A couple of years ago, the Pro Bowl was moved to Miami, which that year was also the site of the Super Bowl. The idea was to incorporate the Pro Bowl on the front end of the Super Bowl week to come. Now come multiple reports that next year’s Pro Bowl is being seriously considered to move to University of Phoenix Stadium, which also will be hosting the Super Bowl a week later. First reported by Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette, it certainly would make the Valley king of the NFL in late January.
It’s an interesting concept. The NFL still sees a lot of players bail out for the Pro Bowl and the league would like to slow that down. By the same token, you’d think Hawaii would be a bigger draw for players than anywhere on the mainland. At least the Pro Bowl was more competitive and looked more like a football game this past season.
Cardinals players wouldn’t even have to go anywhere. Of course, they are hoping to not even get to play in the game because their season would still be alive — although they wouldn’t have to travel for that game either.
Tags: Pro Bowl, Super Bowl, University of Phoenix stadium
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Tags: Arizona Cardinals, AZ Cardinals, AZ Cards, Calais Campbell, NFL, Super Bowl
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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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Tags: Arizona Cardinals, Arizona Cardinals Cheerleaders, AZ Cardinals, AZ Cards, cheerleaders, NFL, Super Bowl
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If there has been one constant for Larry Fitzgerald every offseason it’s been some kind of (wild) speculation that he could be on the move. This usually tends to come up right around the Super Bowl, so when Fitz is doing his annual trek through Radio Row that week, he ends up needing to address it. Sort of address it, I guess, because Fitz is as adept at sidestepping such controversy as he is high-pointing a catch. He also, as usual, had to talk about his contract, which sports the scary $18 million salary cap number for 2014.
Fitz was back on Radio Row today, so of course, the popular topics came up. During an interview on “The Dan Bickley Show with Vince Marotta” via Arizona Sports 98.7, Fitzgerald was asked about the potential restructure of his contract. That’s always interesting, since restructuring is not a pay cut and usually puts more money in the player’s pocket right away. And while Fitz didn’t say it directly, he did seem to leave the door cracked — a teeny-tiny bit — about a pay reduction. (Although, no, I don’t see Fitz agreeing to a pay cut. He’s a businessman. That will be very, very interesting to see how it comes out.)
But in terms of talking to the team about his contract, Fitzgerald said “when those discussions come I will do what I need to do. I have a great relationship with (GM) Steve Keim, he drafted me in Arizona. I understand his vision and what he is trying to do and the direction he is taking this ballclub. I understand at 30 years old there are things that need to change. That’s part of football, that’s part of being an older veteran.
“I want to see this team do well. I love this group of guys. Patrick (Peterson’s) deal is coming up and he needs to be compensated as the best corner in the game, which I feel he is. We’ve got to take care of Karlos Dansby, Frostee Rucker, there are a lot of guys that deserve to be compensated for their play. And I understand that.”
Earlier in the week, there was a report out of New England saying the Patriots had been interested in dealing for Fitzgerald in the offseason of 2013. How deep this was is up for debate, but again, even if the Cardinals were looking to trade Fitz — which I don’t think they are — there are a ton of moving parts because of the contract and the dead cap money that would come with it. During an appearance on WEEI, which is the big sports talk station in Boston (and which posted the photo below), there wasn’t a ton of Patriots/Fitz talk, but inevitably, it came up.
“If (the Cardinals) felt like that’s what they wanted to do, I would have no choice,” Fitzgerald said about such a trade. “Playing with Tom Brady, you couldn’t go wrong with that.” Fitzgerald added that “I have no idea if it was true.” Jim Gray, the TV/radio personality who knows Fitz (and Brady, for that matter) well having hosted their weekly radio Monday Night Football radio interviews — Fitz’s spot is sponsored by University of Phoenix, dontcha know — for a few years, was on the air too. He said to Fitz directly “Did (the Cardinals) ask you?”
Fitz was quick in his response. “No.” Fitz knows such questions are coming. He still never sounds comfortable having to deal with them.
Tags: Frostee Rucker, Karlos Dansby, Larry Fitzgerald, Patrick Peterson, Patriots, Super Bowl
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When the Super Bowl is played Sunday, it will feature the best offense in the NFL — Denver scored 606 points this season, an incredible 37.9 per game — against the best defense in the NFL — Seattle not only allowed the fewest yards, but also the fewest points this season. A tangible example of the irresistible force meeting the immovable object. It’s hard not to see it as the answer about that “defense wins championships” cliché that floats out there.
