The Cardinals are moving on from quarterback Brian Hoyer —
it’s not official yet, but it’s coming it’s official now — and that isn’t a big surprise. With a salary due of more than $2 million after getting a RFA tender, Hoyer didn’t make sense as a third-string QB and it didn’t look like he’d jump Drew Stanton, a Bruce Arians favorite, as a backup. It’s obviously good news for Ryan Lindley, who struggled mightily last season when he played as a rookie but still showed some flashes. It doesn’t mean Lindley is a lock to stay — you never know what young QB might fall into the market the Cards would want to jump on — but it’s Lindley for now. The Cardinals will have four QBs on the roster at some point. They did just have a tryout QB in this past weekend in Purdue’s Caleb TerBush.
– Karlos Dansby picked a jersey number and with it, the reality of being a rookie comes into focus. Dansby will wear No. 55, since Daryl Washington has Dansby’s old No. 58. Now, 55 had been issued to fourth-round pick Alex Okafor. Dansby gets what he wants though. So Okafor got No. 57 instead. That was taken, you say? Yes it was, by undrafted rookie linebacker Kenny Demens. Now Demens will wear No. 45, and the pecking order is established in exactly the way you’d think.
– The Cards restructured their front office with some promotions and new scouts. One of the big things to take from it is that the team continues to grow in numbers its scouting staff like it has with the coaches. Another step forward for General Manager Steve Keim as he reshapes the football side of the building.
Tags: Alex Okafor, Brian Hoyer, Drew Stanton, Karlos Dansby, Kenny Demens, Ryan Lindley, scouts, Steve Keim
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It was the day Steve Keim was hired as general manager, long before Drew Stanton or Carson Palmer arrived or even before Kevin Kolb and John Skelton were discarded. Keim was talking about philosophies, and how he was going to approach the Cardinals’ search for a quarterback after the drought post-Kurt Warner.
“Particularly, I love the idea of quarterbacks, supply and demand,” Keim said that day. “It’s a tough position to find. (Former NFL GM) Ron Wolf always had that mindset that it’s always good to go out and try to get a quarterback every year. You never know how those guys are going to pan out.”
So, right now, the Cards have Palmer and Stanton and Brian Hoyer and Ryan Lindley. Head Coach Bruce Arians is saying “I think our quarterback room right now is as strong as anybody’s in the National Football League. That’s what we set out to do as an organization, to strengthen that position.” Keim obviously overhauled the spot, and that means … what exactly come the draft?
Even before the Cards got Palmer the vibe was always that the Cards were going to pass on a quarterback in the first round. Arians said none of the QBs out there had made him go “Wow” and that’s what it takes for No. 7. Does it mean the Cards won’t draft one, period? Nope. That’s why the Cards are reportedly checking into Matt Barkely and Geno Smith and Ryan Nassib and all these guys who are going to be available. None of that means the Cardinals will take one of those guys. But they are prepared if they decide to do so.
(On a slightly separate note, all the visits/workouts pre-draft for any team, including the Cardinals, shouldn’t be a big deal. There have been many instances where players have been chosen by teams without knowing ahead of time any interest and at the least, it shows proper due diligence to look at all the top players. Especially for a GM like Keim, who believes deeply in making a difference-maker his first pick, the Cards are going to look at all the main prospects.)
The Cards are thrilled to have Palmer but they know he’s not going to be the answer in a few years. That search for a long-term guy continues.
Because you never know how those guys are going to pan out.
Tags: Brian Hoyer, Bruce Arians, Carson Palmer, draft, Drew Stanton, John Skelton, Kevin Kolb, quarterbacks, Ryan Lindley, Steve Keim
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As the draft approaches and people speculate on (or fret about) what the Cardinals will do at quarterback, one of the storylines that could play out is the availability of Carson Palmer. Palmer is currently with the Raiders, due $13 million for 2013 which — like the situation with Kevin Kolb and the Cardinals — he probably was never going to see. If he were cut, it makes a lot of sense that the Cardinals would consider him, and the Adam Schefter report now is that is “unlikely” Palmer is willing to take a cut.
