Friday before the Browns

Posted by Darren Urban on December 16, 2011 – 5:05 pm

With safety Adrian Wilson playing so well, I thought it was appropriate to do a story on him this week, and he’s clearly becoming a story everywhere. Friday, he popped up on Jim Rome’s radio show, and he was A-Dub-honest. When it came to his self-assessment of his play during the first month of the season, “I was terrible. I was horrible. I didn’t like seeing myself like that on tape.”

More revealing was his comment about that play when it came to being a leader on the defense. “It hurt me emotionally the way that I was playing,” Wilson said. “I knew I wasn’t that type of player, and I knew what I was doing in games early on in the year, that wasn’t me. It hurt me inside, and I wanted to show my teammates I was still that guy, that guy they could depend on, still that playmaker. That fueled me as the season went on.”

He admitted coming back from the right biceps injury was mentally difficult, a strain that made it harder when he was already learning the defense. Wilson said he wasn’t doing a lot of interviews this season because he wanted the young players, guys like linebacker Daryl Washington and linebacker Sam Acho, to get the spotlight.

Besides, for the team, the most important thing is Wilson’s play on the field, which has been 180 degrees from “terrible.”

“Shoot, he didn’t talk to me the first two years I was here,” safety Hamza Abdullah said with a grin (and folks, that was a joke). “Between the white lines, he doesn’t care. You could be his Auntie, his next door neighbor, the guy who needs help crossing the street, if you are between the lines and wearing a different colored helmet, he is going to hit you hard, not care, push you down after the play. You want a guy like that on your team. He keeps it clean, but he’ll make you feel it at the end of the day.”

Clearly the Cardinals’ defense has played better because there are a bunch of players who understand the scheme better. But it’s not a coincidence Wilson has found a groove at the same time.

“I feel I am the emotional leader for this team,” Wilson said. “I may not say a lot during the week or do a lot of interviews but come game day being that emotional guy, being a guy who is out front, I think that’s important for the team defensively.”

On to Browns’ weekend:

— The streaking Cards’ defense runs into an offense that was struggling anyway and now must turn to backup quarterback Seneca Wallace. Good news, right? Well, perhaps the better news is the message – whomever is giving it, whether it is coach Ken Whisenhunt or defensive coordinator Ray Horton or  players leaders – that the only thing that matters is the next game and not whatever success the unit is having. No one is paying attention to the growing compliments.

“One thing I know, a pat on the back is six inches from a slap in the face,” defensive tackle Darnell Dockett said. “I treat that the same. We just want to do it for each other.”

— If the Cardinals win, Whisenhunt notches his 43rd win, most in franchise history for a head coach (and yes, postseason is included).

— If the Cards win, that’s a four-game winning streak, something they haven’t done since 1999.

— Is it feast or famine for this team? The Cards do have five offensive touchdowns of more than 50 yards this season (and an NFL-leading nine, thanks to Patrick Peterson’s four punt-return scores). Big plays have become the norm.

— Beanie Wells needs 57 yards rushing to reach 1,000 for the season. You know he’d like to do it against the Browns, the team that plays about a half-hour from his Akron home – and one for he once dreamt about playing.

— Starting cornerback/nickel safety Richard Marshall has turned into a valuable piece for Horton. He’s also a guy who signed only a one-year contract as a free agent before the season (which made sense, given the high hopes with Peterson, the injured Greg Toler and A.J. Jefferson by the time they got to 2012). He would seem to be a guy the Cards want to keep around. Marshall sounded like a veteran when asked about his future in Arizona.

“I like it here,” Marshall said. “My family likes it here, it’s a great place to play. Not too far from home. We will see what happens at the end of the year. The only thing I am thinking about is these last three games.”

— Wilson was fined $7,500 for roughing the passer after he grabbed 49ers quarterback Alex Smith’s facemask as he went flying by during a play last week. Niners linebacker Larry Grant was fined $15,000 for hitting Cards QB John Skelton below the knees, although reports from San Francisco are that Grant is appealing the fine because he said he hit Skelton in the thigh area.

— There has been only one team Larry Fitzgerald has not played against in his career – the Cleveland Browns. He missed the 2007 meeting because of a groin injury.

— Speaking of Fitz, he was asked about how to deal with the offensive slow starts: “I just keep hoping our defense can keep playing well in the first half so our engine can get going in the second,” he deadpanned. “Naw, we have to play better. The first half, it’s unacceptable for us to start that slow.”

