Breaking down draft order, 2011 schedule

Posted by Darren Urban on December 27, 2010 – 9:38 am

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.

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75 Responses to “Breaking down draft order, 2011 schedule”

  1. By brad oneill on Dec 27, 2010 | Reply

    I haven’t heard any names other than luck as being mentioned as team altering picks. i think cam newton might be a good consolation prize but the difference between 2nd pick and 11tth pick may not matter. the bottom line is we managed just enough wins to keep us mediocre. nice work.

  2. By Rodney on Dec 27, 2010 | Reply

    The AFC North home/road teams need to be switched. Cards went Baltimore and Cincinnati in ’07 (the Leinart implosion, Wilson PF vs. Heap to lose game; Rolle’s 2 TD day, respectively) and hosted the Browns and Steelers that year (Whiz’s first victory in ’07 with Leinart starting and Warner playing change of pace QB).

  3. By Darren Urban on Dec 27, 2010 | Reply

    Rodney —

    RE: Opponents

    I’ll alert the NFL you disagree with their schedule.

  4. By ben on Dec 27, 2010 | Reply

    Doesnt matter where we draft this is what it will look like under the Whiz – Graves era…

    1st round – serviceable player
    2nd round – bust off the team after training camp
    3rd round – Doesnt even make it to training camp
    4th traded to move up in the fifth round 3 spots
    5 -6 -7 round starters here, backups everywhere else

    And the irony will be that picks 5-7 will start but when pcks 1-3 do not Whiz will feed us a crap line of “rookies have to earn it” While veterans can stink up the joint and keep their jobs….

    Sorry, I am a Whiz Hater after this season and want him gone. Too many mistakes to many ego trips, not enough responsibility, bye bye…

  5. By MIKEFLORIO on Dec 27, 2010 | Reply

    Bring on the 2011 season!!!! Were ready!!! Right now!!

    Hey Urb!!! We need to hire singletary has our DC. And Extend anderson’s contract and let skelton go!! Cause you know if Luck goes back to standford next year then we will have a better shot!

  6. By NYCARDSFAN on Dec 27, 2010 | Reply

    Darren, off the subject, what is the status with Jay Feely? Is he on a one year deal now and if so, is it a given that he will be signed next year as well?

  7. By Darren Urban on Dec 27, 2010 | Reply

    NYCards —

    RE: Feely contract

    Jay is signed through 2011.

  8. By aitchem on Dec 27, 2010 | Reply

    Great info. Interesting that despite the fact that we had such a horrible season, the schedule will be this much tougher next year.

  9. By Matt on Dec 27, 2010 | Reply


    Too bad Beanie Wells is the only rookie in which that applies. Andre Roberts will shut up all the haters, Daryl Washington has played very well, and Dan Williams looks like he will anchor that defensive line for at least the next 8 years.

    It’s alright though….blind hate is the best kind

  10. By Mark on Dec 27, 2010 | Reply

    Hey Darren, why is it the NFL schedule has us playing Cleveland and Pittsburgh at home again? Four years ago we played them both at home! Also, the same was true this year playing at San Diego, and having Denver at home. My understanding was the NFL was to rotate these games every four years they meet? Was gives???

  11. By Darren Urban on Dec 27, 2010 | Reply

    Mark —

    RE: Schedule

    Schedule was re-done in 2002 in an eight-year block ending in 2009. Started anew in 2010. There will be a home-and-home in there (plus after 2011, probably have to account for an 18-game schedule).

  12. By Adam on Dec 27, 2010 | Reply

    You’re being sarcastic Darren but Rodney is right. You reported the schedule incorrectly. Arizona plays at Pittsburgh and Cleveland and at home against Baltimore and Cincinnati.

  13. By Darren Urban on Dec 27, 2010 | Reply

    Adam —

    RE: Schedule

    I was being sarcastic. But I am not wrong no matter how many times people want to say it.

  14. By Sean on Dec 27, 2010 | Reply

    Thanks, Darren. Very informative breakdown of the draft situation.

    I am hoping that if we cannot get Luck (which seems likely) that we pick up some great O-Linemen. It doesnt seem that the other options will make that much difference.

    @aitchem- I think the only way our schedule could possibly have gotten easier is if they included ASU or U of A as home opponents this year.

  15. By MikeG on Dec 27, 2010 | Reply

    Hey Darren–Interesting schedule in 2011–could have some cold weather road
    games taking place. That is what I always look at each year in the schedule. Hard to predict who will be good year to year. Do you see Russ Grimm back with us next year or do you see him as a serious head coaching candidate??? Maybe Carolina???

