Second-half storylines

Posted by Darren Urban on October 17, 2011 – 9:52 am

OK, so the Cards aren’t to the second-half of the season yet, but the bye not only gives the team a chance to recalibrate where it is heading into the rest of the year but also a chance to assess what will fall under the microscope for the balance of 2011.

The play of Kevin Kolb: Obviously the Cards have made a long-term commitment to the QB. Long-term is relative in the NFL, but he’s so early in his tenure he isn’t (and shouldn’t be) going anywhere anytime soon. That said, NFL teams lean on their quarterbacks. He doesn’t have to be Tom Brady, but the Cards were counting on more.

How Beanie’s year unfolds: RB Beanie Wells has been, thus far, the back everyone hoped he would be when he was drafted. If he can continue that, it’d be a major step forward offensively.

Tackling the tackles: Who will be the tackles? Levi Brown and Jeremy Bridges? Brandon Keith? Kent Somers broke down why Brown probably won’t be around next season. Looking around the league, there are a lot of teams hurting at the position (the Steelers, who visit Sunday, among them). Clearly, though — and obviously, this isn’t out of the box thinking — the Cards have to get more consistency out there.

The linebacker transition: The Cards are still trying to find a way to make Sam Acho and O’Brien Schofield work on defense, instead of riding veterans Joey Porter and Clark Haggans. This one may just end up dictated by how the wins and losses play out. If the season further gets away from the Cards — and having the 49ers at 5-1 already doesn’t help — you’d think youth will be served.

Clearly, there will be other spots to watch and evaluate (which is good, since I still need subjects to write about the rest of the season). Given the first outcome against Seattle earlier this season, I am also very curious how the Cards play in the five games remaining against the NFC West. And how the team performs on the road — where they will be for four of five weeks following the Pittsburgh game Sunday.

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45 Responses to “Second-half storylines”

  1. By Rodgerscromartie17 on Oct 17, 2011 | Reply

    What about cornerback? were obviously getting shredded there, Peterson doesnt have anybody to learn from, not anybody thats starting caliber

  2. By Darren Urban on Oct 17, 2011 | Reply

    Rodgerscro —

    RE: Cornerback

    Another area to watch, although those guys are going to continue to learn on the fly. One thing I find interesting — so many want, for example, Acho and Schofield to play, and I get that. But they would be going through many of the same things Peterson and Jefferson are going through, yet everyone keeps looking for veterans to rescue the CBs.

  3. By former season ticket holder on Oct 17, 2011 | Reply

    Cornerback needs to be watched and what to do with Adrian Wilson also a concern. Maybe linebacker (temoporarily) if Acho or Schofield don’t pan out and Porter and Haggans continue to slide..

  4. By Debbie Umberger on Oct 17, 2011 | Reply

    With Kevin Kolb, I think everyone was counting on more. Sure he has what 4 years in the NFL, but he never really had that many starts as a QB. He is a work in progress. Unfortunately, some fans are wanting miracles after the past season. You addressed the tackle situation too. Doesn’t give a QB much confidence standing behind a line and your tackles letting opposing players getting to him. The guy is fighting for his life back there at times. I would like to see how well one of the seasoned QBs would perform behind the Cards O line. Fans have to look back too on the good QBs now and see what their first season with the teams they are playing with now how that turned out for them. I’m sure not too many of them came out and had stellar seasons. He will be fine as will the Cards. New personnel all around………a lot of changes…..a lot of growing pains. A true Cardinal fan can undestand.

  5. By TucsonTim on Oct 17, 2011 | Reply

    I’d just be happy to see a safety occasionally rescue our young CBs who sit on an island with no pass rush to help them.

    Rodgers… –

    Supposedly, that is what the coaches do.

  6. By Paul H on Oct 17, 2011 | Reply

    Welcome back Darren. Hope you enjoyed a few days off with the family. With the 49ers now up on us 3.5 games and seeing their season schedule as not being especially that tough the rest of the way it makes it pretty hard for us the catch them. I think we have played a little tight so far this year. So I would like to see Whiz open up things a little . Experiment a little to see what guys can handle and what they can’t. See what Kevin can perform well and what he can’t. Maybe a little more hurry up to see how that works. Try some different things on defense. Use the remaining schedule as if it’s a 2.5 month tryout for next season. See who you want around long term. Hate to sound like I’m giving up this year but I’m not . I just think it’s a good situation to try out some new ideas and schemes.