John Skelton, Sunday’s probable starter at quarterback with Kevin Kolb’s concussion issues, has a 22.4 passer rating in the first quarter this season (and 100.8 in the fourth quarter).

Fitz may have been talking tongue-in-cheek, but the way the defense is playing, his idea just might work.

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42 Responses to “Friday before the Browns”

  1. By jonnyb on Dec 16, 2011 | Reply

    do u think we will keep heap after this year

  2. By Darren Urban on Dec 16, 2011 | Reply

    Jonnyb –

    RE: Heap

    I think that will be one of the big questions of the offseason.

  3. By Matthew on Dec 16, 2011 | Reply

    Darren, what do you think the Cards will do with Toler next year if we keep Marshall?

  4. By Darren Urban on Dec 16, 2011 | Reply

    Matthew –

    RE: Toler

    They will keep him regardless of whether they keep Marshall.

  5. By cdubbbb on Dec 16, 2011 | Reply

    Wilson has been key in this defensive turnaround. Im not saying he is the most important player on defense because he shares that title with Dockett, but without him stepping up the D wouldnt be half as good.

    Do you see Kerry Rhodes as an integral part of this defense? Or has the combo of Johnson and Marshall played well enough to warrant a trade if Rhodes can land us an extra 3rd or 4th rd pick while allowing us the cap space to go after a quality WR in this years FA?

  6. By Darren Urban on Dec 16, 2011 | Reply

    Cdubbbb –

    RE: Rhodes

    Well, there is no sure thing Marshall will be back. I think having depth isn’t bad either.

  7. By Shaun Church on Dec 16, 2011 | Reply

    Hey Darren,

    Having a discussion via facebook on Quan Sturdivant. Is he or is he not on the practice squad. I’m being told he was released. Not true, I say.

  8. By Darren Urban on Dec 16, 2011 | Reply

    Shaun —

    RE: Sturdivant

    Quan is on the practice squad. Feel free to check the roster anytime– always updated.

  9. By Shaun Church on Dec 16, 2011 | Reply


    Ah yes. I looked at the roster but failed to scroll down to see the practice squad the first time. Thank you, sir.

  10. By Sergio Leon on Dec 16, 2011 | Reply

    Darren Urban: Based on what you know do you think Kevin Kolb will start Sunday?

  11. By Darren Urban on Dec 17, 2011 | Reply

    Sergio –

    RE: starting QB

    I believe Skelton will start.

  12. By cdubbbb on Dec 17, 2011 | Reply

    Hey Darren,

    Would you say the LB position (inside & outside) is a position of need for this team?

  13. By Darren Urban on Dec 17, 2011 | Reply

    Cdubbb –

    RE: LB need

    I do think they could use depth there, yes.

  14. By Rich on Dec 17, 2011 | Reply

    the “stories” of our defense this year are Horton, Acho, and CALAIS! We have got to sign him.

  15. By redbIrdruffIan on Dec 17, 2011 | Reply

    Very well written article, thanks for that Darren. You do a damn good job.

    More excited about the growth of the future than I am the playoff chance. Just seems as though there are some good things happening looking forward. Always turns out different than I expect, but here’s to hoping Ryan Willims comes back swinging, the Cards D continues to grow, and they become that consistent, well disciplined team we… or at least I, thought we could and can be. Trust the Whiz!

    ps. knock the Browns off their block. Go Cards!

  16. By redbIrdruffIan on Dec 17, 2011 | Reply


  17. By Andy K on Dec 17, 2011 | Reply

    If the Detroit Lions Win only 1 game, Chicago wins 1 game, Dallas or NYG wins 1 game and Seattle wins 1 game or in other words, the rest of these teams lose 2 games each, and the Cardinals win the rest of their games of the Season, Will the Cardinals make the playoffs?

  18. By steve on Dec 17, 2011 | Reply

    i have no comment

  19. By cardsalltheway on Dec 17, 2011 | Reply

    I believe a loss to the Browns will end our season so whenever M. Singletary pops up again(like on D. Letterman) I can’t help but compare him with Ken W., especially if we lose to the Browns…

  20. By cards62 on Dec 17, 2011 | Reply

    Darren has Kolb practiced with the team this week? If not it has to be Skelton starting. I will not lie our QB play this season makes me nervous especially in the 1st quarter.

