First, a disclaimer: I have zero idea whom Ray Horton — if he were hired as Cardinals’ head coach — would hire as his offensive assistants, including coordinator. Horton said he knows who he would have on his staff, but alas, he isn’t sharing those names. This next anecdote, then, might just be an interesting story and nothing more.
But, for those asking, Horton not only has a strong connection with former Chargers head coach-and-pretty-good-offensive-coordinator Norv Turner, but a memorable moment too. Horton was finishing his playing days as a defensive back with the Dallas Cowboys in 1991 and 1992, which were the first two of Turner’s three seasons as OC for the juggernaut Cowboys back in the day.
Horton explained their relationship, which I chronicled back in a story when Horton arrived in Arizona in 2011:
The greatest compliment Horton said he ever received came from Norv Turner, who was the offensive coordinator for the Cowboys during Horton’s playing days in Dallas. As Horton’s NFL career came to a close, Turner – who figured to get a head coaching opportunity soon – asked Horton to be on his staff, whenever that might be.
Horton was perplexed. He talked to a lot of coaches in Dallas, but they were defensive coaches, given Horton’s position. He hadn’t interacted with Turner nearly enough to produce an invitation to work for him. Turner told him he wanted Horton because all the Dallas defensive coaches spoke so highly of him – and that willingness from Turner sticks with Horton to this day.
When Turner ended up as the Washington Redskins head coach in 1994, he indeed brought Horton aboard. Horton was on Turner’s staff for three seasons as a assistant defensive backs coach and defensive assistant before he was plucked to be defensive backs coach in Cincinnati. So yes, there is definitely a connection with Horton and Turner. Does that mean Horton would reach out to Turner to be OC? Again, no way to know. But it wouldn’t be a shock given their history.
– More updates on the general manager front. I’d expect in-house candidate Steve Keim to be interviewed this week. Keim is also reportedly going to interview for the GM jobs in both San Diego and Jacksonville. Tim Graham also reported that the Cardinals will interview Redskins director of pro personnel Morocco Brown — he’s held his post for five years — for the GM job. The Rooney Rule also governs general manager searches, and Brown would fulfill that requirement for the Cards. Coincidentally, Brown, like Keim, played football at North Carolina State (although Keim was gone by the time Brown arrived there.) UPDATE: The Brown interview has been confirmed.
Tags: Morocco Brown, Norv Turner, Ray Horton, Redskins, Steve Keim
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The NFL announced Monday,with free agency so close, that they were hitting the Redskins and Cowboys with removal of cap space this year and next because of violations when the league was uncapped in 2011. The details aren’t as important for the Cards except for the part where the league is giving that extra cap space to 28 other teams (the Saints and Raiders had minor infractions so they don’t get extra space, but they aren’t docked either.)
The extra space is $1.6 million, according to ESPN. At this point, any little bit helps for the Cards. The next day or so, when teams must comply with the cap and begin free agency, could be busy across the league and have results like today when the Texans surprisingly cut right tackle Eric Winston for cap reasons.
Wow, a post that didn’t mention Pey … dang it!
Tags: Cowboys, free agency, Redskins, salary cap
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Let’s start here: Peyton Manning, at his press conference Wednesday to announce his release from the Colts, said “I haven’t thought a lot about where I’ll play.”
You can argue about whether that’s true or not, but only Peyton knows for sure. So that leaves everybody scrambling today to guesstimate what will happen with Manning. SI’s Jim Trotter said one team exec thought between nine and 11 teams would be chasing Manning. That number sounds about right, and the usual suspects — including the Cards — have been named many, many times across media platforms.
I’ve had a lot of questions of how “serious” the Cards would be about Manning. That I can’t answer. Not one time, on or off the record, has anyone in the building talked about Manning specifically. That wasn’t going to happen when he was still a Colt, and it probably won’t change even now. The best you can do is connect some dots, from the door general manager Rod Graves left ajar in Indy when he said the team will continue to look for ways to improve. Certainly, no one has dismissed the idea publicly, and there have been a lot of outlets (starting with Charley Casserly, remember?) that have connected Manning with the Cards or said the team will have interest — and I would agree. Fox’s Adam Schein even reported that the Cards not only will chase Manning but have a plan to bring in receiver Reggie Wayne too. (That would be a surprise to me, but ruling things out at this point would probably be a mistake.)
