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.
Tags: Adrian Wilson, AFC, Bills, Broncos, Browns, Colts, Dolphins, Ken Whisenhunt, Raiders, Steelers, Texans
Posted in Blog | 11 Comments »
Yes, yes, I know I am early. Way early. But as long as the info is out there — and while we still have a little bit before we get to training camp — here is a look at who the Cardinals’ opponents will be for the 2013 season.
– Indianapolis (Andrew Luck!)
– Carolina (Cam Newton!)
– Houston (Arian Foster.)
– Atlanta (Roddy White?)
– NFC North team that matches Cards’ spot in 2012 standings
– and of course, St. Louis, Seattle, San Francisco.
– New Orleans
– Tampa Bay
– NFC East team that matches Cards’ spot in 2012 standings
– and, of course, St. Louis, Seattle, San Francisco.
I was going to do a little analysis, but then I realized how foolish that was this far out.
Tags: 49ers, Andrew Luck, Arian Foster, Buccaneers, Cam Newton, Colts, Falcons, Jaguars, Panthers, Rams, Roddy White, Saints, schedule, Seahawks, Texans, Titans
Posted in Blog | 16 Comments »
Forbes.com has come out with a list of the 50 most valuable sports teams in the world, and the Cardinals rank 30th, with a Forbes-estimated value of $919 million. That’s third in the NFC West, with the Seahawks at No. 25 ($989 million) and the 49ers at No. 29 ($925 million). The Rams are 40th ($779 million). Not shockingly, all 32 NFL teams made it into the top 50.
The top 10 teams in the world? Soccer’s Manchester United is No. 1, valued at $1.86 billion. They are followed by the Dallas Cowboys ($1.81 billion), New York Yankees ($1.7 billion), Washington Redskins ($1.55 billion), soccer’s Real Madrid $1.45 billion), New England Patriots ($1.37 billion), soccer’s Arsenal ($1.19 billion), New York Giants ($1.18 billion), then somewhat surprisingly the Houston Texans ($1.17 billion), and, rounding out the top 10, the New York Jets ($1.14 billion).
Tags: 49ers, Cowboys, Forbes, Giants, Jets, NFC West, Patriots, Rams, Redskins, Seahawks, Texans
Posted in Blog | 5 Comments »
With one game left — and the Cards safely out of the playoff picture — it’s a lot easier to narrow down some key portions of 2011 concerning both draft position and the schedule.
– As for the draft, the Cardinals have four teams with worse records than their own 5-10 mark. Arizona is one of seven teams with five wins. But as of right now, the Cardinals are fifth overall in the draft and “first” among those seven teams because of the Cards’ weak strength of schedule (Draft position is not broken by head-to-head or various playoff-type tiebreakers but instead the inverse — the weaker the opponents you played were, the higher pick, because the thought process is if your record is the same against weaker opponents, you are considered the weaker team and in need of a higher pick).
The Cardinals’ strength-of-schedule is so weak, in fact, that no matter any team(s) they end up tied with in the draft position, they will be choosing higher. So, for instance, even if the Cards beat the 49ers this weekend and the Seahawks lose and both the Cards and Seahawks finish with six wins, the Cards will be slotted higher in the draft. (Of course, beating the 49ers will mean the Cards end up with a better record than San Francisco, meaning the Niners will of course be ahead in the order).
Looking over the standings, the “lowest” the Cardinals will be picking will be 11th in the draft. If the Cardinals beat San Francisco, the Niners would be “ahead” of the Cards, while of the other five teams who have five wins, four could lose (two of the five-win teams play each other, Minnesota at Detroit, and I am assuming the Vikings lose in Philadelphia tomorrow night). Cleveland (hosting Pittsburgh), Dallas (at Philly) and Houston (hosting Jacksonville) are the other five-win teams.
If the Cards lose to the 49ers, they could still in theory have as high as the No. 2 pick in the draft, but that would mean Denver (hosting San Diego), Cincinnati (at Baltimore) and Buffalo (at the Jets) all won this weekend. Carolina has already clinched Andrew Lu, errr, the No. 1 pick overall.
