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Waiting for a new defensive coordinator

Posted by Darren Urban on January 14, 2015 – 3:40 pm

The coaches’ offices are dark right now, not a surprise at this time in the offseason. But there is still work to do and moves to be made for Bruce Arians, now that Todd Bowles is headed to be the Jets’ head coach.

(Which, interestingly, still has yet to be officially announced at 3:40 p.m. Arizona time here on Wednesday. UPDATE: Twenty minutes later, it is.)

Bowles is expected to bring Cardinals’ inside linebackers coach Mike Caldwell with him for his staff, and there is a chance he also brings along someone else, like defensive assistant Ryan Slowik. So there very well could be a couple of coaching staff openings Arians will have to fill when this all filters out. But for now, the focus is on the coordinator spot Bowles is vacating. All season, Bowles was trending toward getting a head coaching job somewhere, so when Arians said late in the season he had a plan in place to replace Bowles, that certainly wasn’t a surprise.

That was before Dick LeBeau left the Steelers. Arians has talked to LeBeau about a job, and when you connect the dots, it does make sense to have LeBeau in a Tom Moore-esque role and to hire a defensive coordinator, as reports suggest. It also rings true to me that Arians would look to his existing defensive staff to find his defensive coordinator, although who that would be remains a guess. There is also a question of whether LeBeau would want to move, at age 77, this far away from his Ohio-based family.

(LeBeau’s potential arrival does make for other interesting questions, even if he isn’t DC. Darnell Dockett, for instance, didn’t love the scheme of former DC Ray Horton, who was a LeBeau disciple.)

I know many want to know what this all means for the Cardinals in terms of scheme. If the Cardinals stay in-house, does the defense simply echo what Bowles had been doing all along? Is it tweaked and if so, how much? I’m sure Arians has already thought these things through already. With empty offices right now, we’ll see how quickly this all comes together.

Dick LeBeau, Mike Tomlin, Bruce Arians


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Cardinals are drafting 24th

Posted by Darren Urban on January 5, 2015 – 8:36 am

The end of the season, given the playoff loss, brings talk of everything offseason for the Cardinals. That includes the draft (the particulars of which I’m probably not going to discuss much until we get to Scouting combine time in mid-February.) After going 11-5, the Cardinals will draft 24th, the last of all the Wild Card round losers.

The 20 non-playoff teams go first, of course. Then comes the Bengals, who were 10-5-1 in the regular-season, at 21, Steelers (11-5) at 22 and Lions (11-5) at 23 before the Cards choose at 24. It actually moves the Cardinals up three spots in the draft had the draft selection been based on records (and subsequent tiebreakers) only.

Tiebreaks in draft order are based on strength of schedule only, and the better strength of schedule you have, the worse draft spot you have — the reasoning being if you built a certain record against lesser competition, you deserve a higher choice than someone who got the same amount of wins against better competition.

The Cardinals’ strength of schedule produced a .523 winning percentage. The Lions’ was .471 and the Steelers .451.

In the second round, the Cards will move up to 23rd in that round, with the Lions 22nd and the Steelers down to 24th. In the third round, the Cards will be 22nd, Steelers 23rd and Lions 24th. In the fourth round, the Cards rotate back to 24, Steelers 22 and Lions 23, and it continues for the balance of the draft.


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Glancing at the 2015 opponents

Posted by Darren Urban on July 14, 2014 – 2:46 pm

You know that it’s the dead of the offseason — real dead — when it comes to mind to point out who will be on the Cardinals’ schedule for 2015.

But here we are, inside of two weeks before training camp begins and a week away from the quarterbacks and a handful of other players reporting for a couple of days of “quarterback school” prior to the opening of camp. It’s the last hurrah for time off for both coaches and players. It doesn’t leave a lot to discuss right now. That’s all coming. But as I flipped through the new edition of the NFL Record and Fact Book, I came across the 2015 opponents for the Cardinals. So I thought I’d point them out.

As always, there are the home-and-away games against the NFC West opponents. The teams visiting University of Phoenix Stadium include the Green Bay Packers, the Minnesota Vikings, the Baltimore Ravens, the Cincinnati Bengals and then an NFC South team that ends up inhabiting the same position in their division that the Cardinals do in the NFC West by the time the 2014 season is over.

Road trips in 2015 for the Cardinals include the Chicago Bears, the Detroit Lions, the Cleveland Browns, the Pittsburgh Steelers and the corresponding NFC East team.

FitzInChicagoBLOG

 


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Foote will make his presence felt

Posted by Darren Urban on May 13, 2014 – 4:45 pm

Larry Foote had considered coming to the Cardinals before. A couple of times, in fact. “It didn’t quite work,” the veteran inside linebacker said. “This time, perfect timing.”

