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Life without Levi

Posted by Darren Urban on August 20, 2012 – 8:24 am

Be careful what you wish for.

It’s hard not to hear that cliché echo when it comes to the loss of left tackle Levi Brown. The drumbeats from the fans to get rid of him over the years — and which reached their peak this spring after he was released, before he was re-signed — have always been steady. The overall opinion of Brown couldn’t have been more different between the team and its fanbase.

Now, because of Brown’s torn triceps, the Cards and their fans will see what life with Levi is really about. As Mike Sando pointed out, Brown has played virtually every offensive snap since 2008 started, whether it was at right or left tackle. Every time Ken Whisenhunt or Russ Grimm have talked about bringing Brown back, they talked about how he was the best out there. Brown isn’t on the verge of a Pro Bowl, and no one ever tried to say as much. But it says something about the left tackle market. I know some have suggested guys like Marcus McNeill or Jeff Otah, but McNeill is reportedly retiring because his bad neck won’t let him play and Otah has been traded and then cut because he can’t pass a physical.

(A quick aside: In one of the blog comments, someone suggested the Cards grab Otah even if he can’t pass a physical. I don’t get it. What the point of that?)

What the Cards do going forward will be the subject of a story later today. But this is about not having Brown. He was durable. He was a vocal leader. He is smart. He has struggled at times much of his career, but he’s a pretty good run blocker and on a team that has quarterback issues and the possibility of a pretty good running back tandem, a good run blocker could have been useful.

The Cards will find a next man up. Teams always do, whether the guy is already on the roster or a cut-to-come from another team. But be careful what you wish for? It may be about wishin’ and hopin’ now.


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48 Responses to “Life without Levi”

  1. By BiRdBrAiN1974 on Aug 20, 2012 | Reply

    Really bad news for Levi and the Cards. Good luck with the re-hab and we all look forward to you returning next year to help us defend the division title. Time for someone to step up at left tackle

    Go Cardinals

  2. By YmmyYames on Aug 20, 2012 | Reply

    Great bit, Darren. I have completely abstained from the Levi Brown argument over the years because there are good things I have seen him do. One of them is the durability factor.

    This loss, no doubt, hurts the Cardinals today. I am hoping for a silver lining to show itself sooner rather than later. Also thinking of Brown and hoping he makes a great recovery for the 2013 season. Good luck, Levi!

    Darren, I had the SAME type of discussion with someone regarding Otah and McNeill. I shot both of them down because of reasons you said. McNeill is unlikely to play again and Otah has some rehab to do in order to see the field.

    How abut a player like Veron Carey? I believe he is still available and he too is a decent run blocker. Maybe I’m just thinking about a body more than a skillful replacement, but if I were looking at free agents, I would start with evaluating him.

  3. By Darren Urban on Aug 20, 2012 | Reply

    Ymmy —

    RE: FAs

    I’m sure they will look at every possible option.

  4. By Nick Pepe on Aug 20, 2012 | Reply

    Sometimes, when you least expect, someone shines. If someone where to come in and shine in Levi’s absence it would be a welcomed surprise, but not a first. See Gehrig, Lou or Brady, Tom……. do I expect someone to fill in and become a Hall of Famer, no… but I think someone can step up and do the job.

    I hope.

    Wishing Levi all the best.

    Nicholas Pepe
    Lifetime Member
    Regulated to Desk Duty due to injury!

  5. By D on Aug 20, 2012 | Reply

    Sounds like they need a healthy J. King attached to whoever plays Left Tackle. Out of all of the existing Olineman on the roster, the one who has played probably with the most success at Left Tackle is DC. (left G). Is the rookie from Washington ready to start at Left G if they need to move DC to Left tackle?
    Wonder if Whiz will adjust playcalling to a power run game with issues at QB and LT?

  6. By Kurt on Aug 20, 2012 | Reply

    If Jeremy Bridges can step up and fill the gapping left tackle vacancy, all may not be lost. Marginal left tackles will be on the trading block from other teams. I wonder how long it would take Calais to learn a new position…?

