Friday before the Chargers

Posted by Darren Urban on October 1, 2010 – 4:50 pm

I enjoy San Diego. I have been there many times, and had some good family vacations there. Given that the freaking temperature here in the Valley continues to boggle us at around 105 degrees now that we’ve reached October, 36 hours in San Diego sounds good.

Football-wise, it’s definitely an interesting trip to say the least. The Chargers are beat up, missing two key players because of contract squabbles, and apparently can’t tackle on special teams. They are 1-2, and are turnover machines – and still are favored by more than a touchdown. I suppose that says a little about where the Cardinals are right now, beat up themselves at wide receiver and still looking for offensive consistency and a true defensive identity.

I will say this: If the Cards emerge victorious this weekend – regardless of how it happens – this team will have earned its 3-1 record.

As for the details on this Friday afternoon …

I’ve mentioned this before but the Cardinals need a big effort on defense. They just do. Partly it’s because the Chargers have turned the ball over nine times in three games. Partly it’s because the Cards just don’t know what will happen offensively. Those turnovers are key, though (Duh, right?) The Chargers are ranked tops in the NFL in offense, which is based on yards, and the Cards know they haven’t been stellar in that regard.

“We have been giving up a lot more yards than we should,” defensive end Calais Campbell said. “We know if we don’t play our game, they can expose us.”

Said safety Kerry Rhodes, “They are number one for a reason. They get a lot of big chunks. We give up the big one, we’re going to be in trouble.”

— On the other side of the ball, Derek Anderson will be tested. The passing game has been hot and cold even with Steve Breaston in the game and now Breaston isn’t. I like the potential of Stephen Williams and even Max Komar, but the question is whether potential helps enough right now.

— So then you think about Larry Fitzgerald and getting him the ball – again. Is he a decoy (not on purpose, but …)? Coach Ken Whisenhunt knows the Chargers may use even more resources to throw at Fitz. But, Whiz noted, “if you’re going to compromise your scheme to take away a certain player, it may open up certain areas and you can exploit it.”

— Fitzgerald expressed his concern in a Fitz-like way this week, talking about just wanting to double his catches from last week’s two, etc. Clearly, he and Anderson have to hook up on openings more often. Whisenhunt even mentioned missing on the big plays when they presented themselves last week, and it seems like there have been a couple each game in which Fitz could have broken loose and the connection just wasn’t made.

Fitz talked about getting on the same page, still preaching patience. Most dynamic duos have had a couple of years. He and Anderson have had three games. “Reggie Wayne and Peyton, Moss and Brady, they know each other, all their quirky moves,” Fitzgerald said. “That’s what me and Derek need to do.”

Fitz said it felt like it was working better in Atlanta. Last week, not as much. “Hopefully this is the week it comes together,” he said.

— XTRA’s Mike Jurecki is reporting rookie nose tackle Dan Williams didn’t make weight this week so he won’t play in San Diego. If so, it’s a lot easier to make such a call with veteran Gabe Watson – who has been a healthy scratch the first three games – champing at the bit to finally play. (Bryan Robinson is the starter, so we’re talking about a backup anyway). It’s a big moment for Watson, who you know doesn’t want to be one and done. And it’s an wake-up call for Williams, who was regarded as a nose tackle who wouldn’t have to fight such things as much as guys like Watson and Alan Branch have the past few years.

— The game in San Diego will be blacked out locally because, for a second time in two home games, the Chargers didn’t sell out. It’s been an issue there, although quarterback Philip Rivers insisted it doesn’t affect the home-field advantage.

“We were 7,000 tickets or so short in the home opener, but you sure couldn’t tell,” Rivers said. “It was loud. … I don’t think that’s something us players get caught up into.”

— Another thing the Chargers haven’t had affect them too much – the missing stars, tackle Marcus McNeill and receiver Vincent Jackson. Rivers said everyone knew both would not show up, so there was no shock value. “We were able to have a whole offseason, a whole training camp a whole preseason knowing we weren’t going to have those guys,” he said. “It really hasn’t been a distraction.”