  16. By Darren Urban on Dec 27, 2010 | Reply

    MikeG —

    RE: Grimm

    I expect Russ in Arizona next season.

  17. By Derico on Dec 27, 2010 | Reply

    At mikeeflorio

    Anderson sucks!!…skelton isnt that bad for a rookie and he adds that much need mobility ti cope with that pathetic excuse for a offense of line we have. release anderson keep skelton as a back-up! and actually draft a great receiver to replace anquan instead of all this undrafted lameos wr got out there! then we can go back to our pass first offense

  18. By Sean on Dec 27, 2010 | Reply

    @Matt- “Ben” is not Ben at all. That is Mike Singletary hoping that he can create discontent in the Cards fanbase and worm his way into a head coaching job out here.

    We are onto you Sing Sing!

  19. By SteveDCO on Dec 27, 2010 | Reply

    ben – If you don’t know the draft and hate the coach why do you bother being a fan? I get it is always the coach, QB and GM who get fan’s wrath after a bad season but let’s base it on facts not feelings.

    1st Round Picks
    2010: Dan Williams – will be starting NT in 2011
    2009: Chris Wells – Nice RB
    2008: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie – elite CB
    2007: Levi Brown – starting LT

    2nd Round
    2010: Daryl Washington – starting ILB and playing well
    2009: Cody Brown – bust
    2008: Calais Campbell – great player
    2007: Alan Branch – good player

    3rd Round
    2010 – Andrea Roberts – looks to have knocked Doucet out of 3rd spot
    2009: Rashad Johnson – nice 3rd safety
    2008: Early Doucet – 4th WR
    2007: Buster Davis – bust

    4th Round
    2010 – O’Brien Schofield – had 1st NFL start and 1st NFL sack Saturday night
    2009: Gregory Toler – starting CB
    2008: Kenny Iwebema – okay OLB

    5th Round
    2010 – John Skelton – starting QB
    2009: Herman Johnson – signed off PS
    2008: Timothy Hightower – starting RB
    2007: Steve Breaston – 2nd WR

    I get tired of seeing people slam Graves and Whiz when they do very well drafting players. It is always a gamble drafting players. You think anyone knew Ryan Leaf would be that bad?

    This is just covering the Whiz era. The Graves era, which is really the one to look at since he is the GM and runs the draft, is even more impresive.

    Show me a better draft than 2004.

    Round 1: Larry Fitzgerald
    Round 2: Karlos Dansby
    Round 3: Darnell Dockett
    Round 4: Alex Stepanovich
    Round 5: Antonio Smith
    Round 6: Nick Leckey
    Round 7: John Navarre

    Fans have supported this team since UoP stadium. The test will come if they are able to keep #11 and most of their other FAs. The Bidwills are raking in the money now from thr stadium.

    It was unfair to hate them for not spending money when at ASU since the revenue wasn’t there. If they let the FAs go going forward, it is fair to blaim the Bidwills.

  20. By Gary K. on Dec 27, 2010 | Reply

    Hey Darren. I hate to be “that guy” asking about any coach or player recently cut or on the hot seat, but with speculation about Norv Turner being let go, do you think there is any room for him on the Cardinals coaching staff? The reason I think he might be a good fit is that, of all the teams I have watched, San Diego appears to run the screen pass/short passing game better than anyone else. I just think those kind of plays/offense would be ideal for a young QB, which we are almost certainly going to have starting at least a handful of games next year. Any merit to the thought, or am I just being “that guy”?

  21. By Darren Urban on Dec 27, 2010 | Reply

    Gary K —

    RE: Turner

    How about we see if he is even fired first?

  22. By RODY on Dec 27, 2010 | Reply


    With Adrian getting exposed in coverage. I dont think it would happen but what are your thoughts on moving adrain to outside linebacker. rhodes to strong saftey, toller to free saftey and going after a coverage corner?

  23. By Darren Urban on Dec 27, 2010 | Reply

    Rody —

    RE: Wilson

    They aren’t moving Wilson.

  24. By Voice of Reason on Dec 27, 2010 | Reply

    And again, all the more disgusting that we couldn’t win the division this year, when a marginal quarterback would have done it.

    Patrick Ramsey
    Duante Culpepper
    Tim Rattay

    All of these guys, out of the NFL for at least the first 12 weeks of the season, would have been better than what we have. And we didn’t need great. We just needed better.

    That’s on Graves, not Whiz. It is Graves’ job to recognize player personnel problems and address them. And if, hypothetically, ownership balks at additional acquisitions? A good GM advocates and convinces ownership that it needs to act. He is not a yes man. He’s a professional.

