My question was about philosophy on tight ends, but the first response was about fullbacks, and that made everyone take notice.
“I’m not a fullback guy. I never have been,” Bruce Arians said, and anyone who knew the Cardinals immediately thought of Anthony Sherman. Sherman was the Cards’ fullback the past two years, a piece in Ken Whisenhunt’s offense as a blocker, really, and also a key guy on special teams. Sherman was good enough on teams to be named a captain, and that alone might provide hope for Sherman going forward, even after Arians’ blunt analysis.
This doesn’t have anything to do with Anthony Sherman, really, but how Arians likes to use his tight ends — as potential decoys.
“I want tight ends who are multiple,” Arians said. “If you are a defensive coordinator and I send a fullback in and take out a tight end, I will get your best call for that. If I have two tight ends (in the game), and you don’t know if one will play fullback or one could split out wide, you’re going to give me a down-and-distance (defensive) call. You don’t have a specific call. The more flexible tight ends can be, threats at receiver or dual in-line backfield blockers, the more pressure you put on the defense.”
Arians went on to say Rob Housler was a player who, when Arians was with the Steelers, Arians thought about drafting and making a big wide receiver. Arians sees him as a mismatch for defenses, while Jeff King and Jim Dray (assuming a tight end isn’t drafted) will do the “dirty work.”
Where does that leave Sherman? He played 236 offensive snaps a year ago in 13 games. That would probably dry up. He also played 156 snaps on special teams, and that’s a role he can excel within. Sherman had no rushing attempts all season and only five catches. As Sando noted, Arians did work with a fullback last year, but that guy was considered more of a big running back in Arians’ eyes. Whether Sherman can be the same for the Cardinals — and Arians — is yet to be seen.
Tags: Anthony Sherman, Bruce Arians, Jeff King, Jim Dray, Rob Housler
Posted in Blog | 24 Comments »
Just in case anyone wasn’t sure about new coach Bruce Arians wanting to get the ball downfield if possible in the running game, Arians makes it pretty clear what he wants to see in his running backs.
He wants someone who can run, of course. And block. Beyond that? Let’s just say that fantasy football players in points-per-reception leagues aren’t going to look at the Cardinals first.
“They are back there because they are runners and pass protectors,” Arians said. “Will we throw to the backs? Yeah. But the receivers are the ones paid to catch it. (Running backs) are helping but it’s doubtful our running back leads the team in receiving.”
Last season, injuries crushed the Cards’ running backs, so reception totals don’t correspond perfectly in what the prior staff wanted to do in the passing game, but even Ken Whisenhunt’s pass game didn’t use the backs a ton as receivers (especially after Tim Hightower left.) William Powell had the most catches for a running back last year (19), and that was sixth on the team behind Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Roberts, Michael Floyd, Rob Housler and Early Doucet. LaRod Stephens-Howling was tied for seventh with tight end Jeff King with his 17 catches. Ryan Williams had seven receptions, Anthony Sherman five and Beanie Wells only had one.
Tags: Andre Roberts, Anthony Sherman, Beanie Wells, Bruce Arians, Early Doucet, Jeff King, LaRod Stephens-Howling, Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, Rob Housler, Ryan Williams, Tim Hightower, William Powell
Posted in Blog | 46 Comments »
Brian Hoyer will get his chance to start at quarterback for the Cardinals Sunday. Coach Ken Whisenhunt officially made that true Wednesday when he named Hoyer his starter in San Francisco, the fourth different guy to start at QB for the Cards this season. Whiz said Hoyer has earned the chance to play, but it doesn’t hurt to take a little bit of a longer look at someone who could be on the roster for the Cards going forward.
Hoyer’s contract will run out in March. I believe he will be a restricted free agent again — he was for the Patriots last offseason, but I don’t believe he will have earned an accrued season this year (three weeks each with Pittsburgh and Arizona but will have been active just four games) to reach unrestricted free agency. That would mean the Cards can tender him an offer to keep him around (and even if he would be unrestricted, the Cards could still try to re-sign him.) UPDATE: I was wrong. Hoyer will indeed be unrestricted.