Yes, Bruce Arians says he is “comfortable” with Drew Stanton. Yes, he could start. But here was the key phrase last week when Arians was asked directly if he was going to name Stanton his starter.
“Once we get the roster set, if that (QB meeting) room hasn’t changed, he’s our starter,” Arians said.
That is one heck of a lot of wiggle room.
It brings us back to Palmer. Palmer isn’t in his salad days anymore, not the quarterback who was starring for the Bengals once upon a time. But he still did throw for 4,018 yards with 22 touchdowns and 14 interceptions last season for the Raiders, pretty decent numbers for a team that wasn’t very good. Depending on the cost, he might make a lot of sense to at least compete with Stanton, or maybe even just slide in ahead of him. Would he be a long-term solution? No. But the long-term solution might not be there this year. There has been a ton of talk about the Cardinals and a draft pick, and as has been stated — and after Arians talked about not forcing a QB pick high — a quarterback might not be the No. 1 pick.
The best part for the Cardinals is that they have a ton of flexibility at the position right now. Stanton is going to be here. He’s the one lock, but if he ended up as the backup, I think Arians would be happy with that (I’m not sure Stanton would be thrilled, but that’s a different blog post.) Brian Hoyer is under a $2M deal but he could be traded or cut with no salary cap implications — tough for Hoyer, but flexible for the team. Plus there is the probable draft pick somewhere and John Skelton and Ryan Lindley to plug in the equation if needed.
Palmer needs to be careful, of course. I have no idea what kind of restructure/pay cut the Raiders would be offering, but the market is thin. Kolb I think was hoping to have popped up somewhere already but that hasn’t happened. Then again, Palmer may figure — and he could be right — that hitting the market when the Cards, Bills, Jaguars, Browns or even the Jets could still be considering a different QB could make him in demand. (UPDATE: Palmer doesn’t have any bonuses due soon and the Raiders are under the cap, so this could very well go up until the draft so the Raiders can see if/when they draft a QB. This might hinge on that.)
We’ll see how the Palmer situation plays out in Oakland first and then go from there. We’ll see if the Cardinals’ “room” has a chance to change.
Tags: Brian Hoyer, Bruce Arians, Carson Palmer, Drew Stanton, John Skelton, Kevin Kolb, quarterbacks, Ryan Lindley
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Larry Fitzgerald was targeted 156 times last season. He ended up with just 71 catches.
Now, that doesn’t mean there weren’t times when Fitz could’ve and should’ve come down with a pass and didn’t. That certainly happened, and more times last year, I think, than in the past (profootballfocus.com had him with five drops last season, Stats.inc credited him with three.) But there were many, many, many more times when the pass went to Fitzgerald and the ball simply wasn’t close enough to even make a play on it.
This isn’t about Fitz though but the ability to make sure whatever quarterback is behind center can be accurate. There are many factors that go into an incomplete pass, including the pass rush and pass protection. But last season, none of the four quarterbacks who played for the Cardinals completed 60 percent of their passes. Kevin Kolb was 59.6 percent, John Skelton was 54.2, Ryan Lindley 52.0 and Brian Hoyer 56.6. These days, if you aren’t completing between 62 to 65 percent of your passes — at least — you are going to have a hard time being successful. It’s something to watch for with the rookies too, although given the upgrade in speed and schemes in the NFL, accuracy can be a projection for those guys.
The question is whether it can be improved in a prospect — or with anyone.
“I think you can improve all phases of their mechanics,” Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said. “Some guys, if the flaw is so difficult in their throwing motion especially from the trunk up, it’s going to be hard. But the majority of accuracy problems are your legs. Guys overstride, they understride, they put themselves in bad positions and stress themselves. Fundamentals, that’s why golfers go to the driving range every day. Tiger (Woods) is a great player, Rory (Mcllroy) is a great player, but they go to the driving range every day. Quarterbacks need to go to the driving range every day.