  7. By don w. on Aug 20, 2012 | Reply

    time to contact Chad Clifton!

  8. By Jesse Robles on Aug 20, 2012 | Reply

    It is written like the Fans, and whoever is wanting Levi Brown gone, want him gone now. I think everyone was more trying to get rid of him before they resigned him, not wait til no one is on the Market and he tears his tricep and is out for the year, now lets get rid of Levi, or wait until the offseason is over. Someone needs to step up! Lets go REd Sea

  9. By wampag on Aug 20, 2012 | Reply

    what about Shawne Merriman?

  10. By Ben on Aug 20, 2012 | Reply

    I miss Levi

  11. By C on Aug 20, 2012 | Reply

    Man, I hadn’t read a “careful what you wish for” op-ed on Levi Brown yet. This is a complete cop-out. A nice piece would be on Russ Grimm, who basically threw a tantrum advising that Brown was the best tackle he’d seen in forever and that he could make him an every year All Pro… and now here we are. If you ever want to make yourself sick, go look at the 2007 draft (yes, Adrian Peterson was there at 5, but there were technically 3 or 4 better tackles on the board as well).

    Grimm has gone from a guy who was one of the first phone calls made when there was a head coaching opportunity open, to a guy who can’t land an OC job, and has been proven to get nothing extra out of an O-line. I think the fan community wished for him to stay back in 2007-08 when he was being considered for a few HC jobs.

    …”careful what you wish for.”

  12. By Darren Urban on Aug 20, 2012 | Reply

    C —

    RE: 2007 draft

    No one is going to argue Peterson could have been the choice.

    But “3 or 4” better tackles on the board? When the 2007 draft took place? Name them — and it has to be without the benefit of hindsight.

  13. By Eric Y on Aug 20, 2012 | Reply

    We’re screwed. It changes the dynamic for this team completely. I was really pulling for Levi to have a decent year. Damn!

  14. By Christo on Aug 20, 2012 | Reply

    The only problem with the “be careful what you wish for” mantra here Darren, is that they should have went a different direction (For me years ago) with another player in mind.

    At this point Whis and Grimm have likely been caught with their pants down. For me I hope they reap what they have sown, and yes I realize that likely means a terrible season.

    I can live with that for stability at the QB position and a long overdue OL shake up.

    13 and 19 Cardinal fans, this is the real Whis, this is our reality.

  15. By BIG RED on Aug 20, 2012 | Reply

    Wish you a quick and healthy recovery Mr. Levi Brown. This is the time when someone that really wants to be on the time must step up to the plate and do there job, like its the last thing you’ll ever do.

  16. By Marcelof on Aug 20, 2012 | Reply

    If we were needing a tough QB, now we’re gonna need an even tougher one

  17. By D on Aug 20, 2012 | Reply

    Does no good looking back at prior drafts now, going forward is what counts which means the next draft the QB and OT needs to be addressed. If Massie doesn’t work at Right Tackle, they better play him at Right G and draft another Tackle by round 2 next year….(can’t keep relying on Bridges every year as a reserve)

  18. By JohnM on Aug 20, 2012 | Reply

    I pointed out in another forum, that while some people didn’t like Levi, his issues were almost entirely in the passing game, and he was a good run blocker.

    His run blocking is going to be SORELY missed. This is a crippling injury for the Cardinals, aside from Larry Fitzgerald (who is the Franchise) there could have been no more devastating injury to the Offense.

  19. By Rugbymuffin on Aug 20, 2012 | Reply

    “Be careful what you wish for”

    To be fair. Those who had a problem with Levi Brown, wanted him replaced. This is not what anyone wished for, and it is unfair to try and stick in everyone’s faces who opposed Levi Brown at LT, when in fact this is NOT what they wanted.

    We wanted a new, better player to replace Brown.