Regardless, Hoyer wasn’t about to talk about that Wednesday. Not with his game against the 49ers on deck.
“I’m not really worried about that right now,” Hoyer said. “I’m worried about what play will be called on third-and 2-to-5. We’re not going to the playoffs and this is the last game and there will be plenty of time to worry about that after Sunday.”
– Whisenhunt said he didn’t know if running back Beanie Wells would start this week, noting it would be a “package-oriented” result. As for Wells’ comments that he was auditioning for other teams in the finale, Whisenhunt put it on the frustration of the season and nothing more than that. “When you’ve had individual players that have played certain ways, there’s going to be frustration,” Whisenhunt said. “Sometimes they’re going to make comments, so you don’t put a lot of stock in what they say.
“(Beanie) has a job to do for us. He’s got to do a better job than what he did last week. He understands that and that’s what you focus on.”
– Tight end Rob Housler (shoulder) was put on injured reserve Wednesday, ending his season. Wide receiver Kerry Taylor was promoted from the practice squad to take his place on the roster.
Tags: Beanie Wells, Brian Hoyer, Ken Whisenhunt, Kerry Taylor, Rob Housler
Posted in Blog | 37 Comments »
Coach Ken Whisenhunt usually isn’t real forthcoming with injuries on Monday mornings, but he did say today that the shoulder injury suffered by tight end Rob Housler Sunday against the Bears is serious enough that Housler won’t be playing against the 49ers this week in the finale. On that topic, Whiz sounded pretty sure of himself. On the quarterback topic, his decision on whom to start not as much.
Whisenhunt praised Brian Hoyer’s play, given the circumstances. Hoyer remains a logical guess to be starter against the 49ers.
“We haven’t even watched the tape with the team yet,” Whisenhunt said. “I’m hesitant until we go through some of those things. There are always situations that come up where you want to find out what was going through the player’s mind, what they were thinking, that all goes into the decision part of it.”
Whiz acknowledged it is “unfortunate” the Cards are again unsure of who to play. “At that position, you have to have stability, you have to have consistency of play, and we haven’t had that,” Whisenhunt said.
– Finally, running back Beanie Wells lost playing time because of his fumble. That, Whisenhunt said, was a simple cause and effect.
“If you have the ball, that’s your responsibility,” Whisenhunt said. “You can’t turn it over. I don’t care who you are. I don’t care what position you play. In the NFL, if you turn the ball over, you’re not going to play. That’s the way it goes. And that’s through history. There are guys who are good players who can’t hold on to the football. Turnovers are something you can’t overcome.”
It didn’t help that the fumble came without Wells being hit, just him dropping the ball. But Whisenhunt was asked if he still has confidence in Beanie. “Sure,” he said. I still expect Beanie to have a role this week in San Francisco. UPDATE: Beanie just said in the locker room that he thinks it is “inevitable” that his days are numbered in Arizona and right now he is on an audition for 31 other teams. He admitted he hasn’t had conversations with anyone with the team saying that for sure, but he knows it is a production-based business and he hasn’t produced enough. Here’s the full story.
Tags: Beanie Wells, Brian Hoyer, Rob Housler
Posted in Blog | 38 Comments »
Two of the four players in NFL history who have four punt return touchdowns in a season will be returning punts Sunday at University of Phoenix Stadium.
“I think it’s going to be fun, having Devin Hester on one end and Patrick Peterson on the other,” Peterson said. “I believe that calls for a good show.”
Whether it actually produces anything remains to be seen. Both Peterson and Hester have been quiet this season on punt returns. Hester has averaged just nine yards on 34 tries, with a long of 44. His average is well below his career average of 12.3 yards a return. Peterson, of course, has also been slowed. He has an average of 8.6 yards on 47 tries (and has lost three fumbles). Neither Peterson or Hester has a touchdown this season.
Peterson has talked a few times about trying to break out on punt returns. But he is playing well at cornerback, and the always confident Peterson will not sway from his belief the big punt return will still come.
