A new role for A-Dub

Posted by Darren Urban on November 20, 2012 – 10:34 am

Back when training camp opened, before the players had even settled into their dorms, Pro Bowl strong safety Adrian Wilson was the story after agreeing to restructure his contract and taking a paycut. Such was the price to stick around the Cardinals, and that was something that was very important to Wilson. “I’m in it for the legacy,” he said. Flash forward to this past week, when Wilson — who had played all but one of the 542 defensive snaps the Cardinals had his first eight games of the season (he didn’t play in the Philadelphia game because of an ankle injury) — was taken out of certain packages.

The coaches decided to use Rashad Johnson and James Sanders, the duo that had replaced Wilson and did pretty well in that Eagles game, in nickel-type packages. Wilson still played the majority of the game, finishing up playing 41 of the Cards’ 73 defensive snaps in Atlanta (and celebrating William Gay’s interception, pictured below.) Sanders played just 17 snaps, Johnson a mere 12. But it was Johnson who noticeably was the starter in the game because the Cards opened in the nickel and that got even more attention when Johnson grabbed a tipped pass on the game’s first play for an interception.

The explanation for Wilson’s demotion was simple and not specific for coach Ken Whisenhunt. Whiz noted after the game the move “worked pretty well,” adding “It was consistent with our message to the team and I think our team rallied behind that.” Monday, Whiz complemented Wilson’s ability to deal with the change. “It’s never easy, but Adrian’s a real pro and he handled it well.” Whisenhunt praised the play of Johnson and Sanders against the Eagles, and also against the Falcons. “We’re trying to win games,” Whisenhunt said. “We’re trying to get better and those guys played well (in Atlanta).”

(Defensive coordinator Ray Horton doesn’t talk until Fridays and I’m sure the question will be raised about Wilson’s role then.)

As for Wilson, he has handled it well. He doesn’t have much to say about it, saying only “That’s a head coach question” when asked about the move. But it’s not like he is snapping at reporters trying to ask. Is he happy? I’m sure not. A-Dub is a proud man. He’s never been shy to criticize himself when playing poorly but that doesn’t mean he is OK with it or even that he agrees all the time that he is playing poorly. He certainly wants to be on the field as much as he can (Wilson played the most defensive snaps in the NFL last season.) This situation is a little more difficult, since his new restructured deal includes incentives that are, by definition, harder to reach if he is playing less. With the way the defense performed, I don’t expect the Cards to change back, at least not this week.

Yet I can’t see Wilson doing anything but making it work. “I can’t put my heart into another team like I have this team,” he said in July, and that investment is more than a decade in the making.

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47 Responses to “A new role for A-Dub”

  1. By Edgar on Nov 20, 2012 | Reply

    Hey Darren I know its a little early to talk about the draft since we have a lot a ball to play still, but lets say we have a top 10 pick do you see us going after Geno, Matt, or Luke Joeckel? I feel like its a tough decision either way cause we need a QB, but we need people to block for that QB whats your opinion?

  2. By Darren Urban on Nov 20, 2012 | Reply

    Edgar —

    RE: Draft

    I don’t even look at potential draftees until the combine. My opinion doesn’t mean much. There is a lot that happens before the draft, including free agency. That makes an impact.

  3. By Patches O'Houlihan on Nov 20, 2012 | Reply

    If Wilson is puzzled in any way about his circumstances, I suggest showing him that play from the Green Bay game where he “attempted” a tackle on the two yard line with his (I believe) left forearm. Wilson is right up there with Lord Fitz as being untouchable for criticism for much of the fan base, but in reality what happened in the Green Bay game has been standard issue Wilson for quite a while. Eschewing the fundamentals in search of the highlight reel. And with new and improved Whis it’s all about accountability right? So yo, Adrian! You’re finally being held accountable.

  4. By NYCardinals212 on Nov 20, 2012 | Reply

    It takes a strong character to handle a decision like this, but I believe it is that exact same foundation that will allow Adrian Wilson to succeed in this role (temporarily or not). It was a bold move that I think will make Wilson even better. Go ahead and tell him he CAN”T . . .

  5. By SteveG on Nov 20, 2012 | Reply

    AW’s play on the field is not the only reason he is so deeply respected by everyone.

    A true professional in all aspects of his career….AND a straight up stud!

  6. By Sharon smith on Nov 20, 2012 | Reply

    I have worn number 24 since he joined the Cards and I will continue to wear it long after he retires. I admire him for his passion and love of the game

  7. By Scharf on Nov 20, 2012 | Reply


    Does Rashad look like the type of player that could take over for A-Dub after retirement? And also, is there any word on how Kolb is doing? I really would like to see him, he looks to be our only hope to get this offense going unless Lindley steps up big.


