good results. To be fair, Garoppolo will be active Sunday – as the backup, coach Kyle Shanahan insists – so the door is cracked. No, the Cardinals defense has not played consistently well. But I don’t see Jimmy G happening against the Cards this year. Beginning in 2018, yes.
— Speaking of that defense, which is around the bottom of the league in third downs and scoring, this is a chance to get better. The Cardinals played very well defensively against the 49ers the first time around. The last two road games, however, the Cardinals have surrendered a total of 67 points.
“You have a week off to have a chance to look at yourself in the mirror and be truthful with yourself,” Peterson said. “That’s where we were last week.”
— It’s stunning to believe that these teams met just about a month ago, and neither starting quarterback is on their team’s active roster.
— For all the struggles on the road of late – and there have been some ugly ones – if the Cardinals win Sunday it will be the 20th road win for coach Bruce Arians, which would be a franchise record.
— The Cardinals, especially with Drew Stanton, won’t make the mistake of underusing Adrian Peterson. He’ll get his carries. It’ll be up to the blocking up front, but Peterson will be getting more than 11 carries this week. If you go back to Stanton’s lone start/win in 2016, when he won in San Francisco, he threw a couple of TD passes to Larry Fitzgerald although he only had 11 completions. The Cards still scored 33, in large part because David Johnson had a season-high 157 yards rushing. That’s the formula.
— Peterson has 11,983 yards rushing in his career, so he’ll surpass 12,000 in this game. He needs 92 yards to pass Thurman Thomas for 15th all-time, and 138 to pass Franco Harris for 14th place.
— Arians was asked if he’s had any talks with veteran kicker Phil Dawson, who has surprisingly missed five field goals in seven games.
“Phil’s had talks with me,” Arians said. “I haven’t said a word to him. He got a chance to go watch his son and come back fresh and reloaded. I really anticipate him to have a great finish to the season.”
— Adrian Peterson and his wife will be featured on the Animal Planet show “Tanked” tonight at 9 p.m. pacific. The show is about people getting custom-made fish tanks. Peterson’s is a doozy.
— Without Staley, the 49ers could have a hard time handling Chandler Jones on the pass rush. Jones is already on fire with his eight sacks in seven games.
— The Cardinals could be thin at wide receiver. Brittan Golden (groin) and Chad Williams (back) weren’t practicing at the end of the week, although both are game-day decisions. Williams is usually inactive anyway, but if both can’t go, the other wideouts need to stay upright. Arians also said tight end Ifeanyi Momah, formerly a receiver, can play there.
— It’s a short week. The Cards have to turn around and host the Seahawks on a Thursday night, and regardless of what happens in the Bay Area, they will be much more short-handed than last year when they forged the heartbreaking 6-6 tie at home against Seattle. More heartbreaking would be an inability to get to .500 going into that game. As was being said the last time the Cards were playing the 49ers, this is kinda important.
“We cannot fall any further behind in our division,” Arians said. “I don’t think there is ever a must-game, but this is pretty close.”
See you Sunday.
Tags: 49ers, Adrian Peterson, Bruce Arians, Chandler Jones, Drew Stanton, Franco Harris, Ifeanyi Momah, Jimmy Garoppolo, Karlos Dansby, Patrick Peterson, Phil Dawson, Seahawks, Thurman Thomas
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It’s something Patrick Peterson tried to do earlier in the season to no avail. So he waited for another chance. Thursdays, both he and Larry Fitzgerald talk to the media. Peterson just stands in front of his locker. Fitzgerald usually sits down, but he always has everyone waiting for him — there are times when Fitz doesn’t get in there until late in the media availability.
Fitzgerald came in Thursday about midway through the interview time. Peterson was waiting for him, dropping rose petals at his feet as Fitz walked to his chair, calling him “Prince Geoffrey.” Fitz could only smile and shake his head. “I don’t know what that’s for,” Fitzgerald said. “I’m wondering who’s going to pick this stuff up, though.”
— Arizona Cardinals (@AZCardinals) November 2, 2017
No worries on the clean-up. Peterson makes a mess, he’ll be there to clean it up. Seeing him vacuum the petals up was almost as good as the original joke, as Fitz yelled out “he’s a lockdown, clean-up corner.”
