Many have asked over the months since the Cardinals traded cornerback A.J. Jefferson to the Vikings at the end of August. Thanks to my friend Tom Pelissero, erstwhile Vikings guru, those trade results have been finalized. Ultimately, the trade was Jefferson and the Cardinals’ seventh-round pick in 2013 for the Tennesee Titans’ 2013 6th-round pick, which the Vikings had previously acquired.
Considering the Cards were on the verge of cutting Jefferson (and the league knew the Cards were corner-heavy) when the trade went down, moving up a round wasn’t a bad result. It gives the Cards, at least before the compensatory picks are doled out, seven total draft picks covering the first six rounds of the draft.
Tags: AJ Jefferson, draft, Titans, trade, Vikings
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The Super Bowl run-up this week — on both TV and in print — will be filled with a handful of the obvious stories this week: The last game for Ray Lewis, the Harbaugh brothers, and, with the 49ers becoming explosive on offense with new quarterback Colin Kaepernick, there will be plenty written and said about the read-option offense.
The conventional wisdom has long been that running quarterbacks will have a hard time having long-term success in the NFL. Defenders are faster and stronger in the pros than college. The chances of a quarterback getting hurt — and the chances that a coach wants to make sure his quarterback doesn’t get hurt — are high. Of course, that all got turned on its head this season, with Kaepernick and Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson (to a lesser degree) all making the read-option incredibly dangerous to opposing defenses.
Where does it go from here?
It’s impossible to know for sure. I do know that defensive coordinators are going to have an entire offseason to prepare to defend it. If you are Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, who could/will see some version of it up to seven times in 2013 — the Niners twice, the Seahawks twice, the Panthers (Cam Newton), Titans (Jake Locker) and Eagles (with new coach Chip Kelly) — you know the Cards are going to study the strengths and weaknesses carefully. There have been comparisons made to the Wildcat offense, and that version became a lot less effective the year after it hit the scene hard.
Then again, the Wildcat was done in a situation where the main ballhandler wasn’t a quarterback. The threat of the pass was only that, a threat. It wasn’t normal. That’s what makes the read-option so difficult, because the quarterback could instead fade for a quick throw. That’s why Kaepernick and Griffin and Wilson have been so good. It’s not because they run the ball well — although they do do that — but because they are accurate passers and can make defenses pay through conventional ways too. (In other words, Tim Tebow they are not.) As more and more college quarterbacks find ways to do both, it will inevitably find its way into the pro game.
Injury concerns are legitimate. The Redskins understand this. The more hits a QB takes, the more chance he gets hurt. Simple math. Maybe the success can be sustained on a football level, but on a player level, the quarterback won’t last as long. Or maybe the QB has to morph after a few years, like Michael Jordan went from going to the hoop every time into one of the best jump shooters. Pocket passers aren’t going away. It’s really about what the talent is coming from colleges and what coaches are willing to do to adapt. I doubt every team suddenly starts running the read-option, but I don’t see it going away.
Tags: 49ers, Colin Kaepernick, Eagles, Panthers, read-option, Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson, Seahawks, Titans, Todd Bowles
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Ah, Nashville. The last two times we were here, the story was always the quarterback. In 2009, Kurt Warner, last moment, decided his concussion wouldn’t let him play, and Matt Leinart almost had the game he needed – until Vince Young put together a 99-yard drive to finish the game and the Cardinals. The last time here was the beginning of the end for Leinart, the preseason week spent in Tennessee where Leinart was demoted from the first unit in favor of Derek Anderson and we all know how that turned out.
Some things never change. Quarterbacks are still front and center. John Skelton gets the start and ostensibly, the chance to put a stranglehold on the job. Kevin Kolb will play. Coach Ken Whisenhunt hasn’t given any indication this battle is over. This game will mean something. Ron Wolfley made a point the other day both on the podcast and his radio show that Kolb has probably been better in practice where Skelton has been better in games, which is why this is probably closer for coaches than fans (who don’t watch practice daily but watch the games.)
In any case, it looks like this game will only add to the quarterback legacy that Cards’ trips to Nashville have built.
– Watching Beanie Wells in a game for the first time will be fascinating. We’re on the precipice of the regular season. It looks like Ryan Williams is in good shape to be ready as expected. It’s time for Wells to make a similar step. It has been suggested Beanie runs with a limp. Some of that has to do with getting used to his brace and getting back on the field for the first time in a while. But those of us who have observed Beanie have always noticed what to me, at least, seems like an awkward gait when Wells walks quickly or runs half-speed, even when totally healthy. When he turns it up, it disappears.
– Larry Fitzgerald said he knew all along there probably wouldn’t be a choice at quarterback just yet. “You can’t just give guys one game. That’s not much of a competition,” he said. “We knew it would probably come down to the wire.”