  7. By Mario on Oct 17, 2011 | Reply

    It’s clear that letting some quality veterans walk was another miscalculation to add to the list for this management team. Resgning Calais Campbell should be TOP PRIORITY!

  8. By John the Draft Guy on Oct 17, 2011 | Reply

    It seems to me that out of all the positions in football, passrushers either have it or don’t fairly early on. An example is Aldon Smith and Von Miller. You also see it the other way in guys like Gholston and Cody Brown, along with many others. (Card fans can remember Simeon Rice’s rookie year- along with Calvin Paces rookie year- You knew Rice could do it and Pace still is not much of a dominate passrusher) Most, not all, dominate passrushers showed it as rookies.

    With that being said, what is making the cardinals believe Acho and Scholfield are answers? Do they believe they have an explosive first step, or have they blowned by Levi and Keith in practice?
    Or are they just better options than Haggins and Porter?

    I want to believe in them, but my eyes tell me something else.

  9. By Darren Urban on Oct 17, 2011 | Reply

    John the draft guy —

    RE: Acho/Schofield

    In fairness, I don’t think either have gotten much of a chance to play right away to make that snap judgment you are talking about. Also, with Smith and Miller, you are talking about the No. 2 and No. 7 overall picks in the draft. Acho and Schofield are fourth-round picks, Are they answers? You can’t say that now. Will they be? I think you need to take more time to determine on both guys. They are your options as of right now.

  10. By Ben on Oct 17, 2011 | Reply

    I think you missed the biggest glaring hole we have on the field.


    Can he get Miller to stop with the horrible playcalling.
    Can he get this team to stop shooting themselves in the foot with penalties
    Can he look in the mirror and realize there is a problem
    Can he see that Grimm and Brown are killing our chances.

    Probably much much more to list, these were just off the cuff.

    Playcalling is my biggest problem, RUN THE BALL!!!!

  11. By D on Oct 17, 2011 | Reply

    That SF defense looks good…they have had two good drafts back to back…good thing is their record will be too good for A. Luck..

  12. By dan on Oct 17, 2011 | Reply

    2nd half? This season is done, 49ers have this division wrapped up.

  13. By BKKCard on Oct 17, 2011 | Reply

    “A true Cardinal fan can undestand.”

    Oh quit with the “true fan” drivel Debbie. Everyone that bothers to post here and anywhere else concerning the Cards is a fan. The common theme I see with your so called “true fans” is constant excuses with some kind of expectation that a miracle will happen next season.

    Your so called true fans are as much of the problem as the poor excuse of football this club plays. How? By blindly supporting incompetence year after year.

  14. By Kurt on Oct 17, 2011 | Reply

    The youngsters at corner are learning on the job. The loss of Toler and the loclout has really hurt the Cards but the future of this secondary shows alot of promise. The offensive line needs to come around as well, Bridges will probably settle in at right tackle and Keith might get a look at left tackle. If Beannie and Kolb stay healthy the Cards will win down the stretch.

    Everybody needs to keep the faith and let this team come together.

  15. By drummer-1 on Oct 17, 2011 | Reply

    Some people expect to much to soon.. Is there any chance we could forfeit the rest of the season since most fans already know we will lose?

  16. By dean on Oct 17, 2011 | Reply

    sad, just sad.

  17. By Steve W on Oct 17, 2011 | Reply

    I think Debbie and others (myself included) are just getting tired of having to sift through all the negativity repeated over and over and over again in the comments of this blog to find something worth reading. Some of us haven’t given up on the Cards yet. I’ll be the first to admit I’ve been discouraged with their play thus far in the season, but it’s not over by a long shot yet, and quite frankly even if our play shows promise before the season ends – no matter what our records winds up as – some of us will be encouraged by that going into next season.