    A good GM would have convinced the Bidwills to bring in Marc Bulger in May, and it would have been done. A good GM would have convinced ownership to sign a quarterback in week 3, which it was obvious we had MAJOR problems at this position and, recognizing the ridiculously easy nature of this year’s schedule, understood that a mearely average quarterback would have won 9 games in this division.

    But we do not have a good GM. We have a yes man that thinks his role is to act upon whatever the owners’ first reaction is. I’ll bet he’s never told any of his bosses that a first reaction was wrong, and explained — whether economically or otherwise — that the investment would pay off for them.

    Note that the economic analysis isn’t that tough. I paid twice what my regular season ticket costs for the wild card playoff game last year. If the team had won this division, it hosts a playoff game. Do the math — the revenue from the one playoff game more than pays for Marc Bulger in May. Or far in excess of a quarterback in Week 4.

    Perhaps Graves is here because he’s such a good drafter? Uh, no. Under his watch, we traded out of taking Terrell Suggs (who wanted to be here) to get Calvin Pace and Bryant Johnson, neither of whom are here. He drafted Buster Davis in Round 3, and the Illinois linebacker in Round 2 that got cut (and whose name I can’t now recall).

    How about free agency? Uh, still no. Most expensive UFA acquisions the last few years? Rod Hood? Gone. Travis LaBoy? Gone after one year. Bryant McFadden? Gone. Joey Porter? 5 sacks. Larry Foote wanted to sign here, but was allowed to leave and ultimately signed with the Steelers. You think we could have used his proven run stopping abilities this year (I will admit that Paris Lenon has been a nice consolation prize)?

    The bottom line is this: successful business do not hire/retain “yes” men. They hire independent thinkers and professionals that have the ability to convince their superiors as to what’s best for the company. THAT’S WHY THE OWNERS HIRE THEM!

    Graves is a “yes” man, and that’s the problem.

  25. By AndyStandsUp on Dec 27, 2010 | Reply

    Speaking of 2011, I’m trying to plan out Training Camp. Veterans can’t report until at least 15 days before the first preseason game, correct?
    Any idea when the preseason will be announced? I’m assuming the CBA will have to be ratified first.

  26. By Darren Urban on Dec 27, 2010 | Reply

    AndyStands —

    RE: 2011

    Everything is up in the air until the CBA is figured out.

  27. By Voice of Reason on Dec 27, 2010 | Reply

    And SteveDCO, take off the red colored glasses.

    Doucet is a bust. Davis was ridiculous the moment the pick was made (5’9″ MLBS are not first day picks, period). Rashad Johnson could have been had in Round 4 or 5.

    The drafts from 2004-2006 did bring in good talent. But don’t kid yourself — drafts are one thing that Dennis Green does very well, and his imprint was all over those drafts. If Dennis Green ran the draft room in 2007, the pick would have been Adrian Peterson, not Levi Brown (who all agreed was a reach at #5).

    The point is that Rod Graves approaches the GM position being reactive at best (if not stagnant), not proactive. Mistakes happen with everybody. How a GM should be judged is how, and more importantly WHEN, those are addressed. A good one diagnoses the problem before the fans can see it and brings in the personnel needed to address the problem. If ownership balks at the spending, his job is to convince them that the approach is the best for the team.

    Graves has shown in the 14 years he’s been with the organization that he is simply unable to do that.

  28. By Voice of Reason on Dec 27, 2010 | Reply

    I’d take Darrel Bevel at OC, who will undoubtedly be looking for a job after the season. If Turner were to be let go, I agree that he’d be a great addition.

  29. By Mike Ellingboe on Dec 27, 2010 | Reply

    @brad oneill,

    Apparently neither winning or losing makes you happy right now. As it presently stands, we don’t officially know who is going to declare for the draft so tanking games for a player who may not be available doesn’t make much sense. It hasn’t been a fun season but if we can finish with back-to-back victories over our two biggest rivals I’ll take that over a potentially higher draft pick. As a fyi, depending on who enters the draft it could be one of the deepest QB classes we’ve seen in a long time so losing out on Luck shouldn’t be a deathblow to our hopes of finding a franchise QB.

  30. By john b on Dec 27, 2010 | Reply

    Darren is A J Jefferson developing? trying to guage the CB draft need ILB is a priority, yes?

  31. By Darren Urban on Dec 27, 2010 | Reply

    John B —

    RE: Position needs

    I think they like Jefferson for down the road. But yes, LB still higher priority.