    The Cardinals didn’t replace Brown, didn’t resign him, and signed no other OT’s when the opportunity presented itself in free agency. So who was wishing here ?

    So, people can wrongfully taunt people who, dare do against the omnipotent Cardinals front office, but you are using a injury to justify you are right about something you are falsely portraying.

    Nice. Real classy on a bunch of levels. Nice to see a “I told you so” on the official page of the team, that is wrongly protraying its fans.

  20. By Nick Pepe on Aug 20, 2012 | Reply

    So they should have signed Demetrius Bell? Who just got demoted by TE Eagles for human turnstile King Dunlap??

  21. By RelayTV on Aug 20, 2012 | Reply

    Darren…

    You’re venting on the fans because they want our O-Line to improve…

    Really?

    The tone of this article is almost… Snide.

    I, for one, have never, ever said anything about the Levi Brown saga. I have no hatred towards him, and I since I never played the position, I can only rely on the opinions of experts to guide me in evaluating his performance.

    But I, like many, have been unhappy with our O-line’s production for several years.

    Levi Brown may or may not be part of the problem, but I hated seeing our QB’s rack up sack after sack, and concussion ofter concussion, because none of our guys seemed like they could block 1-on-1.

    And since LT is the 2nd most important position in the NFL, the fact remains that if we have nobody on a 90 MAN ROSTER who is qualified to fill Levi’s spot, then Whiz, Grimm and company have let us down.

    Again.

    Nobody to take over after Warner retired. Nobody to fill Haley’s shoes. Nobody to step in for an injured Levi brown.

    Why can our Cardinals re-load so well on defense and so poorly on offense?

    We are always seeing new, young stars emerge on defense (Acho, Scho, Bethel, PP, etc.) Who is our emerging star on the O-line…?

    Anybody? Bueller?

    I was hoping our draft pick Bobby Massie would be that guy, but you and the coaches have done nothing but attempt to lower our expectations of him since he reported to camp.

    Quote “– Jeremy Bridges is the No. 1 right tackle over Bobby Massie, and as I have said many many many times, I expect that to be the case for a while.”

    If we expect improvement from every other part of our team over last season (and I do) then it is not unreasonable to expect our O-line to get better as well.

    Russ Grimm… Time to earn your pay. No more excuses.

  22. By Cactus jeff on Aug 20, 2012 | Reply

    Don
    I saw Chad Clifton at Valley of Sun Nursing Home, he is done. Better chance of Darren recommending Donovan McNabb to be our QB.

  23. By Rio on Aug 20, 2012 | Reply

    DARREN : PLEASE TELL COACH WIZ OR SOMEBODY ON THIS TEAM.
    POWELL IS ANOTHER MATT FORTI OF THE BEARS.

    SOMEONE HAS TO POINT THIS OUT TO OUR CLUELESS COACHING STAFF,
    THEY DON’T KNOW TO COACH QB’S DON’T HOW TO GET THEM REALLY FOR THE SEASON. NEED A LINE COACH, OUR HALL OF FAMER IS SUCH A LOSS WITH THE O LINE, JUST BECAUSE HE WAS A GREAT PLAYER DONT MAKE HIM A COACH. ( ALA MICHAEL JORDAN ).

    DARREN YOU CAN GET THROUGH TO THEM, SOMEONE LIKE ME CAN’T.

  24. By Rugbymuffin on Aug 20, 2012 | Reply

    That all being said.

    I hope Levi Brown a safe, and quick recovery. Even those who wanted him REPLACED realize he is part of this team, and respect what he has done.

    Levi Brown can’t control the front office, or where he plays. He can control his effort, and passion. Those are not questioned by this fan.

    Next man up.

  25. By Briane on Aug 20, 2012 | Reply

    Darren,

    I understand Levi was our best option at left tackle, but that’s still not saying much. I think its time to spread the blame properly – Rod Graves and this front office inability to draft quality O linemen in the 1-3 rounds of the draft over the past several years. The investment or lack of O linemen is going to show this year. DJ Young, Batiste – really? They are not 1st string linemen, its such a gaping hole its almost laughable. Our qb is going to get killed and we don’t have a contingency plan for this, who do you think needs to take the lion share of this blame and what’s our outlook?