    Blindly supporting incompentence? Nope, not by a long shot. I’d prefer to call some of us hopeful instead, and trusting that the coaching staff and the players are taking these losses just as hard as the fans are. Don’t you suppose that’s possible? And given that the off season was pure chaos for everyone, with an empasis on those teams with key components that are playing together for the first time, some of us are also perhaps more understanding that the learning curve is going to be greater for those players and their teams. It is unfortunate, but hardly arguable, that the Cardinals fall squarely into this group. How would we look now if we’d had a ‘true’ off-season to practice going into the regular games? We will never know, but maybe we’ll get a glimpse of what might be next year if this season proves to be unsalvageable.

    Kudos Darren, for great writing by the way. Even after a terrible loss, I look forward to reading your blog. Let’s hope that we can start getting some wins to cheer this place up a bit!

  18. By MIKE G on Oct 17, 2011 | Reply

    Hey Darren– I think the biggest issue for the Cardinals is lack of plays on the field from their leadership players. I consider Kolb(inconsistent),
    Fitz(some drops),Feely(key missed field goals),Wilson(inconsistent), and Dockett(been average) their leaders. Also–Porter and Haggans have only 1.5 sacks from those edge rushers. Your leaders have to produce on the field and hope that the young players will follow. Through the first 4 games we have not had big plays from our top guns! This coupled with injuries, new defensive coordinator and a new Qb may be too much to overcome to have a winning season this year!! I think we need to see improvement on a week to week basis to build some confidence and hopefully pick up a few wins. I think we need a lot more from our leadership type guys going into the final 2/3rds of the season!!! Darren going into week 5 what do you think our best strength is as a football team!! Our running game???

  19. By Darren Urban on Oct 17, 2011 | Reply

    Mike G —

    RE: Strength

    I think the running game, the way it’s been, is a good place to start.

  20. By Gabriel on Oct 17, 2011 | Reply

    It’s sad when the O-line play makes you miss Latui. We need to upgrade the O-line in a major way. Oh yeah, and OLB’s. That Pitt 3-4 D is designed to feature the play of the OLB and we have Pittsburgh hand-me-downs. Will we see Harrison/Woodley in 3 years?! Ha!

  21. By K-DUB on Oct 17, 2011 | Reply

    So long Levi “El Matador” Brown… O’ LAAA!!!!

  22. By Stevie on Oct 17, 2011 | Reply

    I’m with Steve W, Debbie and Kurt. All those negative commenets and repetetive criticisms lead one to think that all fans have given up hope. Not so. The more intelligent of us understand that changes take time when developing a team. If you listen to any Sports Talk readio, you have learned that Aaron Rodgers and others didn’t have winning seasons their first year as starters, even when they had more talent around them. As a season ticket holder, I am not a fair weather fan. My Cards–winning or losing. And if not this year, it will be next year.
    Darren, you’re a saint for putting up with most of this repetetive negativity and responding unemotionally. I know you are a professional, but it must be difficult. Keep up the good work.

  23. By Scott H on Oct 17, 2011 | Reply

    OK, so let’s review…

    The Seahawks got Sidney Rice….
    The 49ers got Braylon Edwards….
    The Cardinals got Chansi Stuckey…
    And now the Rams have Brandon Lloyd.

    Any questions? Can you guess which of these teams did THE LEAST to improve at WR? I’ll give ya 2 guesses but you’re only gonna need one.

    Correct answer – Cardinals!!!

    And the hits just keep on coming….ya know, it remains to be seen what impact any of these players will have on these other teams. But at least these other teams ( ALL OF THEM ) showed was a willingness to get better by landing a proven and established player at this position. And the Cardinals just went to the nearest dollar store to get what was available because no one else wanted it. Unfortuantely, what we are finding is that the adage that you get what you pay for just about always turns out to be true.

    Also, anyone watch the Vikings game last night? Ain’t it funny how the Vikings have looked terrible in every game they have played this season EXCEPT ONE – that would be the one game they played against our very own Cardinals. Further proof that we can make any team look great for 60 minutes…until they play another REAL team again the following week.

    Another season down the drain. It’s official – after a very short & sweet two seasons of being lifted up to amazing heights by Kurt Warner, we have returned to our typical perennial doormat status. I swear, instead of player names on the back of the uniforms, they should just put lettering that says “Please Wipe Your Feet.”

    Next up? The Steelers. My advice? Don’t watch if you have a weak stomach. This is gonna be a MAJOR LEAGUE beat down by the team that I wish our head coach would go home to at this point.