Foote signed a one-year deal right before the draft, coming in to provide depth at a position that needed it. The Cardinals did not select an inside linebacker with any of their seven draft choices, going with Foote and bringing in undrafted rookies Jonathan Brown and Glenn Carson. With the uncertainty of Daryl Washington’s status after his legal issues (going with a plea on an assault charge) and even Kevin Minter’s inexperience, having Foote around is a plus.

“It’s a perfect match,” Foote said.

Foote is entering his 13th NFL season. His 12th was hard, earning a starting role with the Steelers and then going down in the first game of the year with a ruptured biceps. Foote is healthy again, but that didn’t make last year’s sting any less.

“It was frustrating watching my boys struggle,” Foote said. “The middle linebacker really sets the tone and you do that the first week, throws people in different positions.”

Foote, who will wear his longtime No. 50 (pictured below), said the defense Todd Bowles runs and the one he played in for Dick LeBeau in Pittsburgh are similar. That will ease his transition.

“Twelve years in the league, you don’t bring anything but presence,” Foote said. “Guys know how hard it is to last that long in the league. I’m knowledgable. Once I pick up the terminology, I can start helping the young boys out instead of them helping me out. That’s been awkward.”

FooteBlogUSE


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Levi already done in Pittsburgh

Posted by Darren Urban on October 15, 2013 – 8:30 am

That didn’t take long.

Levi Brown, set to start Sunday in Pittsburgh in the Steelers’ first game since trading for the Cardinals’ left tackle, hurt his triceps in warmups (after, as it turned out, the team had put in the game’s inactives, leading them to be short for the day.) Today, the Steelers put Brown on injured reserve, ending his season before he ever took a snap for Pittsburgh. Given Levi’s contract, I’d expect at the very least for the Steelers to release him after the season. Could they bring him back? Maybe, but not under this deal. He is due $6 million in 2014.

What does this mean for the Cardinals? Well, we know there was a conditional pick involved coming from the Steelers. That usually means based on some sort of playing time — which I feel confident in saying Brown didn’t reach, since he never even played a down. The Cards also sent a pick back. Essentially, it means (and this is total speculation on what is involved, just trying to give an example) the Cards got, for instance, a sixth-round pick and gave the Steelers a seventh, and maybe the sixth could have become a fifth. Now, there will be no change, whatever the deal might have been. UPDATE: Kent Somers reports Brown had to be on Steelers’ active roster for five weeks to force draft pick compensation in the first place. Now that Brown won’t be, there will not be any swap of picks. In the end, the Cards basically cut Brown but saved about $600,000 that the Steelers ended up paying.

The Cards, based on what GM Steve Keim said at the time of the trade, sounded close to releasing Brown anyway. More importantly for the Cardinals, they moved on from the Levi Brown era, which was probably necessary.


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Levi Brown traded

Posted by Darren Urban on October 2, 2013 – 7:29 am

Multiple reports have surfaced this morning that the Cardinals are trading left tackle Levi Brown to the Steelers at some point today. No word on compensation, but I wouldn’t expect any blockbuster in return. This way, the Cards ease the logjam of offensive linemen on the roster — Bradley Sowell becomes the starting left tackle, and I would guess Nate Potter is the backup LT knowing you have both Earl Watford and Mike Gibson who can play guard.

More importantly, it clears away the constant talk of Brown’s play at left tackle, whether he will improve, and what the Cards will do at that spot. It’s funny that the Cards trade Brown the very week GM Steve Keim said on his radio show Brown played his best game of the season.

Nothing official has been announced yet and I would doubt it will be until Brown passes his physical. But Keim long ago promised to be aggressive with the roster, and it has been clear that, at some point, the Cards were going to try and upgrade from Brown (who is due $6M in salary next season and is still due $3.6M this season.)

UPDATE: On trades after June 1, signing bonus does not accelerate into the current league year, so the Cards will absorb $4.2M in dead Brown signing bonus cap room into the 2014 cap.

UPDATE II: Still not officially announced by Cards and Bruce Arians declined to comment, but the Steelers announced the move on their Twitter feed:

UPDATE III: It’s now officially been announced by Cards. Arians won’t be available to comment on it until Friday. GM Steve Keim is speaking later this afternoon.


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A visit, a signing and some money

Posted by Darren Urban on May 14, 2013 – 9:25 am

Some things to consider on Tuesday, as the Cardinals are set to unveil their complete team in on-field work for the first time as organized team activities begin later this morning:

— The one-year contract of Karlos Dansby calls for a salary of $1.25 million this season, according to the NFLPA. Kent Somers reports Dansby also got a $1 million signing bonus. That’s $2.25M (yes, I am sharp at math), which is obviously well below the $6M-plus Dansby had been originally scheduled to receive from the Dolphins before he was released. The Cardinals had approximately $8.5 $10.5 (forgot about the money cleared in the Hoyer release) million in cap space before Dansby (A $2.25M cap hit, obviously) and second-round pick Kevin Minter (who should count about $800,000 against the cap, and I’d figure he’ll slide into the top 51).