— Which special teams unit “wins” Sunday? Do the Chargers make up for their errors last week in giving up two TD kickoff returns? Do the Cards repeat The Hyphen’s exploits? Or at least cut down on two crucial punt return turnovers? “The toll it took on our defense, at the time, our defense was on a roll,” Whisenhunt said of the backbreaking notion of bad special teams plays. “I’m sure it’s a little the same thing with San Diego.”

— Finally, it stinks that Beanie Wells got hit with the $5,000 facemask fine from last week. But judging by this pic (by freelance photog Bruce Yeung, who had been reading my blog) it’s kind of tough to argue.

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54 Responses to “Friday before the Chargers”

  1. By Tyrelle on Oct 1, 2010 | Reply

    I wish people would quit saying the defense have to do this. Don’t score 10 points and expect this defense who have problems as well to hold the number 1 offense to 9 points. Offense have to get it together and it starts with Derek. He has been in the league for quite some time. THere is no excuse for you to over throw a WR 5 times a game. No excuses. Go hard or go home.

  2. By Darren Urban on Oct 1, 2010 | Reply

    Tyrelle —

    RE: Defense/offense

    No argument the offense has to play better. But so does the defense and they know it.

  3. By tRiGiDy22 on Oct 1, 2010 | Reply

    Darren, really? Cards deactivate rookie NT Dan Williams for Week 4 because the first-round pick is overweight.How many Pounds??

  4. By Darren Urban on Oct 1, 2010 | Reply

    Trigidy —

    RE: Williams weight

    No idea. And his reputation going into the draft was that he wouldn’t be a guy with weight issues.

  5. By tRiGiDy22 on Oct 1, 2010 | Reply

    Lets Go Gabe Watson!! Its your time to Smash heads!

  6. By tRiGiDy22 on Oct 1, 2010 | Reply

    Dan Williams,The Jamarcus of the Defense.Eating yourself out of the League.Darren, Is that why he fell too us Draft-day????

  7. By Brian on Oct 1, 2010 | Reply

    I may not understand the rule but it does not appear that Beanie is grasping the facemask. I thought an offensive player could put his hands all over the facemask as long he doesn’t grab it. To me, if Beanie was grabbing that thing, his fingers would be curled. What is the rule?

  8. By Darren Urban on Oct 1, 2010 | Reply

    Brian —

    RE: Beanie

    Beanie’s thumb, in my opinion, is clearly curled underneath on a grab.

  9. By Alex on Oct 1, 2010 | Reply

    Woah woah. Hold on. Last year I heard that the Jacksonville game only had 5,000 fans at the game. How come they played that one on T.V. but won’t air this one?

  10. By Darren Urban on Oct 1, 2010 | Reply

    Alex —

    RE: Jacksonville

    Not sure where you heard that. Jacksonville was blacked out — remember, it’s only blacked out locally — but there were a lot more than 5,000 people.

  11. By brad oneill on Oct 1, 2010 | Reply

    darren-actually he had a weight problem in college.

    heres highlights of the highlights.

    Williams is the first to admit it, he was once a self-described “dollar menu” guy.

    Early in his Tennessee career, poor eating habits and a less than enthusiastic approach to conditioning prevented the physical run-stuffer from reaching his potential.

    In the last two years, especially with the arrival of former Vols head coach Lane Kiffin and defensive guru Monte Kiffin, Williams learned the path to football success doesn’t lead through the drive-thru window at McDonald’s. A drop in weight led to improved quickness, which allowed Williams to play in the opponent’s backfield on a regular basis in 2009.

    heres a link to a summary that has a link to the whole story. he he he.

  12. By CakesW on Oct 1, 2010 | Reply

    Ok, I love the fact John Lott and the Cardinals are sticklers for weight, but aren’t we supposed to be trying to win football games… what next, we start benching players because their Cholesterol is too high, or they had too much plaque in their last dental exam ????

    If the guy isn’t a very good player, then bench him… but Williams can and has been playing well.

  13. By Eazy E on Oct 1, 2010 | Reply

    He was in great shape and a hard worker. This is gabe’s opportunity if he is indeed benched or doesn’t play.