  32. By 949Cardsfan on Dec 27, 2010 | Reply

    For those of u that think Paris Lenon had a good season, and is a good NFL MLB… He didn’t and he isn’t!

    For those of you who are sold on Daryl Washington…you shouldn’t be. He has not shown he is able to shed the larger stronger lineman of the NFL.

    OLB…I won’t even go there! Just Horrible!!!

    Those big runs that gashed our D all year, 90% of the time was due to out of place inside LBs. We gotta get better here. Wash might grow, but Paris is only gonna get worse with age. A Def cannot excel with 2 below avg MLBs, Especially in a 3-4. We gotta start our focus here In the draft and FA. Oh, and they need to let go Faneca and play Hadnot. But I’ll get to the OL next post.


  33. By Blake A on Dec 27, 2010 | Reply

    Hey Darren,

    Some quick questions: With Luck clearly out of the picture, if the Cards have a shot at either Newton or Mallett, which one would they prefer??

    Also, if they decide to stick with Skelton/Vet. QB like Bulger would they consider drafting a WR like A.J. Green, etc. to give Fitz someone else to play off of since he’s said that he missed Boldin’s presence on the field???

  34. By Darren Urban on Dec 27, 2010 | Reply

    Blake A —

    RE: QBs

    1) Don’t know right now. Too early in the process to know how they feel about either.

    2) Would be shocked if they spent a first-round pick on a receiver.

  35. By john on Dec 27, 2010 | Reply


    Don’t know if Turner will be let go in San Diego, but you are right on about the fit here in AZ. Turner is an elite OC and would make this offense much better. It would cost, so not sure we would pony up the money, but great thought.

  36. By Scott H on Dec 27, 2010 | Reply

    Well, our week schedule didn’t help our record this year, but I guess it helps in regard to the draft order for next year. At least we’ll get some benefit from it. Darren, with Skelton on board, do you see this team thinking QB in the draft if one of the top guns is there when the Cardinals are picking in the first round? I can’t even decide what I would want them to do at this point…honestly, I think Iwould rather see a stud D lineman or linebacker if that is available to them.

  37. By Darren Urban on Dec 27, 2010 | Reply

    Scott H —

    RE: First-round pick

    Way too early to even guess on that.

  38. By john on Dec 27, 2010 | Reply

    Voice of reason-
    GM Graves to blame? I’ll buy into that . But remember, the Bidwell’s are not the easiest owners to deal with. You don’t know how much of a juggling act he has to do. But, unless moves are trumped by the Bidwells, Graves has to take the blame for the QB situation.
    I do also agree with Graves being reactive instead of proactive. But what bugs me the most is the lack of “gambling” (for lack of a better word) the cards do.
    Example; How much would Sam Bradford have meant to this franchise? Did we even try to offer up a package of picks and players to move up?
    OK, Maybe the rams wouldn’t have dealt away the pick, but did we try? Rumors are the Browns did, but not us.

    So, If Carolina is sitting with #1, and Luck declares, wouldn’t it make sense to try to put together a trade to get him?
    Maybe Carolina says no, but I think the fans just want to know that you are trying to put together a winning team, instead of hoping a 5th round QB develops with a third round wr (Roberts) and undrafted wrs( in Williams/Komar)

  39. By 949Cardsfan on Dec 27, 2010 | Reply

    Order of need by position In 2011 draft

    1)OLB- edge rusher
    2)Inside LB- a real nasty Patrick Willis type
    3)Big dominate LT- so Levi can go back to RT
    4)OL- Depth/Competiton across the board!
    5)FB/TE- To many missed blocks and drops
    6)CB- A vet FA would be better

    Yeah I didn’t mention QB. Skelton is the real deal! He’s right out of the Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco, Big Ben mold. We are fine there for 10yrs!

  40. By Jireh Jimenez on Dec 27, 2010 | Reply

    Is it possible for the cardinals to drfat Andrew luck?

  41. By Ottis Anderson Fan on Dec 27, 2010 | Reply


    Skelton will be better than Mallett. Unless Cam Newton is available when we draft, we need to take an impact player at another position who can contribute immediately in 2012 (like Clay Matthews did for GB last year).

  42. By Ottis Anderson Fan on Dec 27, 2010 | Reply

    Ryan Mallett is the second coming of Derek Anderson, IMO.

  43. By darrel on Dec 27, 2010 | Reply

    Your right. Mallett has a big arm but not at all mobile bust imo

  44. By Jesse Robles on Dec 27, 2010 | Reply

    No Ryan Mallet is right!!

