Debating X, O, Jimmy, Joe

Posted by Darren Urban on April 3, 2014 – 4:01 pm

The cliché has been around awhile, some version of “It’s not about the ‘Xs’ and ‘Os’ but the jimmys and joes.” And no, pizza has nothing to do with the conversation. It’s a simple concept really, one that emphasizes the reality that without players, you can draw up the best plays in the world and you still aren’t going to be successful. It came up in the context of releasing their full season stats from the NFL and the best defenses in producing unblocked pressure. The Cardinals were the best in the league midway through the season and held on to the top spot by season’s end with 82 unblocked pressures.

In the stats, the Cardinals were led by two players in particular — linebackers John Abraham and Karlos Dansby. Dansby had 13 total unblocked pressures and Abraham 12, and Dansby produced four sacks in those pressures (Abraham two). So it stands to reason with Dansby leaving for Cleveland, the Cards will be hurt in this regard in turning the role over to Kevin Minter — not as athletic as Karlos — or whomever. You lose a ‘joe,’ maybe the ‘O’ doesn’t hold up, right?

Or maybe not?

First of all, at least in this context of rushing the QB unblocked, scheme would seem to have a ton to do with it. Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles is doing something to confuse the other team, regardless of the players. Even “lesser” players are supposed to be accounted for every play by the offense. Of those 82 pressures, 23 came through an ‘A’ gap (the spots between the center and either guard). No one is supposed to forget the guy standing near the ball, even if he is a step or two off the line of scrimmage. Sometimes it was an overload on one side situation (35 of 82, according to PFF) and sometimes the offense simply didn’t block a guy even if there was someone there to do so (19 times).

Certainly, a talent like Dansby played into the equation, as did Abraham. You’d have to look at every play individually to really know if the result was a combination of factors, a Dansby “win” or a Bowles’ scheme result. You figure there is a mix. You figure Bowles knows what Minter can and can’t do, and while the Cardinals won’t run the same things exactly for him as Dansby, I’d guess if Minter comes free through the ‘A’ gap he’ll probably find a way to create some havoc. The Cards didn’t have the same ‘jimmys’ in the secondary once Tyrann Mathieu got hurt, but Bowles’ ‘Xs’ were good enough to fluster both the Seahawks and 49ers pretty good the final two weeks of the season.

There is a reason Steve Keim is always looking to upgrade the roster where he can. And you take Patrick Peterson and Daryl Washington off the defense, for instance, and the scheme is not going to look as good. But scheme matters too.



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42 Responses to “Debating X, O, Jimmy, Joe”

  1. By Coach K on Apr 3, 2014 | Reply

    I have faith Minter will step in and be fine. I trust Keim to add depth and keep the ball rolling.

    Darren, I did want to ask you a question. I mentioned on a previous post that I believe all the quarterbacks in this draft will fall because of the elite talent on top this draft. My question to you is, what is Blake Bortles falls to us at pick #20, and Keim gets a call from Cleveland to move up to get Bortles. What do you think Keim will do? Keep Bortles, or trade down to pick #26 and take extra picks?

  2. By Darren Urban on Apr 3, 2014 | Reply

    Coach K —

    RE: Bortles

    All depends on how Keim/Cards feel about Bortles. And he won’t be letting me/us know that ahead of time. If I had to guess, I’d say it’s unlikely they spend a first round pick on a QB.

  3. By Patrick Hoog aka Don't Take Losses on Apr 3, 2014 | Reply

    Good post, love this kind of analysis.

  4. By AzDesertRat1953 on Apr 3, 2014 | Reply

    I would say the first pick will be the Best defensive player on the board at what ever first round number we end up with, just feeding that fire.

    I don’t think coach Bowles cares about who gets the job done. The man has a way of bringing out the best in everyone.

    I would not turn my back on Minter. He watched Karlos all last year, learned a lot I am sure, practiced with and against him and others. If his practice was bad or had to many errors he would be gone and we would not be talking about him so much.
    I could be wrong but like I said Todd Bowles is different.

    We have never had so many good coaches, all at one time, as we have Now!

    GO CARDS!!!

  5. By T Stone on Apr 4, 2014 | Reply

    I will admit that I have never heard of jimmies and Joes. But it is a stupid saying. If it were X and O’s then the best college team could beat the worst NFL team. And anyone with a brain knows that could never happen because of the jimmies and joes. X and O’s (BA) give us 2 wins maybe and 1 loss most definitely a year. The Jimmies and Joes win. XxxxxOOOOOO is what I put at the end of a text to tell my wife I love her.