It also got me thinking about the Cardinals, and their better recent teams.
The 2008 Cardinals made the Super Bowl after scoring 427 regular-season points (26.7 points a game) and followed up in the playoffs with 30, 33 and 32 points before scoring 23 in the Super Bowl. Of course, that team allowed 426 points, which is why they eeked out a 9-7 record. It was a potent offense. This season, the Cardinals put together 10 wins in large part because of the defense. The Cards were tops in the league in run defense, sixth overall and seventh in scoring defense. It would be interesting to consider that 2008 offense — Kurt Warner, Fitz in his prime, Anquan Boldin, 1,000-yard Steve Breaston and the Edge/Hightower RB tag-team going against the 2013 Cardinals defense.
Which is the better path to take? It’s hard not to think that defense wins titles. It’d be good to see Peyton Manning win another Super Bowl, but I’m not totally sure why the Seahawks aren’t favored in this game, at least a little. Maybe it’s because of last year’s Super Bowl, when a couple of defensive-dominant teams ended up playing in a scorefest. That was in the climate-controlled Superdome, though, and Manning won’t have that advantage Sunday.
As far as the score-first Cardinals versus the defense-first Cards? There’s a reason why Kurt Warner has said this year’s Cardinals team was better than his 2008 version. Part of that was that this year’s team could score a little bit too — with 379 points (23.7 a game) it wasn’t like the Cardinals couldn’t find their way into the end zone. I’d argue that Andre Ellington gave the offense an explosive element that 2008 offense didn’t really have either. Nevertheless, it’s a great debate to have.
Tags: Andre Ellington, Anquan Boldin, Broncos, defense, Edgerrin James, Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald, offense, Seahawks, Steve Breaston, Super Bowl, Tim Hightower
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If the NFC West was the best division in the NFL this season, it’s only fitting that the NFC Championship comes down to the 49ers visiting the Seahawks. The Cardinals, of course, know both intimately. It hasn’t been a great matchup for the 49ers in Seattle — yes, the Niners beat the Seahawks in the last meeting, but the last two times the 49ers have gone to Seattle, the Seahawks have won 29-3 and 42-13. Pretty dominant and one-sided.
I’d be shocked if the 49ers don’t make it much closer. The Seahawks deservedly will be favored though, and it will be difficult to pull off a road win. Then again, the 49ers are playing very well, better than the team that went into Seattle much earlier this season. I’d also guess that regardless of the AFC team, the winner of 49ers-Seahawks will be favored in the Super Bowl in the cold of New York. Both teams have been the best in the NFC all season. And, with the Broncos possibly sprinkled in, they have reason to lay claim to being the best two teams in the NFL.
You can be sure there are a lot of Cardinals seeing the results of these playoff games and wishing they would have had a chance to be in the mix, especially with the way they played against both teams in the last two weeks of the regular season. With that, I have to include a tweet — a re-tweet, actually — from the Cardinals’ official Twitter account from earlier today. No, I was not the author.
— Arizona Cardinals (@AZCardinals) January 12, 2014
Tags: 49ers, NFC West, Seahawks, Super Bowl
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Before we fully move past the trip to Florida and the week away, there was an Edge sighting Saturday night.
It was interesting, since the last time I saw Edgerrin James was in Tampa, in the aftermath of that difficult Super Bowl loss. Edge wasn’t in the locker room the next day when cleanout happened and he was cut a couple months later, not surprisingly, never to come back to the facility. But there he was Saturday night, coming out on the back patio of the Marriott Waterside to get Darnell Dockett. I happened to be sitting out there watching a college game, and I wasn’t going to say anything — but Edge, wearing a wide smile, coming over to say hello and shake hands.
He still has dreads but they are shorter than they were in 2008, but he still looks the same. Somehow, the Super Bowl week came up in the brief conversation and it wasn’t football. It was about the Lamborghini he bought that week as a gift to himself for making the game. The sporty white car (actual Edge Lambo pictured right) literally was delivered to the team hotel when the Cards arrived for the game and was parked out front all week.