  24. By Zero on Oct 17, 2011 | Reply

    The secondary is getting shredded, the linebackers aren’t getting any pressure and we’re letting everyone run right pass us. Our offense stalls often and when we don’t stall we’re giving away the ball. Oline is failing a lot and Kolb fumbles away like no other. So far so good.

  25. By Scott H on Oct 17, 2011 | Reply

    BKKCard –

    Right on, man. I think you just became my hero. Like youself, I find it interesting how passion is so often perceived as negativity. Whatever. Maybe some people are just avoiding what this team has become by focusing on the “negativity” of some of the input here instead.

    I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. I have spent decades of enduring one losing season after another, endlessly wishing and hoping for better days and keeping the faith that they would come someday. And it happened during 2007-2009 when we won divisions and conference titles and went to a Super Bowl. Those seasons taught me what it felt like to have pride and what it felt like to EXPECT success because you knew your team was good enough to deliver. And now that I have been raised up to that level and experienced how good that feels, I will NOT lower my expectations and go back to being happy with less. Anyone that is willing to do that, fine. That is YOUR choice and you are free to make it. I will not do that. I am keeping my expectations high. As a fan, I have a right to expect success and I also have every right to express my frustration when my expectations are not met.

  26. By AZ Fan in WA on Oct 17, 2011 | Reply

    I usually want the bye to come after the halfway point. Given the trend of the last month I’m glad it came when it did! If this team pulls it together it can still do a lot to salvage this season. I am no longer hopeful of that but it is a distinct possibility. Winning is just as contagious as loosing. I’ve got my fingers crossed…

  27. By AndyStandsUp on Oct 17, 2011 | Reply

    A key storyline for me will be the development of the number two receiver.
    Roberts hasn’t stepped up, Doucet will have to stay healthy and Stuckey has disappeared. (Though unlike some posters, I like the signing and predict a game soon where he’ll use his specialty, the under slant and have a big game.)
    Another key point will be Stewart Bradley. Is he going to get the system or not?

  28. By SEC 113 RW 10 on Oct 17, 2011 | Reply

    A-Dub should run for politics after the rhetoric he promised about learning Horton’s defense and distributing it to the other players during the lock out.
    Why are none of the local media writing articles on his sub-par play?
    Everyone discussed in the off-season that Kolb was going to need a few games to get things going and our defense would need to carry the team through the first few games (the soft spot in the schedule). Except for their play in Seattle (against Tavaris) The def has been a HUGE disappointment. Only Campbell, Washington and Dockett seem to want to play. And I believe most of this falls on the safety captain, A-Dub. The local media has treated him with “kids gloves”. Instead the media needs to man-up and get him to answer the tough questions:
    –Why is he playing out of position and missing coverage when he was the player who supposed to have “taught” everyone during the lock out?
    –How truly bad is the injury, this year! and if it’s not that bad then what’s up with his play?
    –How is he helping the corners to learn and become better?
    –Is it becoming apparant that being a silent mentor is not the same as being an active captain?

    Let be the first to say, I hate being the A-Dub basher, but I truly think he is complacent in his play and needs a chip on shoulder to perform.

  29. By drummer-1 on Oct 17, 2011 | Reply

    @ Scott H

    You do know theres a difference between Passion and negativity, passion is keep the faith, negative is what we read everyday, i.e. this team sucks, whiz can’t coach, fire this person,fire that person, thats negative not passion..As you have the right to express your frustration about the teams play, Myself and others have that same right to express our frustration with the daily NON stop Negativiity..

  30. By WNYcardfan on Oct 17, 2011 | Reply

    you are a fan you aren’t a fan etc… I have to agree with BKK, if you are here taking time to post then you care, why else would we read and want (need) to express our thoughts and frustrations. No one is saying the “half full” group aren’t fans and can’t state what they think/feel, same with the “half empty” group, which I am more a part of. I give a hats off to Darren for posting both, he’s not prejudice that’s obvious. As a fan of more than 30 years, its FRUSTRATING to see the same ole cards, the same story line, the same “basement” in regards to how they stack up against the rest of the NFL. Something needs to change, some type of cultural change. If that is with this coach and these players, HOORAH, great, I’m all for it. Unfortunately I haven’t seen the positive changes that makes you believe something good is happening or could happen. Yes, Kolb is new(er), yes we have a new def coord, etc etc… Can we see SOMETHING to feel good about? That’s what we are saying. I knew they wouldn’t be a winning team this season, too many changes and not enough great additions, but I thought they could at least be competitive, maybe an 8-8 team. Right now, there is not a lot to think they’ll do anything to make you feel like progress. I HOPE I am wrong, I hope you can say that I am overly critical, but I just don’t see it.