— Arizona Cardinals (@AZCardinals) November 2, 2017
Tags: Larry Fitzgerald, Patrick Peterson
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The Cardinals’ defense, save for the first half-plus against the Buccaneers, hasn’t played well the past three games. But one guy — both with his play and the fear factor he creates — who continues to play excellent is cornerback Patrick Peterson.
Peterson took on Rams wide receiver Sammy Watkins Sunday night when the Cardinals were in man-to-man (there was a decent amount of zone coverage played too) and allowed no catches on only one target, according to Pro Football Focus. (Watkins had three receptions on four targets in other situations.) PFF notes that Peterson has allowed an average of just one catch per game through seven games this season.
There are reasons for that beyond Peterson of course. The Cards have played zone a chunk of time. Plus the play across from Peterson at cornerback — new starter Tramon Williams allowed six catches on eight targets against the Rams, PFF said — all but guarantees teams have reason to throw away from Peterson.
But considering the issues the Cards had last week when Pat P went out of the game and then the concern early last week that Peterson’s quad tendon injury could hamper his efforts Sunday, Peterson’s play stood out. He ended up playing all 80 defensive snaps (along with Williams, Tyvon Branch and Deone Bucannon) and gave another upper-crust performance across the pond. (He was avoided so much I’ve had trouble finding any action shots of Peterson yesterday, although he was out there for the coin toss.)
UPDATE: According to PFF, Peterson has been targeted only 21 times in seven games, allowing seven catches for 82 yards, one TD and three passes defensed. He has not allowed a catch in the last two games.
Tags: Patrick Peterson
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The plan started on a private plane, sent by the Cardinals Tuesday to pick up Adrian Peterson in New Orleans and bring him back to Arizona. Running backs coach Freddie Kitchens was on board, so that the return trip to Arizona could be spent on a crash course about the Cardinals’ offense.
“It sounded like Chinese,” Peterson said Sunday, after that five-day tutorial turned into a 134-yard rushing debut.
Peterson said Kitchens walked him through what he needed to learn, calling him at home just to go over things. By the time Peterson got to Sunday, he felt prepared, and he played that way.
Kitchens downplayed his role, saying only that he helped get Peterson in the building. And there is little question Peterson, motivated as he was to do well, had the talent if he knew what was called.
“It was the terminology of the plays,” wide receiver/Peterson landlord Larry Fitzgerald said. “You don’t tell a great back where to run.”
Fitz is going to gush about Peterson. They are friends. But Peterson deserves the praise. Not just for his production, but for the intangible vibe that surrounded this team right about the time Peterson and Kitchens were flying back from Louisiana.
“I wish he’d have been here 11 years from the beginning,” Fitzgerald said. “I’d have a Super Bowl ring already. But having him here, his leadership, his demeanor in the huddle, I think it’s reinvigorating everybody.”
— I can’t lie. I did not expect Peterson to make that kind of impact. I thought the Cards would be better. Not that much better. But when he ripped off two eight-yard runs on his first two carries, I quickly reconsidered.
— Chandler Jones got his sixth sack in six games and got a couple tackles for loss. That doesn’t do his game justice, especially early. He’s had a very good season.
— Still, you want to see the defense finish better. It’ll be interesting to see if Tramon Williams gets more playing time at cornerback.
— And not because of Patrick Peterson’s quad problem. If P2 is down, the Cards will feel it, although Peterson insisted he will be ready to play against the Rams next week. That was a big part of the fourth-quarter problems Sunday. No Patrick. Adrian isn’t the only necessary Peterson.
— The offensive line was better. It wasn’t perfect, but the return of left tackle D.J. Humphries and left guard Alex Boone, along with Earl Watford taking over at right guard clearly made a difference. There was a lot of emotion Sunday with Adrian Peterson and the crowd and that adrenaline helps. But if this group can stay healthy and together – that was the fifth different offensive line in six games – the Cards should be OK.
— Fitzgerald said it was kicker Phil Dawson who told him to waste some time on the onside kick recovery at the end, to make sure the clock ticked under the two-minute mark (and stoppage at the two-minute warning) so the Cards could kneel three times and be done. “That was Phil all the way,” Fitz said.