  8. By Darren Urban on Nov 20, 2012 | Reply

    Scharf —

    RE: Rashad Johnson

    He is in his fourth year, and I’m not sure he has flashed that much. I think the future is very much up in the air there.

    As for Kolb, wrote about it yesterday:

  9. By Kurt on Nov 20, 2012 | Reply

    Adrian Wilson is a true class act.

  10. By MIKE G on Nov 20, 2012 | Reply

    Hey Darren–Hope u r well!–I think the defense is solid right now getting contributions from everyone. Sanders and Johnson have played pretty well. It is always good to have depth and that takes a little heat off of Adrian so he doesnt have to play as many snaps. Adrian is getting up there in years. Pretty smart move if you ask me. I think Peterson has been the one defensive player who has struggled somewhat. I think he is pressing on his punt returns and it is affecting his cornerback play. I think if he takes one to the house–his confidence will bolster. Hey Darren–I think the Card’s D has been solid–is there any player in your eyes that has underachieved to you after 10 games?????

  11. By Darren Urban on Nov 20, 2012 | Reply

    Mike G –

    RE: Defenders

    I don’t know if I’d say underachieved. I think they hoped William Gay would be a little more effective.

  12. By rdixon50 on Nov 20, 2012 | Reply

    “It’s never easy, but Adrian’s a real pro and he handled it well.” Change Adrian to Ken and that’s what Michael B. needs to say at the end of the year

  13. By Rugbymuffin on Nov 20, 2012 | Reply

    My favorite Cardinal player.

    For more about how he handles himself as a man, and less about what he does on the field.

    I cannot imagine how the team is “better” without Wilson on the field.

    I can care less what Whiz has to say about the situation, but I am really interested in what Ray Horton has to say about the situation.

    Regardless, Wilson will always have my respect, and regardless of the end result, I would have him on the field as much as possible.

    I should note I am happy with how Sanders is playing, and how Rashad Johnson is progressing.

  14. By Louisville Card on Nov 20, 2012 | Reply

    Nice explanation of the situation Darren. If AW misses his incentives what does that do for their cap this year and does that effect their cap for next season?

  15. By Darren Urban on Nov 20, 2012 | Reply

    Louisville —

    RE: Cap space

    That I do not know.

  16. By Brazilian Fan on Nov 20, 2012 | Reply

    yeah, Darren… I was talking Wilson in the other post… and it’s pretty puzzling, because we know that maybe 30 or 31 teams would swap their starting SS for Wilson. well, I’ll wait for Horton to speak and hope he gets into more specifics to try to understand…

  17. By sarah on Nov 20, 2012 | Reply

    Wilson is a straight up leader and stand up guy, one bad tackle attempt should not be his downfall .

  18. By brom on Nov 20, 2012 | Reply

    A-Dub is still very much needed on the Defense but there’s a positive way to look at this. Yes, his incentives will be affected but his longivity might also be extended. Giving more guys the opportunities to participate creates more diversity. You’re also more prepared to keep moving forward when injuries occur. Resting guys in tough battles also come into play.Whatever Horton’s reasons are, I think it improved the D and it would be hard to argue against it right now. Knowing A-Dub, this will only make him that much meaner with his opportunities.

  19. By beardinals on Nov 20, 2012 | Reply

    Not to mention that his body will hold up longer with fewer snaps played. Unfortunately, the money seems to be a big factor.

  20. By Eazy E on Nov 20, 2012 | Reply

    This is so stupid. Watch him have a big game against st. louie.

  21. By Supercardinals100 on Nov 20, 2012 | Reply

    I think the person that needs to be left out is lenon he is a liability in pass coverage as we saw in the packer game we need to draft a inside linebacker maybe in the 3round or via trade to pair up with Washington Wilson is a pro he will get it done no need to take him out completely I think if he was being kinda lazy in pass coverage I think he learned his lesson and will comeback string because let’s not forget he had a great coverage year last year so we know he can get it done its just a matter of heart and we knw he has it

  22. By Scharf on Nov 20, 2012 | Reply


    Thanks again! and sorry about that, you did say something on Kolb. My bad!

  23. By erik on Nov 20, 2012 | Reply

    He puts his heart into the team and this is how he is repayed. Sanders played well but Johnson sucks. That tip int was a fluke. Wilson is a baller and deserves better.