“You want to be more of a teacher than a swing coach. When you are a swing coach, you know you have problems.”
Tags: Brian Hoyer, Bruce Arians, John Skelton, Kevin Kolb, quarterbacks, Ryan Lindley
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Adrian Wilson was one of the players from the very first Cardinals’ draft class I covered from draft day on (I began chronicling the Cards right before training camp the year before). I’ve known him his whole NFL career. It made me smile Sunday when, as he began to cry during his press conference – not waterworks, mind you, but clearly tearing up – and said “Believe it or not, I’m a very emotional person.”
Maybe those who see him from afar only on the field might think that, might think he’s one of those stereotypical players who crush opponents for a living without feeling. Anyone who has been around him at all knows he’s the ultimate emotional guy. It’s always on his sleeve. Sometimes he may not want to talk about whatever publicly (and even then, the message is sent) but you never once are doubting what kind of mood he is in.
Those tears Sunday represented relief and sadness at once. His lost playing time has been hard on him, and that caught up to him after notching his sack Sunday that made him the sixth member of the 25-25 club (Wilson has 27 interceptions and 25½ sacks). His NFL mortality crawls closer, and he knows what that means. But it was also about the weight lifted off the shoulders of a team burdened by a nine-game losing streak. The game in Seattle was a bomb dropped on a team and a defense that was already reeling. The Cards recovered nicely Sunday.
And it wasn’t a surprise to see A-Dub a little overwhelmed because of it.
– Calais Campbell was a monster against the Lions, and believe it or not, he said he’s still not 100 percent. It just shows how much he means to this defense when he is playing well, and how well he fits into this scheme. After everything that has happened the last couple of weeks, it was noticeable that, when asked about Campbell’s dominance, coach Ken Whisenhunt also said Darnell Dockett played well too.
– Patrick Peterson got his shot at Calvin Johnson and did very well. Johnson got his numbers but Peterson’s one interception was a bigger play than anything Johnson did and of course, Peterson got the win.
– Yes, the Cardinals “hurt” their draft status with a win. But please, spare me the “they can’t even lose right” comments. They are in this to win games. It’s one of the reasons I have no desire to get into draft talk until the season is over. Let’s see where everything settles, and then we can discuss what players might be available, etc.
– It’s not why the Pick-6s happened, but noteworthy that both players who returned interceptions for touchdowns Sunday – cornerback Greg Toler and safety Rashad Johnson (below) – are going to be unrestricted free agents after the season. The Cardinals have to make a decision on whether they want to bring either back.
– Easily the hardest I’ve seen Beanie Wells run this season, and that’s not a knock on effort but a note on health. He had a couple runs where he just moved the pile. His per-carry average wasn’t great (3.9) but he scored three touchdowns and again, gained yards in short-yardage situations.
– Punter Dave Zastudil, who has been a workhorse because of the offensive struggles this season, has been fantastic this year. He set a team record Sunday with six punts downed inside the 20-yard line.
– Ryan Lindley really didn’t play that much different than he had previous. He had 104 yards passing, and after an early bad interception, he didn’t turn the ball over. The reshuffled offensive line kept him upright (one sack). He didn’t do anything to make you think he’s the QB of the future, but he didn’t do anything to make you think he won’t start against the Bears next week.
– Fitz did get four catches after just six in the previous four games. It was just for 22 yards, but baby steps. Besides, Fitz was happy. “Christmas came early here in the desert,” Fitz said. “Santa made a delivery at University of Phoenix Stadium and we are all happy with the gift we received. It’s incomprehensible what we’ve been going through the last couple of weeks. Nine weeks in a row to not come out with a win, it feels good to be back home and get a win.”