— Ryan Fitzpatrick likes putting a scare into Bruce Arians. First it was 2013 in Tennessee, then Sunday.
— Arians took the blame for Palmer’s interception, saying he insisted on throwing it deep there to go for the throat. But Arians said he needs to stay greedy. “There’s no lead big enough in the National Football League,” Arians said.
— Palmer is expecting both David Johnson and T.J. Logan to come off injured reserve, apparently, since he mentioned both running backs playing with Peterson later this season.
“I can’t help but think what B.A. will come up with when we get T.J. Logan back and Dave back,” Palmer said. “I can’t wait to see that.”
— That would be interesting. Just like the Cards were Sunday. Tomorrow, a flight to London.
Tags: Adrian Peterson, Alex Boone, Bruce Arians, Buccaneers, Carson Palmer, Chandler Jones, D.J. Humphries, David Johnson, Earl Watford, Freddie Kitchens, Larry Fitzgerald, Patrick Peterson, Phil Dawson, Ryan Fitzpatrick, T.J. Logan
Posted in Blog | 42 Comments »
Adrian Peterson was the story of the week after he was traded to the Cardinals Tuesday. For a few days, all you can really have is speculation. The coaches and players are enthused about his arrival and what he might be able to do. Really, you’d expect nothing else. Optimism tends to reign in these situations.
“You got Adrian Peterson and Larry Fitzgerald on the same team, and Carson (Palmer) is delivering the ball to both of them,” tackle D.J. Humphries said. “It’s like, ‘What?’ That sounds like something you would do on ‘Madden,’ a team you’d create on ‘Madden.’ ”
The spotlight will be on “All Day” Sunday. If I had to guess – and this is purely a guess – I’m guessing on 12 or 15 touches. The revamped offensive line has to make some inroads, and that’s no guarantee. And while Peterson supposedly has looked good since arriving (we cannot watch practice), there’s no way to know exactly what the 32-year-old will do in a game situation. Still, there is little arguing that, after a bad game in Philly, there was a vibe of hope around this offense this week.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I think he’d be on my team,” offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin said. “But he is.”
— The Cardinals have another Peterson. Patrick represents the other side of the ball. Unlike Adrian Peterson, who is still looking to prove he has a lot left, Patrick Peterson doesn’t need to, because he is at the height of his powers. But that can only go so far. And before the offensive Peterson arrived, it was the defensive Peterson’s overflowing passion in Philly that underscored some of the issues with a defense of which so much was expected.
Let’s say P2 does his job on Mike Evans this weekend. The Cards have to find a way to control DeSean Jackson and some good tight ends. They have to get off the field on third-and-long. (An aside, the Cardinals have been good at forcing third downs and even third-and-longs. They just have to close the deal.)
“It’s definitely something we’ve struggled with all season,” safety Tyrann Mathieu said. “I think it’s something we can correct. We’ve got a veteran group on the backend. Everything has to go together. If you call a zero blitz, the pressure has to get home. If you’re dropping zone, you’ve got to affect the passer. I think everything goes hand-in-hand.”
A zero blitz, like the one that didn’t get home at third-and-19 last week.
— Speaking of getting home, it was a tough first game at outside linebacker for rookie Haason Reddick. He made a couple of nice plays – there was one great stay-at-home play on a zone-read run by Eagles QB Carson Wentz – but mostly was locked up and a non-factor as a pass rusher.
“I don’t think he played as well as he wanted to play,” defensive coordinator James Bettcher said. “He had four days playing the position. Play fast and play hard, he did that. Now we stack pieces on top of that.”
— Sunday is the Cardinals’ “Crucial Catch” game so if you have a chance to wear pink and represent, here’s your opportunity.
— Will be interested in seeing how the interior of the offensive line handles Gerald McCoy.
— With the running game having its issues and Palmer throwing all the time, he’s up to 1,573 yards passing. That’s a pace for 5,033 for the season, which would obliterate the franchise record.
— Another reason defense always seems to be a key: Under Arians, the Cardinals are 34-3-1 when holding the other team to 20 points or fewer.
— The Cardinals will wear their black uniforms Sunday (and for those who have forgotten, it was the Buccaneers who were the opponent in 2010 when the Cards wore their black alternates for the first time.)
