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Keim: Cards didn’t match intensity

Posted by Darren Urban on November 24, 2014 – 8:23 am

GM Steve Keim said he as a tendency to be a pessimist, and in some ways, his job is inherently so as the man in charge of trying to upgrade the team — even when they are 9-2. Sometimes, Keim said during his weekly appearance on “Doug and Wolf” on Arizona Sports 98.7, he said he can think “the sky is falling.”

The sky isn’t falling after a lone loss following six straight wins, of course, but now it’s about curtailing that losing streak. To make sure it’s not a streak. Ron Wolfley made a cogent point following the interview too, noting that a GM and a coach probably see the video through a different prism given their jobs. But Keim and Bruce Arians could certainly agree on one main point after Sunday’s Seattle loss: “In a hostile environment, you have to match their level of intensity in all three phases,” Keim said. “We certainly didn’t do that in two.” Offense and special teams didn’t do nearly enough.

— Keim said he thought the offensive line needs to be more physical. Other that acknowledging a comment that right tackle Bobby Massie didn’t have his best game, Keim wasn’t specific on the offensive line but instead talking about them as a group. The entire offense has to play “in better unison” in the run game. The protection could have been better too.

— It was hard to evaluate QB Drew Stanton because the run game gave him no help, Keim said, but it wasn’t Stanton’s best game, noting Stanton’s inaccuracy at times.

— There was a miscommunication between cornerback Patrick Peterson and safety Rashad Johnson on the early 48-yard pass to Ricardo Lockette, Keim said.

— Keim said he thought new defensive end Josh Mauro stood out (so did I). The rookie out of Stanford has long been on the Cardinals’ radar. Keim said the Cardinals tried to sign Mauro as an undrafted rookie back in May, but he decided to go to the Steelers. When the Steelers cut him at the end of the preseason, the Cards again tried to sign Mauro to their practice squad, but Mauro chose to stay with Pittsburgh’s practice squad. Finally, the Cards decided to sign Mauro off the Steelers’ PS to the active roster.

— Here’s why the sky isn’t really falling for Keim: “The thing that gives me confidence is men in that locker room and that coaching staff.”

 


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Keim: It’s about being proactive and aggressive

Posted by Darren Urban on November 17, 2014 – 8:09 am

General Manager Steve Keim didn’t have a whole lot of newsy things to say during his weekly appearance on the “Doug and Wolf” show on Arizona Sports 98.7, but that’s probably a good thing. He did talk a little bit about giving the contract extension to defensive coordinator Todd Bowles — who just happened to have his unit play excellent in the first game since signing.

Keim said Bowles had obviously earned it. But bigger picture, Keim said the mindset he and the new football staff had when being hired was that with every decision “we wanted to be proactive and we wanted to be aggressive, to change the culture.” That means locking up quality assistants. Keim reiterated that it won’t (and can’t) stop Bowles from taking a head coaching job after the season. But, Keim added, in talking with Bowles on the subject, “I know it will take a special opportunity for him to leave us.”

Other quick hits from Keim:

— Asked to pick one player who stood out against the Lions, Keim didn’t hesitate in naming cornerback Patrick Peterson. Peterson’s play has no doubt jumped over the past three games. Now we get Richard Sherman week!

— Keim raved about the physical nature of safety Deone Bucannon’s play. I know there was one early running play, when the Cards were in nickel and Bucannon just shot the gap to make a tackle for loss. An excellent effort.

— With two more sacks, linebacker Alex Okafor has “brought a pass rush we’re desperately seeking,” Keim said. Keim added Okafor has “probably missed four or five” more sacks the last few games on technique errors that he should clean up.

— The pass protection was excellent, Keim said, and he praised the interior of the offensive line for their play against a stellar defensive front. That was a big deal after the microscope was on the interior for the last week.

— Keim noted Larry Fitzgerald was able to come back and play after his knee was “dinged up” and said overall injury-wise, “on the surface it seemed like we came out OK.”


