The so-called “windows” all stay open for only so long in the NFL. That doesn’t mean a team can’t sustain competitiveness, or that any success must be followed with a significant down period. But rosters turn, great players get older, and the equation always changes. The Cardinals have gone through a ton of change this offseason, transitioning from Bruce Arians to Steve Wilks as coach and seeking out a quarterback now that Carson Palmer has retired. It demands the focus locally, but clearly, it’s not the only transition going on in the NFC West.
The Seahawks have traded away star defensive end Michael Bennett. Star cornerback Richard Sherman, coming off a major Achilles injury, looks like he very soon will become an ex-Seahawk. Safety Earl Thomas is reportedly on the trading block, and the future of defensive cogs defensive end Cliff Avril and safety Kam Chancellor is very much in doubt. And that doesn’t even include the fact coach Pete Carroll blew out the majority of his coaching staff and brought in new guys.
The Rams were on the upswing last season and it looks like — although not guaranteed — that the 49ers are trending the same. Everyone is waiting to see what the new versions of both the Cardinals and Seahawks will look like. It’s one thing to have Avril or Bennett not around. It’s quite another to think that Sherman might not be a Seahawk, especially when it comes to playing Larry Fitzgerald and the Cardinals.
The division definitely has a different feel to it.
Tags: 49ers, Larry Fitzgerald, NFC West, Rams, Richard Sherman, Seahawks
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It was ugly yes, and whether Bruce Arians did indeed see it coming, I’m not sure there is a way to stem that mindset the Cardinals played with Sunday against the Seahawks. It wasn’t anything like the team had played like all season – not like the losses to the Rams and the Steelers, even though they were sluggish in those too.
Larry Fitzgerald said the game reminded him of the Packers finale at the end of the 2009 season, also a home game in which the Cards were hammered because there was nothing to play for, also as the Cards prepared to go into the playoffs (I tweeted the same during today’s game.)
But you know what game this really reminded me of, after it was over: The lost trip to New England in 2008. At least in 2009, coach Ken Whisenhunt had basically said the Cardinals were going to pull back if they had nothing to play for. But that trip to New England, it was messy because the players simply weren’t ready to play, didn’t want to play, didn’t want to be in the snow. They lost 47-7, and they were called the worst playoff team ever, and we know how that turned out.
I’m not saying that’s exactly what happened Sunday, because I believe this current team is stronger mentally than the 2008 squad. But the Cards didn’t show up against the Seahawks, like they didn’t against the Patriots, and it means, well, not a whole lot, really.
If the Cards were to be upset in their first playoff game, it won’t be because they lost against the Seahawks in the Week 17 game. This team has proven it is very good, and potentially great. For all the chest-pounding some of the Seahawks were doing after the game, they just lost to the Rams at home themselves.
Not the way you want to finish. But as Carson Palmer said, there is no panic, and talking with the veterans, it’s not just a brave face. This team understands they must do better. But they are not worried.
(UPDATE: Here’s the playoff info.)
— There were a couple of bright spots. OK, bright moments. Dwight Freeney got his eighth sack. The Cardinals finally had an opponent miss a field goal for the first time all season (which is unbelievable).
— And there were some record breakers. Smokey Brown surpassed 1,000 yards receiving, finishing with 1,003 on the season (although it was Smoke that was Richard Sherman’s target of his taunting penalty, which Sherman said was to mime Brown going to sit on the bench — not a faux pulling his pants down.) Fitzgerald broke his own team record for receptions in a season (he finished with 109 catches). Palmer broke the franchise record for passing yards in a season (4,671).
— Some other cool numbers took a beating – the point differential, the defensive rankings – but no one will care if the Cardinals go on to win a Super Bowl. No one will really care if they don’t, in the end.
— Special teams reared its ugly head, whether it was the punt coverage on Tyler Lockett or a fifth missed extra point by Chandler Catanzaro. Catanzaro missed a field goal as well.
— After all that, the Cardinals seemed to come out pretty healthy. Center Lyle Sendlein limped off late – Bruce Arians said it was a bone bruise of some kind – but Palmer is OK, as are the top guys. Plus there is two weeks to get ready.
— That’s all for now. There’s two weeks to talk about the next game. And not much to say about this one.
Tags: Carson Palmer, Dwight Freeney, John Brown, Larry Fitzgerald, Lyle Sendlein, Richard Sherman, Seahawks
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Stefon Diggs is having a pretty good rookie season for the Vikings. But he couldn’t do much of anything against Patrick Peterson Thursday night. Diggs finished with just two catches for a scant 12 yards with Peterson covering him most of the game. (Full disclosure — Peterson was flagged twice for defensive holding. Both were declined.)