That’ll be two straight home games in which the Cards wear black, because they’ll break out their Color Rush unis for the next home game Nov. 9, Thursday, against the Seahawks. The difference? The Color Rush jerseys will have red numbers instead of white. And the pants will be black, not white.
Here endeth the jersey conversation for today.
— OK, maybe not all the jersey conversation. After the talk about Adrian Peterson and Justin Bethel and wearing 28 (and there is a chance the league wouldn’t allow an in-season change, but I could not get an official answer on that), Larry Fitzgerald was asked if he went to a new team if he would expect whoever had No. 11 to give it to him.
“I would just go where I fit in,” Fitzgerald said. “It wouldn’t bother me. I wore No. 1 my whole life until I got here. They gave me 11. At the end of training camp a couple of 80-numbers were available, but I was like, I’ll stick with it, this is what they gave me. The number doesn’t make the player. The player makes the number. I’ve always thought that.”
— The Cardinals leave Monday night for London. But first, the Bucs. See you Sunday.
Tags: Adrian Peterson, black uniforms, Buccaneers, Carson Palmer, D.J. Humphries, Gerald McCoy, Haason Reddick, Harold Goodwin, Larry Fitzgerald, London, Patrick Peterson, Tyrann Mathieu
Posted in Blog | 31 Comments »
Steve Keim, not surprisingly, is frustrated. After Sunday’s bad game in Philly, Keim acknowledged while talking to the “Doug and Wolf” show on Arizona Sports 98.7 that “I don’t think we’ve played this bad in all three phases since the NFC Championship two years ago.”
Keim noted all the things that became painfully obvious. The defense could make third-down stops, with Keim blaming poor tackling and simple techniques in coverage. On offense, the lack of any kind of a run game makes it so easy for the opponent’s defense to tee off on Carson Palmer sitting in the pocket. And then “special teams didn’t help.”
It was interesting to hear Keim talk about the game reminding him how the Cards got their rears kicked around in Philly on Thankgiving night in 2008. That team, which also were whipped terribly in New York and New England that year, rallied, if you recall. “Am I suggesting we are going to the Super Bowl? No,” Keim said. “But there is something to be said about momentum and the team jelling together, and that’s the approach we have to take.”
First the Cardinals would have to find some momentum. There is none right now.
“Sometimes, when you get taken to the woodshed like this, if you’re going to use it for any positive, it’s to put that chip back on your shoulder,” Keim said.
— On the status of the offensive line, Keim said guard Alex Boone (chest) and tackle D.J. Humphries (knee) remain week-to-week and the Cards don’t want to put them in harm’s way by rushing them back.
“There is hope, once we get D.J. back and once we get Boone back, there’s no doubt in my mind it will improve,” Keim said. “That being said, there are some current players who will continue to play on this line who have to improve.”
— Keim, on Patrick Peterson’s sideline outburst. “There’s a part of me inside who loves it,” Keim said. “I like to see guys who don’t like to lose.
“It sincerely comes from Pat’s heart. I appreciate his competitiveness.”
— Keim was asked about special teams coach Amos Jones, and what goes on behind the scenes that make the Cardinals know Jones is the right coach.
“I think there are always things that people don’t see,” Keim said. “… More than anything, me or coach (Bruce Arians) or Michael (Bidwill) knowing that, the type of things that need to be taught are being taught. It’s whether the players are correcting those issues or not. We tried to really improve football I.Q. with our players, because that’s one of the issues we’ve had in the past. Once I think we get some of that stuff cleaned up and guys can play a little bit smarter, I think you’ll start to see some improvement.
“Again, week after week, the same mistakes keep happening. Quite frankly, if anything, we need to continue to rotate players in and out of here and find players who can help us. If a guy continually makes the same mistakes and isn’t going to fix it, we’ll go ahead and make a decision and look at ready list and bring in some guys and make some changes.”
— The Cardinals will bring in five long snappers for workouts today to find a replacement for the injured Aaron Brewer, who broke his hand/wrist Sunday.
— Keim reiterated that Palmer did not play well the first two games but the last three he has played “very good” given the circumstances, especially with the offensive line.