  24. By Mickey Smith on Nov 20, 2012 | Reply

    Wilson is a class act as noted above. He has been a consistent bright spot for a long time. I am looking forward to his return. I wonder if all of that “accountability” can be pinned to ownership, clock management as well. Hurry back #24.

  25. By Kevin on Nov 20, 2012 | Reply

    I think AW is a baller. I have seen him get beat in pass coverage on occasion . I have seen him blow people the f!@@#%% up too. Whats wrong with rotating your safeties to keep them fresh. The Defensive line does it. As long as he plays the majority of the snaps.

  26. By Greg L on Nov 20, 2012 | Reply

    People who want Ken Whisenhunt fired are crazy. He is the best coach the Cardinals have had in thirty years. He provides much needed stability to a franchise that had lacked it for years before his arrival. People forget how bad the Cardinals were prior to 2007. There wasn’t anger; there was apathy. No one cared. The only real shortcoming I see with Coach Whisenthunt is holding people accountable. And I think he is working on that. To fire Ken Whisenhunt would be a major mistake.

  27. By Charles on Nov 20, 2012 | Reply

    Whiz should be sending royalties to warner, it’s the only reason he has a good record/job.

  28. By DanishCard on Nov 21, 2012 | Reply

    I think Warner has a lot to thank Whiz for too. It works both ways and Warner would not have been on his way to HOF if he Whiz had not belieced in him.

  29. By ismael on Nov 20, 2012 | Reply

    let me start off by saying A-dub is my favorite defensive player and has been since i can remember. wilson will not be playing for ever and we have to invest in his replacement because we don want his replacement to be someone who has gotten used to the defensive scheme. it really sucks to see him lose playing time because he has had some pro-bowl plays this year but its whats best for the future. darren who will be the starting RB for the rams game since the hyphen had a good game in ATL?

  30. By Darren Urban on Nov 20, 2012 | Reply

    Ismael —

    RE: RB start

    I expect Beanie, but you never know.

  31. By ismael on Nov 20, 2012 | Reply

    Sorry, we want someone who is used to the defensive scheme what we dont want is Someone who is fresh to it

  32. By mike hadzinski on Nov 20, 2012 | Reply

    Wow i was 16 when we drafted him 27 now I think his 1st tackle Showed us what we had in store Hell i have it tapped on Vhs Cards vs Broncos sunday nite football after 9/11 Denver took kickoff like 92 yards 2 get Chased down by A-dub Darren you think you might be able 2 digg that clip up

  33. By mike hadzinski on Nov 20, 2012 | Reply

    Larry 1 catch 11 yards =22million tell me why the O-line has no help ?????? he been around people who made him without them he a Shell of his former self he never cheers get’s in people faces LIKE A LEADER SHOULD BE DO What’s Best 4 MY TEAM RESTRUCTURE OR GET TRADED 4 Picks and 100 mill.. My TEAM CAN’T OFFER BIG CONTRACTS BE HE IS A THE MAJORITY OF THE CAP THE TEAM SUFFERS UNTIL HE IS GONE HERE BEST IN THE WORLD……….. C.M.

  34. By Dre on Nov 20, 2012 | Reply

    Yeah he will be back on the field on straight kill mode what are they going to do when the rams do the same thing as last game. All they did is run run run all over the place on us. We need aw out there to set the tone on d you really think rj and sanders going to lower the shoulder on jackson get out here. There not going to throw the ball on us last game five passes completed.

  35. By Rio on Nov 20, 2012 | Reply

    Cardinal Player’s be the Ball.

  36. By Sabot on Nov 20, 2012 | Reply

    For several years, AW (and then later, Boldin) were the only reasons to watch the Redbirds. Total class act. I look forward to seeing his name on the ROH.

  37. By Sabot on Nov 20, 2012 | Reply

    Oh yeah….Happy Thanksgiving, Cardinals and Cardinals Fans…You too, Darren!

  38. By georgiebird on Nov 20, 2012 | Reply

    Very confused about the AW demotion. Since we have an All-World DC, was AW’s demotion the result of:
    1) 100% Ray Horton input and 0% Whiz input
    2) 100% Whiz input and 0% Horton input
    3) Whiz and Horton acting together agreeing on AW’s demotion
    4) A conflict with Whiz for the demotion and Horton against the demotion.