  14. By cardsalltheway on Oct 1, 2010 | Reply

    “…the Cardinals need a big effort on defense…Partly it’s because the Cards just don’t know what will happen offensively. The Chargers are ranked tops in the NFL in offense, which is based on yards, and the Cards know they haven’t been stellar in that regard.”
    I’m guessing that means the Cards offensive side of the ball but given the past I wouldn’t expect much more unless the Cards can run up and down the field on the Chargers. I already know DA won’t change and why double Fitz, chances are DA will miss him the one or two times he does get open by mistake or otherwise. If Docket doesn’t have his best game of the year then something is wrong/getting too football old or on the field too much each game – DA, or…?
    “Fitz talked about getting on the same page, still preaching patience. Most dynamic duos have had a couple of years. He and Anderson have had three games. “Reggie Wayne and Peyton, Moss and Brady, they know each other, all their quirky moves,” Fitzgerald said. “That’s what me and Derek need to do.”
    What? DA and Fitz need to be together for a couple of years? So, until then we get to hear these type of excuses. I get sic and tired of hearing excuses which tie back to getting rid of Leinart. All the patience in the world wouldn’t help DA get Fitz the ball.
    “Clearly, he and Anderson have to hook up on openings more often. Whisenhunt even mentioned missing on the big plays when they presented themselves last week, and it seems like there have been a couple each game in which Fitz could have broken loose and the connection just wasn’t made.”

    Sic and tired again!!! Whiz-in-consistent-hunt shouldn’t use excuses he knew of before getting DA, it’s evidence of unprofessionalism.

  15. By Mike Ellingboe on Oct 1, 2010 | Reply

    I’ll be the first to admit that it’s very difficult to watch the line of scrimmage on TV since the camera is, of course, following the ball around but when I could watch it throughout the entire play I was very impressed with how Williams looked against Oakland – I thought our “D” was a lot better when he was in the game than it was with Robinson. How much weight could he have gained in five days to warrant this? Would really like to hear more specifics on this, especially since all we’ve heard is positive things about Williams and his work ethic.

    Not adding up.

  16. By KC on Oct 1, 2010 | Reply

    How about benching Brian Robinson for being completely ineffective in every game this season? Robinson rarely holds his ground, gets hardly any penetration and isn’t much when it comes to pursuit–he is the main reason teams are blowing us up in the run game. He may be a “leader” or whatever but his ineffecitveness means Dockett gets double teamed nearly every down. Robinson is the weakest link on the starting defense and the fact that Williams gets benched and Watson has been inactive really is a headscratcher.

  17. By Brian R. on Oct 1, 2010 | Reply

    5,000 for a simple face mask? Damn, I would be in debt!

  18. By Carddan on Oct 1, 2010 | Reply

    I remember a couple years ago when Dockett complimented Gabe Watson. He said Gabe taking double teams was the reason he was able to penetrate. I fully expect that during some game, Watson and Williams are the two “active” NTs. I’m not knocking the experience, leadership and professionalism of Mr. B. Robinson, but the upside to Watson and Williams seems large. (Did I mention, I trust the Coach?)

  19. By AndyStandsUp on Oct 1, 2010 | Reply

    Cards are only 4-8 in road games played on grass in the Whisenhunt era.
    They’re 11-13 overall.
    With most of the stadiums that have natural turf being weaker teams(CAR,CHI, CLE, JAC, KC, OAK, TB and WAS, etc.) and how players love to avoid the carpet, I’m surprised Arizona doesn’t have a better record.
    BTW, Quallcom Stadium is a grass field, if you’re a bettor.
    And we all know Urban is not.

  20. By Jack on Oct 1, 2010 | Reply

    It is time to realize, we are the Cardinals, the NFC Weat Champs, we should be feared, we should be respected. We have all the tools, we have the coach. We will prevail.