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Cards pop up in Pro Bowl votes – but not Campbell

Posted by Darren Urban on November 14, 2014 – 10:30 am

Four Cardinals have appeared among the top 10 at their positions in the first release of Pro Bowl voting this season. Andre Ellington is ninth among running backs (ahead of LeSean McCoy at No. 10), Patrick Peterson is sixth among cornerbacks, Justin Bethel is seventh for special teamers, and rookie Chandler Catanzaro is fifth among kickers.

No Fitz, although he’s just now starting to round into form, and no Antonio Cromartie, who is playing well. And no Calais Campbell.

I know Campbell missed two games and doesn’t have eye-popping numbers. But he was a star against the Rams last week, and at this point in his career, it would be a shame if he didn’t get more attention as a Pro Bowl candidate. Not that Campbell really is thinking about it.

“This time of year I don’t pay too much attention to it,” Campbell said. “I just want to do what it takes to win the game, and typically that means (I) play well. Pro Bowl comes with playing well. … I hope I get to avoid playing in the Pro Bowl because we are playing in the Super Bowl. That’s my ultimate goal. But you do want recognition when you are playing well.”

Of course, then Campbell downplays how he has done, noting his missed games and the knee that isn’t going to be quite right all season, even as he plays at a high level.

“I just can’t wait to be healthy so I can try to take over a game,” Campbell said. “We need a big play, and I want to be able to dig deep and come up with the big play.”

To vote for the Pro Bowl, click here or go to http://www.azcardinals.com/fan-zone/official-2015-pro-bowl.html.

CampbellSackDanceUSE


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Congrats Patrick Peterson, NFC Defensive Player of the Week

Posted by since1898 on November 12, 2014 – 10:54 am

PETERSON-POTW-SQUARE

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Rams — and Palmer knee — aftermath

Posted by Darren Urban on November 9, 2014 – 10:53 pm

I remember, when Calais Campbell got hurt in Denver – at the same time Matt Shaughnessy got hurt – and Campbell said something along the lines that he’d eventually be back, Shaughnessy would eventually be back, Carson Palmer (who still wasn’t back) would eventually be back, and it would all be part of this amazing story of the 2014 Cardinals when they made their playoff run.

The Cards can stop adding hurdles they need to overcome.

Carson Palmer will have an MRI Monday on his left knee. We’ll see what happens, but while you hope for the best, you prepare for the worst, and the worst would be losing Palmer for the season. When your team is 8-1 and talking – legitimately – about a possible playoff run, losing a starting quarterback is vicious.

The positive is that Drew Stanton has played well when he’s had to play. He did it again Sunday. But the last time, it was as a placeholder until Palmer came back. What happens if there is no coming back for Palmer?

Lost in it all was the fact Palmer just signed his contract extension Friday, which obviously is seen in a much different light with an injury. That said, all those wondering if the Cardinals re-signed Palmer too quickly? No. Not in my opinion, not unless you are now predicting serious injuries.

The Cardinals made the right move. They were just hit with bad, bad luck.

— Arians had this to say about Palmer’s new contract: “He’s the leader of our franchise right now and it will stay that way.”

— On a short-term note, it’s too bad Palmer got hurt because it overshadowed the job the defense did against the Rams. I keep going back to the thought the Rams had 40 yards rushing on their first-quarter touchdown drive – and just 70 rushing yards total for the game. The defense simply clamped down, and since the Rams had a rookie QB, St. Louis had no chance.

— Yes, Patrick Peterson has figured it out. That pick-6 was unreal – watch carefully how he tipped it to himself, an amazingly athletic play. “For the first time in a long time I felt 100 percent,” Peterson said. “I just got tired of hearing all the criticism, people not knowing the situation.”

— Calais Campbell was a monster Sunday. As well as Peterson played, Campbell was the best guy on defense.

— Campbell had two sacks of the Cardinals’ six in the game. The Cards had just eight sacks in the first eight games.

— The Rams have not had a very good run defense. So it’s a concern the Cardinals could not run against the Rams. At all. The Cardinals had only 28 yards on the ground, and Andre Ellington got a mere 23 yards on 18 carries. That won’t work for many wins going forward, especially if the Cards have to turn to Stanton.