“It doesn’t bother me,” Peterson said. “At the end of the day the Arizona Cardinals drafted me to be a defensive back. The punt returns are a plus. When my opportunities comes, I will try my best and I want to break one. But teams now are so dialed in, when (number) 21 has the ball in his hands, bottle him up on the sideline and if you don’t, have all 11 hats to the ball.”
– Wide receiver Early Doucet (concussion) and newcomer offensive lineman Mike Gibson (calf) — who apparently got hurt in practice this week after re-signing — are both out Sunday. The Cardinals have a bunch of players questionable, although both safeties Rashad Johnson and James Sanders were upgraded to limited Friday. In addition to those two, the questionable list includes T Nate Potter, FB Anthony Sherman, LB Quentin Groves, TE Rob Housler, DE Ronald Talley and NT Dan Williams.
The Bears will be without LB Brian Urlacher. DT Henry Melton is doubtful. Questionable are NFL interceptions leader Tim Jennings, LB Blake Costanzo, WR Earl Bennett and T Jonathan Scott.
Tags: Anthony Sherman, Bears, Dan Williams, Devin Hester, Early Doucet, James Sanders, Mike Gibson, Nate Potter, Patrick Peterson, Quentin Groves, Rashad Johnson, Rob Housler, Ronald Talley
Posted in Blog | No Comments »
The Cardinals will still be without nose tackle Dan Williams today against the Lions. David Carter
should will get the start in his place. It hurts the run defense, which has struggled anyway, but the Lions do not have a great running game anyway. Tight end Rob Housler is active, so that helps — he is a favorite target of rookie starting QB Ryan Lindley. Speaking of quarterbacks, newcomer Brian Hoyer is, as expected, inactive. John Skelton will back up Lindley.
The other inactives:
– S James Sanders (calf)
– WR Early Doucet (concussion)
– TE Kory Sperry
– DE Ronald Talley (ankle)
– G Senio Kelemete
Tags: Brian Hoyer, Dan Williams, David Carter, Early Doucet, inactives, James Sanders, Kory Sperry, Rob Housler, Ronald Talley, Ryan Lindley, Senio Kelemete
Posted in Blog | 14 Comments »
The Cardinals know the criticism is coming, know it has been coming, know what’s being said. Coach Ken Whisenhunt was acknowledging speculation on his job security was “part of the business.” Linebacker Quentin Groves, meanwhile, was saying the Cards have to pull together because that’s their only option.
“We’re all we got,” Groves said. “We have to stick together as a family, as a team and then just say we’re all we got. The fans turn on you, the media turns on you, and at the same time those 62 guys in the locker room (it’s 61, counting practice squad, to be accurate) have to band together with the coaches as well as say we’re all we got, and go out and play.”
There isn’t much more to say on that. Obviously I’ve been through these losing streaks the last couple of years (and yes, so too have you) and I know what’s coming from you and in the comments below. No need to rehash them weekly. Sunday was a bad loss, especially after building early leads. Two road games are coming, in New York and in Seattle. Nothing simple about breaking the streak in either place.
Anyway, on to some game specifics:
– Ryan Lindley looked so … solid on that first drive. He was accurate. He was smart. And then it went off the rails. The interceptions, save for the last one (which I didn’t get a good look at), all looked like throws a rookie quarterback would make. The last pick-6, trying to throw something deep off a back foot, that looked particularly like a rookie. Doesn’t make it OK, but it wasn’t surprising.
The question is what now? Whiz acknowledged he thought about taking Lindley out but didn’t. It’s tough for a team, though, knowing Lindley was in there two weeks in a row with a lead and the job could not be finished. The Rams didn’t come after Lindley right away. You have to wonder, with a Jets team reeling and with nothing to lose, what Rex Ryan might unleash on an inexperienced QB.
– Somehow, the Cards lost two games to the Rams this season when quarterback Sam Bradford completed a total of 15 passes in two games. Never thought that’d be possible.