  26. By Darren Urban on Aug 20, 2012 | Reply

    Cheese, Rugby —

    RE: Levi

    I have gotten more than a few comments, on the blog and on Twitter, of people saying they are happy Levi is not playing since he got hurt. It wasn’t you guys, but don’t tell me no one is thinking it. That’s not true.

  27. By cheesebeef on Aug 20, 2012 | Reply

    Darren,

    LOL… this is really unfair and complete misrepresents people’s complaints over the years. A lot of people wanted his position upgraded… but no one wished for him to be gone… and then have to deal with his BACKUP who’s proven nothing in this league.

    I mean… I’m still trying to figure out how the plan this year at RT was “Let’s go with the guy who couldn’t beat out last year’s starting RT, who wasn’t good enough for the team this year” and then did nothing to address depth… at EITHER position.

    Careful what you wish for… come on… that is so far from what’s happened here, it’s beyond intellectually dishonest for you to even write it… or think it.

  28. By Dynosoar on Aug 20, 2012 | Reply

    Darren, I like the piece.

    To everyone,

    I wish Levi was not injured. I’d like to see three pre-season games with 16 game regular season. I don’t want to see anyone injured and taking pre-season to two games and shifting to an 18 game season looks to increase injuries.

    As to calling out those who wanted Levi gone, well, some people just like to complain, they’ll find something (or someone) else to blame. Please everyone, life is more enjoyable and productive when we aren’t constantly looking for a scapegoat. I wish politicians would learn this.

    As Cardinal fans, let’s be above the scapegoat mentality. A mediocre team that’s united in vision, purpose and tenacity will beat the “better” team almost every time. And if that team knows their fans are behind them, they’ll have the fortitude to press forward, knowing we’ll support them in their best efforts.

    I know I’m an optimist. I’m behind this team and sometimes a Left Tackle gets beat simply because he can’t be better than the pass rusher every play or that pass rusher would never have been drafted to the NFL.

    The other team has objectives and their players will win some battles and our players will win some. The team that wins the most battles will win most games. It’s not the falt of our players that the opposing team has players who also train and watch video and are skilled at what they do.

    I remember someone that stated “if you live with my falts, I’ll live with yours.” and I can tell you he had fewer falts than me. Instead of looking at the bad in our players, let’s acknowledge the skills of opponents and the skills of our players.

    Sopbox over,
    Chears!

    (Sorry, couldn’t resist the pun, now I’ll wait to see if there’s a tide of responses.)

  29. By Darren Urban on Aug 20, 2012 | Reply

    Briane —

    RE: Contingency

    Well, there is never a good contingency to have a starter go down for the season. That’s why the guy is starting. I’ll have a story up later about Young and the possibilities.

  30. By Dynosoar on Aug 20, 2012 | Reply

    Darren, what’s the record (and by whom) for individual and team
    1. blocked punts
    2. field goal attempts
    3. extra point attempts

    Also, what’s the record for blocked punts and field goal attepmts returned for touchdowns?

    Between Campbel, Peterson and Bethel we may be able to break them all this year. Kickers, be afraid. Be very afraid.

  31. By Darren Urban on Aug 20, 2012 | Reply

    Dyno —

    RE: Records

    I’d have to look all those up. If Bethel does this in the regular season, I will.

  32. By C on Aug 20, 2012 | Reply

    Better Tackles:

    Without hindsight, Joe Staley. With hindsight you can include a couple others (Yanda [and Joe Thomas.. see more below]). The larger issue is that you’ve got position of need all over the place with the Cards in 2006-07. Peterson, Patrick Willis, Darelle Revis, Jon Beason… there are career All Pro players all over that draft and the FO dropped the ball entirely, based upon Grimm’s adamance that Brown was a guy he could turn into a dominant LT.