— Larry Fitzgerald was the backbone of the receiving corps, Yes, Smokey Brown made a beautiful  TD catch, but it was Fitz making multiple crucial catches through the first part of the game, and he’s on a solid path for 1,000 yards now.

— Brown probably shouldn’t have been able to catch that TD. A fantastic individual effort. That kid catches key touchdowns, whether it was the game-winner against the Chargers, 49ers, Eagles and now Rams.

— Michael Floyd got off to a good start this season. But man, he has become MIA. He made a nice catch Sunday for a first down and took a hellacious hit. After that, though, he wasn’t involved.

— Ed Stinson is dinged up, with a groin issue and a toe issue, but he dropped an interception with three minutes left that was right in his hands.

— As I wrap this up, I’m watching Tom Jackson and Cris Carter on ESPN talk about the Cardinals. They are talking about the team under the assumption Palmer is lost and Stanton will be the starter from here on. And both said they can still see this team with the ability to make a playoff run.

It says a lot about this team and the impression it has left nine games into the season.

PalmerThumbUSE


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Friday before the Cowboys – in Dallas this time

Posted by Darren Urban on October 31, 2014 – 4:03 pm

The Cardinals used to go to Dallas every year when they shared a division address. But it’s been almost a decade since the Cardinals visited the Cowboys – all the way back to 2005, when only two current Cardinals were on the team: Larry Fitzgerald and the sidelined Darnell Dockett.

“That was a long time ago,” Fitzgerald said.

Indeed. Those were the days of Marcel Shipp and Josh McCown and Leonard Davis, the Arizona version. Those were the Dallas days of Keyshawn Johnson and Drew Bledsoe and Marion Barber. (The Cards, by the way, were drilled, 34-13, that day.)

Much has changed, not the least of which the venue, gaudy AT&T Stadium with its gigantic videoboard and 100,000-plus seats.  “You can watch it from the sidelines,” Fitz said. “It’ll be fun to watch our defense flying around out there.”

That figures to be the key, doesn’t it? No, not the videoboard but the Cards’ defense. Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo is questionable after skipping practice all week and you’d have to think that makes it unlikely he’d play. But whether it’s a less-than-mobile Romo or a been-sitting-around-and-not-as-good Brandon Weeden, the Cardinals should be able to generate some opportunities. It’ll start by how they handle DeMarco Murray, of course. If Murray dominates, Dez Bryant might be able to be the QB and the Cowboys would be OK. But if the Cards can have some kind of Murray control and force it back into the QB’s hands, then the Cards will be in the game they wanted to dictate.

— Fitzgerald, on following up his stellar seven-reception, 160-yard performance against the Eagles: “A repeat performance all around wouldn’t be a bad thing on the road against the Cowboys,” Fitz said. “I know that much.”

I have a feeling the Cardinals know it too. It feels like Fitzgerald could have another nice outing.

— Fitz needs only 95 yards to surpass Cowboys Hall of Famer Michael Irvin in career receiving yards. It’d be kind of sweet to do it in Dallas.

— The Cowboys’ defense isn’t great. It has been good enough. It definitely took a hit with the season-ending biceps injury to linebacker Justin Durant, though. Durant was the Cowboys’ leading tackler.

— The last three times the Cardinals have played the Cowboys, the Cardinals have won on the final play of the game. In 2008, it was Sean Morey’s blocked punt recovered by Monty Beisel in the end zone in OT. In 2010, it was Jay Feely’s 48-yard field goal as the clock ran out. In 2011, it was a 52-yard screen pass to the Hyphen – LaRod Stephens-Howling – from quarterback Kevin Kolb for a touchdown.

— For those asking – for a road game, even! – the Cardinals are wearing red Sunday. The Cowboys almost always wear white at home.

— I’d expect Marion Grice to get at least a carry or two Sunday now that Stepfan Taylor is sidelined. Bruce Arians said Grice was ready, although he said Friday he was happy with Grice “until he dropped that handoff today.”