  31. By John the Draft Guy on Oct 17, 2011 | Reply

    Scott H

    Really? There is a lot to be critical about the cards but thats the weakest of them all.

    * Edwards- 4 catches for 48 yards- that 228th in the league.
    * Rice? a little better. 15 catches for 226 yds- 95th in the league
    * Lloyd is your best argument. He had a big year last year and worth a chance. This year, 19 catches for 283. -68th in the league.

    Cant say the cards blew it with any of these guys.

    Oh, BTW – Doucet has 21 catches for 309 yds – 54th in the league.

  32. By John the Draft Guy on Oct 17, 2011 | Reply

    SEC 113
    You have a point. ADub played very bad last year. This year, I think of that long TD by Steve Smith in the first game. I can remember Rhodes looking at ADub (as Smith was taking it in) like, where were you.

    He is a in the box kind of safety. In space he guesses and is out of position often. Just not sure he fits this defense sitting back 15 yards playing center field. Up on the line, blitzing or playing man on a TE is where he is at his best.

    I’ve said it before, its a tough transition for this defense. Not sure, but a change in some popular players may be needed. I don’t know, maybe Im wrong.

    Darren, I would love to hear Hortons perspective of players fitting into his system.

  33. By mk on Oct 17, 2011 | Reply

    Pavlov proved it with dogs; Card coaches are proving it with players. If a younger player makes a mistake, he is immediately benched. From my perspective, the younger players are playing not to make a mistake rather than trying to make a play. As a result they are playing slower and playing the game with low risk intensions. For instance, the corners are playing too soft so that they will not get burned deep. As a result veteran receivers are eating them alive underneith. The two young OLB are playing all potential screens, draw plays, and soft flairs first — in efforts not getting burned. As a result — the higher risk pass rush is literally their third priority, and as a result leads to an inept pass rush. The coaches need to quit their immediate short chain knee jerk reaction. The players, especially the younger bubble players are playing too tight, slow, and low risk. Which happens to work into the highest probability of failure.

  34. By tim on Oct 18, 2011 | Reply

    32 teams, that’s too many. Expansion has decreased the quality of play. There simply aren’t enough quality players to go around. Quarterback is a prime example. How many top shelf QB’s are there, 8 maybe 9? How many good solid performers, 4 maybe 5, and 2 possibly 3 up and comers. Put an average left tackle vs a top defensive end and the offense is toast for the day. The NFL calls it parity, it’s really mediocrity due to a lack of available talent.

  35. By FanSinceLomax on Oct 18, 2011 | Reply

    This team is a year away from showing who they really are.
    Fans need to accept this season is all but lost.
    If we end up making the playoffs great, but please be realistic.
    Right now we have exactly a 5% chance of making the playoffs based on our record.
    I do not have the best feeling about Kevin Kolb, but it won’t be till next year before we will know if he is a bust.
    The raiders have shown if you are aggressive enough you can pull of a monster trade.
    They are getting Carson Palmer for a first round draft pick. That meant we also could have, without giving up DRC.
    I understand Kolb needs longer in the system however his choices and reads on the field have so far been extremely questionable at times.
    Cam Newton and Dalton have played better more often than Kolb.
    I understand he much more plays to learn than they do, regardless no excuses.
    Either he can understand the offense and coverages and you make him learn more plays. Or he can’t and you need to make things simple and take aspects away at this point, and slowly bring him along.
    Regardless he isn’t much of a improvement over Anderson at this point of the season.
    I like Kevin, his work ethic and will to win but so far it hasn’t shown on the field.
    Next year will be the make or break year for Kolb and Whiz.