  21. By Eazy E on Oct 2, 2010 | Reply

    Its blacked out in san diego not everywhere

  22. By Tyrelle on Oct 2, 2010 | Reply

    Yeah you are right. Stupid penalties hurt this team. But sometimes I question the attitude of this team. If it someone this team really want to beat, they will beat them and sometimes they play and not even care. Like Sunday, I don’t think they will get off the flight.

  23. By Havasu Tom on Oct 2, 2010 | Reply

    Hey Darren, Another great week of columns, Thanks.
    Keeping the ball. We’ve been averaging 25 minutes on ‘O’, This needs to improve.
    Play action. Everyone knows we need to run, because we cant throw, use this to our advantage, especially early in the game.
    Luck to our special teams. We need some.
    Anderson’s vision. As tall as he his, you would thing he could see the Empire state building from phoenix, find the open receiver.
    See you in San Diego. Friend has season Tic’s to the chargers and He’s sharing.
    GO CARDINALS!!!!!!

  24. By jason on Oct 2, 2010 | Reply

    derrick anderson will be fine people are comparing him to warner which is wrong warner is a first ballot hall of fame qb him and fitz will get it together the defense will step up. i have been a fan for 19 years and i belive in this team the fans will never change they are their for this team when they win and make ridiculus coments wihen they loose and im sick of it for the fans like myself those are the true cardinal fans. for the bandwagon jumpers get off becuse i will say this when the year ends the cardinals will be in the playoffs they will win their 3rd straight divison crown and the whole world will be shocked. go cardinals

  25. By Alex on Oct 2, 2010 | Reply

    No I got to watch that game on FOX.

  26. By UltimateCard on Oct 2, 2010 | Reply

    Whisenhunt’s bully act is stale. Williams has been playing great. Dumb move, again. Ship is sinking. Players are noticing.

  27. By SeeingRed on Oct 2, 2010 | Reply

    I’m really hoping Skelton is soaking up as much as he can and being “developed”. It would be nice if he was staying after practice and throwing with some practice squad receivers etc. I remember before Romo wasn’t starting TO would talk about how he practiced with with the backup qb Romo etc..If guys have time to race, I would imagine there is time to get in some extra work if ur a QB. I would love to see JS get comfortable at this level- he’s got the size, arm strength, smarts (i think) etc..Max Hall could be a decent QB but who knows…kid is a little over-confident for my liking but hey, after years of watching Leinart drown in self-doubt, I’ll still take that.

    Darren, have u seen/heard anything in regards to Skelton’s progress? Everyone assumes Hall will eventually be “the guy” but we did trade up for Skelton for a reason right?

  28. By Darren Urban on Oct 2, 2010 | Reply

    SeeingRed —

    RE: Skelton

    I haven’t seen anything in particular, but yes, they are still hoping he turns into a solid QB for the future.

  29. By tRiGiDy22 on Oct 2, 2010 | Reply

    Shaun Phillips,He still faces a civil lawsuit in Las Vegas arising from allegations that he struck and injured a 54-year-old woman at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas.

    Redrage! The 54yr old women was a Cards fan! Lets go BigRed” Payback time.

  30. By tRiGiDy22 on Oct 2, 2010 | Reply

    Darren, we were at Home for a week??. Too much Home cooking” for Big Dan

  31. By tRiGiDy22 on Oct 2, 2010 | Reply

    How is DA’s Changeup working??

    How are the WR’s doing on Catching that DA” Curve Ball??

    And does DA” know? LaRod Stephens-Howling is His Friend!! (get him the Rock!)

  32. By AndyStandsUp on Oct 2, 2010 | Reply

    @ UltimateCard
    Whiz has never let rookies play/start early in the season. Campbell, Hightower, Wells, DRC didn’t get to play right away. Washington is the exception because of the Hayes injury.
    Williams is going through the same thing that Alan Branch went through 2 seasons ago. Coaching staff is waiting for “the light bulb to turn on.”

  33. By Sean on Oct 2, 2010 | Reply

    To everyone complaining about benching Williams, I think it’s more a matter of discipline. He’s a rookie and if he starts showing bad habits, they need to be fixed asap or they will only continue.