— Safety Deone Bucannon was not fined for the helmet-to-helmet hit on Eagles receiver Jeremy Maclin, the one that caused the Patrick Peterson concussion. Cornerback Jerraud Powers was fined, $16,537 for his horse collar tackle in the same game. Eagles defensive lineman Trent Cole was dinged $22,050 for hitting Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer in the helmet.

— Arians said Peterson will cover Dez Bryant some of the time Sunday, but Peterson will not exclusively be on the Pro Bowl wide receiver.

— Punter Drew Butler has played at “JerryWorld” before, having punted for the Steelers in a 2012 overtime loss to the Cowboys. Did he hit the videoboard with any punts?

“Of course you try in pregame,” Butler said. “It’s a little ego boost there. I hit it a few times.”

Butler said hitting it in-game isn’t an issue because it’s inside the hashmarks and kicks are almost always angled outside the hashmarks. A bigger issue, he said, is because it gets dark higher up, sometimes the gunners have a hard time picking up the ball as it drops from the sky.

— Arians had his own description on playing in the Cowboys’ Dallas palace.

“It’s different,” Arians said. “It’s all those fans when you come in, like you’re walking out of a nightclub. It’s got an unbelievable gladiator feeling to it because you’re walking through the fans and they’re throwing (expletive) at you.”

On to Dallas.

FITZGERALD WILLIAMS NEWMAN DAVIS


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Happy Halloween from the Cardinals

Posted by since1898 on October 31, 2014 – 11:56 am

PPHONEY600

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Patrick Peterson cleared to practice

Posted by Darren Urban on October 29, 2014 – 1:28 pm

Patrick Peterson acknowledged he briefly was knocked out Sunday when he collided with Jeremy Maclin and Deone Bucannon, ending his game. But the cornerback has cleared the concussion protocol — he did it Tuesday — and was back at practice Wednesday as the Cardinals prep for Dallas. He even was going to golf Tuesday after he passed, which his doctor OK’d. His wife, however, did not and Peterson instead took it easy.

“I feel normal,” Peterson said. “It was a scare, but you have to move forward.”

Peterson has upgraded to a new helmet.

— Fellow defensive back Tony Jefferson has not yet been cleared through the concussion protocol, however. Coach Bruce Arians is hopeful he will be cleared by Wednesday. Running back Stepfan Taylor, in the meantime, won’t practice because of his calf injury and won’t play this weekend but said he already feels much better and called his status “week to week.”

— On a conference call, Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo said he wanted to play against the Cardinals but will be reevaluated daily with his back bruise suffered Monday night. If it were just a question of pain tolerance, Romo said, he’d play. But also in the equation is his ability to be an effective quarterback, and that will factor in as well.


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Keim: Peterson protocol, and a Coop chance

Posted by Darren Urban on October 27, 2014 – 8:13 am

There isn’t much new to report on cornerback Patrick Peterson this morning, but General Manager Steve Keim said during his weekly appearance on the “Doug and Wolf” show on Arizona Sports 98.7 that Peterson was “in good spirits” as he left the stadium last night and will go through the concussion protocol before he can return to the field. “It’s not different than Drew Stanton’s (situation),” Keim said, referring to when Stanton suffered a concussion earlier this season. Stanton eventually was able to pass his concussion tests and was active the following week, although Carson Palmer was back by then and Stanton didn’t have to play. You figure if Peterson is active, he’s going to play a lot, so we’ll see how he reacts to the tests and the exertion he would have to give. Every concussion is serious, but every one is also different, and there’s no way to know right now how this will affect Peterson.

— The other “news” from Keim: Keim said Bruce Arians and the coaches have been praising how well guard Jonathan Cooper has been looking in practice and how he is beginning to look like the guy everyone in the organization was so high on last year before Cooper broke his leg.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if in the next couple of weeks we try to work him back in there,” Keim said. “I know he was in there a little bit (Sunday) on some short-yardage stuff and some unbalanced, but he continues to improve and we certainly have not lost any faith in him.”

Keim was asked to define what he meant to work Cooper in. “Little bit of guard, and it’s been no secret Paul Fanaika has been banged up a little bit and when you have a player with Coop’s ability, you have to try and get him some snaps sooner rather than later.”