– As for the schedule, that is always all but set. In cement are home games against the three NFC West foes, Dallas, the Giants, Cleveland and Pittsburgh. The Cardinals will go on the road to the three NFC West opponents, Philadelphia, Washington, Baltimore and Cincinnati.
The remaining road/home games set up like this: If the Cards win, they will host Tampa Bay again. (UPDATE: My mistake — if the Saints lose tonight and then the Buccaneers beat the Saints next week, the Cards would host the Saints again next year in this scenario). If they lose, the extra home game will be Carolina.
For the final road game, a Cardinal win means the Cards will play at the winner of this weekend’s Minnesota-Detroit game. A loss in San Francisco means they will travel to the loser of the Vikings-Lions.
– UPDATE II: For those confused about why the schedule, for instance, has the Cards hosting Pittsburgh again after the Steelers came in 2007 and the Cards last went to Pittsburgh in 2003, here was the info I received on the subject from the league:
“You need to look at the scheduling formula on a larger scale. it’s not as simple as just alternating the home games for every opponent – the math would not work out that way. The formula is set so that you’ll play all non-division conference opponents at least one every three years and at home at least once every six years. Also, keep in mind for non-division opponents in the conference, you’re rotating three divisions over a period of time, so if you take the original eight-year rotation, the math doesn’t work out so that it’s a straight alternating system. So by just taking selective end points and asking about ’04, ’07 and ’10, you’re not looking at a complete picture.”
Under the formula, every team within a division plays 16 games as follows:
- Home and away against its three division opponents (6 games).
- The four teams from another division within its conference on a rotating three-year cycle (4 games).
- The four teams from a division in the other conference on a rotating four-year cycle (4 games).
- Two intraconference games based on the prior year’s standings (2 games). These games match a first-place team against the first-place teams in the two same-conference divisions the team is not scheduled to play that season. The second-place, third-place, and fourth-place teams in a conference are matched in the same way each year.
Tags: 49ers, Bengals, Bills, Broncos, Browns, Cowboys, draft, Lions, Panthers, Saints, schedule, Seahawks, Texans, Vikings
Posted in Blog | 75 Comments »
Ahh, the preseason. Finally a game to watch, a game from which to make judgments instead of practice after practice.
But how much can be judged? That’s always the big question. Inevitably, we will be told that what we saw as media and fans wasn’t enough to know what’s what – like Matt Leinart’s bad game in Oakland in 2008 that, according to coaches, didn’t torpedo his chances to start.
But it is football. So the top five things I hope to see are:
– Leinart taking control. It’s early and Leinart’s playing time will be limited. Coach Ken Whisenhunt said he’s looking for intangible things as much as tangible, like the way Leinart works the huddle. Makes sense to me. Playing quarterback is about talent, but it’s as much about making guys believe they can follow you to victories. That’s what Leinart had in college (and, I believe, what he had when he first showed up in Arizona).
And yes, I want to see how Derek Anderson performs too, but I think this week, it’s mostly about Matt.
– Toler playing well on an island. In this vanilla-type of game, Greg Toler (and the other cornerbacks) will have a chance at one-on-one coverage. It’s not the easiest baptism, but necessary. Toler needs to make a play or two and take a step forward toward a starting job that, in my opinion, the Cards need him to grab hold.
– Who makes an impact at linebacker. The coaches like what Paris Lenon has done so far. But can rookie Daryl Washington avoid some rookie mistakes? Joey Porter and Clark Haggans are givens. But can Cody Brown look as improved against another team as he has against some of the Cards’ second-stringers? What outside linebackers hoping to make the team – a Stevie Baggs, a Mark Washington, for instance – can do enough to earn further consideration?
– Who can handle the bright lights. Wide receiver Stephen Williams has played well at camp, and quarterback Max Hall has impressed (and at this point, has clearly outplayed John Skelton). But that’s just in practice. When the lights go on, the stakes change. They and a bunch of other younger guys need to prove the play can carry over.