    I also remember Grimm saying he preferred Levi Brown over Joe Thomas because of Levi’s “mean streak”. Careful what WE wish for? WE wished the FO would UPGRADE the position a long time ago. WE wished (I would say nearly unanimously as a fan base) for Peterson to be drafted. Putting this “careful what you wish for” stuff on the fan base is ridiculous.

  33. By Darren Urban on Aug 20, 2012 | Reply

    C —

    RE: Staley

    That’s not true. Levi Brown was considered the second-best tackle in that draft behind Joe Thomas. Every outlet had that. No one thought Staley was better. Again, you can argue Brown shouldn’t have gone fifth, but not that Staley was considered better. As for those other guys, you can think about Revis, although nobody thought he was going to turn into the best corner in the league.

  34. By Eazy E on Aug 20, 2012 | Reply

    Darren, you we’re way too easy on Levi on this post. While Levi is probably a sizable loss because our line isn’t great right now, Levi has been a bust whether you, Levi’s fans, Coach Whiz, or Russ want to admit it or not. He is above average at run blocking, pass protection he is below average, and I need you to be good at both if your my LT. Pass protection would be more important especially where the league is now, but preferably both. I haven’t heard the McNeill reports with his neck, but if he’s healthy, that guy has to be signed NOW!!! Otah is a RT and maybe not a LT, but I don’t know and he has injuries also. We definitely have to go get somebody because they ain’t on our roster.

  35. By Walter H Richters on Aug 20, 2012 | Reply

    Have any of you ever counted to three kind of slow after the ball is in the QBs hands. Levi usually gives them 3 seconds and several times 6. I would like all you Levi haters to go out there and try to do that just one time.
    I like Levi, and the last half of last season he had a QB that was fighting hard. Levi did too. nuff said.

    GOOD LUCK LEVI, WE ARE GOING TO MISS YOU. Some of ya’ll will have to realize that now, the hard way.

    Whiz, I hope you go ahead and pick John Skelton now. We won’t have any time to play with the skitter with Levi gone.

  36. By smack28 on Aug 20, 2012 | Reply

    I know this story is about Levi, but maybe Whiz needs to turn this negative energy around and announce his starting QB like the Titans and Dolphins have done. Come on, make Skelton the guy and rally around that. Stop this BS. Kolb cannot run this style of offense. He is a good two read college QB at best. Cut him, take the cap hit, and let’s move forward.

  37. By Demwildcats on Aug 20, 2012 | Reply

    Darren, I agree with the basic premise of your article but you have to admit that this situation speaks to a real lack of depth on the team that falls squarely on the shoulders of the front office and coaching staff.

    There are some injuries that just can’t be planned for or overcome – guys like Manning, Peterson, Fitz, Polamalu simply cannot be replaced and their absence will change the nature of their football team. But having your season put in such jeopardy due to an injury to an average player (you are right on – Levi probably doesn’t deserve all the hate but he is far from an all-pro) speaks to really poor planning on the team’s part.

    Would you agree that the team is still suffering from the 2010 offseason that the Cards chose to save money in antipation of a lockout? I can’t fault what we did this offseason given what was available, and last year was a strange situation due to the lockout-shortened free agency period. But while we were saving $30M in the summer of 2010, the Steelers went out and got Flozell Adams and Johnathan Scott, and there was other OT talent like Shawn Andrews and Alex Barron that changed teams as well.

    One bad draft or free agency season can have long-lasting effects, particularly with such parity in the NFL. With the Cards, however, while they’ve done many things of late that should be commended, they have repeated ignored the OT position over multiple years, and this is the (predictable) result.

  38. By Dynosoar on Aug 20, 2012 | Reply

    Darren,

    I’m always hearing about RT vs. LT. Obviously I’m naive in this as I think the two spots are interchangeable, mirror images if you will.