At this point, though, nothing is much different than when speculation began weeks ago. Teams must figure out if Manning has interest in playing for them (I am guessing there are not really nine-to-11 teams that Manning would play for, although he might not tell them that to keep his heavy leverage.) He’ll have to have a workout at some point for all the teams that want to see it. He’ll have to submit to physicals. His health remains a big deal.
“I’m throwing it pretty well,” Manning said at his presser today. “I’ve still got some work to do. I’ve got some progress to make, but I’ve come a long way. … I’m feeling closer and closer. I have to remind myself that it is March. I have a hard time doing that at times. It sure feels comfortable.”
His release allows teams — on-the-record and otherwise — finally feel comfortable letting people know of their interest. There have been reports today about the Seahawks, Redskins, Jets and Broncos seeking Manning, and the Dolphins have long been a no-brainer. As for the Cards, I agree it fits on a lot of levels, from the dome to Fitz to the fact Whiz worked well with Kurt Warner and has shown himself flexible enough to fit a talented QB into the offense. Logistics could be difficult, such as the roster bonus Kevin Kolb is due in 10 days. Trotter said he heard Manning will need time to collect himself after an emotional separation from Indy.
Manning, who has a home in Miami, was followed long enough by a media group after returning there today that he finally stopped to talk (that would get real old real quick). He told those reporters he didn’t know what teams were interested in him and “I don’t know if it’s like college recruiting where you take visits. It’s all new to me.”
It’s all new to everyone. Health issues aside, I don’t remember such a high-profile player being on the open market like this, an iconic player, who at least still has a chance to be playing at a high level.
Tags: Broncos, Colts, Jets, Peyton Manning, Redskins, Rod Graves, Seahawks
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The Cardinals officially have sold out Sunday’s game, meaning it will not be blacked out locally and instead be shown on Fox (Ch. 10) in the Valley. The game is the 61st straight time – out of 61 possibilities – in which the Cards have sold out University of Phoenix Stadium.
That’s an impressive total (46 of those games are from the regular season) but they have a while to go to match the longest streaks. Both the Denver Broncos and Washington Redskins have sold out all their regular season games since 1974. The Steelers since 1976. The Jets date back to 1981, the Giants 1981 and the Packers 1989.
Tags: Broncos, Giants, Jets, Packers, Redskins, sellout, Steelers
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The sequence in question — really only one play, when you break it down — is innocently buried in the play-by-play of Sunday’s 22-21 loss in Washington:
Arizona Cardinals at 5:17
1-10-ARZ 20 (5:17) C.Wells right guard to ARZ 23 for 3 yards (R.McIntosh).
2-7-ARZ 23 (4:35) (Shotgun) K.Kolb pass incomplete short right to E.Doucet.
Penalty on ARZ-T.Heap, Illegal Motion, declined.
3-7-ARZ 23 (4:32) (Shotgun) K.Kolb pass incomplete short right to E.Doucet (R.Kerrigan).
4-7-ARZ 23 (4:28) D.Zastudil punts 41 yards to WAS 36, Center-M.Leach, downed by ARZ. WAS-D.Gomes was injured during the play.
Many (as in people commenting on my Twitter feed and on the blog) seem to wonder why, on that second down play, Beanie Wells was not given the ball. The clock would have kept moving, some said. Beanie was running well, said others. In the end, the sport of second-guessing play calls may rank up there with reasons people like to watch the games. Here are my thoughts on that sequence — the choices make sense to me.
