Friday before the Rams

Posted by Darren Urban on September 6, 2013 – 4:23 pm

First year with a new coach, tough division, players still getting comfortable with schemes. Maybe, just maybe, as the Cardinals prepare to fly to St. Louis tomorrow for the season opener against the Rams, a little patience is called for.

“No,” Bruce Arians very bluntly put it. “There’s no patience. I have no patience.”

If the Cardinals believe anything, it is that. Waiting around for success, or to build up to it, makes no sense to plenty of people, including the head coach. “Those days of building for the future in the NFL, I see them as gone,” Arians added.

When you put together the veterans like the Cardinals have, holdovers like Larry Fitzgerald and Darnell Dockett and Calais Campbell and mix in guys like Carson Palmer and Karlos Dansby and Yeremiah Bell, no one wants to talk about down the road. That’s what makes this season so interesting. I’ve seen some pundits picking the Cards to have a three-win season, in large part because of the division they play within. I’ve seen many picking the Cards to have nine or 10 wins and sneak into the playoffs. If there is another team whose potential season holds with it such a wide berth, I’d like to see it.

It’s good the Cardinals open in the division, but against the Rams. There’s a certain symmetry to it. The Cards have, over the last decade, had their most road success in St. Louis. The Edward Jones Dome is also where the Cards’ season went off the rails last year, their first loss in what turned out to be a string of many.

So it’s time to start anew, with a new staff, a new offense, a (slightly) new defensive scheme, a new quarterback, a ton of new players and a new optimism.

“It’s win now,” Arians said. “Too many teams have done it, I’ve been around teams that have done it, and there’s no reason why you couldn’t get it done.”

Sounds like a pregame speech to me.

— This is Arians’ offense, but offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin has his role too. Arians is obviously the playcaller, but “leading up throughout the week a lot is on my shoulders,” Goodwin said. “So far, so good.” Goodwin, however, still focuses on coaching the line, which has always been his primary job in his coaching career.

“At the end of the day, in my belly, I’m still a line coach,” Goodwin said.

— The rumblings that Nate Potter would be tried at guard came as far back as the start of Arians’ first minicamp before the draft. But Potter didn’t get any work there until this week, when it became necessary. And it becoming necessary is why it took so long.

“We didn’t expect Coop to get hurt,” Goodwin said of the out-for-the-season guard. “That threw a monkey wrench into a lot of things.”

— Potter has gotten enough work at guard that he could play there Sunday if someone were to get hurt, Goodwin added. That means Potter will be in the mix to be active. All along, Arians has said he will have seven linemen active for the game, but he wouldn’t commit to that number Friday.

Good story from Jim Trotter about Arians, based around the anecdote about how close he came to cutting Robert Gill this summer after Gill accidently hurt Patrick Peterson during a practice. I didn’t know Gill might be cut, but I saw the play and I remember thinking that’s not a good thing for a guy trying to fight his way on to the roster. The day before, Peterson had made a one-handed interception over Gill on the same play. The next day, the ball was well overthrown Gill, Peterson was beyond him, and Peterson gathered in the interception over his shoulder. In the same motion, Gill leaped to tackle him, dragging him down from behind.

It was scary, with Peterson down on the ground for what probably seemed like longer than it was. You don’t want your Pro Bowl corner getting a major injury in May. Needless to say, Peterson ended up OK. Gill stuck around (only to be cut later). But those are the kind of plays that make coaches hold their breath every offseason (and practice and OTA and anytime their players step off a curb.)

— How much will we see Peterson on offense? “I can’t tell you that,” Goodwin said with a smile. “He’ll be in there some.” I’m looking forward to seeing Peterson in that role.

— Maybe it’s because everyone has been factoring it into the equation so long, but it seems like the absence of Daryl Washington has been under the radar. His suspension will hurt. Rules let Washington be at the facility and be around the team, but no practice, and no games.

— Peterson is anxious not to play offense or defense, but to get a shot at punt returns again. He clearly isn’t happy – nor should he be – after what he went through returning punts last season. He wants to get back to 2011 levels.

— There has been some speculation that the Rams, adding Tavon Austin and with Chris Givens, etc., might start throwing the ball a lot more often. That would be against everything coach Jeff Fisher has done in his career, and because of that, veteran safety Yeremiah Bell doesn’t see it.