Tyrann Mathieu has been fantastic this season, and he was again Thursday night. He deserves the national publicity he has received. But with the way Peterson has turned into the lockdown cornerback everyone had been waiting for since he was drafted — this is definitely is best season as a pro — and how much this team would be hurting if he wasn’t out there, Peterson would seem to have the edge as this team’s defensive MVP.
Profootballfocus.com has Peterson targeted just seven times against the Vikings, and he gave up one completion — and that was a seven-yard screen pass to Diggs. Given the play scheme, it would’ve been almost impossible for Peterson to stop the pass. For the season, PFF has Peterson targeted only 55 times in 13 games, and he’s only given up 24 catches. He’s only allowed 309 yards and one touchdown.
By comparison, (in one fewer game) Denver’s Chris Harris is at 53-37-338-0, Carolina’s Josh Norman is at 70-33-296-1, the Jets’ Darrelle Revis is 59-28-281-2 and Seattle’s Richard Sherman is at 51-26-346-1.
The debate of who the best cornerback in the league seems to have died down from where it once was, mostly because Peterson and Sherman have apparently decided not to talk about it as much anymore. Peterson is letting his play do the talking. He’s making a strong point.
Tags: Chris Harris, Darrelle Revis, Josh Norman, Patrick Peterson, Richard Sherman, Stefon Diggs, Tyrann Mathieu
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There has been — and probably will continue to be — much debate about Patrick Peterson and where he stands among NFL cornerbacks after his 2014 season. As has been well-documented, he learned he had diabetes and he had much more of an up-and-down season than anyone would have liked. Bruce Arians talked about how Peterson’s weight is in a better place, and Peterson looked sharp during offseason work.
“I didn’t like the way I played last year so I wanted to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” Peterson said at the end of minicamp. “I feel like 2011 Patrick. I feel rejuvenated.”
Even with uneven play in 2014, he was still voted to the Pro Bowl, in part because of the respect he has from his peers. Along those lines, Peterson again was voted — through a player tally — into the NFL Network’s Top 1oo players list this year. Peterson was unveiled as the No. 19 player Wednesday night, which was actually a jump of three places from his spot at 22 last season. It puts him ahead of both Seattle safety Earl Thomas (who was No. 21) and Cleveland cornerback Joe Haden (No. 23), which I’m sure in both cases will lead to debate. Darrelle Revis was No. 17. As for Richard Sherman, he was voted at No. 11.
Tags: Calais Campbell, Darrelle Revis, Larry Fitzgerald, Patrick Peterson, Richard Sherman
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Ever since the summer, it’s more than just media and fans that have gotten involved in the Patrick Peterson vs. Richard Sherman back-and-forth. So too have Patrick Peterson and Richard Sherman, including this morning after it was known Peterson’s new contract is slightly better than the one Sherman signed earlier this year.
There have been times the tweets (or retweets of others) have been quite a jab. But Peterson said it’s simply fun — although he wouldn’t speak for Sherman.
“I don’t how he feels about it, but I think it’s fun, healthy competition,” Peterson said. “I’m having fun with it, sometimes it seems like he’s a little salty with it. I don’t have any problems with Richard. I don’t have any beef with him. I am having fun. I don’t know if he’s having fun. We have had our exchanges over the last month or so and obviously he is still exchanging words this morning, but it is what it is. I have no ill feelings toward Richard. I wish him the best of luck throughout his career and season and I guess it’ll be must-watch TV when we play Seattle.”
Tags: Patrick Peterson, Richard Sherman
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Now that Patrick Peterson has his new contract and has a deal through the 2020 season, it makes a lot of sense how jovial Peterson has been the last few days. You would be happy too if you were about to get millions and millions of dollars. As with most NFL contracts, it’s doubtful Peterson will get through 2020 and get all of the scheduled money without needing/wanting to re-do the deal, but that doesn’t matter right now.
The details of the contracts are still to be put out there. We’ll see how much is really guaranteed (Peterson said it was $48 million, but most of the time, those initial numbers are someone inflated under the microscope) but I have little doubt he’ll come out ahead of Richard Sherman’s recent extension, which I am sure was important to him. He’s also the first first-round draft pick from the 2011 draft — the first draft under the new CBA, the one that suppressed the rookie contracts so much. Now the rest of that class — Cam Newton, Von Miller, J.J. Watt and so on — have to figure out what the Cardinals and Peterson already have.