– Having Beanie Wells made a difference early, but it felt like the Rams finally said defensively they wanted to make Lindley beat them, and he couldn’t, and that was that.
– Daryl Washington got his ninth sack and Patrick Peterson his fourth interception, and both were nice plays and helpful at the time. But defensively, the Cards let the Rams flip field position too many times. The big plays, like the first time against the Rams, bit the Cards. So too did Steven Jackson’s 139 yards rushing.
– Interesting that the game in which Todd Heap is essentially a healthy scratch, Rob Housler ends up with his best game so far (8 catches for 82 yards). Whether it was the defensive scheme or not, Lindley seemed to have a comfort level with Housler.
– Clearly, LaRod Stephens-Howling was having issues with his sore ribs. So William Powell got more time and chipped in six catches for 63 yards in that third-down back role.
– The question of the week will be Kevin Kolb’s health and Lindley’s status. As of now I’d assume Lindley is staying in there if Kolb isn’t healthy, but to be honest, Whisenhunt didn’t say that. The Jets will have extra time to prepare, but they’ve been pretty bad. Next week will be interesting. I don’t have much more to say about this week.
Tags: Beanie Wells, Daryl Washington, Jets, Ken Whisenhunt, Kevin Kolb, LaRod Stephens-Howling, Patrick Peterson, Quentin Groves, Rams, Rob Housler, Ryan Lindley, Sam Bradford, Todd Heap, William Powell
Posted in Blog | 122 Comments »
So I engaged in a Twitter discussion today with a fan with whom I have traded many tweets with in the past. He was frustrated with something coach Ken Whisenhunt said today about the challenge flags after the debacle of Jim Schwartz in Detroit yesterday (I’ll have Whiz’s thoughts in a moment). The fan’s problem was that Whiz was even talking about it, instead of, apparently, his job performance.
It seemed to be a good time to bring this up, because it’s not the first time someone is upset with a) what a coach or a player is talking about and b) the media not hounding coaches or players into some sort of bloodletting in front of the cameras.
Almost every quote you hear or read from these guys is prompted by a question. Whiz wasn’t talking about, in this case, the challenge flags, out of the blue. It was asked. He answered. It’s timely. Players always are answering questions. We’re all trying to generate interesting things to talk about. It’s not always about the status of job security.
That leads to the second point. I’m not sure what fans are expecting. Coaches and players tend to have a personality with their media interaction. Spend enough time around them, you know what they are going to get. Everyone seems to be waiting for Whisenhunt to change course now and that’s not going to happen. And guess what – it doesn’t matter. Whisenhunt isn’t saying anything different or handling anything different than when the Cards were winning, and no one had a problem with it then. Andy Reid stands up and says mea culpa every week in Philly and everyone still wants him fired because he’s not winning. The message doesn’t matter as much as results. Whisenhunt isn’t oblivious to the outside world. He knows what is going on. Yet this notion that if he talks about anything but, say, his future or the quarterbacks or the offensive line issue is just pointless, well, I don’t get it. Those things are important, but there are other things to talk about too.
Lemme get off the soap box now to hit some other points heading into the Rams’ game:
– Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald would like to have a big game. He’s not saying it, but you know he’s feeling it. Winning, though, is still his priority, he insisted. “We won in New England when I had one catch for four yards,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s possible to be done. If that’s what it takes that’s what it takes.”
When it was pointed out he’d prefer to win with a lot more catches and some touchdowns, Fitz laughed. “I prefer a lot of things,” Fitzgerald said. “But hey, it’s the way it is.”
– It’s so hard to predict what Fitz might do this week, but I’d be surprised if newbie Ryan Lindley doesn’t try to get him the ball. A Pro Bowl wide receiver can be a nice security blanket for a rookie QB.
– Whiz said he isn’t planning on scaling back the offense because Lindley is playing. He just wants his offense to do what they already can do better.
– Whisenhunt noted that the last time the Cards played the Rams, Darnell Dockett was limited. Actually he was very limited, making almost no impact because of the hamstring injury bothering him at the time. Dockett is good now. He created a lot of havoc last week in Atlanta – “You see his explosiveness,” Whisenhunt said – and will be a new factor with which the Rams must deal.