Tags: Adrian Wilson, Beanie Wells, Calais Campbell, Darnell Dockett, Dave Zastudil, Larry Fitzgerald, Lions, Patrick Peterson, Ryan Lindley
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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
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The other day defensive tackle Nick Eason was saying that, in the aftermath of the Cards’ 58-0 loss in Seattle, that the players were simply going to go back to work. “That’s all we can do,” Eason said, noting that they were football players, and this was just another week of football.
So the reaction Wednesday coming off what in some ways was a historic loss was just like the Cards have done every Wednesday after their other losses. And their wins, for that matter.
“It was a typical practice,” defensive end Calais Campbell said. “We were flying around. Same as it has been all season.”
Quarterback Ryan Lindley noted “you try to forget about (Sunday) as quick as possible.” “We did some things all right (today),” Lindley said. “Wednesday is always an up and down day because you are putting new stuff in. (Thursday) will be better.”
The message wasn’t going to change much. There are guys banged up — wide receiver Early Doucet suffered a concussion, and the Cards could use nose tackle Dan Williams given their woes stopping the run, but Williams was also sitting out with his bad hamstring — yet that isn’t going to stop the schedule and the three games left.
“I don’t think anybody was happy,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said after practice. “They’re all upset about what happened. They worked well today. Came back out here and had good energy. That’s a painful thing to go through and we went through and looked at why that happened, tried to correct those things, and worked on correcting them today. That’s all you can do.”
– Whisenhunt named Lindley his starter for Sunday’s game. Not a surprise, since Lindley finished the game and John Skelton had five turnovers in his brief chance to start again.
– Whiz said it is wait-and-see for new QB Brian Hoyer. I don’t see how he’d play this week. Beyond that? Let’s see how Lindley fares, but I will not be shocked to see Hoyer get a start down the stretch.
– QB Kevin Kolb wants to be back next season. He hasn’t had any discussions about his contract, which would need to be restructured, I’m sure. He said his “heart and soul” are with the Cardinals.
Tags: Calais Campbell, Dan Williams, Early Doucet, John Skelton, Kevin Kolb, Nick Eason, Ryan Lindley
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Not even sure where to start. Winning in Seattle is rare. But to see it derail like that? I don’t know what is next. Coach Ken Whisenhunt said he hasn’t talked to anyone about his job situation. I don’t expect any drastic changes, not so close to the end of the season, but I haven’t talked to anyone about it either. In the meantime, the Cards have back-to-back home games to try and find a victory.
“Just everybody is really just playing for their pride at the end of the day,” defensive tackle Darnell Dockett said. “It’s going to take a lot of bonding for everybody to come together and win these last three games.”
– If Kevin Kolb doesn’t come back – and judging by how Kolb talked last week about his circumstances, that seems like a long shot – I’m not sure who Whisenhunt turns to at quarterback for the Lions game. The way both John Skelton and Ryan Lindley are playing, neither is an obvious option.
– The Cardinals were a plus-seven in turnover ratio coming into the game. After an eight-turnover game (and getting only one, the Patrick Peterson pick), the Cards are back to even.
– Dockett didn’t start as part of his punishment following the incident at the end of the New York game. He played, but not nearly as much as he normally would. Dockett was credited with a pair of assists and a quarterback hit. David Carter started in his place.
– No part of the Cardinals played well but Marshawn Lynch went off for 128 yards and three touchdowns on just 11 carries. Robert Turbin added 108 rushing yards himself on 20 carries. The run defense hasn’t been good enough but to surrender 284 yards on the ground is impossible to overcome.
– The Seahawks threw the ball deep on fourth and long late in the game and again later. Dockett said he was “surprised” but Whisenhunt wasn’t going there. “I have no comment on that, other than to say it’s our job to stop it.”
– The way the game went, I don’t think the Cards come out ahead regardless, but would things have been better had Skelton connected with Larry Fitzgerald on the first drive (pictured below) and not have it been an interception? The Cards had actually been successful on a couple of pass plays right before that. Then it turns into a turnover and … we all know the rest.
There is no analysis here, really. It was obviously the low point of this season and since Whisenhunt arrived. No one is arguing that. We will wait to see how the week goes.