If the Cardinals had still been ahead, 21-13, and had been able to prevent that painful fourth-down touchdown pass moments before, I get running Beanie a few times. But even after the Cards knocked down the two-point conversion, they were only up by two points. With five minutes left, the playbook still has to be wide-open — you can’t just grind the clock and punt. Not when a field goal beats you. Could a Beanie second-down run made it third-and-2? Sure. It could have also been stoned (and the Redskins were looking run-first at that point) and you’d be faced with third-and-7 anyway.
One thing I will say: It seemed like the second-down shotgun look would have been helpful to a Beanie quick draw; Wells gained 45 of his yards on three rushing attempts when quarterback Kevin Kolb started in shotgun on the play.
Milking the clock makes no sense to me. If you don’t get the first down and drain the clock, all it would have meant was that the Redskins kick the game-winning field goal as time expires rather than the Cards getting a final drive chance with 1:46 left — and that pass to Chansi Stuckey made things look at first so promising, until he was stripped.
As for Wells’ only having three carries in the first half before getting 11 in the second half, Whisenhunt said “we didn’t have a lot of opportunities in the first half.” (The Cards did only have
18 20 first-half plays). “In the second half, we got into a package where we were having success. It was giving them problems and Beanie ran the ball very well.”
“You’d like to start out a little better than we did but we didn’t,” Whisenhunt added. “That’s something we are going to continue to work on.”
Wells looked frustrated after the game, but that could have been more about the gut-punch loss. The Cards only had three fourth-quarter possessions, and one lasted one play, the 73-yard bomb to Fitz. Then came the above possession, and then the final Stuckey fumble possession.
Tags: Beanie Wells, Kevin Kolb, Redskins
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Beanie Wells, like his teammates, was frustrated. The running back sat at his locker after Sunday’s one-point loss to the Redskins, having seen one slip away. He had watched friend and former teammate Tim Hightower light up the Cards in the first half, and then Wells – who had just six yards rushing on only three first-half carries – roared back in the second half. He ended up with 93 yards on 14 carries and nearly overtook Hightower (96 yards on 20 carries) despite the latter’s head start.
His second-half coming out was “just about opportunity and execution,” Wells said, and I’m sure he wasn’t thrilled it took a half to get there. More importantly, his comment serves well the Cardinals’ entire game Sunday. They had opportunity. They didn’t execute.
The defense is going to have a chance to rally big next week playing in Seattle. Clearly the Seahawks are offensively challenged. Of course, the Cards don’t have the luxury of making any assumptions right now.
– The game played out like bookends. Although the fourth quarter had a different vibe than the first, the end result was the Cards ran six offensive plays in the first quarter, and six in the fourth. The blame falls on both sides – the defense has to find a way to get off the field, the offense a way to stay on – and it’s difficult to win under those circumstances.
– The Redskins, by the way, had 25 plays in the first quarter and 31 in the fourth.
– The way Kevin Kolb took the hit from London Fletcher and still delivered that ball, I mean, that’s the reason his ex-Philly teammates kept swearing by the guy and saying he’d play well in Arizona and why his new teammates love him already.
– Kolb also did the most important thing with Larry Fitzgerald – he just gave Fitz a chance. I know Fitz was wide open, but Kolb was worried he had overthrown him. Nope. Fitz made it work.
– You don’t want to overstate the importance of an injury, but given the way linebacker Daryl Washington played in the opener and given his speed, I find it hard to believe the Redskins would have run the ball so well had Washington been able to play.
– That’s three field-goal blocks for Calais Campbell in his career. Having a 6-foot-8 weapon in the middle there is crucial. Campbell needs to make more of an impact on defense, however.
– Just for a brief moment, I thought Patrick Peterson – maybe, just maybe – was going to break that final punt return.
– You noticed Peterson and A.J. Jefferson a lot less Sunday than last week, Of course, the Redskins were running it more (and with more success) than Carolina did.
– Wells had a good day after he started getting the ball more. It sure seemed like he had most of his success, interestingly, on the quick draw off shotgun snaps.
– Two TDs in two weeks for tight end Jeff King. He’s already one short of his career-best season.