  45. By john on Dec 27, 2010 | Reply

    949 cardsfan-

    Agree about Lenon. Washington has shown promise, but at times he is out of position or washed out of the play. But many times, his speed makes up for it. I would think the Cards are happy with him and he should develop. Especially as Dan Williams develops in front of him. I think Dan will turn into one of the elite NT’s over the next couple years; Keeping guards off Washington and letting him use his speed.

    But let me give you a name to replace Lenon;
    David Harris ILB from the Jets. It will be hard to resign him since the Jets have alot of money spent and other pressing needs in signing FA’s. Harris and Washington could lock down the inside LB spot.

    OLB? OK, long shot, here it is, Lamarr Woodley.. He was a restricted free agent this year and signed his tender. I believe he becomes unrestricted this year. OK, Steelers won’t let him go, but cards fans can dream.

    Sign these two players and trade our entire draft to Carolina and even throw in next years #1 if Luck declares. Sounds crazy? Luck has the highest scout ratings since John Elway.

    Also, Agree about Fanaca, Age may have caught up with him. But lets be real. His probowl resume had us excited about the signing. The same goes with Porter, who had 26.5 sacks over the last two years and we had no passrush. I do admit when I am wrong, and I was wrong about both these players.

  46. By john on Dec 27, 2010 | Reply

    As for Skelton, this is the hardest decision the cards have to make. Does he show promise? Yes. Does he have skills and abilities to make all the throws? Yes.
    But if you miss, we will regret it for years to come.
    Bulger and McNabb are backups at best. and we would struggle for years if the Skelton/Bulger combo fails. (not to mention, lose Fitz to FA).

    Whiz must not treat this like Leinart and hope he is your guy. They better be sure or do what it takes to land Luck or Mallet.

    I like Skelton, but I do have my questions. Is he Joe Flacco or Trent Dilfer?

    For Mallet haters; look at his completion ratio and yards per pass. To average what he does and have that good of a completion ratio is too good to say Derek Anderson cuz some blogger says so last year.

  47. By Gary K. on Dec 27, 2010 | Reply

    Thanks for the input. Obviously I was basing my logic within a speculated condition. I just didn’t know if, in the event Turner were let go, he is someone that the current staff would realistically consider.

    I’m with you. I’ve watched Mallett play a few times this year and I’ve got serious questions about him from the neck, up. All I hear about him is “he’s big and has a strong arm”. I’ve heard that story before and it doesn’t impress me. Niether does the way he has crumbled in big games and pressure situations, making bad decisions and throwing INTs. I’d rather keep with Skelton who so far has shown that he gets better and makes good decisions under pressure, and oh yeah still has the size and arm to go with it.

  48. By Wayne on Dec 27, 2010 | Reply


    Every publication that I read show that you have our NFC East oppents reversed. We are home against Philadelphia and Washington and away to Dallas and New York. So now I am confused. BTW A friend of my wife’s who work for the Giants was saying that we were playing in NY next year.

  49. By Darren Urban on Dec 27, 2010 | Reply

    Wayne —

    RE: Schedule

    Looking right at the Official NFL Record and Fact Book. If there is a publication that supersedes it, I’d love to see a link.

  50. By Voice of Reason on Dec 27, 2010 | Reply

    John, you’re right on the money. My view of a good GM is one that acts as an advocate for the coach to ownership. Certainly it is a juggling act, but that’s the job. The good ones can pursuade ownership to spend the money; the bad ones can’t or don’t. He’s the latter.

    I’m not sure we had a package we could have offered last year to move up to get Bradford — we were at the end of the first round and did not have multiple first round picks.

    We could, however, have been more proactive in the third round to get a guy like Colt McCoy (who has played in a big time program and been accurate his whole career). Instead, we stand pat and take Andre Roberts, who seems to be turning into a solid player. We could have signed Jeff Garcia in Week 3 for the league minimum. Would he have been worse than what we’ve seen? Bet not. In fact, bet my house not.

    A professional sports franchise, or any business, does not need a high level — and well paid — executive that simply nods every time the owner says something. His job is to play devil’s advocate and help the business get better. Graves doesn’t get it, and at this stage, won’t.

  51. By Voice of Reason on Dec 27, 2010 | Reply

    One later post of John’s also merits a response —

    Both Joe Flacco AND Trent Dilfer would have won this division for the Cards this year. I’m even wondering if Brian St. Pierre would have won this division this year for us. Amazing that even crossed my mind, but I can be certain he would not have been worse.