– D.J. Young and D’Anthony Batiste get their chance to show what they can do at left tackle. Will one emerge? Maybe. Conventional wisdom seems to be that Batiste has a better shot than Young. There are more options than Batiste at right tackle, which could be Jeremy Bridges or even just sinking or swimming with rookie Bobby Massie (although the Massie move might be easier to deal with if Brown was still in the lineup). A savior isn’t coming, though. The Cardinals might pick someone up in free agency or the waiver wire, but again, anyone on the street is on the street for a reason. Chad Clifton is available, for instance, because he’s been injured and is 36. Anyone cut next week will be cut because there were at least two guys better than him on his previous roster. That’s reality.
(And a quick side note on the depth behind Brown, and the Cards being caught unprepared – you always want the best depth you can get on the roster, but I’m not sure you build a roster with the idea of a guy possibly going down with a season-ending injury. You’re counting on the starter to be there, especially a guy like Brown, who had played every game for the last four seasons. I think they felt Batiste/Bridges would have been fine as a Brown fill-in for a game or two.)
– Brown had his surgery, by the way. The Cardinals have to trim 15 players off the roster by Monday (although it may come as soon as Friday.) One of those moves, I would think, would be Brown’s move to injured reserve. I just don’t see them saving a roster spot for an end-of-season return. We will see.
– Left guard Daryn Colledge on losing Levi: “If anyone was (indestructible) I thought it would be Levi. Anyone who tears a triceps and just takes a knee (after the play) and talks about it, that’s a pretty studly guy to me. But anyone can go down on any play, that’s the hard part about preseason. We lose him in Week 14, that’s something, but lose him in Minus-Week 3, that’s one of the worst things that can happen.”
– Lots of questions about whether Quan Sturdivant is going to make the team, but it seems like a longshot with the way Reggie Walker has been playing. Your starters are Daryl Washington and Paris Lenon, and I think both Walker and Stewart Bradley have played well in the preseason. Four inside linebackers seems like enough. It’s been suggested that maybe the $3 million for Lenon might put him on the bubble, but the way he has performed and with his durability, I just don’t see him anywhere but the roster.
– Besides the first cuts that I mentioned earlier, final cuts must be made the day after the final preseason game, Friday the 31st.
Tags: Beanie Wells, Bobby Massie, Chad Clifton, D'Anthony Batiste, D.J. Young, Daryl Washington, Daryn Colledge, John Skelton, Kevin Kolb, Larry Fitzgerald, Levi Brown, Matt Leinart, Paris Lenon, Quan Sturdivant, Reggie Walker, Ron Wolfley, Ryan Williams, Stewart Bradley, Titans
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Coach Ken Whisenhunt is planning for the first-unit offensive line to start the second half in Tennessee Thursday night. That’ll give more time for work at left tackle — D.J. Young will start as expected there but D’Anthony Batiste (who will start at right tackle) will slide over there for some time as well. Whisenhunt also talked about the possibility of someone else coming in later to play tackle — there is no question the free-agent market is in play here.
The playing time thing also means that John Skelton will get many more snaps — Whiz wants to even things out after Skelton played little last week. (UPDATE: Although after further review, Skelton has played 33 snaps, Kolb 32 thus far). But Whisenhunt repeated — again — he doesn’t have a timetable for making a call on the starting QB and it might not come before the final preseason game. “I don’t think there’s any pressure” to do it next week, Whisenhunt said.
– Whiz was pleased with how Ryan Williams looked at running back (eight snaps total) and he will play more this week. It depends on how much/if Beanie Wells plays this week, although Wells is expected to be out there.
– Running back William Powell has “gotten your attention,” Whiz said. It will be interesting to see if Powell can make a real push for a roster spot.
– Whiz still wants to cut down on defensive penalties. Offensively, he’s happy there hasn’t been a lot of questions about the run game. He took that to mean the run game has been good, and I would agree at this point — especially with limited Williams and no Wells so far.
Tags: D'Anthony Batiste, D.J. Young, John Skelton, Ken Whisenhunt, Ryan Williams, Titans, William Powell
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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 »
There has been some “mention” of the Cardinals spending some time in Kansas City and practicing against the Chiefs early in training camp, according to Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel. The Cardinals play in the Hall of Fame game Aug. 5 — a Sunday night — and will play at Arrowhead Stadium the following Friday night. The Cards could go to Kansas City early. “I’m not opposed to it,” Crennel said. The athletic director of Missouri Western State University acknowledged Cards’ decision makers had visited the campus to evaluate the facilities. That story emphasized nothing yet had been decided and talks were only in the early stages.
It wouldn’t be unprecedented for the Cardinals to make such a choice in camp. In 2010, the Cardinals played in Nashville against the Titans and then stayed in the city to have a practice against the Titans before flying directly to Chicago for their next preseason game against the Bears.