    The Browns do play good defense, but you can run on them so I hope we pound Beanie all game long and not have any turnovers. Playing at home with our defense as long as offense and special teams do not kill us I think we earn the victory.
    Fantasy league I am sitting my Pittsburg Defense and picking up the Cardinals Defense as I am drinking the kool-aid on Horton and the defense. A. Wilson doing a little talking is always a good thing.

    Go Cardinals beat the Browns! 9 – 7 sounds good to me

  21. By Darren Urban on Dec 17, 2011 | Reply

    cards62 —

    RE: Kolb practicing

    Kolb was limited all week. I have thought for a couple of days Skelton would be the starter Sunday.

  22. By AndyStandsUp on Dec 17, 2011 | Reply

    @ Mr Sunshine,
    A loss doesn’t end the season unless Detroit wins in Oakland.
    Even at 8-8, the Cards still have a chance if the Lions, Chicago lose out and the NYG lose one of their remaining three.

    @ The other Mr. Sunshine,
    Since you already notebooked the possibilities IF AZ wins tomorrow Darren, a possible angle next week could be the similarities between this team and the 1970 Cincinnati Bengals, since that where they’ll be playing next.

  23. By Mark Moreno on Dec 17, 2011 | Reply

    Darren Will The Cards Be Wearing Their Ren On Red Uniforms And Will The Roof At U Of P Be Open? Thanks Much

  24. By Darren Urban on Dec 17, 2011 | Reply

    Mark Moreno —

    RE: Uniforms/roof

    The roof I believe is a game day decision given the chance of rain. I’d lean toward closed, but we will see. I would guess the Cards will stick with red-on-red given two straight wins, but I don’t know for sure.

  25. By sunday on Dec 17, 2011 | Reply

    I can see this team improve on both ends thus if we resign calais on D. No matter what happens this season,we will be talking QB next season maybe season after that. That is the only negative from us winning now because the best QB’s will be gone by our draft time.I don’t trust any of our QB,s now and the future they all just ok not franchise.

  26. By FanSinceLomax on Dec 17, 2011 | Reply

    The Loins play the packers, Chargers and Raiders.
    They will have to go 2-1 to make the playoffs, and I’d say they have a better chance of going 1-2 then 2-1.
    The bears we can probably count them out, Cardinals fans I know it is hard but we need the Seahawks to beat them.
    We control our destiny against them, the end of the year.
    The Cowboys, will have to go 3-0, as well to eliminate us.
    They play the Giants end of the year, and the eagles, if they go 3-0 they deserve it.
    However I don’t see it.
    I have the falcons making the wildcard.
    Keep in mind Cardinals fans, I used ESPN’s playoff machine.
    If thing happens as they should and the Cardinals win out, they will get in as a sixth seed.
    However I have them playing the 49ers in the first round, and the saints getting a bye as a number 2 seed.

    The cardinals hold the tie breaker against every team, that goes 9-7, except the Giants.

    To me the Cowboys going, 3-0, and the Lions beating both the raiders and chargers and the bears going 3-0, rest of the way. Well isn’t very realistic.

    If we take care of business, regardless of what the numbers say. We should get in.

  27. By drummer-1 on Dec 17, 2011 | Reply

    @ Andystand…

    Mr. Sunshine.. I assume you were speaking of Cardsalltheway… that was good….. hahaha

  28. By brad oneill on Dec 17, 2011 | Reply

    If the colts pick up luck which is without a doubt going to happen and we can pick up manning. would we do that? I know i would.

  29. By Mark Moreno on Dec 17, 2011 | Reply

    Thanks for answering my question.

  30. By ndpenner on Dec 17, 2011 | Reply

    Better be red/red. I’m getting used to being happy on Sunday. 🙂

  31. By CreditCard on Dec 17, 2011 | Reply

    Darren good article. I have been a Cardinal fan since their relocation to AZ. In that time, I have always been impressed with Wilson’s never-ever waivering professionalism. I was especially impressed during the off season when Wilson reached a contract extension with the Cardinal organization. In that segment, Wilson was professionally dressed, stood upright, spoke well ,gave credit to teammates, coaches, and the entire Cardinal managment team. He represented his employer, and made his fans feel good about the team they support. Wilson’s actions demonstrates true leadership.