  36. By FanSinceLomax on Oct 18, 2011 | Reply

    I love Adrian Wilson, also Cards fans.
    At one point I felt he was the best safety in this league.
    The last two years even though he has been injured, he hasn’t looked right and has shown real signs of slowing down.
    I do not think he should have made the pro bowl last year which was average at best, Rhodes should have he was the best player on the defense last year.
    This year Adrian is having a worse season, than he did last year at this point. Have to wonder if age and injuries are catching up to him.

  37. By nodavis2000 on Oct 18, 2011 | Reply


    I have a quick question. Do you think the Cards might leave Bridges on the right and put Keith on the left??? I personallly think that Keith has played better than Brown, but I don’t know if he can play that position. What are your thoughts on this possibility??? THANKS!!!

  38. By Darren Urban on Oct 18, 2011 | Reply

    nodavis —

    RE: Tackles

    I would think, if the tackles were Bridges and Keith, Bridges would be put on the left side.

  39. By ndpenner on Oct 18, 2011 | Reply

    Hate to say it, but I think we’re about 3 years out from being competitive. I just can’t believe that we’ve lost the games we’ve lost the way we lost them. It’s like the whole thing is scripted to give the other team some sort of inspitational moment that they can talk about all week or something. I dunno….Needless to say, I miss Warner…

  40. By nodavis2000 on Oct 18, 2011 | Reply


    Do you know if they’ve practiced this at all???
    Do you think the Cards will do this???
    I’ve been disappointed with Brown’s level of play. I’m all for giving another guy a shot in that position. I know we have back ups, so I’m just wondering why/if the Cards will try something and when if they do.

  41. By Darren Urban on Oct 18, 2011 | Reply

    Nodavis —

    RE: Tackles

    I am sure it was practiced at some point in camp. Whether it happens in a game is another story.

  42. By Scott H on Oct 18, 2011 | Reply

    John The Draft Guy –

    My point has less to do with those individual players then the GENERAL APPROACH this team is taking toward personnel matters these days. Gimme a break. We go after players like Joey Porter and Alan Faneca when their best days are clearly behind them. But when player like Brandon Lloyd – a player in his prime who was the NFL’s leading WR just last season – is there for the stealing, we’re nowhere to be found. And I DO mean for the stealing! The man was obtained by the Rams for a 6th round pick, for Pete’s sake!!!! Oh, sorry, maybe a 5th round pick. C’mon, man…we couldn’t have put in a bid for him with a price tag like that??? Perhaps if he’d played for the Steelers, he would have been more on our radar…

    And in regard to the stats you pointed out, OK. But you can come up with numbers to support any point of view you choose. Surely, you have to acknowledge that Edwards has been hurt this year and Rice was out the first two weeks. What were Edwards’ numbers last year? Rice’s numbers when he was last healthy for a good stretch?

    And ya know what? If Lloyd goes to St Louis and doesn’t do much this season, people will point to that and say good thing we didn’t bother. BUT Lloyd could have been a MONSTER here because of the presence of Fitzgerald on the other side. THAT is why the Cardinals should have been more of a player in that race.

  43. By Scott H on Oct 18, 2011 | Reply


    Appreciate your feedback but please don’t tell me what I “know” and what I don’t. You have your opinion, I have mine. We see things differently. Sorry if it goes against your way of doing things, but my faith is on hold until I see different results on the field.

  44. By cardfancolorado on Oct 18, 2011 | Reply

    good point scott h hey burfict top 6 pick

  45. By Chuck 1 on Oct 19, 2011 | Reply

    By drummer-1 on Oct 17, 2011 | Reply

    Some people expect to much to soon…………

    My comment: When should we EXPECT being able to compete for a Wild Card or to win the NFC West??? This season? Next season? 2013?
    We should not expect being in the playoffs until Graves and Keim are gone.
    He has signed FAs and drafted players who did not fill the teams’ needs e.g. OL and pass-rushing OLBs.
    By Stevie on Oct 17, 2011 | Reply

    I’m with Steve W, Debbie and Kurt. All those negative commenets and repetetive criticisms lead one to think that all fans have given up hope. Not so. The more intelligent of us understand that changes take time when developing a team

    My comment: Maybe you and your Kool Aid drinking friends can transfer some of your intelligence to Graves and Keim..

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