    As for the whole ‘great duos have had years’ thing, he’s not saying it takes years to get to that stage, but it certainly takes more than 3 games… Cmon people, use some common sense.

  34. By Sean on Oct 2, 2010 | Reply

    Alex, when games are blacked out, they are blacked out to the LOCAL STADIUM, not your local channels. Get it? Probably not….

  35. By joe on Oct 2, 2010 | Reply

    You can see in the beanie pic that his thumb is outside the mask but appearing to be inside at such an angle, a very petty of a call, dont change beanie it was a good stiff arm.

  36. By tRiGiDy22 on Oct 2, 2010 | Reply

    Fitzgerald 1 catch away from passing Larry Centers! for 2nd on the Red list!

  37. By tRiGiDy22 on Oct 2, 2010 | Reply

    Darren, does Kent Somers copy your story’s??

    I think he is a reader of Word with the Birds??( LOL)

    He like’s it so much, He follows up on your Old story’s?

    Maybe he just likes to Cut an Paste??

  38. By Darren Urban on Oct 2, 2010 | Reply

    Trigidy —

    RE: Somers

    Kent is an excellent reporter. Sometimes, the story is the story. We’re both going to write about the news at the time.

  39. By Scott H on Oct 2, 2010 | Reply

    Anyone miss Karlos Dansby? I sure do. Whether he had no shot of signing a deal to stay here or not, doesn’t matter. Clearly, he was a component of the defense that has NOT been anywhere near effectively replaced. His presence has made a huge difference in Miami. His absence has made just as big a difference here. Yeah, he was a me-first guy and doesn’t have the greatest attitude, but…what he did on the field cannot be denied. I was really hoping this defense would not miss him at all but it does. Severely.

  40. By joe again on Oct 2, 2010 | Reply


    Yes, I agree with you 100%. I’m sick of all this crying and second guessing. As you say, its ridiculous.

    We are lucky to have one of the best coaching staffs in all of football. And did you know that DA has the fourth best 4th quarter QB rating in the entire NFL? Plenty of folks will scoff at this, too, but its something to build on. He closes strong — if they can just get him to settle down and get that performance to come out earlier in the game, we’ll be fine.

    Yeah, so bandwagon jumpers, just get off — and spare us.

  41. By tRiGiDy22 on Oct 2, 2010 | Reply

    The Hyphen talks punt returns, Sproles
    Fitz’s hair, the receivers and some racing
    A-Dub, Rivers on buddy system
    For now, no new receivers

    Cards’ Stephens-Howling a force?
    Larry Fitzgerald to meet with fans in Glendale
    Cards’ young WRs face tough test??
    Wilson remembers Chargers’ Rivers???

  42. By TucsonTim on Oct 2, 2010 | Reply

    So, I’m guessing that DW won’t see a game check? Pretty heavy fine for a guy that’s really needed if they want this 3-4 to work.

  43. By Darren Urban on Oct 2, 2010 | Reply

    TucsonTim —

    RE: Dan Williams/paycheck

    He still gets paid. He just will be inactive.

  44. By Ross on Oct 2, 2010 | Reply

    Darren, (by the way every quesiton i ask is about the tailbacks, because thats what i was growing up) i heard on the radio about how beanie energizes the whole team when he is on the field. ON a similar note, in your opinion, what does the team (whiz and the players) feel about Timmy? Is he not as exciting as beanie, or is he just not as good to them?

    Also Do other teams not fear him as much as Beanie?

    Thanks D.

  45. By Darren Urban on Oct 3, 2010 | Reply

    Ross —

    RE: Backs energizing

    I think the team loves Hightower. I think they appreciate his professionalism and work ethic. He may not provide the eye-popping “wow” that Beanie does sometimes, but I think they know how valuable he is.

  46. By jocards on Oct 2, 2010 | Reply

    We really need to force some turnovers this weekend. We absolutely have to win the turnover battle, I don’t care what has happened thus far we need to be on the plus side on Sunday. Clearly we’ll need a good running game too but even if we accomplish the above we’ll still need a few plays from the passing game in order to pull this off. I’d like to see a few short pass plays called early and try and get DA in rhythm. Even as suspect as we’ve looked at times thus far if we can find a way to get this done in San Diego we’ll be 3-1 and a lot of good things can happen from there…Asking a lot but it can happen!