– Deuce versus Reggie versus the whole offensive line. Can Deuce Lutui play well enough to push Reggie Wells out of the starting five? How will Alan Faneca look? Levi Brown at left tackle instead of right? Brandon Keith as starter? The Texans have a pretty decent defensive line, so the starters should get a little bit of a test.
Tags: Alan Faneca, Brandon Keith, Clark Haggans, Cody Brown, Daryl Washington, Derek Anderson, Deuce Lutui, Greg Toler, Joey Porter, John Skelton, Ken Whisenhunt, Levi Brown, Mark Washington, Matt Leinart, Max Hall, Paris Lenon, Reggie Wells, Stephen Williams, Stevie Baggs, Texans, training camp
Posted in Blog | 41 Comments »
A few things to ponder while I wait for my new (and painfully expensive) air conditioner to arrive:
– Ron Wolfley, Paul Calvisi and I will be doing an offseason Cardinals Underground podcast early next week (Tuesday is the plan). We’d like to answer some of your questions. So if you have a question for us, e-mail me at askDarren@cardinals.nfl.net, put “Underground” in the subject line and we will get to as many of them as we can.
– Speaking of things for the fans, if you have been looking for some new wallpapers, we finally have some up. Just go to this page for a cornucopia of choices.
– Is this where we get into the discussion of where LeBron plays next year?
– One point I meant to bring up in yesterday’s item on Deuce Lutui is that neither he nor the team could have foreseen the Faneca signing. No one thought the Jets were going to cut the guy. Once he was cut, however, the Cards — who had wanted him for a long time — got their man and changed the game. Like the unfortunate turn of events with the CBA that hurt Lutui’s leverage, the Faneca situation threw another wrench in Lutui’s situation.
– Personally, I don’t think Brian Cushing should have gotten defensive rookie of the year award after failing the test for banned substances. He’ll still serve his punishment of a four-game suspension, but that’s the regular season. Meaning the first crowd he has to deal with at a game will be at University of Phoenix Stadium — where the Texans open up the preseason against the Cards. That should be interesting.
Tags: Brian Cushing, Cardinals Underground, Deuce Lutui, Texans
Posted in Blog | 52 Comments »
The Cardinals officially sold out Sunday’s game by today’s deadline, so the game will indeed be televised locally on CBS (Ch. 5). The result means the Cardinals keep alive their streak of sellouts since the opening of University of Phoenix Stadium, which now totals 37 straight games including preseason and postseason dates.
There are still some premium tickets available, however, so anyone interested can call 800-745-3000 to buy them and see the crucial game which includes the subplot of two of the best receivers in the game: Larry Fitzgerald and Andre Johnson.
As for practice today, I have yet to see the official injury designations for the weekend, but coach Ken Whisenhunt said he expects to have all 53 players available Sunday to craft his 45-man active list. That’s a first for 2009.
Tags: Andre Johnson, Blackouts, Larry Fitzgerald, sellout, Texans
Posted in Blog | 4 Comments »
Coach Ken Whisenhunt was asked about the offensive line, and perhaps if — when things go bad — they are overly criticized.
“It’s hard to evaluate linemen on their game based on how they individually played or how the group played,” Whisenhunt said. “It seems to be they are evaluated based on your team’s statistics, whether it’s sacks given up or how much you rush for or those kinds of things. Sometimes it may not be their fault.
“I don’t think there is any question we need to be more consistent at the position. I think we showed we improved last season at the position.”
The offensive line is always an interesting topic. Obviously, they aren’t noticed when things go right and they are when things aren’t right. And I have always subscribed to the idea that, given all the moving parts on an offense (or defense, for that matter), it’s so hard to know exactly what went wrong on a given play. Did Kurt Warner get sacked because the line missed a block? Or did he hold it too long? Or did he hold it long because the receiver messed up his assignment?