  6. By Big Ken on Apr 4, 2014 | Reply

    I don’t know if they see any of this years top tier QB’s as there guy. I see them bringing in a 4th or 5th round guy. For now Carson is the QB they will center the offense around. The fans are critical of him but I think he’s worth every penny.

  7. By Eazy E on Apr 4, 2014 | Reply

    Their is NO aspect of Minter’s game that mirrors ‘Los’. Players make the scheme ultimately in my opinion. Don’t believe me, just watch Minter if he starts and you’ll see the contrasts!

  8. By John The Draft Guy on Apr 4, 2014 | Reply


    Oh I could give you lots and lots of examples of why you are wrong;

    Temple over V Tech

    Let’s just put it this way: Temple is bad at football. And they have been for a long time. The ’98 team was no exception. They were having an average Temple season (winless) when they went to Blacksburg, Virginia to take on the Virginia Tech Hokies. Underdogs by 4 touchdowns, the Temple Owls were down 17 at the half, but came back to win, defeating #5 ranked and undefeated Virginia Tech. One Virginia Tech player was quoted as saying “We’re the laughing stock of college football right now.”

    Or How about this one;

    Appalachian State vs Michigan

    Many football fans cite this victory as the greatest upset in college football history. And it makes sense. Michigan is the most prolific team in college football, and were even favored as a possible national champion in pre-season rankings. In fact, this game was a write-off. ASU received $400,000–payment for the thrashing they were SUPPOSED to receive. And while ASU was not a bad football team, the numbers favored Michigan. Future NFL draft picks, scholarships galore, and 110,000 people rooting them on. The odds were no doubt in favor of the Wolverines. It’s currently the first and only time a ranked Division 1 team has ever lost to an unranked Division 1AA team.

  9. By br on Apr 5, 2014 | Reply

    JTDG –

    Great examples but i would add that app st is a football powerhouse in 1aa, it began that year, they were talented but extremely young all the experts figured the be tough in 1aa but would probably need a yr or two, but they shocked the world…i live in NC It was the talk of the state for months! **a little side note the “big house” at UofM seats what…105,000 the populaton of boone nc (where app st is located) is just a tad over 17,000, could you imagine those kids walking out of the tunnel and thinking wow this is 5 boone nc’s you know the coach’s had the perfect gameplan ie…x’s &o’s but the players had to execute that plan to perfection because they didnt have a prayer on talent alone!
    More recent example, different sport, Mercer over Duke in bball. Another x/o masterpiece by Mercer coaching staff!

  10. By Coach K on Apr 4, 2014 | Reply

    This article just came out today and somewhat confirms my comments yesterday about the quarterbacks sliding hard in this draft. I think it’s clear that what happened last year will happen again. And with the high quality on top of this deep draft, these quarterbacks are in for a rude awakening.

    I thought the comment about the Cards very interested in A.J. McCarron was something of a surprise. Can you verify that Darren?

    This is all good news for the Cardinals in my opinion. Having all the QB’s fall into round two would be great in terms of a possible trade down for more picks.

  11. By birdgangrising on Apr 4, 2014 | Reply

    @CoachK – I’ve seen this reported in a couple of places now, and it seems overblown.

    The original source tweet said this – “A lot of personnel guys believe AJ McCarron makes sense in Arizona.” That’s the tweet referenced as the source in the two articles I’ve seen about McCarron being “linked” to AZ.

    Note that it says the personnel guys think McCarron “makes sense”. Not that they’re interested, or that there are sources in the Cards talking about it. Just that some people think it “makes sense” for the Cardinals.

    I’m not saying that the Cards aren’t interested in McCarron, but this seems like just clutching for news to me.

  12. By John The Draft Guy on Apr 4, 2014 | Reply

    Coach K,

    I’m not sure I buy any of those rumors.

    With the Rams having Long and Quinn at DE, I cant imagine they grab Clowney with so many other needs.

    This guy sites no source that the cards love AJ McCarron. It is a guy guessing.

    But as for the QBs dropping, I think Bridgewater will fall after his really poor pro day. Carr has always been a late first rounder. With that knowledge, does teams like Cleveland or Minn skip on the QB in round one and try to trade up into the bottom of round one for their QB?