— Keim admitted he doesn’t have a lot of patience, but he doesn’t want this emotions to get the best of him. And he understands his players’ frustrations. “I think it’s a good thing from the standpoint of, if we had a bunch of guys downstairs just collecting their checks and they didn’t care, I’d be certainly concerned,” Keim said. “But there are lot of guys who are genuinely upset.”
Tags: Aaron Brewer, Alex Boone, Amos Jones, Carson Palmer, D.J. Humphries, Eagles, Patrick Peterson, Steve Keim
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The Cardinals are en route to Philly right now, the fifth trip there since 2008, and the previous four have had some memorable moments. The 2008 game was the ugly Thanksgiving night beatdown, with the Cardinals losing by four touchdowns yet coming out of it not afraid at all of the Eagles (which showed a couple months later when they beat the Eagles in the NFC Championship.) The 2011 game was an improbable 21-17 win with John Skelton throwing a pair of perfect passes on the game-winning drive, one on a wheel route to the Hyphen, LaRod Stephens-Howling, and then a bomb to Fitz. In 2013, Bruce Arians’ first year, the Cards lost 24-21 when a late pick by Patrick Peterson was wiped out by a flag on Tyrann Mathieu, a penalty the Cards weren’t thrilled was called.
But it was the last trip that encapsulated so much with the Cardinals, especially in relation to where they are now. It was a 40-17 domination by the Cardinals on “Sunday Night Football.” The Cardinals clinched the NFC West title that night, an accomplishment that seems so much longer ago than 22 months. It was David Johnson’s coming-out party, with his Beastmode-like run and his career-best 187 yards rushing. And it was Mathieu’s devastating second ACL tear, that took all the wind from the excitement of the night and might’ve cost the Cardinals a chance at the Super Bowl.
The Cards have been a .500 team since then. Mathieu is still trying to find his groove. Johnson is hurt and cannot help. Chasing a division title is still a goal, but there is much to be fixed for that to be a topic.
— The Cardinals not only will have the early start Sunday – 10 a.m. Arizona time – but there might be a little rain. Bruce Arians doesn’t care. “They are all excuses,” the coach said in his opening statement Friday. It’ll be the first game the Cards will have played outside this season.
— After two rough games, right tackle Jared Veldheer was the highest-graded offensive lineman from the San Francisco game and offensive line coach Harold Goodwin said he was “proud” of Veldheer. “The biggest thing for him is gaining confidence but I was pleased,” Goodwin said.
— Arians, who was hired as Temple’s head coach at age 30 and left the job in part because it literally was making him physically sick, was asked if in-his-30s Arians would have imagined himself still coaching now (Arians turned 65 earlier this week).
“I would hope so, if I wasn’t dead,” Arians said. “That job down there killed me.”
— Another Philly guy is Earl Watford, who just signed this week and now could be in the starting lineup at guard Sunday. It looked like Watford’s days as a Cardinal were over, having played out his contract and with both sides ready to start fresh. But here we are.
“A lot of people would think that, but it’s just another opportunity,” Watford said. “I’m glad to be back here. To be familiar with people, playbook, coaches, I’m excited to be here.”
— Linebacker Haason Reddick now finds himself in the outside linebackers meeting room, trying to cram for a new role after the loss of Markus Golden. I’m very curious to see the snap spilt between he and Kareem Martin.
— Reddick, who is technically from New Jersey but lived just five miles from Philly and went to school there at Temple, said his call for the best cheesesteak comes from Max’s and he’s going to try and get some teammates to join him there.
As for the best way to eat a cheesesteak, it’s American cheese for Reddick. “I don’t do Cheese Whiz.”
“Cheese Whiz is a tourist attraction,” Reddick said. “Anyone who is really from Philly, I’ve never seen them put Cheese Whiz on their cheesesteak. I think that’s a little bizarre.”
(To be fair, it looks like an ongoing debate.)
— Carson Palmer has taken a lot of hits – 43, officially, in four games. “Hey, I don’t want to see him get hit,” Goodwin said. “Mr. Bidwill is paying that guy a lot of money.”
Part of that is the Cards’ lack of run game. Palmer is passing so much he’s inevitably going to be hit more, just like he’s on pace to obliterate his personal highs in attempts, completions and yards. But that doesn’t absolve the pass protection – or the struggles therein. Goodwin said he woke up early last week and the protection issues popped into his mind so quickly he just got up and came to the office. It was 4:30 a.m.
