Friday before the Niners, the Cards’ playoff primer

Posted by Darren Urban on December 26, 2014 – 4:08 pm

It seems like a lifetime ago when the Cardinals first met the 49ers this season. The Cardinals got behind 14-6 at halftime and then shut the Niners down, winning 23-14 behind the defense and two Drew Stanton-to-Smokey Brown touchdown passes. That was when the worst thing that had happened to Carson Palmer was a nerve issue in his arm, but at least he was coming back at some point. Jonathan Dwyer had just left the team but Andre Ellington was playing well. Stanton was doing great and the offense was at least generating points.

Yes, a lifetime ago.

The wins piled up this season but the injuries have certainly tried to keep up. If you would have asked anyone with the team back after that win over the Niners if they’d be OK with an 11-4 record the next time they’d see their division rivals, they would’ve taken it – even with the caveat of injury after injury. But when you take out the quarterback, the equation does not compute well. Not in this league.

For now, though, I’m quarterbacked out. It seems like it’s been the only topic around this team for two weeks, and obviously, it’ll be one next week too as the Cardinals (likely) go into a wildcard game. Meanwhile, the Cardinals are taking on a San Francisco team that’s been shredded by injuries too and have bent under the weight of the inevitable coaching change from Jim Harbaugh (did I mention it’s been a lifetime since the Cards saw the Niners?)

This team has never won 12 games as a franchise. If they can find a way to get one Sunday, regardless of all the other noise, it’d be a great accomplishment. Certainly one I never would have thought possible if you would have told me Carson Palmer would only play in six games.

— It’s hard to know if linebacker Larry Foote is hurting that much or if they want to make sure he is ready for the playoffs, but his knee likely will keep him out of Sunday’s game – after he has missed just one defensive snap all season thus far. It’s possible the knee impacted his play last week against Seattle, when he had trouble in coverage, but it’s irrefutable that his play was huge for a defense that needed it because of injuries and suspensions.

— As bad as the defensive performance was last week, the Cardinals remain fourth in the NFL in scoring defense (18.6 points a game). You know they’d like to stay in the top five.

— After getting away from the run in the Seattle game, I don’t think there’s any question Arians will make sure to run more in San Francisco. And yes, that means more (and maybe a lot more) Kerwynn Williams.

Long snapper Mike Leach will play in his 200th consecutive game Sunday.

— Arians hasn’t lost his sense of humor, even with all the quarterback drama. He waited for the media to arrive post-practice, and the last to arrive was veteran Associated Press writer Bob Baum, huffing and puffing as he jogged toward the group hoping not to miss anything.

“Easy, brother,” Arians said. “You ain’t getting no mouth-to-mouth around here!”

— A heartfelt congratulations to media relations assistant Allison LeClair and her significant other, Cameron, for getting engaged this holiday season. Always good to remember there are things in life beyond football.

— Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch was fined $11,050 for grabbing his crotch at the end of his 79-yard run against the Cardinals last week.

— On a personal level, I don’t love having a game in San Jose/Santa Clara and being so far away from San Francisco, but there is no question I look forward to checking out the new stadium (and not going back to a not-very-pleasant Candlestick Park.)

— Harbaugh has never been very good on the conference calls over the years, but he had a couple of funny answers in what looks like his swan song with us this week, at least as the 49ers coach. If you missed it, he was asked what the season has been like with so many rumors floating around about his future.

“The interesting thing is if you don’t look at the Internet and you don’t watch TV, you really do not know that it’s going on,” Harbaugh said. “That has been exactly what I have done. … On the way home, you don’t turn on the talk radio and you don’t look at the Internet, you can be completely unaware that anything is swirling. I walk by people and I see their faces (and) I know something is going on.”

Someone then told Harbaugh he may be the only American who doesn’t watch TV or go on the internet.

“There has to be another American beside myself. Don’t you think? Yeah, I bet there is,” he said. “I would think there would be plenty of Americans who probably focus on another task at hand and dedicated to the mission they have and excelling and not having distraction.”

But there are always distractions, even if you pretend they aren’t there. We’ll see which team deals with them the best Sunday.


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29 Responses to “Friday before the Niners, the Cards’ playoff primer”

  1. By Patrick Hoog aka Don't Take Losses on Dec 26, 2014 | Reply

    There is a best case scenario that could unfold:

    We go to SF, run the ball hard 41 times , Lindley goes 12 of 20, 1 TD, 0 INT, our secondary gets 2 picks and our DL gets a strip, Cards win 20 -9. STL does the dirty work, anybody else we need help from gives it… Cards win Division and get bye with Home Field throughout. Stanton’s arthroscope flush works, he’s back Monday looking at film, Wednesday to practice, one week of out patient IVs is enuff, and is ready in 2 weeks for a SB run!