It was inevitable the Cardinals and Peterson were going to get this done. It was always a question of when and not if. The two sides have been talking for months for a reason. The Cardinals were motivated and of course, Peterson was. Now it’s out of the way, and Peterson will be about concentrating on being the best cornerback in the league.
Tags: Patrick Peterson, Richard Sherman
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They played nice for a while. But then the money upped the stakes as did the success of both teams, and it was probably inevitable Patrick Peterson and Richard Sherman would go back and forth about who was a better cornerback. Certainly it is always true for Sherman, who has made it clear he is willing to talk — and often — about everything. Much of the time it is to pound his chest about how good he is. For a while, Peterson decided to be much more low key about things, although it didn’t take long talking to him that he was supremely confident in his own abilities.
Then Sherman got his huge contract extension and Peterson is in line for one himself and naturally, that has led to talk about who is better because it stands to reason Peterson wants more than Sherman got and shouldn’t that only happen if he is better?
The latest back-and-forth came when Peterson talked about Sherman and the Seahawks’ scheme compared to the Cardinals, all on Arizona Sports 98.7 during the Bickley and Marotta show.
“If you look at their scheme and you look at our scheme, he’s a Cover-3 corner, period,” Peterson told the station. “A lot of guys say he’s a shutdown corner, but if you look at film and guys who understand the game, go back and look at film and see how his defense is. I believe if you put him in our system, I don’t think he’d be able to last, honestly, because I’m asked to do much more than he is.”
That, not surprisingly, got national attention. And Sherman’s attention.
@PFF_Pete this kid gave up as many Tds this year as I have in my career. He wouldn’t last in our system bcuz he gives up too many Tds
— Richard Sherman (@RSherman_25) May 22, 2014
(I do enjoy Sherman calling Peterson “this kid.” They were both in the 2011 draft.)
Look, Peterson is going to believe he is the best. He does anyway but does it make sense for him to defer to Sherman when that could be a factor in contract talks? Obviously, there are things Sherman has that Peterson wants, like a Super Bowl title and, in many eyes, that top CB title.
Certainly, Sherman is going to believe he is the best. He does anyway and he doesn’t want anyone infringing on that piece of real estate he has so loudly tried to conquer. Peterson has some things Sherman is trying hard to make up for, like a top-five pick status (Sherman was a fifth-rounder in 2011) and some serious popularity. Sherman has made big inroads there, but the way he has gone about announcing his presence with authority has gotten him plenty of critics. Peterson, meanwhile, has taken more of the Larry Fitzgerald road to Q rating.
If nothing else, it adds another layer to the NFC West. Like the powerhouse division needs another subplot.
Never forget though, this is about raising each of their profiles as much as anything. I can’t see why they wouldn’t still trade jerseys or hug it out if they saw each other. Right?
UPDATE: But wait, there’s more:
@RealPeterson21 wideouts regularly have career days on u. They ask u to stop them. Not let them score at will.
— Richard Sherman (@RSherman_25) May 23, 2014
Tags: Patrick Peterson, Richard Sherman
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First of all, Patrick Peterson isn’t going to hold out. If that was a question, Peterson stepped on it and killed it when asked about his contract extension situation yesterday.
“There won’t be no holding out for me,” Peterson said. “I want to continue playing football at a high level. … I have two years left so there’s no sense holding out.”
Peterson was holding a presser yesterday to talk about his charity dinner and foundations (all details are at patrickpeterson.org) but inevitably it turned into a discussion about the Pro Bowl cornerback’s contract status. Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman just got a big contract extension, Browns cornerback Joe Haden just received one Tuesday morning, and these days, most consider Sherman, Haden and Peterson the top three young cornerbacks in the game. Peterson is going to need an extension, and while the Cardinals have some time after exercising Peterson’s 2015 team option — hence the “two years left” — it’s coming sooner rather than later.
Peterson, though, understands the process. He talked of working on something “bigger” than just a contract, and insisted he’ll be patient.
“I think I’m definitely well-deserving of a new contract, but at the end of the day it’s a business,” Peterson said. “You’ve got (salary) cap numbers, you’ve got other guys you need to take care of, the rookie pool. All that stuff falls into perspective, but at the end of the day I know (GM) Steve Keim, coach (Bruce) Arians and Mr. (Michael) Bidwill, they want me here for the long haul.”
That’s true. Ask Keim and he couldn’t act more confident that Peterson’s situation will eventually get worked out. Will it get messy? I don’t see it. Peterson is a smart man. He works in the big picture, not unlike teammate Larry Fitzgerald. Fitz has had a couple of uncomfortable contract situations (always with the leverage over the team, but still) and he has deftly worked around any bad feelings it might have caused not only with the team but the fan base. Peterson knows a holdout wouldn’t go over well with anyone and it probably wouldn’t make a huge impact either given how much time is left on his deal.