“That’s my job,” Goodwin said. “I embrace the pressure though. It’ll never break me.”
— Finally, there’s the case of Fitz the Philly killer. He had a nondescript three catches for 43 yards in that 2015 blowout of the Eagles – and even with that game averaged in, he’s still averaged (including the NFC Championship game) more than six catches, 104 yards and more than a touchdown per game against the Eagles all-time.
“He’s the same guy all the time,” Eagles cornerback Malcolm Jenkins told ESPN.
The Cards wouldn’t mind some of that same ol’ Fitz Sunday.
Tags: Bruce Arians, Carson Palmer, David Johnson, Eagles, Earl Watford, Haason Reddick, Jared Veldheer, LaRod Stephens-Howling, Larry Fitzgerald, Patrick Peterson, Tyrann Mathieu
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Two overtime games, two wins. It’s not ideal, the way the games got to overtime, because in both cases the offense couldn’t score the kind of points that were expected against the competition – the 49ers gave up 41 to the Rams their last game before keeping the Cards out of the end zone all the way until the final play – but the Cardinals made it work in beating San Francisco, 18-15.
It was close. A 17-play field goal drive almost sapped all of the now-10-minute overtime period before the Cardinals could even get the ball. Thanks in large part because of the previous OT game at University of Phoenix Stadium – the 6-6 tie that ate up all 15 extra minutes last year – overtime was changed to 10 minutes. Bruce Arians, on the competition committee, was part of that, and don’t think it didn’t cross his mind as time ticked down.
“I was kicking my ass for bringing up this 10-minute overtime rule, but it worked out pretty good,” he said.
Things are not perfect. At this rate, Carson Palmer will not last the season getting hit so much. He was hit 16 more times Sunday, bringing his season total to 43, with 17 sacks.
“I’m tired, but hopefully we have a walkthrough Wednesday and we don’t have to practice,” Palmer said.
There were some key penalties too, ones that prevented the defense from getting off the field in overtime, especially. But there was an offense that was clicking in the extra frame, there was a Smokey Brown sighting, a Jaron Brown career-high 105 yards, and there was Fitz. And there was a win.
— There is no official update on linebacker Markus Golden and his knee injury, but it’s never a good sign to see a guy writhing around on the ground after it happens and then later getting up to walk off. That usually means the writhing was less about pain than anger about something bad, and multiple reports say it could be torn ligaments. We will see what happens. Carson Palmer talked about Kareem Martin getting his chance, and if Golden is down, Haason Reddick can play some rush linebacker too. But losing Golden, sackless but the team’s 2016 leader, would be a rough one.
— I was thinking John Brown’s two-toes-down OT catch in the end zone was going to be overturned.
— From my view, it sure seemed like the 49ers got very conservative in OT. I get it — the Cardinals had done little on offense, and you figure a field goal might be too much to overcome — but I thought the Niners should’ve gone for the kill. It end up biting them, especially when they were playing that prevent defense, for whatever reason.
— Andre Ellington did have a couple of drops, but he too had a TD-that-wasn’t that left Cardinals scratching their heads on the call, and he was huge in overtime. His catches on the first two plays, dump-and-runs gained 11 yards each and jump-started the offense.
— The Cards got good receiving production from both Ellington and Chris Johnson. Now they just need to get production in the running game.
— Fitzgerald ended the game with a game-winning touchdown. He began the game with a blocking assignment on rookie defensive lineman Solomon Thomas, and it didn’t go well. Thomas belted Palmer on an incompletion.
“The first play, I felt so bad,” Fitzgerald said. “I had to block a defensive end and got him hit. I told him as soon as (I could), ‘Carson, I’m so sorry man. I’m sorry, man.’ ”
Understandable. That’s not why Fitz is out there. Asked why he was blocking Thomas, Fitz just said, “I don’t ask those questions.”
— Fitzgerald becomes the only player in NFL history with an overtime touchdown catch in both the regular season and the postseason.
— I want to go back at look at the video. I didn’t notice right tackle Jared Veldheer in a bad way as I had the previous two games. With the pressure Palmer was under, it doesn’t mean he was perfect. But I want to see him against the others across the line.