At this point, the only portion of the training camp schedule the Cards have released is report day of July 24 and a practice on July 25. The full camp schedule usually is announced in late June.
Tags: Chiefs, Titans, training camp
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“You want answers?”
“I think I’m entitled.”
“You want answers?!?”
“I WANT THE TRUTH!”
“YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!”
I’m not so sure that sequence (man, I love that movie) could fit any better into the place everyone is right now with the Cardinals’ quarterbacks. I know in a lot of ways my head is ready to explode.
So I got a tweet this afternoon from @mbodmer: “@Cardschatter put yourself out there. what happens week 1. 1-3 and PS qb’s. give us something real.” OK, something real. Well, reality is this – I don’t think the Cardinals know for sure what that’s going to look like 10 days from now. I’m not sure how I am supposed to figure it out.
I’m not going to lie, and anyone who has read my stuff knows this anyway: I thought all along Matt Leinart would at least start the season under center. I suppose that can still happen. He will have Beanie Wells behind him at running back for the first time in Chicago barring something unforeseen, so maybe that helps in some way. But clearly, had Leinart played the way the Cards were hoping, Derek Anderson would not be starting against the Bears. I can still see a scenario where Leinart plays against the Rams Sept. 12, and obviously, I can see Anderson playing as well.
But this has gone further than who starts. It’s also about who is on the roster.
Let’s just take today’s news/speculation and extrapolate it out. Let’s say Anderson becomes the permanent starter. Do you try to trade Leinart? Release him? It makes for easy decisions on John Skelton and Max Hall – they’d stay, of course – but where does that leave you? Let’s say Anderson falters or gets hurt. Are you riding with Hall – who was, despite looking pretty decent in camp, is still undrafted and most certainly unproven? Skelton, who is even more raw than Hall?
Another scenario is Anderson starting in front of Leinart, and keeping a young guy (and making the other young guy on the practice squad). Can Leinart handle, especially mentally, being a backup again? Can the Cards get either Hall or Skelton to the practice squad?
(Quick aside: It’s not necessarily easy to get a guy through to the practice squad, but it’s not easy to take a guy either. Don’t forget, it’s not like another team could take Hall or Skelton and put him on its practice squad. They’d have to put him on their active roster.)
Or, of course, the Cards could keep four QBs. But on a team with depth issues in spots, losing a valuable roster spot to a player who would always be inactive and would have a hard time getting practice reps with three other QBs just seems difficult to do.
The answer, for me, is that there is no answer. Not now, not with two preseason games and a couple weeks before the first game. I could be off base, but I don’t think I am. Coach Ken Whisenhunt probably wishes everything was set in stone, but he said today it wasn’t and, given the circumstances, that makes sense to me. Things change quickly — just ask this guy (below) that was at the Titans’ game. That’s the truth, whether you choose to handle it or not.
Tags: Beanie Wells, Bears, Derek Anderson, John Skelton, Ken Whisenhunt, Matt Leinart, Max Hall, Rams, Titans
Posted in Blog | 78 Comments »
Just got back from the Cards’ practice with the Titans. There will be a story up in a bit, but I have to say, it was cleaner than I expected — no scuffles at all. But it was still interesting. Unfortunately, with three fields, each team’s offense was taking on the opposing defense simultaneously on the two outside fields, so you had to pick and choose what battles to watch. Given the circumstances, I watched more of the Cards’ offense. The offensive line versus the Titans’ defensive line was fun to see. It’s clear the Cards have some nasty cusses on the second unit — Rex Hadnot (pictured below in a one-on-one battle), Deuce Lutui and Jeremy Bridges — who like to stir things up. That always lends itself to intensity.
Some quick other notes from today:
– The injury list was expected — WR Larry Fitzgerald (knee), WR Early Doucet (abdomen), LB O’Brien Schofield (knee-PUP), LB Gerald Hayes (back-PUP), TE Ben Patrick (knee) and WR Andre Roberts (shoulder). LB Will Davis left during practice after aggravating his right knee bruise, but coach Ken Whisenhunt said he will be OK.
– Greg Toler was running with the first unit at CB with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and he had told me earlier in the day there would be some shuffling. Whether that is “permanent” (which is a term that must be used loosely this time of year) or not, we will see. I also notice rookie NT Dan Williams getting a couple of first-unit snaps, but I didn’t see enough of the defense to know if that meant anything, or if it was just a sub-package or maybe veteran Bryan Robinson was just getting a blow.
– Max Hall did run with the second unit at the end of the two-minute drill, but only after Matt Leinart and Derek Anderson each got some work. Hall could have (should have?) had a TD pass at the end, but a pass was slightly tipped, changing trajectory a little for WR Ed Gant, who had the ball bounce off his upper chest. Hall threw a nice long TD earlier to Stephen Williams during 7-on-7.