– It’s a tradeoff, because Rams running back Steven Jackson is looking better than he has in a couple of years. That may be because he is healthier than he has been in a couple of years (he has 182 yards over the past two games, averaging more than five yards a carry.)
“He’s the unsung NFL MVP,” Cardinals linebacker Quentin Groves said. I don’t know if I’d go that far, but it shows the Cards’ respect for Jackson.
– Jackson will be even more important with the news Rams receiver Danny Amendola is doubtful with a foot injury. Amendola didn’t practice all week, yet he was the one guy – along with Jackson – Cardinals players kept mentioning. Amendola was also the receiver that was shredding the Cards in the first meeting before he got hurt early. His absence would be a boon to the Cards.
– About Whisenhunt and the challenge flags. Lions coach Jim Schwartz screwed up on Thanksgiving. He threw his flag when an 81-yard TD run by Texans RB Justin Forsett that should have been called down wasn’t, which is a no-no – Forsett ran for a TD, and all scoring plays, like turnover, are automatically reviewed. Throwing your flag before the review is officially called for not only is a 15-yard penalty, it wipes out the review itself. The Cards watched the Falcons do the same exact thing less than a week ago.
“They warn you every game,” Whisenhunt said. “They make a point before every game of telling you on turnovers and scoring plays, you can’t throw the flag.”
Is the rule just? That’s debatable. It’ll be looked at in the offseason, I’m sure. But Whisenhunt was blunt in answering whether it is fair. “That’s the rule,” he said.
– I think we’ll see Calais Campbell play this weekend. How much I’m not sure. Will it be Dockett limited from the first Rams’ game? Maybe. Maybe he’ll play more. David Carter did a nice job last week as a fill-in, so that works.
– Tight end Todd Heap has practiced full all week with his knee issue. He is probable for the first time. Yet Whiz said whether Heap plays depends on the 46-man game day roster. If Heap isn’t active Sunday, it’ll be a coach’s decision. Will Heap’s long stint on the shelf cost him a chance to play going forward, barring an injury to a tight end? I don’t know if you take reps from Rob Housler for Heap. Then again, if you think Heap can make that much of an impact, I don’t know if you can afford to sit him either.
– With LaRod Stephens-Howling limited with a rib problem – technically he is questionable — it will be interesting to see if that will impact Beanie Wells’ workload in his return. Whiz has seemed to be warning off a heavy game for Beanie since he is just coming back.
– One final thought, as the Cards head into the final six games of the season, from linebacker Daryl Washington.
“If we can lose six games in a row, we can win six games (in a row) too,” he said. “That’s tough in the NFL but I believe we can do it. It would take a lot of effort, a lot of hard work. In the meantime, we have to focus on one at a time.”
Tags: Calais Campbell, Danny Amendola, Darnell Dockett, Daryl Washington, Jim Schwartz, Justin Forsett, Ken Whisenhunt, LaRod Stephens-Howling, Larry Fitzgerald, Rams, Rob Housler, Ryan Lindley, Steven Jackson, Todd Heap
Posted in Blog | 57 Comments »
It’s late, and I’m not sure how many will be reading this before tomorrow morning – or even before coach Ken Whisenhunt talks again. The winning streak comes to an end with a thud. It didn’t look good when the Rams went right down the field to score to open the game, but then the Cards were able to tread water for a long time. They just couldn’t put it together offensively for any consistent stretch in order to get it in the end zone.
So we get to the topic everyone seems like the want to talk about – the offensive line.
“We got beat,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “We got beat on the edge a couple of times. We have to work on technique and our sets and do some things to help those guys out.”
I get there are many out there frustrated. I see on the blog and on Twitter. The reality is the Cards are playing two tackles right now they hadn’t planned on being the starters when training camp opened and there was a reason for that. The reality is if they don’t run the ball better – and yes, I know that is also in part on the offensive line – the opposition is going to have the chance at a field day rushing the quarterback.