    AW should have been demoted a long time ago. His ProBowl appearances are more the result of name recognition than his ability to defend a pass. Now that AW has started to miss tackles the demotion became overdue.
    With AW failing and Rhodes being ordinary and PP and Schofield still learning and Gay being fair and Dan Williams and Lenon being marginal and Dockett playing out of position- How is this any more than an ok defense? Go ask Danny Amendola

  39. By DanishCard on Nov 21, 2012 | Reply

    Yeah it was the defense on sunday…

  40. By al beckett on Nov 20, 2012 | Reply

    On monday nite we saw why the 49ers will continue to dominate the western division for the next 10 yrs a second round draft choice at qb kopernick, that looked better than any qb whisihunt has picked the last 3 yrs.As a matter of fact light yrs better why not hire a consultant to go choose the next guy. Ron Jaworski or jon Gruden we don’t have anyone that can pick em. very depressing

  41. By rdixon50 on Nov 21, 2012 | Reply

    Whiz’s record 2007 8-8, 2008 12-8, 2009 11-7. Those were the years with Kurt – totals 31-23. 2010 5-11, 2011, 8-8, 2012 4-6 so far – totals without Kurt 17-23. Extend that 42% winning rate thru a 16 game schedule equals between 6-10 and 7-9 most years. The offensive ineptitude will like continue for the next few years due to time needed to rebuild the OL. Maybe 2016 we’ll see a winning record again, regardless of the coach.

  42. By Kevin S on Nov 21, 2012 | Reply

    Mike Hadzinksi —

    It’s hard to read your rambling but I think you are saying, among other things, that Fitz never cheers? Are you serious? In preseason games whenever they cut to the sideline one of the things you see is Fitz (long since out of the game) clapping on the backs of guys coming off the field for making a play… and these are guys who probably aren’t even going to make the team. Who was the Cardinal sprinting down the sideline when James Sanders ran back a fumble 93 yards vs. the Eagles earlier this year, and the first to greet him in the end zone? When Roberts or LSH or anyone makes a big play Fitz is always running over. If you want to limit your comments to Fitz’s production vs. his salary, or if like some people you think he should be traded as part of a rebuilding process (which is asinine, but I can at least understand the sentiment), then OK, but there isn’t much point in reading anything you have to say if you don’t realize that Fitz is probably the most supportive guy on our team.

  43. By Jesus on Nov 21, 2012 | Reply

    offense stinks, play calling sucks, o-line can’t block, changes need to be made.

    oh wait! changes were made to the defensive side of the ball.

    time for whiz to go, i seen enough.

    oh yeah and bench the QB woth a 10 point lead, for a guy who didn’t do much better.

    if bennie can’t move the ball, what is next bench Dockett?

    bye whiz,

  44. By MIKE HADZINSKI C.M. PUNK on Nov 21, 2012 | Reply

    plain and simple FITZGERALD IS OVERATED FOR 100MILLIN LOL 1 CATCH 11 YARDS GARBAGE WHAT ABOUT WHEN HE RAN OFF THE FIELD DURING A FUMBLE RIGHT IN FRONT OF HIM? HE’S NOT WORTH it.. he hasn’t done crap this year but hurt the team b/c of how much we pay him we cannot upgrade the line if fitz and kolb make 150 mill combine 1 positon will struggle and it was the line they thought they could mask it b/c of grimm well guess what didn’t happend and now were left with what a 6 game loseing streak… and the passing game is worse than the 99-00 season so imo he’s not worth 100mill you mad b/c of it sorry for spelling though ps3 a little slow …

  45. By Robert F on Nov 21, 2012 | Reply

    AW should not be surprised by being subbed out on passing downs. His coverage has been lacking for a few seasons now. He has dropped fundamentals in exchange for big hits/highlights. He has also battled bulk. AW is also a workout warrior who could easily carry 245lbs on his frame. He fights to keep his body weight down to keep his quickness. He has definitely lost 2 steps. The Cowboys had this problem too when Allpro SS Bill Bates appeared to be at his career end. They had Bates put on 18 very natural pounds to 242 & he became an amazing hybrid DB/LB(the 4th LB in one of the 1st NFL 3-4s) for 3 more seasons, playing 70% of snaps & Captaining Special teams in his final year. AW is ten times the athlete BB was, Aw at 240-245 would be the next Charles Haley. AW is a outstanding player & leader, but in coverage against WRs(and faster TEs) he is a easy mark. It kills me to say this, but we could follow the Cowboys example.

  46. By john the draft guy on Nov 21, 2012 | Reply

    with rhodes, johnson, and sanders all being free agents at the end of the year, do you think that has anything to do with this change?

    I’m guessing not. I would think they know what they have already in those guys.

    just a thought.

  47. By dieselbomb on Nov 21, 2012 | Reply

    Immediately upon putting Whisenhunt (with Grimm and Miller) into Free Agency, the team will begin to improve dramatcially.

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