    Why is it so dificult for a RT to play left and visa versa? Thanks. You’d think an old man like me would know this, maybe once I did and I’ve just forgotten.

    Looking forward to your article on Bethel when he breaks the records.

  39. By Darren Urban on Aug 20, 2012 | Reply

    Dyno —

    RE: RT vs LT

    There is a mirror image to a point, but generally, teams tend to run right more often, and generally, the best pash rushers come from the defense’s right side, which is the left side of the offense. So usually left tackle needs to be better in pass protection. Plus for right-handed QBs, left side is the blind side.

  40. By john the draft guy on Aug 20, 2012 | Reply

    Darren and C;

    I have to agree with Darren on this one. Most experts had 2 tackles rated way above everyone else. Brown and Thomas.

    As for Peterson, He was a fan favorite. I think his injury history scared teams.

    If I remember correctly, the Jets loved Revis and traded up to get him. Obviously, they were by themselves on that evaluation.
    But if we want to use hindsight and blast Graves, look at round 2 of 2007. We traded up for Big Alan Branch when we could have had Lamar Woodley.
    Revis in round 1 and Woodley in round 2, I think the 2008 superbowl ends differently.

    Hindsight is a beautiful thing.

  41. By awesomest wilson on Aug 20, 2012 | Reply

    We had a serious oline problem when gandy went down. its never been addressed because there is no confidence the player gets coached up at that tackle spot and the contract size makes it too big a risk. That’s why management allowed young plyers to be traded under whiz.get what they can for untamed drc.whiz keeps fans in the seats until they HAVE to do something.the past excuses of money and stadium gone this is true numbskullery with an eye on roi.there’s a lot of payments due on that staduim still.to think we have no cap space after minn playoff game we had 50 mill.so I don’t blame peyton when the team introduces him to andre whatshis name as his complement to larry.I miss vince tobin dave mac and even josh mac

  42. By az1965 on Aug 20, 2012 | Reply

    He was definitely a good run blocker, however, an awful pass blocker.

    Obviously his loss will be felt since there is not a decent backup on the roster. Now whose fault is that?

    Also, the main problem with the OL is the one guy who is now in the hall of fame… that head should have rolled at least a couple of years ago. He has had FIVE years and the OL is still completely atrocious.

  43. By Steward Badly on Aug 20, 2012 | Reply

    I heard this today on Burns and Gambo show that the Cardinals are one of two teams that haven’t drafted a offensive lineman in the first 3 rounds in the past 5 years. Now that is neglecting the OL. Drafted injury prone Running backs ( wells and williams) to high, beanie well is entering his 4th year and he has been an average player at best, Ryan Williams every time he runs makes me nerves. this year they did it again by drafting WR Floyd and ignoring the OL. I like Massie, Kelemete and the guy from Boise State and I thing is a good start. GO CARDS

  44. By FanSinceJamesHart on Aug 21, 2012 | Reply

    I respect his durability but there seems to be one thing people are missing.
    We don’t need to magically find a pro bowl tackle, we just need someone to step in a play as good as brown.
    That isn’t near the task people aren’t making it out to be and much easier than filling the void left by a pro bowler.
    I know Levi Brown played well down the stretch say the last 6 games or so but that same season also seen the worst games of his career, in my opinion.
    People forget just how bad he played at times last year and I honestly think it won’t be that big of deal.
    We need to replace a average/below average LT, that is all.
    I

  45. By Gary on Aug 22, 2012 | Reply

    Darren. Do you know if the Cards have contacted Chad Clifton yet or any other free agent linemen? Have they talked to any teams about a trade for a LT? I just can’t see us going into the season with anybody we have on the roster at LT.

  46. By Darren Urban on Aug 22, 2012 | Reply

    Gary —

    RE: Clifton

    I do not know right now. Haven’t had a chance to ask anyone yet.

  47. By Eazy E on Aug 23, 2012 | Reply

    Darren-

    Many considered Revis a potential best cb in the league type of talent.

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