    Go, Cards, Go! Lol. Hey its as plausible as the absurdity of losing our top 2 QBs for the season, so … you never know. I’m sticking with this plan until its not so…

  2. By Andy Kw on Dec 26, 2014 | Reply

    If Stanton can’t play, we need to sign a veteran QB. Rex Grossman or even risky John Skelton would be the QB to bring in, not Dennis Dixon.

  3. By Scott H on Dec 26, 2014 | Reply

    Geez….the recent news about Stanton has just taken the wind out of my sails, it really has. Can’t help it. But….since there is one game left and a win could give me / us a 12-4 record ( again, one of those things that only seemed to exist for other teams ), then I would like to see them win on Sunday and reach this milestone. That would be something to be proud of, regardless.

    And, given what probably awaits the Cardinals in the playoffs… might just be one more thing to smile about before the inevitable. And it really WOULD make me smile!

    Bring on a WHOLE LOTTA that running game!

    I swear, I just can’t get over how the fates have conspired against us this year. First, we lose Carson Palmer on a play where he wasn’t even touched and now we’ve lost Drew Stanton to an infection???? Something that didn’t even happen during a game or on a football field???? I…….I don’t even know what to say. You really couldn’t make this up. THIS actually had to happen for you to believe it COULD happen.

    If there were any justice in this world, the 2014 playoffs would be post-poned until either Palmer OR Stanton were healthy and ready to go. Because after the battle the Cardinals have fought, it is just wrong that they are going out like this.

    AND since the Rams ruined our season ( lost Palmer in one game, Stanton in the other ), justice would be further served by them beating the Seahawks on Sunday ( and taking out BOTH of THEIR top 2 QB’s ).

  4. By Andy Kw on Dec 26, 2014 | Reply

    We need Larry Fitzgerald, Darnell Dockett, and Daryl Washington to take a pay cut. I don’t care what people think, we need Daryl Washington back in the lineup. I still support the guy and I truly believe he is a changed man. Frosted Rucker played better than Dockett in his original role but Dockett is one of the leaders to our D. Larry Fitzgerald needs to renegotiate a new contract because we can’t sign anybody with his cap kill

  5. By JohnnyBluenose on Dec 26, 2014 | Reply

    I think there is only a small chance that we can win on Sunday. But there is a chance. San Fransisco is not Seattle so that’s a good thing. Our defense is still decent although I would not be playing Foote at all and Campbell only sparingly. I don’t think our o-line did a bad job protecting Lindley against Seattle so I really don’t think pass protection is a big issue. Fitz should not play and we should run the ball as much as possible and, I know it won’t happen, but I would have Bradley Sowell in there as a tight end. I don’t care that he doesn’t know the plays. He’s a big body and he can move people. Let’s just get out of this game healthy and then gear up for either Atlanta or Carolina.

  6. By Andy Kw on Dec 26, 2014 | Reply

    Ramik Wilson (Georgia), Stephone Anthony (Clemson), & Benardrick McKinney (Miss St.) should be the top 3 ILBs to look at for the 2015 NFL Draft

  7. By Dr. G. on Dec 26, 2014 | Reply

    From a medical perspective, the team doctors and trainers know that they can keep after the knee by draining it to minimize swelling. And, the pain & infection can be held at bay with antibiotics and localized pain killers. This sounds like treating a player like a robot, but they would do this anyway as normal procedure for his wellness.

    Hopefully, these treatments can bring Drew to the field feeling good enough to bring it. None of these treatments should affect his head, and he can be nearly pain free. All this assumes there is no real serious damage that has not been reported.

    Now, to the thing some continue to play on the Harp… BA needs to show us something different in his play-calling this Sunday. And he needs to review it with an open mind for next year with sound critique from smart veteran coaches. Jason Garrett was finally forced by Jones to give it up to Scott Linehan, and look at the results.

    In that our aerial game will be stunted with the QBs that remain, lots of rammin’ and jammin’ along with some quick dinkin’ and dunkin’ can create ball control and run the clock to keep the crowd out of it. Then, when the time is just right, go for a couple longer throws to keep Floyd, Browns and Fitz involved….Grinding is the word of the day for Sunday…. 40 runs….23 passes…. est…


  8. By Dr. G. on Dec 26, 2014 | Reply

    I do not doubt the current assessment that Logan Thomas is not ready to start. But is it OK to keep hearing that he has just not gotten many snaps this year? What the hell is he doing if he is not getting any reps?

    We usually have a couple WRs, a TE, and an RB on the practice squad. Why can’t he be working weekly with those guys to develop his timing and distance in throwing.? Have the Cards “wasted” this man for the year by not getting him ready for the future?