– Former Card RB Tim Hightower got away with baiting the Cards into an early penalty, giving a shot to linebacker Paris Lenon well after the play, setting off a scrum that ended with safety Kerry Rhodes getting nabbed for an unsportsmanlike penalty. Hightower said he knew how to push the buttons of his former teammates. You have to stay out of that stuff if you are a Card (although I’m not sure why Hightower wasn’t flagged in the first place.)
There isn’t a ton to analyze at this point. The Cardinals will have to find a way to slow opponents. Because certainly, when you have a chance to win a road game, you don’t want to see it fade like Sunday’s did.
Tags: A.J. Jefferson, Beanie Wells, Daryl Washington, Jeff King, Kevin Kolb, Larry Fitzgerald, Paris Lenon, Patrick Peterson, Redskins
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In what is no surprise after both missed all week of practice, LB Daryl Washington (calf) and RB LaRod Stephens-Howling (hand) are inactive for today’s game. Paris Lenon will slide into Washington’s spot and Stewart Bradley will get his first start for the Cardinals as the other inside linebacker. Chester Taylor will get Stephens-Howling’s spot.
John Skelton remains inactive at QB, meaning that, for the time being, Rich Bartel has won the No. 2 quarterback role, since Skelton has recovered from his ankle injury.
The other inactives include CB Crezdon Butler, who suffered a significant ankle injury last week in practice, CB Korey Lindsey, TE Jim Dray — who is still recovering from his pectoral strain — and T D’Anthony Batiste.
Tags: Chester Taylor, Daryl Washington, inactives, LaRod Stephens-Howling, Redskins, Rich Bartel, Stewart Bradley
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It was hard not to notice back in training camp. Tight end Jeff King had scored a touchdown in a practice, and he leaped afterward and spiked it through his legs. He said it was his trademark – kinda funny, since King is known as a blocker – but he followed through.
There King was, scoring on his 48-yard TD reception last weekend and, boom, a spike between the legs. He even recounted the play this week, saying that on his mind as he sprinted for the end zone “I was just thinking I have to spike it at some point.”
“It’s been a constant throughout my career,” King said. “I think was that number 10, so that was my 10th spike.”
King knows his TDs. That was indeed his 10th career touchdown, and he certainly went between the legs last season when he scored against the Cards when he was playing for the Panthers. The tight ends have been let loose in Arizona.
– Coach Ken Whisenhunt said this week he liked his linebacker play and apparently, so did the website ProFootballFocus.com. After grading film they put together an all-Pro Football Focus team for the week. Not only did Daryl Washington make the NFL-wide list but so too did veteran outside linebacker Clark Haggans. It would be huge if Haggans is able to keep up that sort of work.
– This will be the week, I think where we see some things from a pair of veterans who didn’t do anything last week: running back Chester Taylor and linebacker Stewart Bradley. Obviously, Taylor was inactive last week, having joined the Cardinals too late for Whisenhunt to want to play him. Bradley was active, but played little other than special teams because he was still getting his feet under him.
I think both would have had a role against the Redskins, but with both Washington (calf) and running back LaRod Stephens-Howling (hand) questionable to play, it would just up the ante of needing Taylor and Bradley. When it comes to Bradley, the Cards have long lauded the flexibility of starter Paris Lenon – who played both inside linebacker roles last year – and Lenon could switch to Washington’s side to allow Bradley to be in his more natural spot.
– As for the ex-Cardinal running back, Tim Hightower said this game is “going to be little extra sentimental and a little more emotional, just because I kind of grew up (with the Cards).
“The incentive there is like when that teacher has been teaching a student, and that student finally gets to a point where he is kind of on his own and you get a chance to come back and see the teacher, you want to put your best foot forward,” Hightower said. “That’s the mindset I’m taking this week.”
– On the other side of that trade, Cardinals defensive end Vonnie Holliday smiled when he thought of playing the Redskins. “I feel like I kind of raised some of those guys up,” Holliday said. “I feel like I know what it takes to beat them, some of their weaknesses and some of their strengths. I can tell my guys about that here.