Like Whisenhunt said, the line needs more consistency. It goes without saying that Mike Gandy and Levi Brown probably won’t name the Colts’ game as one of their all-timers, but there were bumpy spots last year too. The next two weeks, against OK but not great pass-rushing teams in the Texans and Seahawks, will show a lot. And the line (as well as the whole team) will need to be playing at a high level by Oct. 25, when the nation sees the Cardinals on “Sunday Night Football” again in New York against another great pass-rushing team in the Giants.
Tags: Giants, Kurt Warner, Levi Brown, Mike Gandy, Seahawks, Texans
Posted in Blog | 10 Comments »
Obviously, not a good night. It looked like it would be, after the way the defense handled the Colts in the first quarter – three punts and an interception. After that, well, ugh. Coach Ken Whisenhunt used the word “disappointed” a few times, including when he talked about starting 0-2 at home. “I’m disappointed we haven’t lived up to our end of the bargain for our fans,” he said, and judging by the comments I have seen via e-mails/on the blog/Facebook/Twitter, the fans are none too happy about it.
Other thoughts on Sunday night, here on a Monday morning because it just got too late to write:
– I know many were wondering about the lack of Beanie (two carries for minus-2 yards) in the game. Simple, really. Beanie can run right now, but the other parts of the game, like catching and blocking, are better served with Tim Hightower in the game. The way the game developed meant Beanie sat.
– Speaking of running backs, I don’t think anyone would have guessed the Cards, after the Colts gave up 239 yards rushing the week before to the Dolphins, would only gain 24 yards on the ground.
– Kurt Warner could have thrown the ball away on his end-of-the-half fluky interception, but he saw a chance with Larry Fitzgerald – and it’s exactly the kind of play Fitzgerald has been looking for from his QB. “I felt he was in a favorable position on a smaller corner,” Warner said. “I think we had a window there.”
– That said, the turnover was obviously a killer, since the Cards did manage to march down for a touchdown to open the second half.
– Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie said he is still learning, but the learning curve really hurt the Cards. All week the Cardinals talked about how Peyton Manning would rip them apart if they didn’t handle their assignments, and the couple of times DRC didn’t, Manning found the opening. Even on the bomb DRC barely missed, though, Manning threw a perfect pass.
– The plays that summed up the game to me, other than the turnovers. The juxtaposition of the two bombs: Manning’s right-on 53-yard TD toss to Pierre Garcon, and Warner’s overthrow of Fitzgerald when Fitz was wide open after the defensive back fell. You can’t miss those opportunities. Oh, and you can’t forget Warner running for his life backward on his final fourth-down play when he ended up losing 28 yards on a sack. This game will not be on the highlight reel for left tackle Mike Gandy or any of the offensive line, for that matter. “I don’t feel I won my share of battles out there,” Gandy said.
– Given the way this team is constructed, you have to wonder (worry) when the offense makes early mistakes on how it affects the whole team. We all know how badly the Hightower fumble at the Colts’ 5 hurt, but on the drive before – which ended on a Neil Rackers field goal and a 3-0 Cards’ lead – the Cardinals were at the Indianapolis 20 with a third-and-1. Warner tried to go down the field to Fitzgerald. Anquan Boldin was wide open on the left side of the play (he was demonstrably angry right after the incompletion, and was lucky he didn’t get a penalty when he ripped off his helmet on the field) about two yards past the first-down marker. The two drives combined maybe should have turned into two touchdowns. But when they didn’t, maybe it takes something away from the defense.
– Then again, maybe Manning is just the best quarterback in the NFL and that 95-yard drive after the Hightower fumble was simply Manning proving his legend once again more than the Cards’ shortcomings.
We’ll see. From here, the Cards have to go 6-0 at home just to match last season’s home record. But if they beat the Texans in their next game, they will be 2-2 after four games, just like last season. With the bye coming, they might as well as go half-full with the glass. What other options are there?
Tags: Anquan Boldin, Beanie Wells, Colts, DRC, Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald, Mike Gandy, Neil Rackers, Peyton Manning, Pierre Garcon, Texans, Tim Hightower
Posted in Blog | 62 Comments »