  32. By Cliftoid on Dec 17, 2011 | Reply

    Hey Darren,

    Q: What do you get Patrick Peterson for Christmas?

    A: Nothing, he’ll just return it!


  33. By John from Oz on Dec 18, 2011 | Reply

    Let me get this right…..there are Cardinals fans, administration and players who are actually excited that if they win this week they will have won half of their games?
    That also means that they have LOST half of their games. At best that makes them mediocre. At worst it means that they have lost half their games!
    Any coach who is actually proud of a 50% winning record in a season should be shown the door.
    Maybe the acceptance of mediocrity is indicative of a mediocre coach?

  34. By clssylssy on Dec 18, 2011 | Reply

    Darren: Great article as always. I have so much respect for Adub, #24, Mr. Adrian Wilson and the other “seniors” on our team like Dockett, Fitz, etc. who have stepped up into leadership roles, and helped our younger players by teaching through example. You did an article in the off season about Wilson’s foray into the world of men’s retail clothing as a backup for retirement and the days after football. Wow, a role model who actually thinks beyond the moment! We have a GREAT bunch of talented young men capable of… the sky’s the limit, who will owe their success to men like Wilson. I keep thinking of something one of the younger guys said about Wilson and it always brings a big smile to my face and kinda cracks me up…”he’s like your dad”…what a great compliment, but, in fact, these guys are all within about fifteen years of each other in age! Thank you Darren for the article and thank you Adrian Wilson for being such a credit to the organization and to the fans.

  35. By joe67 on Dec 18, 2011 | Reply

    Yeh, lets wear the ugly red. I still think it confuses the opponent, but it is possible they feel a little sympathy and think “we sure feel sorry for you guys having to wear that uniform, man that is awful”!!!!
    But if that is what is helping us win, go for it.

    @John from Oz, I don’t think anyone is “happy” with 8-8 but starting out 1-6 and ending up 8-8, 9-7 and being on the upswing says alot. Thats alot better than starting out hot and doing a nose dive. I think we have a lot to build on. Says a lot about the coaches and players for not throwing in the towel !!!

  36. By Chuck 1 on Dec 18, 2011 | Reply

    John from Oz,

    I don’t recall Whiz, any of his coaching staff or the players saying that he/they are, or will be, “proud” of a .500 season record.

    HOWEVER, when the Cards begin the season 1-6, anyone with an ounce of common sense should be “proud” that they can rebound and finish with a .500 (or better?) record.

  37. By Soares20 on Dec 18, 2011 | Reply

    Wow John from Oz,

    Try to be a little more pessimistic won’t you? All of us fans are happy that we could be 7-7 after today after starting 1-6 you do realize we could be 2-12 right now? try being happy for this team looking at where we were like a fan should be.

  38. By Nick Pepe on Dec 18, 2011 | Reply

    I’m sorry cardsalltheway, did you say something?

    7-7 never felt so good.

  39. By clssylssy on Dec 18, 2011 | Reply

    I always wonder why so many 9ers fans hang out in the Cardinal War Room and do nothing but talk trash…kinda like John from Oz. Careful…somebody could drop a house on you…or, you could go back to 9er land:)

  40. By JohnfromOz on Dec 20, 2011 | Reply

    What is a”9ers fan”? I don’t speak this language – I speak good old Aussie English!
    Still think that a 50/50 record is mediocre no matter how well a team comes back during a season. The ONLY reason a team plays is to win a Grand Final (Superbowl) – getting close to playoffs or even reaching playoffs and failing are still failures. Being happy about a good end to the season is accepting less than the best.
    I followed the cards for only one reason – Ben Graham was Captain of my Aussie Rules team the mighty Geelong Cats (the team which, incidentally, won the Premiership in 2007, 2009 and 2011 and was runner up in 2008). The Cats have had a winning percentage of over 80% over the past four years, and still seek improvement. Being a very good team, they find a way to maintain a high winning percentage. They do not celebrate mediocrity.
    Coaches in the elite Aussie Rules competition have been shown the door after a 50/50 season. In some cases this happens even if they have had a successful record for a number of years. We do not tolerate mediocre performances nor celebrate them. The Cardinals should do the same – expect and demand excellence at all times without excuses. If excellence is not the norm, the coach goes – simple! He selects his players, he calls the plays and runs the team when it is on the park.

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