“Same thing on the offensive side of the ball … if a guy is shaded this way, this is what that means. I know they know that too. Certainly at this point in my career I have to be a student of the game. I take a lot of pride in that. The fast-twitch is not the same, so you have to anticipate. That’s what I do in the game, from the front to the secondary, I pay attention.”
– Speaking of learning and teaching, in some ways, the Redskins did just that with the Cardinals. After Mike Shanahan was fired by the Broncos and before he was hired by the Redskins, he did a training camp tour that included a stop in Flagstaff to look at the Cards — and specifically, how they ran the 3-4 defense.
“When I came back to Washington something I wanted to do is run the 3-4, because if you look over the past 25 years, it’s probably the most successful,” Shanahan said. “I like the indecisions, from an offensive standpoint, of not knowing which linebacker was coming and the overall philosophy of keeping an offense off balance.”
– The last two times the Cardinals have gone to Washington — 2007 and 2008 – they have stayed in the game and had a chance to win in the fourth quarter, except they were unable to come up with a winning kick. I’d think it’ll come down to whether the defense can come up with a more effective outing. There’s no question Rex Grossman has a history of making mistakes if you pressure him enough.
Offensively, you’d think the Cards will be effective. The hope is Larry Fitzgerald is able to be more involved, but quarterback Kevin Kolb did a good job looking elsewhere when necessary.
Who knows, maybe King will get a chance to spike the ball again.
Tags: Chester Taylor, Clark Haggans, Daryl Washington, Jeff King, Ken Whisenhunt, Kevin Kolb, Larry Fitzgerald, Mike Shanahan, Redskins, Stewart Bradley, Tim Hightower, Vonnie Holliday
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Former Cardinals running back Tim Hightower made a guarantee of sorts earlier this week, when the Redskins’ back said “We’re going to win this game” when asked about playing the Cards in Washington Sunday. I’m not sure what else he is supposed to say, especially playing his old team.
“It’s kind of funny it has even come to that,” Hightower said. “That’s one of those things where anyone who’s lived life long enough and been through anything, knows that life isn’t guaranteed. Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. People are going to take it however they interpret things. I know my intentions. I don’t have any disrespect for anybody there, but I am a competitor. I want to win.
“If it was the other way around and I was on (the Cardinals) I would be saying the same exact thing. … I know coach (Ken) Whisenhunt is going to have that team prepared and they are going to expect to win. It wasn’t anything disrespectful. I didn’t take a shot at anybody and it wasn’t an arrogant comment. It was just confidence in my team and the competitor in me.”
My guess is that the Cardinals players know that. Hey, this isn’t Namath and Super Bowl III. If anyone isn’t already thinking Hightower would desperately want to beat his former team this weekend, they are being naive. In any case, it will be interesting to see how this one plays out — I don’t think it’s easy to gauge exactly where the Redskins or the Cardinals are at this point, other than their records are each 1-0.
Tags: Redskins, Tim Hightower
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I suppose, in this crazy, condensed offseason, the unexpected should be expected. So I wasn’t too surprised today to hear running back Tim Hightower was traded to the Redskins, in exchange for veteran defensive end Vonnie Holliday and a sixth-round draft pick. I was, however, stunned to hear that guard Deuce Lutui flunked his physical with the Bengals, with whom he signed last week. I was also stunned to hear the Cardinals then brought him back on a one-year contract. That’s certainly not how Lutui wanted his free agency to play out. That dynamic now that he is returning, and how/if he fits into the lineup, will be very, very interesting.
As for Hightower, another good man in that locker room, it was clear when they drafted Ryan Williams that, eventually, Hightower or Beanie Wells would be moving on. I thought it might not be until after this season. Turns out it’s today. The fumbling issues really hurt Hightower. So he signed his tender and gets a shot with the Redskins (Cards at Washington, Week Two, by the way) and the Cards alleviate the crowd in the backfield and get vet depth to work along the defensive line.
Dang, I can barely keep up.
Tags: Beanie Wells, Bengals, Deuce Lutui, Redskins, Ryan Williams, Tim Hightower, Vonnie Holliday
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