  47. By jocards on Oct 2, 2010 | Reply

    One issue that has really made things difficult for this team are the penalties. There have been a number called against us with which I’ve disagreed but the fact is we can’t continue to get flagged 10+ times a game. That has got to be cleaned up and it has to be right now. The Chargers are a very good football team and if we play sloppy they will beat us badly. If we play smart, force a couple of turnovers and take care of the football we’ll have a shot at this….

  48. By TucsonTim on Oct 2, 2010 | Reply

    So, tomorrow as you watch the debacle unfold in San Diego, remember that thanks to management, we could have had Donavan McNabb be our QB and Karlos Dansby could have been standing to the left shoulder of 90 and Q will be taking on Polamolu: we could be 4-0 with a real shot at home field advantage and another SB trip.

    Don’t fret. We will still have a shot at the playoffs since 7-9 might win this division. After the bye, Max Hall will be slingin it to Fitz, Breaston will be catching one handed TD’s, Wells will be destroying DB’s, Doucet will be back for a couple games until he gets hurt again, Brown will start to keep his shoulders paralell to the line and he will line up on sides, Max will roll away from Keith, Henderson will be the defensive coordinator, Rhodes will cover DRC to be a shut down corner, Williams will be a wall in the middle and maybe we catch lightening in the bottle again…man o man I’d like to go to Dallas in February.

  49. By CZarr on Oct 2, 2010 | Reply

    That was a pretty malicious grab by Chris. I think I have seen offensive facemasking called maybe 2 times in my life, and that one was well deserved. I think he gets caught up in how awesome he thinks his stiff arm is. Personally I like Hightower better. He may be slightly less physically gifted, but is more consistent, adaptive, and has better hair. I have kind of had a thing against Chris since that play where he left Leinart hanging in ’08 when he obviously saw him trying to congratulate him. Kid has an attitude problem.

    I don’t recall anyone ever citing Wells’ work ethic, or his attitude, which is all I hear about Hightower. Confirm/deny Darren?

  50. By Darren Urban on Oct 3, 2010 | Reply

    CZarr —

    RE: Beanie

    Gotta be honest — not sure exactly where are this is coming from, and I really don’t know how a random straight-arm brought this on. Beanie has no attitude problem.

  51. By Tyler Durden on Oct 3, 2010 | Reply

    Hey Darren,

    You said: “The passing game has been hot and cold even with Steve Breaston in the game and now Breaston isn’t. I like the potential of Stephen Williams and even Max Komar, but the question is whether potential helps enough right now.”.

    Really…when has Derek Anderson been “hot” this year. I’ve watched every down of every game and the feeling of Anderson being hot never came over me. The stats I think back that up, Every time he drops back, I think, oh no….

    I guess like Paul C, you see something no one else sees. I mean that guy thinks he’s going to be the next Aaron Rodgers….As Wolf said, get him to 60% completion percentage in a game first…before we start stenciling his name in the U PHX Stadium Ring of Honor.

  52. By Darren Urban on Oct 3, 2010 | Reply

    Tyler —

    RE; Anderson

    Take a pill for just a moment. I never said he should be in the Ring of Honor, or anything close. You rip me for exaggeration, and then you do the same the other way.

    The cold has been more prevalent than the hot for sure, but in both wins he played well on the game-winning TD drives. You cannot dispute that (actually, you might. But you’ll be wrong).

  53. By louie on Oct 3, 2010 | Reply

    i have said this from when they signed anderson he is a joke been a cards fan since 89 and have never been so disgusted with thier qb spot. They are paying this guy 6 mill, should have offered matt and thier first to pitt for big ben and thier 2 nd rd pick. ken new he didnt want matt then should have planned better.

  54. By TucsonTim on Oct 3, 2010 | Reply

    Too bad I forgot to add my 13 yo son predicted 42-13 SD

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