Tags: Darnell Dockett, John Skelton, Kevin Kolb, Larry Fitzgerald, Ryan Lindley, Seahawks
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So the Cardinals head to Seattle tomorrow, and we turn to locker room sage Larry Fitzgerald – man, if you would have asked me in 2006 if I’d ever write that descriptor for Fitz, I’d have thought you were crazy – to put these last four games, the playoffs realistically if not officially out of reach, into perspective.
“It’s never to the point where you can’t improve and get better,” Fitzgerald said. “That’s top to bottom, I don’t care about your position on the team. It teaches all of us how to deal with adversity. It’s a microcosm of life. Sometimes it doesn’t go your way and you have to continue to battle.”
It doesn’t hurt that the Seahawks have a chance to make the playoffs and the Cards have a chance to crimp that possibility. It’s cliché, but I do believe playing spoiler – especially to a division rival – is motivation and I do think it is real. The Cards would love to sweep the Seahawks, even if both teams are a lot different than the teams that met at UoP Sept. 9.
– I am very interested in seeing how John Skelton reacts to this start. Seattle is not an easy place to play. He struggled against the Seahawks’ defense in the opener this season before getting hurt. But as he noted Wednesday, he gets another opportunity, one that if not for the major problems of Ryan Lindley, he probably would not have gotten.
I don’t know if there is less pressure on Skelton or more. Obviously coach Ken Whisenhunt proved he’d go to Lindley. Then again, after seeing where Lindley is in his development, it’s tough to see the Cards turning to him again. Impossible not to watch that storyline play out.
– Safety Kerry Rhodes said this week, talking about how the defensive players can’t talk bad about the offense, that until the defense holds a team to zero points and zero yards, they have to tend to their own business. Zero yards? Hyperbole. Zero points? Defensive coordinator Ray Horton was asked if that was realistic.
“That’s probably every defensive player’s mantra,” Horton said. “Is it realistic? Sometimes it is. I think it is the mentality they have which I love, that they think that way.”
– I think the Cards should have defensive end Calais Campbell back this week, a good thing because Campbell always plays well against the Seahawks. Then again, I thought Campbell was going to play in New York, so I will wait and see on that one.
– A final capper on the Kerry Rhodes-Darnell Dockett dustup, where Rhodes said it wasn’t a big deal and Dockett said he was sorry but he was never going to quit. The reference was to the unsaid-yet-out-there reason that the Cards’ decision to try and let the Jets score at the end of last week’s game – statistically, the best way (however long of a shot it was) to try and win – was at the root of the problem. So Horton was asked his philosophy about letting a team score.
“The ultimate goal is to win the game, whether you give up the safety, whether you give up a touchdown,” Horton said. “My philosophy is whatever it takes to win the game. If it means doing that I’d do it to give ourselves a chance. I asked Coach (Ken Whisenhunt) to do it for time reasons.”
(We won’t go into the details yet again of the situation. I know some of you disagree with the strategy and agree with Dockett’s take. I covered it here.)
– OK, maybe one more point: Mike Jurecki of XTRA broke the news that Dockett was fined six figures by the team and could have his playing time limited in Seattle for what went down. Whisenhunt has made it plain whatever was happening with the situation was going to be handled internally and not commented upon. Clearly, the Cardinals did not agree with Dockett’s take. (Kent Somers is now also reporting the fine and said it was because of both the fight and not heeding the coach’s call.) We’ll see on Sunday about the playing time issue.
– UPDATE: Dockett tweeted out praise for the NFLPA so the assumption is, not surprisingly, Dockett is appealing the fine.
– That late personal foul call against nose tackle Dan Williams last week, the iffy one on Jets quarterback Greg McElroy on the sidelines? Williams was not fined for it. Still hurt though – it gave free yards on the Jets’ lone touchdown drive of the game in a 7-6 Jets win. Usually, if a player isn’t fined for a roughness call, it means the league disagreed that it should have been a penalty.