There is no realistic option of change on the roster. I don’t see rookie Nate Potter as a possibility right now at left tackle. Do I think the Cards will look elsewhere? Maybe. I’m pretty sure they’ve been paying attention to the waiver wire ever since their injuries struck. They obviously haven’t seen a better option. Again, reality – there’re probably aren’t enough good left tackles out there period, much less when guys start to get hurt. That’s why the Cards wanted to make sure they brought back Levi Brown in the first place.
– The Cards made the pass protection manageable when Kevin Kolb’s pass attempts were in the 20s. The last two weeks he’s thrown almost 100 passes. That’s a ratio that’s tough to manage. That’s why everyone, from Whisenhunt to guard Daryn Colledge to Kolb to Ryan Williams, all brought up the need to run the ball better. Better will eventually translate into more.
– The hit on Williams was scary, but he almost looked confused why everyone thought it was a big deal after the game. “I’m straight,” he insisted, and was acting like he was fine. Which he may be. We’ll see. Obviously to lose him for even one game right now, with Beanie already down and LaRod Stephens-Howling a question, would be a killer.
– Darnell Dockett was active, but he didn’t play a ton and wasn’t a major factor. He’s one of those guys the Cards need to get all the way healthy.
– The Cards had themselves just one sack, snapping their 10-game streak of games with at least two sacks.
– The 40-yard missed field goal by Jay Feely was important not just because it would have made the game 10-6 at the half. It felt like it changed the complexion of the fourth quarter. Do the Cards go for it on fourth-and-goal inside the 10 with five minutes left when a field goal would have made it 17-9 and a one-score game? Probably not.
– Kevin Kolb missed too many receivers in the first half. There were drops definitely, and missed chances because pass catchers didn’t make a play they should have. But obviously Kolb missed on some throws he just can’t – including a bomb to a wide-open Andre Roberts, who had gotten behind the defense.
– That said, this narrative that Kolb is “made of glass” or as Tommy Kelly said in the preseason, “skittish” needs to go away. Kolb was beaten up and bloodied Thursday night and kept getting back up. Question him as a quarterback if you want to – and we all know some of you will – but please spare me the other stuff.
– Given the way these last two Thursday night games have gone – Thanksgiving in Philly in 2008 and tonight – I’m guessing Whisenhunt would love to take a pass on these outings for good if he could.
– If you would have told me Sam Bradford would complete just 7-of-21 throws and the Rams would win – rather easily, even – I’d have said you were dumb. Don’t know if I’ve ever seen a team collect more sacks (nine) than pass completions.
– Rob Housler just trucked a couple of defenders on catch-and-runs tonight. It’ll get lost, but man, you can see the potential there.
– We’ll walk off with a Daryl Washington quote: “It’s a long season. The good thing about the division is you get to see them twice. They have to come to our place.” The Cards are still in first place.
Tags: Darnell Dockett, Daryl Washington, Jay Feely, Ken Whisenhunt, Kevin Kolb, Nate Potter, offensive line, Rams, Rob Housler, Ryan Williams, Sam Bradford
Posted in Blog | 135 Comments »
Defensive tackle Darnell Dockett is indeed active for tonight’s game, but running back LaRod Stephens-Howling (hip) and tight end Todd Heap (knee) remain out. That means William Powell and Rob Housler, respectively, will still play big roles. But having Dockett back should give the defense — coming off an uneven performance against the Dolphins — a boost.
John Skelton (ankle) will also remain inactive for the Rams. Ryan Lindley is still Kevin Kolb’s backup.
The other inactives for the Cards:
– WR LaRon Byrd
– FB Reagan Maui’a
– G Senio Kelemete
– TE Jim Dray (knee)
Tags: Darnell Dockett, inactives, Jim Dray, LaRod Stephens-Howling, LaRon Byrd, Rams, Reagan Maui'a, Rob Housler, Senio Kelemete, Todd Heap, William Powell
Posted in Blog | 14 Comments »