– No, during my time watching the QBs, I didn’t see anything much noteworthy from Leinart or Anderson, not to add to the chaos of a story right now.
– The Cards practice one more time tomorrow at Vanderbilt, and fly to Chicago Friday.
Tags: Andre Roberts, Ben Patrick, Bryan Robinson, Dan Williams, Derek Anderson, Deuce Lutui, DRC, Early Doucet, Ed Gant, Gerald Hayes, Greg Toler, Jeremy Bridges, Larry Fitzgerald, Matt Leinart, Max Hall, O'Brien Schofield, Rex Hadnot, Stephen Williams, Titans, training camp, Will Davis
Posted in Blog | 56 Comments »
Obviously, the storyline coming out of Monday night’s game is the quarterbacks. It’s always the quarterbacks.
There’s nothing I can write to convince people who already believe Leinart is an epic fail that’s it could be otherwise. He connects with Stephen Williams on that bomb down the field – and Williams was easily open – everything is different. Leinart has his one bomb, the Cards move the ball a little, etc. But that didn’t happen, and it’s fair to argue it was on Leinart to get the ball there (coach Ken Whisenhunt did note Williams didn’t run the greatest route).
So where does that leave the Cards – and by extension, us?
Probably right where we were before. My guess is the Cards will break down the tape, see the Titans bringing the house (and Leinart under heavy pressure nearly every play), see the running game providing no support, and figure with a better game plan, Leinart would have been OK. Had Derek Anderson been awesome perhaps that’d change the dynamic, but aside from Anderson’s 37-yard pass to Williams – which was a nice pass – Anderson had a lot of the same issues and Leinart.
All I know is that I’m happy there is another game relatively quickly. Nothing been decided yet, and it takes games to push that progress.
Among the other things here late in Nashville:
– The defense looked solid early, forcing two three-and-outs to start the game. They just want to continue that. “It was decent, the thing is, the coaching staff was expecting us to sustain that passion we were playing with,” safety Adrian Wilson said. “I thought we did pretty well, but we have to do it every series.”
On the next drive, safety Kerry Rhodes took a bad angle on the Titans’ first big pass play (30 yards) and CB Trumaine McBride was beat on the next play for 28 yards, setting up the first TD. Still, the Cards are probably generally happy with where the defense is right now, especially when – again – game-planning is at a minimum.
– Linebacker Daryl Washington didn’t flash as much as the first preseason game. Who did? LaRod Stephens-Howling had some nice runs and he continues to look like a Pro Bowl special teamer. I thought linebacker Stevie Baggs made some plays, and the fact he afterward was lamenting the few assignments he missed is a good sign of focusing on getting better.
– I am interested in seeing what the analysis is on the offensive line. Very difficult to see what was happening since the Titans were bringing the kitchen sink early on. I don’t know what the assignments were or who was supposed to block who, but Tim Hightower lost four yards on his first three carries. One replay showed tackle Levi Brown looking to block someone but, given the circumstances, he couldn’t get his hands on anyone. Again, as Whisenhunt said, there were opportunities but the Cards couldn’t execute.
“This is the time of year where (coaches) are going to look to see who will win the one-on-one battles,” center Lyle Sendlein said. “When they are blitzing people, us up front, everyone has a man they have to block. Outside, you have to win routes and the running backs have to pick up players and the quarterback has to get the ball out.”
– Finally, the leap of Lavelle Hawkins over cornerback Marshay Green was ESPN’s top play of the night, but man, it’s hard to get on Green. It’s not like Marshay dove at the guy’s ankles and Hawkins went over. Green actually came almost all the way up on his 5-foot-10-ish frame and Hawkins still cleared him (Sure, Green could have extended his arms for the trip, but I’m trying to stay positive here). It was just a great individual effort. And made for a nice picture.
Talk to you tomorrow. (Today?)
Tags: Adrian Wilson, Daryl Washington, Derek Anderson, Ken Whisenhunt, Kerry Rhodes, LaRod Stephens-Howling, Levi Brown, Lyle Sendlein, Marshay Green, Matt Leinart, Stephen Williams, Stevie Baggs, Tim Hightower, Titans, Trumaine McBride
Posted in Blog | 88 Comments »
I have had a few people ask me about the Cardinals’ practices in Nashville this coming week and whether the public can watch. The practice Wednesday against the Titans at the Titans’ facility at Baptist Sports Park (460 Great Circle Rd.) is expected to be open. That practice is scheduled to begin at 3:30 p.m. local time. Now, I don’t know what form the practice will take or if the players will be signing any autographs like they had in Flagstaff, but at least it will be a chance to see them. The practice Thursday at Vanderbilt is a closed affair.
Tags: Titans, training camp
Posted in Blog | 2 Comments »