Friday before the Lions

Posted by Darren Urban on September 13, 2013 – 3:45 pm

This may be a game between the Cardinals and the Lions, but it feels like in some way, shape or form this week has been about arguably the best two wide receivers in the game (with a little Levi Brown sprinkled in.) Seeing how the Cardinals deal with Calvin Johnson – through Patrick Peterson, of course – was a natural, and then Larry Fitzgerald had to go and tweak his hamstring Wednesday and make his status a big part of the narrative.

The Lions are a better team and more importantly, in a better place, than the group that showed up to University of Phoenix Stadium last December and got pounded, 38-10. Then again, and I think this gets lost, so are the Cardinals. That Cardinals team was floundering on offense (and did so again in that game, mostly, even with the lopsided score) and on a nine-game losing streak. So it’s not like the Cards haven’t moved forward themselves.

It comes down to this: You can’t afford to start 0-2. Not in this division, not with this schedule, not with a team coming cross country to play in your home opener.

“We need a great crowd and the energy that will be there in the stadium,” coach Bruce Arians said. “Hopefully it will ignite us even more. Sometimes you use the opponent’s crowd cheering for them, but it’s nothing like when they are cheering for you.”

— Fitzgerald was asked this week if there are any matchups against a cornerback he relishes like Peterson does going against a guy like Johnson. Fitz said – no doubt knowing exactly what he meant – that it would be Peterson.

“Every day I match up with Patrick is special, in practice,” Fitzgerald said. “I have the benefit of having the top guy in my own locker room.”

We will take him at his word. Fitz did note how Peterson has gotten so much smarter as a cornerback, using safety help to create better leverage and just overall taking a step forward in the mental game when he already had a lot going for him physically. “That’s a deadly, deadly combination,” Fitz said.

— Life on an island against great receivers isn’t easy. But it can’t matter, cornerback Jerraud Powers said. “You know what you are getting into once you play this position,” Powers said. “You know some of the big-time names and guys in the league out there who have proved it, Calvin and Larry, that you know are top-notch. You have to believe in your technique and believe in your ability. They put their shoes on just like they do. You just have to have that type of confidence.”

— Big game for left tackle Levi Brown. It’s one thing to deal with speedster Robert Quinn on the turf. He’ll be back on grass, and the Lions don’t have an edge guy like Quinn. For all the focus on the Peterson-Megatron matchup, everyone knows Brown will be under the microscope too, after last week.

“We have a high expectation for that position and he has to meet that,” said offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Harold Goodwin. “(He needs to) carry over things he does in practice and take it to the game. That’s all he has to do and he’ll be fine.”

— Arians said he thought inside linebackers Jasper Brinkley and Karlos Dansby played “solid” in St. Louis, although he said Brinkley got caught in space a couple of times. gave both good grades against the run but noted their struggles in pass coverage.

— Missed tackles were an issue last week too. “I’m not surprised,” defensive coordinator Todd Bowles said. “Probably disappointed. (The Rams) are a good football team. We just have to tackle better. We had been doing a good job of it, but we didn’t last week.”

— Defensive tackle Darnell Dockett was credited with two tackles and one quarterback pressure last week, according to the coaching staff. Dockett will need to make more of an impact for this defense to really shine.

“I don’t feel I played bad,” Dockett said. “I played well in spurts. I can do better. No matter what the stats say I always feel I could have done something better. The biggest thing was creating pressure when I had one-on-one blocks, I could have done a lot better with those.”

— The Cardinals, if you wanted to know, will be wearing their red jerseys. I anticipate white pants.

— There were no fines last week for the Rams for any of the hits on Andre Roberts. But cornerback Cortland Finnegan was fined $7,875 for a late hit (I believe on Michael Floyd, that was the play Finnegan drew an unnecessary roughness flag) and so was St. Louis linebacker William Hayes, who hit someone late after the play on a punt.

— Almost a week later, Tyrann Mathieu still isn’t going to get all giddy about his forced fumble against Rams tight end Jared Cook last week. He’s much more matter-of-fact.

“It definitely boosts your confidence, let’s you know you can make plays in the NFL,” Mathieu said. “I am looking forward to making more plays like that in the NFL. It’s all about how you practice. If you practice those things, 100 percent of the time you will make those plays in games.”

I mentioned that both Arians and Hall of Famer Deion Sanders (who happens to be a Mathieu mentor) called it one of the best plays they had ever seen. Mathieu shrugged his shoulders. “If I forced a fumble and picked it up and ran it back 100 yards, that’s amazing to me,” Mathieu said. “But I understand why they said it. It was a big-time play. I’m happy those guys are rooting for me.”

OK, that’s plenty. Cards-Lions Sunday. I’ll be on pre-game radio at 10 a.m., on KTAR 92.3 FM, if you want to give a listen.