— Keim said he could’ve given a game ball to a bunch of different players, not surprising the way it turned out. “It was nice to see Larry (Fitzgerald) have such a good game,” Keim said, and agreed that veteran defensive tackle Tommy Kelly has been a major addition. “Sometimes you worry about the amount of snaps he’s playing, but he has been a breath of fresh air,” Keim said.


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In the last-second, Eagles aftermath

Posted by Darren Urban on October 26, 2014 – 8:31 pm

As the clock wound down and Nick Foles was trying to get the Eagles in for a touchdown and the Cardinals were trying to hang on to the lead and the University of Phoenix Stadium crowd was deafening, it was hard not to have a flashback standing on the sideline.

No, Sunday’s game in no way matches the Cards’ NFC championship win. But it was a big win, and it certainly caused a few heart palpitations of its own, given multiple throws into the end zone that ended up very close to game-winning scores. The heady play of Rashad Johnson to shove Jordan Matthews out on the final throw – Nate Poole would like to remind everyone the force-out rule was abandoned long ago – capped a win that frankly, seemed improbable the way it played out.

But the Cardinals weren’t getting too giddy after beating the Eagles. Which is a big reason they’ve gotten to 6-1 in the first place. Sure, they get a Victory Monday, but the focus won’t wane.

“You know what our reward for today’s win is?” Larry Fitzgerald said. “A road trip to Dallas to play against the NFC East-leading team.”

Still, you have to wonder, as the Cowboys prepare to play the Redskins Monday night, if those players noticed that they have to play the NFC West leaders next week. The Cardinals have holes, yes. And they seem to overcome them every single time.

— The defense will not get enough credit for Sunday. They gave up a ton of yards (521). Foles threw for a ton of yards (411 – yeah, that pass defense ranking isn’t helped). But yet again, the scoreboard read only 20 points allowed. They twice forced turnovers as the Eagles smelled their goal line and another time held them out of the end zone to force a field goal – a stand that proved to be the difference in the game.

— They did all of that without Patrick Peterson. That scene, where Peterson was face-down on the turf after the helmet-to-helmet-to-helmet collision he had with Jeremy Maclin via the Deone Bucannon hit, was frightening. Peterson tweeted he was OK after the game, and Bucannon said Peterson was OK – OK in the grand scheme of things – but a scary moment. It’ll be interesting to see if he can be ready for the Cowboys.

— Peterson goes out, and that’s when you are very happy to have an Antonio Cromartie. And a quickly-getting-better Tyrann Mathieu.

— I counted eight deep shots (including the 30-yard pass to Fitz and a 25-yarder to Smokey Brown) Sunday. Palmer connected on three, including Brown’s 75-yarder at the end. There was a flea-flicker to Michael Floyd in the first half that was out of Floyd’s reach, otherwise it too might’ve been a TD. It’s a reason why Palmer completed only 20 of 42 passes.

— But 20 of 42 can be overcome when you generate 329 yards. And when you take no sacks and throw no interceptions. Another amazing day taking care of the things that hurt an offense bad.

— Oh, and to think Palmer had a nerve problem that wasn’t even letting him throw much at all three weeks ago. Could he have made the throw to Smokey Brown two weeks ago, Palmer was asked? “I’ll say yeah,” Palmer deadpanned. “Because you can’t prove me wrong.”

— The Cardinals need better pressure on the quarterback, but Arians felt moving the QB “off his spot” meant something. Unfortunately, Foles is pretty good “off his spot” – like on his 50-yard bomb on the run to Riley Cooper – but they did what they could.

“We’d like to sack him, but if he’s off the spot …. He hurt us off the spot, and we lost containment once or twice, but just to get him off the spot and disrupt the play,” Arians said.

— The Cardinals live and die with the blitz. So do the Eagles. That’s what cost them on the Brown TD.

— Interesting Andre Ellington was the only Cardinal with a rushing attempt in the game. Although 23 carries for 71 yards won’t be the production the Cardinals want or need.

— This one was memorable, for sure.

AftermathHappyUSE


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