    I am really not sure about Manziel. I would not draft him period. But he has the skills and arm to be a top 5 pick. Pure talent, he does not drop out of the top 10. Off the field issues and interviews will determine if he falls.

    I really cant see Bortles falling. I think there are three players for the Texans. Blake Bortles, Clowney, or roll the dice on local hero, Manziel.
    Bortles could be grabbed by the rams, cleveland, jags, and Vikes.

    So, I think the cards could see Bridgewater or Carr or both at 20. I personally would have to think long and hard about taking one. If I was Keim, I look to trade down for someone wanting that late round QB.

  13. By Coach K on Apr 4, 2014 | Reply

    I hear what you guys are saying and it makes sense, but I am firm in my belief that if you hold one of the top six picks in this draft, you must take the sure thing, can’t miss elite player and none of these quarterbacks qualify as “elite”.

    So if someone really wants a quarterback, I do not believe they will reach. They will try to move down then take the quarterback plus get the bonus of extra picks as a hedge in case that QB is a bust.

    I read that Houston is actively shopping the first pick already. I don’t blame them. If they cannot move down, there is no way they pass on Clowney or Mack to take a quarterback.

    I honestly would not be surprised to see Bortles fall to us. I respect your point John that its hard to imagine he would slip past Cleveland, St. Louis, Oakland, and Minnesota, but I just have a strong feeling the entire bunch of quarterbacks are going to fall hard.

    Bortles is the wild card because his talent is definitely top ten. He is also the top QB under pressure with a 64% completion rate while under pressure in the pocket. Compare that to 50% for Carr and you see the value of Bortles. He really is the second coming of Big Ben.

  14. By Big Ken on Apr 4, 2014 | Reply

    Right Coach, that 20th pick is starting to look very valuable in terms of a trade. This draft is definitely one you want to trade back on because of the depth. Stud edge rusher? Speedy WR? We’ll take two each if things go our way.

  15. By Chuck 1 on Apr 4, 2014 | Reply

    By AzDesertRat1953

    …”I don’t think coach Bowles cares about who gets the job done. The man has a way of bringing out the best in everyone….”

    Does anyone remember when BA chose Bowles to be his D.C.?

    And, does anyone remember how many fans complained that he was a terrible choice because he was a “FAILURE” in Philly?

    Maybe we should withhold judgement in the future when Keim and BA make decisions.

  16. By Andy Kw on Apr 5, 2014 | Reply

    Chuck 1 —

    Good thinking

  17. By Big Ken on Apr 4, 2014 | Reply

    AZDessertRat1953-People were mad that Ray Horton got passed over for the head coach job. He didn’t want to stick around after storming back into the front office and having a little tantrum. What a fool. Bowles performance speaks for itself.

  18. By Coach K on Apr 4, 2014 | Reply

    Big Ken

    I think we are both tuned in to the same channel. Trade down baby and get two more top picks in this deep draft. I’d love two pass rushers, two receivers, one with deep take the top off speed, and the other more quick. Fill in the rest of the draft with a right tackle, defensive lineman, corner, and safety.

    Now you are talking depth, and two potential starters.

    Heck, we might even steal a developmental quarterback as a rookie free agent.

  19. By Dr. G. on Apr 4, 2014 | Reply

    JTDG – Good to know that you have backed away from your boy Bortles absolutely going #1 in this draft, maybe to the Texans ((if no trades)). I have read this with your assurance a number of times. Now that this draft is scrutinized more closely, we know that unless desperation sets in, any of these QB’s would be an over-draft above #5. BPA at the top 4 or 5 spots is not a QB…unless desperation dictates. Comparatively, Bortles is probably the best unless there is a sleeper, but he is not ready for the big-time, and has some things to fix and learn. His pro day was good, not great.

    No way he falls to #20, but if he did, we should take him. I said before, when Keim gets to #20, if Ealy is there, he’s a Cardinal. FS’s Prior or Clinton-Dix and QB Carr will present a dilemma. I’m trusting that Keim will execute this draft without the emotional aura that usually skews judgement. Go Keim!