— Kicker Phil Dawson goes 4-for-4 on field goals. The Cards win. But he said it doesn’t make up for missing three field goals in the first three games. “There’s no getting those back,” Dawson said.
— Patrick Peterson had a big smile, telling me he was 8-0 in overtime, dropping last year’s tie with Seattle. Close, Patrick, but not quite. You’re forgetting the 2012 overtime loss to Buffalo, the game when Jay Feely booted a 61-yard field goal to tie it. Peterson is now 8-1-1 in 10 OT games since arriving with the Cards.
And the Cardinals are 2-0 this season, which keeps them breathing in the NFC West.
Tags: 49ers, Andre Ellington, Carson Palmer, Chris Johnson, Jared Veldheer, John Brown, Larry Fitzgerald, Markus Golden, overtime, Patrick Peterson, Phil Dawson, Solomon Thomas
Posted in Blog | 23 Comments »
The lights came on, the tension seemed to be lifted once the Cardinals chose to lock arms and not kneel for the national anthem, and then Carson Palmer started dealing like it was 2015 again. The Cardinals made the Cowboys look pretty beatable in those first 15 minutes, and the Cards looked like a new team. But there was a missed field goal in there too, which wasn’t ideal, and like the Detroit game, it was a situation where the Cards should have been ahead by a lot more but weren’t.
When it was over, Dak Prescott showed why he’s already on the verge of quarterback stardom – as good as Ezekiel Elliott is, to me, there is no question who the guy is that will make the Cowboys a contender, and it’s all about the quarterback – and the Cards were left trying to figure out how to keep their own QB upright. According to Pro Football Focus, both tackles, Jared Veldheer and John Wetzel, gave up one sack and eight pressures.
Palmer said he held on to the ball too long a couple of times, and that is true. But the pocket is collapsing much too fast too often. “Block better,” was Bruce Arians’ response on improving the protection. And hey, Dan Dierdorf is not walking through that door.
“We only have seven guys out there, so they’re the only ones that can play,” Arians said.
D.J. Humphries is walking around a lot better so hopefully he has a chance to return this week against the 49ers. But Alex Boone got hurt late in the game, Palmer said (no word on what it is or severity), so the injury thing is still a thing.
— Chris Johnson did indeed get the start at running back. He could not find any room nor create anything, gaining just 17 yards on 12 carries. We will see what happens but Andre Ellington looked like the best back out there, and who knows? Maybe there will be a fourth different starter in four games next week. (My early guess is still CJ2K for another week, but we’ll see.) Still, Arians was asked if Ellington would get more touches next week.
“I don’t think there’s any doubt,” Arians said, after Ellington got 59 yards on five catches and 22 yards rushing (leading the team) on five carries.
— There was time to recover but the 15-play drive that ended with no points was a gut punch. You think you get a second Palmer-to-Jaron Brown TD pass but a Veldheer holding call wipes it out. (To be fair, I don’t know if Palmer is able to get outside the pocket to make the play without the hold, so it is what it is.) Then Phil Dawson misses another field goal inside 40 yards. A 14-0 lead would’ve been huge. Making sure Dawson gets right, quickly, is probably even more important.
— Patrick Peterson was targeted just once all night, according to Pro Football Focus, and none when he was guarding Dez Bryant. Peterson gave up a two-yard catch to Elliott.
— I was surprised Arians went for it on fourth down at the end of the game down 11 points. A field goal makes it eight points and you’ll have to get an onside kick regardless. That said, with the Cardinals at the Dallas 2 and their pass protection doing poorly, I can see the argument that you go for the TD being so close.
— You could tell J.J. Nelson wasn’t himself with the sore hamstring. He got a couple of late “go” routes and nearly had an incredible sideline catch. But when he couldn’t go deep, it hurts. Between the injured speed receivers and the pass protection problems, the Cards aren’t going to scare many teams down the field – even with Fitz making crazy jump-ball grabs.
Tags: Alex Boone, Andre Ellington, Bruce Arians, Carson Palmer, Chris Johnson, Cowboys, D.J. Humphries, Dak Prescott, J.J. Nelson, Jared Veldheer, Patrick Peterson, Phil Dawson
Posted in Blog | 34 Comments »