“For the most part, coach Fisher is coach Fisher,” Bell said. “Once you are a coach in this league a long time and you kind of do things your own way, you are set in that. I wouldn’t go out on a limb and say he’s going to stray from anything he’s done in the past.”

— Larry Fitzgerald isn’t going to predict anything for himself, but you know the wide receiver wants to get back to his pre-2012 lofty heights. I expect he will.

“Last year is last year,” Fitzgerald said. “I put that to bed. Every year is different. When you see things in the rear view mirror, you can’t see what’s in front of you. Obviously I am aware of what happened last year and I don’t ever want to repeat last year, but moving forward I have to focus on what’s asked of me.”

That’s usually at least 1,200 yards and double-digit TDs. Anything short of that? Hey, we have no patience for that.

On to St. Louis.



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Posted in Blog | 17 Comments »

17 Responses to “Friday before the Rams”

  1. By Wnycardfan on Sep 6, 2013 | Reply

    I love Arians attitude. I hope that he is what he seems. Leadership is critical, whether winning or losing, so whatever happens I believe cards are in better. Hands. That. Being said, I have high hopes this season that they can be competitive even if they are losing, something we haven’t seen in about 3 years. That and being more balanced on offense and defense. Go Cards!

  2. By ored on Sep 6, 2013 | Reply

    being opportunistic and playing hard the whole game will pay big dividends,so glad there is a focus on turnovers and points allowed.

  3. By Steve on Sep 6, 2013 | Reply

    Darren: I cant wait to see how Tyrann Mathieu matches up with Tavon Austin in the slot. I think they are going to have quite a battle. Will be fun to watch!

  4. By Dr. G. on Sep 6, 2013 | Reply

    In a previous post, I presented the case for immediate success for the Cards. I am estimating from memory what I calculated to be something like 6.3 years experience for the starters, and 2.3 years for the second string players. This was what I thought to be a great strategy for immediate success while building for the future. THERE IS NO REBUILDING IN THE NFL… ANY COACH WHO BELIEVES THIS IS STARTING A BUNCH OF ROOKIES OR PLAYERS WITH LITTLE EXPERIENCE. BA is on the right track….NOW IS THE TIME TO GIT-ER-DONE! Go Birds…..

  5. By Dr. G. on Sep 6, 2013 | Reply

    Here’s a funny thought… but not so funny if it happens. Do you remember the history of Wrong-Way-Corrigan? He was the guy with a navigational problem… I just hope that when Peterson makes a play on offense that he will remember to run the right direction!!! He is such a great instinctive athlete….. Be well fans….

  6. By jtputzy on Sep 6, 2013 | Reply

    I have a gut feeling HB and PP end competing in hard fun (but serious) about kick/punt returns as well as QB picks and they are going to be stupid INSANE with takeaways. My guess at least 5 a piece 10 combined…. maybe more between the two studs. Best friends and best competitors. You heard it here! GO CARDS!!

  7. By NJAzCardsFan on Sep 7, 2013 | Reply

    After watching the Cards in the preseason I am cautiously optimistic about this team and the season.
    With a “real” QB this year, how the offense will go is all based on the performance of the OL. If Palmer has time to throw the Cards who have the best WR corp in the NFC West should do well.

    It is really amazing on the lack of press from ESPN, NFL Network etc about the Cards this year….. I hope BA and the Cards stick to them all this year by having a winning season!

  8. By Peter in Canada on Sep 7, 2013 | Reply

    I have been away for most of the pre season, not seeing anything after the Dallas game. From what I saw the defence was great but the offence needed work. We are in a tough division but will do well if the offence is ready.

  9. By mal on Sep 7, 2013 | Reply

    Everybody is picking the Rams to win this game, but I think nobody knows what the heck this Cards team will be. Like Darren says, expert predictions for this season run from 3-13 to 10-6, which is really unusual.

    There’s much reason to be optimistic, but its a tough division. I watched both Seattle and 9er pre-season games, and I hate ’em just like you do, but they looked really solid, especially Seattle.