  20. By Dr. G. on Apr 4, 2014 | Reply

    Big Ken – People? I don’t think many other than the groupie set was peeved that Horton was released. He did a good job for Whiz, but one can see that he has a bit of a “me – me – me” thing going on, and his little tirade confirmed that. No way can BA bring him in after he was passed over for the HC job…. would be nothing but hissy-fit mutiny…. Keim did the right thing here….

  21. By Darren Urban on Apr 5, 2014 | Reply

    Dr. G —

    RE: Horton

    Having been around it, there were more than the “groupie set” upset about Horton’s exit.

  22. By All day on Apr 4, 2014 | Reply

    I really hate. I mean hate the idea of taking a WR in the first 3 rounds. Just isn’t an immediate position of need.

  23. By Dr. G. on Apr 4, 2014 | Reply

    Hey Darren – What’s up with Everett Thompson? I can locate little info on him. Is he injury prone or what? Listed at 6’6″ – 272, he certainly has the body for a DE… just curious…. seems a waste of a big D-lineman…. and we need one…

  24. By Darren Urban on Apr 5, 2014 | Reply

    Dr. G —

    RE: Thompson

    Obviously, not good enough. Free agent who doesn’t look like he’ll be coming back. Had he not been injured, I’m pretty sure he would have been released before last season.

  25. By Andy Kw on Apr 5, 2014 | Reply

    If the team started Kevin Minter last season we would be more confident with him than we are now. I was a fan of his in the 2013 NFL Draft and I kept posting in my mock drafts that he would be a Cardinal. He was even considered a 1st Round Pick by some analysts. But now, since we don’t know his strengths or weaknesses, he would be considered boom or bust player. I expect him to force a lot of fumbles against RBs and QBs. He is not made to cover big receivers which is bad. But he is made to be a run stuffer and Pass Rusher through the DL Gap.

  26. By Coach K on Apr 5, 2014 | Reply

    Ok, I said I wouldn’t do it, but I just cannot resist. I may need therapy after this draft. But I had to revise my mock after much reading this week. Here goes:

    I agree that if Ealy is on the board at #20, he is a Cardinal. Unfortunately, I am thinking he is just too impressive an athlete to get past Dallas who has a huge need after letting their entire d-line go. So based on that situation, I cannot see Ealy surviving to slide to us. So I’m taking who I think will be there, assuming we make no trade down.

    Rd. 1- Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville (An absolute need pick if elite pass rusher is not available)
    Rd. 2- Trent Murphy, OLB, Stanford (Local boy who not only holds the edge, but has several serious pass rush moves with a nasty rip and a swim move.)
    Rd. 3- JuWaun James, OT, Tenn. (Moves really well for a big man. Looks great on film vs. top SEC competition. We must upgrade the athleticism of our right tackle position, and James gives us that)
    Rd. 4- Kelcy Quarles, DT, So. Carolina (At times on film, he looks better than Clowney. Has a motor that keeps on hustling. I love d-linemen like this.)
    Rd. 5- Jon Halapio, G, Florida (Another big guy with great feet and good balance. Has a really power punch in pass pro. I really like his technique. I don’t feel guard is a big need, but this guy is just too good to pass up at pick #160.)
    Rd. 6- Jake Murphy, TE, Utah (I did not know much about this guy until I read about him on B/R as a sleeper pick. He really runs great routes and has big, soft hands. His style of play is very similar to Jay Novacek, the former Dallas Cowboy great who was a tweener with great hands and route running).

    This is my new mock. Let the arrows fly boys!

  27. By Dr. G. on Apr 5, 2014 | Reply

    Darren – On Horton, if it were more than just typical loyal fans rooting for “everyone” who was with the team, the objections surely died down quickly. We were all proud of the job he was doing, but I don’t think his emotional mind-set is quite ready for the multitude of things a head coach must deal with. I will have to say he is very cool… probably a good guy to tip a few tinnies…. The fans love Bowles; that eases the frustration….. kinda like Magic wowing everyone, and then along comes JORDAN! He didn’t need any nick names… A good day to you…

  28. By Dr. G. on Apr 5, 2014 | Reply

    All day – Drafting WR’s… It won’t ever happen, but if Sammy Watkins was there at #20, Keim would have sudden chest pains and then take him…. You could get 5 other picks and 100 Happy Meals for him….. Or keep him and look to trade someone else….