These many years later, Edge said the dealer had wanted to have him take a test drive. Edge turned that down and bought it without having climbed into the seat. The funny thing is, Edge doesn’t have it anymore. He sold it. He said it rained too much in Miami to have it around.
Edge always was one of a kind. He was at the end of his career that season with the Cards, yet the Cards don’t make it to the Super Bowl without him in the postseason.
Tags: Edgerrin James, Super Bowl
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The roster is churned, veterans are moved out and the program undergoes an overhaul. So, Bruce Arians, some think the Cardinals are rebui….
The word doesn’t even get all the way out.
“Never use that word. Never use that word,” Arians said Wednesday morning. “We are reloading not rebuilding. We refused to use that word last year in Indianapolis and it was 37 new players on the roster. (Veteran defensive end) Robert Mathis said, ‘I ain’t got time to rebuild.’ And we were in the playoffs. There is no rebuilding going on. We are just plugging in new faces and different faces. This team is not very far off.”
The won-loss record is going to determine that, of course. Certainly the Cardinals are headed toward underdog status at the very least, especially in a division with Seattle, San Francisco and a Rams team that — don’t forget — went 4-1-1 within the NFC West. Arians said the division reminds him of the AFC North, where he coached many years with both the Browns and Steelers.
“One year ago, I don’t think anyone had Seattle that high,” Arians said. “(Quarterback) Russell Wilson made all that happen. Pete (Carroll) did a great job with his defense. One guy can change your whole outlook.”
(Which is true — if a team finds the right QB to be the one guy.)
“I like our defense against anyone’s defense in the division,” Arians added. “We’ve got to make our offense up to speed so we can compete in the division. It starts with division dominance. We have beaten these teams in the last two years, so it’s not like they are dominating us. I’ve always said, win your home games and scratch out a few on the road, you’re in the playoffs.”
– During the meetings, the NFL officially set the date of Super Bowl XLIX (49) at University of Phoenix Stadium following the 2014 season. It will be Feb. 1, 2015. So plan your time accordingly.
– Restricted free agent quarterback Brian Hoyer officially signed his $2.02 million one-year tender offer Wednesday. He is now officially a Card for 2013 and can’t shop around. (Although, unlike a franchise tender offer, a restricted free agent contract is not guaranteed if he is released.)
Tags: Brian Hoyer, NFC West, Super Bowl
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The Ravens won the Super Bowl and the 49ers reached the Big Game. Both teams have long been known for their defenses, and at one point last week, I saw someone note that regardless of what big numbers guys like Brady and Manning and Brees put up, teams with strong defenses were left standing at the end. Defenses win championships.
Except it’s not true.
I’m not saying the defenses of Baltimore and San Francisco aren’t good. Of course they are, and the 49ers’ defense in particular spurred them to another great season. But you can’t have a Super Bowl end with a score of 34-31 and say defense wins championships. It’s about the teams that can be effective offensively enough these days that will win the title. The Ravens did lock down the Colts in the Wild Card round (nine points) and the Patriots in the AFC Championship (13 points), but in both cases the offense did plenty, and certainly, the Ravens’ wins against the Broncos and Niners were more about scoring points than not allowing them. The 49ers provide a greater example, allowing 31, 24 and then 35 points in three postseason games. San Fran did shut out the Falcons in the second half of the NFC Championship, but if it wasn’t for an offense that could pile up four touchdowns, that wouldn’t have mattered.
Is it any wonder, then, that teams were looking for offensive head coaches? As well as the Cardinals’ defense played this season, the offense just wasn’t enough (and yes, I realize that is the understatement of the year.) The Cardinals’ defense in the 2008 season was just OK statistically, but it had it’s moments — and it could rely on an offense that could score points with anyone. Bruce Arians is here because the offense needs a fix. The Seahawks and Niners will be favorites going into next season not because they have good defenses — which they do — but because their offenses suddenly look explosive behind young quarterbacks.
A team still needs a good defense. The Ravens still needed a crucial stop at the end of the game in New Orleans to clinch their title. A poor defense gets you nowhere near a Super Bowl no matter what your offense is like (right, Saints?) But the days when a team can ride a defense practically alone to a title are long gone, like the 2000 Ravens did. The rules don’t allow it, and at some point, points are needed. These days, you need a championship offense to win a championship.
Tags: 49ers, Ravens, Seahawks, Super Bowl
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