    In our pre-season, we were all over the place — some great play, and some major mental f-ups. What gave me the most hope from our pre-season (besides all our new play-makers) was that I saw good coaching, and FINALLY we have a little bit of depth. You could see it in how our second teams played.

    It seems like Cards teams never had any depth, even the few years we were good. Its what all good teams have, and thats what will take Keim the longest to build. Yeah, even at starter we have big need at certain positions, and we’re real thin elsewhere, but its still much improved compared to the past.

    I believe good coaching is as important as good talent. Players have told me at least 75% of the game is mental, so with BA and staff, I’m really hopeful. This could be one of those last-to-first kind of teams that shocks everybody. But nobody knows what this team will do. So until somebody proves it wrong, I’ll go with a 10-6 season.

  10. By rod on Sep 7, 2013 | Reply

    Me too, 10-6 baby !!

  11. By J on Sep 7, 2013 | Reply

    I can’t wait til tomorrow !!!

    I’m so tired of hearing about the 48ers or is it the fourtyNoners ? & the SeaChickens & the St. Louis Sheeeep…

    The Arizona Cardinals WILL WIN the Division this year …period…….

    Carson to Fitz = Touchdown !!!

  12. By clssylssy on Sep 7, 2013 | Reply

    After watching Denver, it only reaffirmed my belief in the importance of having good TEs, which, I see is a MAJOR weakness with the Cards. Also, our pass rush,,, if we have one, it’s invisible and, we need to be able to convert and make those TDs instead of always having to settle for FG attempts. People talk about what a good defense we have but I’ve yet to see it so far this year which makes me nervous. Injuries happen and can be the swan song of any good team as was the case for the Colts a few years ago– it always makes me a little nervous when enthusiastic fans and coaches become a little too bragadocious prematurely. Humility is a virtue and Pride one of the seven deadly sins; historically overconfidence has always been the Cards undoing. This is a new year and I’m hoping BA can deliver everthing he’s promised but like many of the national news media I take the stance that actions talk and hot air (or whatever) walks. We have talentso lets prove we are a team to be noticed! GO CARDS!

  13. By Chuck 1 on Sep 7, 2013 | Reply

    The MAIN key to success in this game: the O-line keeping Palmer clean.
    If Goodwin and BA don’t have a scheme to help Brown, it could very easily be a long afternoon.

  14. By Scott H on Sep 7, 2013 | Reply

    I REALLY do like BA and his win-now attitude. OK. And he has insisted that this team is re-loading, NOT re-building. he does not want to hear that word. OK to that as well. Well, if you are not re-building, then – by definition – you are saying that you are ready to compete now. Well, then…if all of that is accurate, then it is NOT acceptable to lose to the Rams tomorrow. Some of this is repetitive ‘ cause I touched on this in a previous post. But this is a much-improved division rival and one that walked all over you TWICE last year. The Rams also have to be considered the closest team ( in the division ) to the Cardinals in terms of competetiveness, because until proven otherwise, Seattle and San Fran appear to be operatiing at a whole different level right now ( as evidenced by where those teams were at the end of last season and the fact that they are consensus picks to go to the SB from the NFC this year ).

    Therefore, the Cardinals MUST win this game tomorrow if they are to be taken seriously at all. Successful seasons start by winning games in your own division, period. And the division mate you are playing tomorrow appears to be the most beatable division mate you are gonna see this year. So…win this game.

  15. By Darren Urban on Sep 8, 2013 | Reply

    Scott H –

    RE: winning opener

    I won’t deny winning the opener is a good thing. But the Seahawks lost their opener last year. The season doesn’t end — nor would the Cards be ignored– with one loss. How the game plays out makes a difference.

  16. By Nick Pepe on Sep 8, 2013 | Reply

    New year, new era. I’m off the charts excited about this football team and the season ahead. I truly believe good things are going to happen under this coach. Why not now? Why not us?

    Interested to see how aggressive the defense plays. I think we know the offense is going to take their share of shots down the field.

    Off to catch my nephews game (he’s wearing one of my old #’s) then it’s BirdGang game time baby!!!!

    The most wonderful time of the year !

    Nick Pepe
    Lifetime Member

  17. By Will on Sep 8, 2013 | Reply

    Cards have chance this year

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