    I’ve seen enough of Skelton to tell me that he has promise, can make all the throws, has surprising athleticism for his size, and doesn’t get rattled. That, to me, gets him a roster spot in 2011 and in the competition for who starts next year.

    But the Cards had better bring in an established veteran (BULGER/MCNABB) that will compete for that spot as well. They need to cut DA and Hall. The former has the tools from the neck down but not from the neck up, and the latter is vice versa.

  52. By Kevin on Dec 27, 2010 | Reply

    Well, I hope the Cards beat SF, but at least if they lose, they’ll get Carolina again instead of TB (or possibly even NO, though it doesn’t look like that’s likely). Although things can change fast in the NFL, I don’t anticipate Carolina being very good all of a sudden (regardless of getting Luck). I don’t think I care much whether they play MN or DET.

    But wow, that’s quite a schedule regardless. Dallas is obviously better than they’ve played, so having to go through the NFC East (NYG & PHI) is rough. Although you could say the same thing about going up against the South (Panthers aside) this year considering that it’s the only division in football with at least 3 9-win teams, and includes the likely #1 seed and almost certainly at least one wild card team. And while getting the AFC North means 2 very tough games (BAL/PHI), it also brings 2 bad teams (CIN/CLE) whereas going through the AFC West this year involved only 1 bad team (Denver) along with KC, one of the best 8-7 teams ever (SD — how does a team go 8-7 with a +114 point differential, the 2nd-best offense and the #1 defense in all of football in terms of YPG?) and a much improved Oakland team (7-8 but again with a positive point differential).

  53. By Rodney on Dec 27, 2010 | Reply

    No idea the NFL was treating each “8 year schedule block” separate from previous blocks. Contradicts what the NFL stated when they went with this “logic” schedule, saying that no stadium will go longer than eight years with a certain team appearing there. So it will be 12 years between Cardinal visits to Cleveland and Pittsburgh?

    Darren’s charisma has taken a dive along with the Cardinals. Who can blame him?

  54. By Kevin on Dec 27, 2010 | Reply

    Now that I’ve posted that, it really makes me think again about the Cards’ schedule which has been much maligned since the outset of the year. Obviously the bad division makes the 6 intradivisional games weak, but as compared to at least those three teams, at the start of the year if you got to pick from going up against DAL/MIN, CHI/NYG, GB/PHI or WAS/DET, I doubt many would rather have had our two games than one of the other pairs, considering that DAL was considered a SB contender and MIN took the eventual winners to OT in the championship last year. Possibly GB/PHI would be considered tougher but definitely not the CHI pair (they’ve been a surprise) or WAS/DET which would have appeared on day 1 to be the weakest group. So at the outset of the season it was the Rams who looked like they had the most cakewalk schedule in the division (if not all of football).

    And while getting to play the NFC West teams may be a part of why the NFC South and AFC West ended up doing well this year, the fact remains that the NFC South is the ONLY team in football with 3 over-.500 teams (two of which are VERY good) and the AFC West is pretty good as well considering OAK’s resurgence and SD is much better than their record shows. Not making excuses for being 5-10, but just trying to make myself feel like it was all in all a pretty good schedule outside the division (so I don’t feel too bad about seeing the likes of PHI, PIT and BAL on there next year).

  55. By AndyStandsUp on Dec 27, 2010 | Reply

    Cards already have 2 young QBs under contract(3 if you count DA being 28 years old) so I highly doubt they’ll draft one.
    Trade or FA is more likely and I can’t believe I’m typing this but McNabb is a possibility in my mind.

  56. By Voice of Reason on Dec 27, 2010 | Reply


    The Cards better not have three quarterbacks under contract come about Tuesday after the season ends. Both DA and Hall should be cut quickly.

  57. By RM 42 on Dec 27, 2010 | Reply


    Why is Rashad Johnson getting more playing time than Matt Ware? Johnson has not improved much from last year, and Matt Ware was resigned to fill the role Johnson is playing. Ware was very effective last year before he was injuried near the end of the season.

  58. By Darren Urban on Dec 27, 2010 | Reply

    RM 42 —

    RE: Rashad/Ware

    They seem to like Johnson’s progress. I do not expect Ware back next season.

  59. By RODY on Dec 27, 2010 | Reply


    hope the link works

    looks like andrew luck maybe be staying in school. Atleast currently

  60. By brad oneill on Dec 27, 2010 | Reply

    Mike elingboe- you are right about neither winning nor losing making me happy at the moment. I do not believe in tanking games and I am ecstatic that they are giving John skelton a chance to play. so i guess i am just irritated at being behind a team that acted to late to save the season.