– With cornerback Brandon Browner out with a suspension, Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman – himself facing a possible four-game suspension – will probably follow Fitz around Sunday. “I would anticipate that, if I were a betting man,” Fitzgerald said. The best on the best makes sense. It just would be nice to get Fitzgerald a handful of catches and maybe sniff 100 yards. It’s been too long. And frankly, the offense needs it.
The good news is that, after nasty forecasts earlier in the week, the rain is supposed to subside after Saturday morning in Seattle and hold off through Sunday. That’d be a plus. But the Cards have a hard game ahead to snap the losing streak. Let the fourth quarter of the season commence.
Tags: Brandon Browner, Calais Campbell, Darnell Dockett, John Skelton, Kerry Rhodes, Larry Fitzgerald, Ray Horton, Richard Sherman, Ryan Lindley, Seahawks
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Coach Ken Whisenhunt said he has not yet made a decision on who his starting quarterback will be in Seattle. He wants to watch the video with his coaches and go from there. Kevin Kolb is an unknown still as he comes back from injury. Asked if he planned on having Kolb return at some point, Whisenhunt said “I sure hope so.” Here is a portion of Whiz’s Q and A with reporters about the quarterback position and how Ryan Lindley played yesterday.
Q: You mentioned yesterday part of the problem was that receivers weren’t making the right reads. Is that a function of practice time with Lindley, or is that something that would be in place regardless of the quarterback?
A: “We didn’t play very well yesterday in the receiving part of it. That means getting off press coverage, running good routes, being in the right spots in routes. Sometimes, when you play a team that pressures like they do, you have to be able to sight adjust or make the correct adjustments to your routes and we didn’t do a very good job with that. We didn’t help Ryan out very much with that.”
Q: With that game, five first downs, oh-for-15 on third downs, yet you cited the best chance to win the game was not change the quarterback. The fan base is pretty upset with that decision.
A: “I understand that. But like I said, we didn’t help Ryan out very much yesterday. There were a lot of areas we had problems. We are looking for the right combination to be effective offensively. We talked about it on the sideline, we talked about what was going on during the game. It was a combination of a number of different things besides the quarterback.”
Q: By your own criteria, a couple of weeks ago, you were going to hold everyone to strict standards and if they weren’t doing their job, you could make a change. So (Lindley) is doing his job?
A: “Like I said, I don’t think anyone did their job well enough yesterday offensively. The quarterback is the focal point of that. But that’s part of what we have to go through today and evaluate that.”
Q: Do you know where you go at quarterback going forward?
A: “We’ve got to look at it with the players today, understand why we had the breakdowns that we did, and then we will decide from that point.”
Q: Is there a realistic chance Kevin Kolb can play this week?
A: “The only way we will know is when he can do it in practice. He has made progress. But until he can get out there and see he can make those throws, then we will know.”
Q: Are you sticking with Ryan?
A: “I said we will watch the tape today and look at with the players where we had the breakdowns. There are a lot of things you don’t know from the perspective of what everyone is looking at why we were not successful.”
Q: Did you lose confidence in John Skelton?
A: “I wouldn’t say I lost confidence in John’s ability.”
Q: To follow up, you said it crossed your mind to play him …
A: “We talked about it in the course of the game. But when you play a team that gives you a multitude of different looks and how it is being communicated, at the point where you have to make that (QB) change, you have to understand, is it because the guy in there is not playing well? Because you are going to lose a lot of what you have gone through in the first parts of the game as far as understanding the protections and where the sights are and where the checks are.”
Q: To follow that up then, you mentioned (after the game) Ryan was doing a good job with the schematics. Does that mean John wasn’t doing a good job?
A: “I never said that.”
Q: Did John not understand?
A: “We were talking (after the game) about Ryan. The decision we made about John, we’ve already talked about. We don’t need to go back and revisit that.”
Tags: John Skelton, Ken Whisenhunt, Ryan Lindley
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