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12 Responses to “Friday before the Lions”

  1. By Dynosoar on Sep 13, 2013 | Reply

    Docket – Up the Havoc Level!

    Mathieu – quite a head on his shoulders for one so young and talented. I watched that play 20 times, almost wore out my rewind button. Keim is my hero in the draft for bringing Tyrann.

    Tyrann is a hero for how he’s turned his life around and stayed down to earth. Looking forward to this game being on NFL as a rewind game later this week.

    Let’s go Cardinals!

  2. By erik on Sep 13, 2013 | Reply

    I rewatched that play by Mathieu all week. I don’t think I could ever get sick of it.

  3. By John The Draft Guy on Sep 13, 2013 | Reply

    Oh Dynosoar, up the havoc level? smh…
    It is nice being a fan, but open your eyes man.

    As for the game, I guess everyone forgot or are not giving any credit to the Lions Ziggy Ansah. He didnt light up the world last week but 3 tackles and a half sack while going against Matt Kalil is not bad. I think Levi vs a rookie is a nice test. Levi should win this one. But we will see.

    Reggie Bush – his speed and explosiveness everyone knows but this guy is powerful and can run between the tackles. He will be a handful for the cards.

    Good news is the Lions starting TE is not very good. Our LBs will be better in coverage this week.

    Calvin Johnson. At 6’5″ and 240, running a 4.4 , he should be illegal. I’m with Arians,” be careful what you wish for Patrick.” But I love the attitude. I would rather have guys who want to go against the best.
    A better strategy might be getting to Stafford. We need a passrush from inside.

    We need Fitz, but even without Fitz, expect the cards to throw it 50 times. I just dont see us running against that front 4. I could see Palmer having 400 yards this week. Will we have a Jaron Brown sighting? I think so.

    We need this win. Remember we have the Saints on the road next week. A loss this week could easily turn into 0-3 next week and with a trip all the way across the country to play Tampa in week 4. This game is huge.

  4. By ored on Sep 13, 2013 | Reply

    not quite a hero,but i like the kid and he’s doing and saying hte right things,much props.i think the bigger story is he and peterson together,friends,mates carrying this over from school,one lending a helping hand,not only for football but for life lessons,if this plays out well,it should be a movie and we get to witness it live before our eyes,this could well be a very special team coming together,from coaches to players,think about it,BA finally gets his turn,renews loyaltys past,brings high character young players in,lets them play along with some high character vets,an aging qb that most thought was finished and a star reciever that instills work ethic.the final irony would be us being champions with BA at the helm,a steeler rb and a raider qb.who could dream that up.

  5. By Wnycardfan on Sep 13, 2013 | Reply

    I got to say I’m worried about this game. Lions look good. Our defense hasn’t geled yet. Our offense is improved for sure , but lions def is good. If fitz is out, I think we lose. I like what I see, but I just don’t think they are good enough yet

  6. By andystandsup on Sep 13, 2013 | Reply

    You forgot the game will be announced by Fox’s Sam Rosen. Sam Rosen!

    You know what this means, especially on such a superstitious day as today.
    (Not that I believe in these kinda things.)

    Where did I misplace my Jim Harbaugh doll pin?

  7. By Mike G on Sep 14, 2013 | Reply

    Hey Darren–Hope all is good! This is a big game for the Card’s. Can’t afford to go 0-2 with two road games to follow. I’m interesting to see how the defense plays this week. This is a different Lions team – have to keep the big plays down and have good red-zone play. Palmer has to play well in the second half for the Card’s and seal the win at crunch time– something he did not do last week. Hope the Card’s play Stephan Taylor some. Must come out strong in the first half and set the tone. –I think Todd Bowles will be in the spotlight this week at home
    for Arizona. He must have his unit ready and call a good game!!! Lots of weapons to stop for the Lions– need a pass rush????? Darren—I think the Card’s will need plays from Abraham this week. Do you think his role will be greater this week????

  8. By Darren Urban on Sep 14, 2013 | Reply

    Mike G —

    RE: Abraham

  9. By Hammy on Sep 14, 2013 | Reply

    First home game of the season for the Birdgang! The crowd will be pumped and this always helps the Cards play better. UOP stadium in one of the loudest places to play in the entire league. Not to mention that our team is pretty good this year. The only real issue that we have is our coverage at the second DB position and our lack of pass rush (so far) I believe that we will get to the qb this game and dominate on both sides of the ball. Great win for the Cardinals!

  10. By Sunday on Sep 14, 2013 | Reply

    We loose this game might as well welcome Crowney to Arizona

  11. By Louisville Card on Sep 14, 2013 | Reply


    It’s Clowney…and give me Teddy Bridgewater any day…

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