    As for people complaining about rod graves, i just have to say you are truly living in fantasy land if you don’t think rod has done an excellent job. He works for the bidwills, his job is not to try and win at all costs. it is to try and win with the resources allocated to him. he has done as good or better job than any gm i am familiar with in cardinals history. Just look at the teams record under him and not just wins and losses but the acquiring of a new stadium and practice facilities has to count for something also. A charged up fan base that actually roots for the home team.

  61. By Kevin on Dec 27, 2010 | Reply

    Wow, if that’s true about Luck, on the one hand, you want to say all the normal platitudes — way to go, get your degree, way to finish what you started, this is what college sports are about, etc. On the other hand, if he’s smart enough to be at Stanford then he can always go back (whether to Stanford or elsewhere) and finish up after his football career is over, and passing up NFL money when you are not only the consensus #1 pick but also considered one of the best if not the best QB prospect in a decade could be very short-sighted if, God forbid, he gets hurt next year. The degree isn’t going to do anything for him while he’s in the NFL anyway so what’s the difference whether he gets it now or when he’s in his 30’s (if he even bothers after becoming a multimillionaire). Certainly it’s a tougher question whether to come out early for the guy who’s projected to be a much later pick and won’t get significant guaranteed money, but someone in his position? Seems like a no-brainer.

  62. By Kevin on Dec 27, 2010 | Reply

    Brad, that’s a great point about Graves (and, by extension, potentially Whisenhunt, especially as it relates to the whole Leinart thing). The truth is, we’ll probably never really know the full Leinart story, but it was almost certainly motivated in part by money in addition to whatever personality clashes or other factors were going on. The Cards saved a couple mill by not keeping him this year, but more importantly, as I understand it his salary was due to go up to $7.4M plus a $5.5M roster bonus next year. In retrospect, all us fans can say Leinart would probably have been better than DA this year, but if the Cards knew he wasn’t the QB of the future (due to not wanting to pay him nearly $13M to stay in 2011 — even more than Warner was to get per year under his 2-year extension AFTER TAKING US TO THE SUPER BOWL), perhaps they felt it best to just get rid of him now. And who knows how much of that was top-down pressure (implicit or explicit) because of money concerns? Certainly Graves and Whisenhunt, being good “company men,” are not going to let on to the media that the reason a guy isn’t staying is because of cheap ownership, so even if it were true (or partly true), that story isn’t going to surface. It’s left for us all to make our own conclusions.

    Part of the Leinart problem is they weren’t expected to be that good even with him. The Vegas O/U was 7 1/2, and the odds on them to win the division were +250, same as Seattle and well behind SF who was nearly even money. SF was 8-8 last year and figured to improve, but even if the Cards were prescient and knew the division was going to be THIS bad, if Leinart plays, how much better would they have been? Maybe 8-8? And then they’d have a real dilemma — a QB that led them to a division title … you can’t very well dump him at that point, can you? But he’s due $13M. That’s $13M you can’t spend on other guys, so the rest of the team suffers to keep a mediocre, overpaid QB. Could be the Cards figured, if that’s the best case scenario WITH Leinart (and 8-8 or perhaps 9-7 with a first-round exit at the hand of a better team probably was indeed the best case scenario), and if the (significantly more likely, at least according to Vegas) worst-case scenario was being a .500 or worse team and missing the playoffs, there was not much upside at the time the decision was made to sticking with Leinart. Assuming you factor in the money (which I know it’s hard for us fans to do since we just think ownership should be like Jerry Jones or George Steinbrenner and pay pay pay), it’s hard IMO to disagree, but even if you disagree, we still don’t know to what extent it was fully a Graves/Whiz decision.

  63. By tRiGiDy22 on Dec 27, 2010 | Reply

    Draft AJ.Green 2nd overall or Da’Quan Bowers an go 4-3??, or Cornerback! or Trade down an take Cheese burger Eddie’……

    2nd rd Nate Solder 6’9 315 lineman out of Colorado!
    Tyron smith,Kris O’Dowd

    Darren, all i can say is they have Casey Matthews going in the 3rd rd??
    Hope he doesn’t make it pass us??? Make it happen Bigred!

  64. By BLOOD RED on Dec 27, 2010 | Reply

    Get McNabb and let him and Skelton battle for the job.If nothing else Skelton will learn alot from him.(unlike Matt who thought he was to smart to lean from the hall of famer)It’s a win win I see Skelton being the future gun for the redbirds but bringing in McNabb who already has a house in the desert and is the kind of guy that would teach Skelton some tricks and what it takes at this level to deal with all the ins and outs.I dont think we should draft a QB if we could get a good veteren to go with BIG BAD JOHN!I love this kid.Calm cool and collected.Thank god he got a shot.He has a long way to go but has all the tools to be great!ROCK N ROLL REDBIRDS!!!!P.S Draft a good tightend!