  29. By All day on Apr 5, 2014 | Reply

    Dr. G. I agree but it never will and even then I’d draft and trade him ha

  30. By Scott on Apr 5, 2014 | Reply

    Coach k, you should switch that 5th round pick with Bruce Ellington, Wr, cousins with one of the cardinals other late steal in the draft.

  31. By Big Ken on Apr 5, 2014 | Reply

    @Dr. G Touche’ my friend.

  32. By Big Ken on Apr 5, 2014 | Reply

    @ all bloggers we are a band of brothers (and a sister or two). Thanks Darren! Great posts everyone.

  33. By Coach K on Apr 6, 2014 | Reply

    Scott, I would but Ellington will be long gone before pick #160. He will not get below the 4th round. I think we are fine at WR for this year. We need quality depth in these lower rounds. But I do love the idea of the Ellington’s on the roster.

  34. By Scott on Apr 6, 2014 | Reply

    True, but if he is there and if we don’t take him, I will be having sleepless nights and heart pains watching him win rookie of the year on another team (exaggeration).

  35. By John The Draft Guy on Apr 6, 2014 | Reply

    Dr G,


    Just to clarify, If I was the GM for the Texans, knowing their lineup, I would take Bortles #1 overall. No Doubt in my mind.

    I am just not sure they are going to make that pick. Thats why I said he may be grabbed by Jax, Raiders, Vikes, Browns.

  36. By John The Draft Guy on Apr 6, 2014 | Reply

    Coach K

    “Rd. 4- Kelcy Quarles, DT, So. Carolina (At times on film, he looks better than Clowney. Has a motor that keeps on hustling. I love d-linemen like this.)”

    For the reasons you listed, he will not drop to the 4th round.

    As for your 2nd rounder, I like Demarcus Lawrence much more than Murphy.

  37. By Big Ken on Apr 7, 2014 | Reply

    Too many OL guys in that mock of yours Coach K. (OT, OG, TE) I can see some UDFA’s coming to us.

  38. By Big Ken on Apr 7, 2014 | Reply

    Oh, how about Brandon Thomas OG Clemson for the sixth round. He’ll be on the red shirt mend for a year.

  39. By Dr. G. on Apr 7, 2014 | Reply

    JTDG – The Texans have set themselves up for having to draft a QB if nothing changes, unless they like Keenum like Arians sez he likes Stanton! ((that is toungue in cheek))… I believe neither of them… Keenum had a modicum of success, didn’t he? But, you could be right on Bortles going way too high at #1 if they become desperate… Bortles still needs some protege time…

    I am still thinking that they hang Clowney over some other team, get an extra pick and still get their QB… I mentioned this prior… Be well…

  40. By Dr. G. on Apr 7, 2014 | Reply

    JTDG – I’m thinking the Texans do a deal with the Falcons; it is rumored that they are simply lusting for Clowney… The Texans could smell rosey after a deal with them. And they could still get their QB and some other considerations…. later…

  41. By John The Draft Guy on Apr 8, 2014 | Reply

    Dr G.

    Risk has to always be added to every trade.

    Are the Texans in love with Bortles? If not, trade down and look at a different QB late in one or two.

    But if Bortles is the guy, then you are risking the Rams (picking or trading their pick) The Jags, The Browns, Raiders, Vikings jumping up, ect to take him.
    Maybe none of them love him and the trade works.

    But, if you believe Bortles to be the guy, you can not take the risk of trading down. Take Bortles with new coach O’Brien, add that TE or third wr with the 33rd pick and dont look back.

    As for me, I do see a lot of Big Ben traits in the guy. He takes control on the field, has a strong enough arm, and has those feet to move around and make things happen. I would not hesitate to take Bortles #1 since the Texans have Foster in the back field and Hopkins and Johnson as the WRs to go with a decent OLine. The defense had injuries last year and could rebound.

    But with all that said, I would not be surprised to see the Texans take Clowney and then try to trade up to , say #20 to get Carr.

  42. By John The Draft Guy on Apr 8, 2014 | Reply

    I personally see the trade for Clowney happening from the Rams.

    They could drop down and still land the Offensive Lineman they need.

    Clowney is a freak but as Mike Mayock said, I would take Mack over clowney. Does Atlanta feel the same way?

    If no trade with the rams happens, I could see the draft going;
    1. Texans – Bortles
    2. Rams – Robinson
    3. Jags – Clowney
    4. Browns – Manziel
    5. Raiders – Watkins
    6. Falcons – Mack

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