— One roster move already this morning. The Cardinals decided to sign tryout tight end Kyle Auffray out of New Hampshire, releasing undrafted rookie cornerback Prentiss Waggner. Again, with 90 on the roster (because all the unsigned draftees figure to sign sooner rather than later) the Cards will continue to cut for every player they sign.

— Could there be another potential veteran signee? Josina Anderson is reporting that tackle Max Starks is visiting the Cardinals today, including a physical. Don’t read too much into that — any vet is going to need a physical first, especially at the point in the career Starks is at. Starks has been available for a while and in the past, there was always a question of whether Ken Whisenhunt and Russ Grimm would bring him in after working with him in Pittsburgh. Obviously, Bruce Arians also has worked with him given Arians’ Steelers ties and offensive coordinator (and offensive line coach) Harold Goodwin also worked with Starks in Pittsburgh. We’ll see if that develops. Starks has also talked to the O-line-needy Chargers.


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A restricted Hoyer’s potential place

Posted by Darren Urban on February 28, 2013 – 1:05 pm

Through all the talk about what the Cardinals might do at quarterback and who their potential targets might be through trade and through the draft, one name has remained somewhat in limbo — Brian Hoyer. Hoyer flashed a bit at the end of the season for the Cardinals and he was a player new GM Steve Keim had long considered. With the Cardinals looking everywhere for QB answers, Hoyer likely remains a candidate for the roster in some capacity at this point.

Originally, Hoyer was thought to be an unrestricted free agent. But as free agency approaches in a couple of week, Hoyer instead ended up in restricted free agent limbo. A restricted free agent is a player with three accrued seasons. Hoyer was an RFA going into the offseason of 2012, and the New England Patriots tendered him a contract offer then, restricting him from shopping his services on the open market. Yet Hoyer was cut at the end of training camp in favor of Ryan Mallett — a signed tender offer still doesn’t make it a guaranteed deal — and Hoyer waited.

To get an accrued season — and a fourth would allow someone like Hoyer unrestricted free agent status — a player must spend six games on a 53-man roster during the season. As it turns out, Hoyer just missed. He was with the Cardinals for three games. Before that, and after the Patriots let him go, the Steelers signed him for two games. He was cut the Saturday before the third game. It led him to a better opportunity with the Cards when they claimed him off waivers the following Monday, but those two days off the roster also meant he compiled just five games on a roster total — and a second straight year of restricted status.

What it all means is that the Cards have control over Hoyer staying if they choose to. The Cards could tender Hoyer at the lowest RFA amount — about $1.3 million — and have the right to match any other offer Hoyer might get. (For another $700,000, the Cards could tender Hoyer so that any team signing him away would owe the Cards a second-round pick. I don’t see the Cards doing that, nor would I see a team giving up a pick for the one-time undrafted Hoyer.)

I do think Hoyer will be tendered an offer as the Cards search for a QB. It would have been easier for him to get away as an UFA, but I think the Cards will want to see more of what they got a glimpse of down the stretch last season.

HoyerBlogFAuse


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The AFC at UoP with Whiz

Posted by Darren Urban on October 10, 2012 – 10:21 am

Ken Whisenhunt coached in Pittsburgh for six seasons before coming to the Cardinals and knew what he’d be seeing when the AFC teams played his new team in Arizona. That’s worked out well.

The Cardinals have been a good home team since Whisenhunt’s arrival in 2007, and no place does that show up more than when AFC teams come to visit, like will happen Sunday when the Buffalo Bills will be the opponent. It’s the second and final AFC visitor of the season, and of the 11 previous AFC teams to come to town, the Cardinals have beaten nine of them and will be the favorite Sunday against the reeling Bills.

The only two home AFC losses in Whiz’s tenure came in 2009, when the powerful Colts beat up the Cards on “Sunday Night Football” and last year, when the Steelers caught the Cardinals at arguably their lowest point in the season in a 32-20 Pittsburgh win. Because of the way the schedule has worked out, the Cards have seen repeat AFC visitors in that time. The Cards have beaten Miami twice, Cleveland twice, along with a then-undefeated Buffalo (when Adrian Wilson knocked QB Trent Edwards out of the game, below), Houston (late goal-line stand), Oakland (Janikowski’s shocking missed field goal) and Denver (the Jay Feely score-a-thon.)

Next season, the AFC teams who will visit Arizona are the Texans and Colts again.


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Cards sell out game against 49ers

Posted by Darren Urban on December 8, 2011 – 3:01 pm

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.


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