  65. By drumm-1 on Dec 27, 2010 | Reply

    Why do everyone want to rush and draft a qb,we know Skelton is good and we would be taking a chance on a unproven qb which is the most important part of the offence,if we got Andrew Luck who to say he wouldn’t be a Ryan Leaf.. as you all know just because you we’re good in college doesn’t mean it will happen in the pros… be careful for what you wish for..

  66. By TBru on Dec 27, 2010 | Reply

    who cares about the schedule anymore, this years was “on paper” the easiest ever somehow we lost 10 including 7 in a row. We beat the Saints and lost to the Panthers. We had wins determined by 1 point it is next to impossible to decide how we will play based on the strength of schedule.

  67. By Darren Urban on Dec 27, 2010 | Reply

    TBru —

    RE: Schedule

    I think there are a lot of people who care who is on the schedule, and who will be coming to UoP, and where the Cards will be traveling.

  68. By clssylssy on Dec 28, 2010 | Reply

    Guess What? We fans are tired of the Haters like you so just pack up and go be a 9ers fan cause we sure don’t need negative energy and obviously you are a one dimentional thinker lookingsfor a scapegoat in Whiz. As in any organization he has a boss too so maybe you should place some of your anger on the front office or management who controls the pursestrings. If you look at KC, this is the first good year they’ve had in a REAL LONG TIME, and I can see the Whisenhunt influence all over Todd Haley (who the fans wanted to give the boot to a year ago). Perhaps if positions had been filled with good talent instead of trying to save a buck and expecting the Head Coach to carry the load we would be in the playoffs again this year. We have the talent just lack the bodies to adequately fill all the jobs. GREAT JOB CARDINALS FOR THE WIN AGAINST COWGIRLS! And, nice article Darren.

  69. By kekojones on Dec 28, 2010 | Reply


    I am Still confused. Which teams we play next year on the east coast?

  70. By Darren Urban on Dec 28, 2010 | Reply

    Keko —

    RE: Schedule

    It’s all right above in the blog. Not sure what there is to be confused about.

  71. By TD7 on Dec 28, 2010 | Reply

    I do believe Skelton is the answer at QB.. he is 2-1 as a starter. he can make all the throws, has good mobility for a guy his size. I understand its difficult to put your trust in a young QB.. but im all for it. draft other needs in the draft. get a veteran to be the #2 QB. if Skelton gets all preseason and summer reps with #1s.. i think he be solid.. and eventually great.

  72. By Voice of Reason on Dec 28, 2010 | Reply

    Brad said:

    As for people complaining about rod graves, i just have to say you are truly living in fantasy land if you don’t think rod has done an excellent job. He works for the bidwills, his job is not to try and win at all costs. it is to try and win with the resources allocated to him. he has done as good or better job than any gm i am familiar with in cardinals history. Just look at the teams record under him and not just wins and losses but the acquiring of a new stadium and practice facilities has to count for something also. A charged up fan base that actually roots for the home team.

    And in doing so, describes half of Graves’ job (and frankly, the less important half). Yes, he must use the resources provided. However, good GMs (or executives in any business) prepare that budget and convince the decision makers that the resources he’s seeking make fiscal sense. Graves either hasn’t done that at all or is not very good at the presentation.

  73. By Gary K. on Dec 28, 2010 | Reply

    I’m with you. I no longer need to be convinced that Skelton can be a solid long-term starting NFL QB. I have seen him make a variety of types of throws, I have seen him make good decisions with the football inside and outside of the pocket, and (perhaps most importantly) I have seen him be poised and clutch under pressure (both physical and mental pressure). The only thing left to convince me of is whether or not he can have a full grasp of the offense and opposing defenses by the start of next season. If we had any chance of getting Andrew Luck, I would still want him in a Cardinals uniform, but I don’t see that happening. None of the other top QBs in next year’s draft show me that they have anything to offer that Skelton does not. If we draft a QB not named Andrew Luck in the 1st round next year, it would mean that we will have either wasted a 1st round pick or a 5th round pick. I would like to see them pick up a veteran QB at a very low cost(like Bulger, McNabb, Palmer, etc) and then declare it an open competition in training camp. If Skelton wins out, then great. If not, then we at least have a vet that can read NFL defenses and win us some games until Skelton is at that mental level.

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