Instead, he’ll work within the system. And in the end, like Sherman and Haden, he’s gonna get paid.
“They drafted me for the long haul,” Peterson said. “I want to be that Adrian Wilson of the organization, that Larry Fitzgerald, that Darnell Dockett. I believe I’ve done some great things here early in my career, and I want to be here for a while.”
Tags: contract, Joe Haden, Patrick Peterson, Richard Sherman, Steve Keim
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Seattle’s Earl Thomas is regarded by many (most?) as the best safety in the NFL right now. The Seahawks are now paying him like it, giving him an extension worth a reported $10 million average with more than $27 million guaranteed on his four extra years. This will impact the Cardinals, and in more than just Thomas-will-stick-around-the-NFC-West-and-be-a-pain type of way.
Shorter-term, the Seahawks have now cleared the way to also sign cornerback Richard Sherman to an extension. Given his position, he stands to make more than Thomas (although it’s arguable who is more valuable) and now both Sherman and the Seahawks know from where to start. Sherman has said this contract is about respect, although I am guessing he and Seattle will not have a hard time coming up with a deal that averages $11-to-$12M. And that’s where the Cardinals come in, because it will be the Sherman contract to which Patrick Peterson — who no doubt is awaiting his own extension — and the Cardinals will look when they start to negotiate. On one hand, Peterson was hurt being a first-round pick, because the Cardinals were able to exercise a player option for 2015 and delay talks if needed. Sherman, a fifth-round pick in 2011 long after Peterson was taken, had no such team option and the Seahawks are forced to deal with him right now. That said, Peterson’s 2015 option is worth more than $10 million, and after Sherman signs, his price should become more clear.
Peterson’s situation isn’t the only way this will resonate in Arizona, however. It’s also the first step in an evolving Seattle financial picture. Eventually, the team built in part because they had such key parts playing on cheap rookie deals (Thomas, Sherman, Russell Wilson, for example) will have to start paying those parts. Which means less money elsewhere. That isn’t to say the Seahawks can’t maneuver their way through it while winning big, but it again underscores the balancing act of sustaining a winner in the salary-capped NFL, and why rosters don’t and can’t stay the same long-term.
— For those asking, click here for some details on the upcoming draft party a week from Thursday, being held inside University of Phoenix Stadium.
Tags: draft party, Earl Thomas, Patrick Peterson, Richard Sherman, salary cap, Seahawks
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The Seahawks’ defense is being lauded today and rightfully so for their throttling of the Broncos’ record-setting offense in the Super Bowl. There are a bunch of breakdowns out there comparing Seattle’s defensive year to those of the best ever, and the Seahawks deserve to be in that conversation with teams like the 2000 Ravens and the 1985 Bears (I’d think some of those Steel Curtain teams should be in the discussion too, but I digress.)
Defense doesn’t necessarily win championships — I saw a stat that said the team with the higher-ranked defense actually has lost six of the last eight Super Bowls — but it certainly doesn’t hurt. But I believe pressure can help win a title, and that’s certainly what the Seahawks did to Peyton Manning and why the Cardinals had defensive success this season.
Profootballfocus.com charted that the Seahawks blitzed Manning on only six of 51 dropbacks in the Super Bowl, yet were in his face all game. That’s the kind of pressure the Giants put on Tom Brady in the last Super Bowl played in Arizona, the one in which New York placed the stunning upset on the previously undefeated Patriots. When you can pressure with four, everything changes.
The Cardinals had a lot of pressure success in part because defensive coordinator Todd Bowles was a genius with mixing up attack plans on the quarterback, and there was a lot of blitzing involved in that. They also benefited when linebacker John Abraham played like the John Abraham who had spent a career getting double-digit sacks every season. That kind of rusher is important. And going forward, it’s one of the reasons General Manager Steve Keim will lean toward not only the offensive but the defensive line in terms of trying to make the most improvement. It’s great to have one of the best cornerbacks in the game in Patrick Peterson, but without pressure, it doesn’t mean much. The same goes for Seattle’s Richard Sherman and the rest of that defensive backfield — they can afford to be aggressive, because they know the pressure will be coming sooner rather than later.
Tags: John Abraham, Patrick Peterson, Peyton Manning, Richard Sherman, Seahawks, Steve Keim, Super Bowl, Todd Bowles
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