    He does not need to work with the 1st team to improve his targeting & timing. I do know that his physical skills are a good as any QB in the league… Am I missing something? They should be developing him….looking to the future, or let him go if he just can’t cut it. I think he can be very good…..

  9. By Darren Urban on Dec 27, 2014 | Reply

    Dr. G —

    RE: Snaps

    Thomas hasn’t gotten reps just like any player hasn’t gotten reps. I understand many people have not seen an NFL practice, but you only have a) so much time you can have guys on the field each week and b) only about 60 players (give or take, with injuries) available to practice. The only reps a third-stringer will ever get at QB is with the scout team, and even the backup QB rarely gets reps because the starting QB wants/needs them all. You are trying to prepare for a game every week.

    He can throw a little after practice with the backup PS guys, but there are meetings and weight room and you are only going to have so much time. Plus, that kind of stuff is like shooting jump shots alone in the gym. It can only help so much. It’s not going to get you ready to go one-on-one with LeBron.

  10. By Steve Weston on Dec 26, 2014 | Reply

    A really great season seems to be on the verge of seeing a terrible end. Really hoping that our defense and coaching can somehow pull us through this last game (maybe with some help from STL and even DET) and then into the playoffs. Would love to see Stanton come through the infection and find his way onto the field by the time we play our first playoff game, even if it seems unlikely at this point.

    And who knows, as Patrick said maybe this strange, quirky season can see Lindley come through for us from here on in. Let’s hope for some big runs to give our 3rd string QB a chance to get the offense clicking and take this one game at a time.

    Would love to see us playing the Super Bowl in Phoenix and I’ll be hoping for it all the way through January! Go Cards!

  11. By Lee W. Flanagan on Dec 27, 2014 | Reply

    There was a day when I would’ve been happy with just having a good season. Funny how winning changes one’s perspective. One more win just might be considered the Cardinal ‘ “SUPER BOWL”.

  12. By Lee W. Flanagan on Dec 27, 2014 | Reply

    Cardinals have to muster up at least 17 points to have any decent chance to win any game. Can’t believe that our quarterback or team cannot do this for sooooo many games.

  13. By LarryDoe on Dec 27, 2014 | Reply

    Kevin Kolb. He was great when he played healthy for us.

  14. By Darren Urban on Dec 27, 2014 | Reply

    Larry Doe —

    RE: Kolb

    Kevin retired due to concussions/health.

  15. By Big Ken on Dec 27, 2014 | Reply

    It will be interesting to see how the team’s QB position shakes out next year. Can Palmer and/or Stanton recover from their injuries? Does Logan Thomas stick around? Do we bring in another veteran QB or draft one with a relatively high pick? I hate this cliché, but the team decision makers need to “think outside of the box.”

  16. By Richard L on Dec 27, 2014 | Reply

    What Cards quarterback problems? I don’t watch TV or look at the Internet.

  17. By Chuck 1 on Dec 27, 2014 | Reply


    Which college QBs do you think will be there when the Cards pick, which one do you think that we should pick and in which round?

  18. By clssylssy on Dec 27, 2014 | Reply

    Desperate times call for desperate measures and I’m thinking that with all the talent on this team, BA might get creative and try using a few other players in gimmick packages to offer Lindley a little relief and possibly shake things up a bit giving our opponents a few surprises. It seems like I recall a few years ago (maybe last season) using Peterson (maybe it was Ellington) on the offense to run the pistol; Peterson is athletic enough and smart enough with a varied skillset something like this might work. I was just reading that Arian Foster has been lobbying to play QB after throwing his first TD (on a gimmick play) and he may be on to something.
    When you consider that often times players are drafted into the NFL to play a position other than what they have played in college or high school, I’m wondering if we currently have anyone like this who knows the offense and could possibly fill the bill if only for a play or two?(Back in the day Early Doucet played QB before being drafted as a WR for example) Probably sounds crazy but not any crazier than signing Tebow when he’s been out of football now for a number of years and never played QB in any variety of Arian’s scheme or with any of our players.
    It seems while we have had a good season we really haven’t solved the issues that have continued to plague the Cards for years, pointing to poor drafting. It might be good to think about finding players who could be called upon to provide some depth at the QB position in the future even if they aren’t specifically drafted as a QB.
    I think this game with the 9ers is winnable if the team learned anything for last week and have the grit and desire. No doubt about it, this is going to be a down-in-the-dirt, smashmouth fight; we just need to play smarter and with greater intensity for the full sixty. GO CARDS, FINISH STRONG!

  19. By rod on Dec 27, 2014 | Reply

    Kolb and Skelton never played in BAs system so it would be the same as getting Grossman. I would prefer David Carr though, always been a fan of his, I wonder what would have been had he went to a team that could protect him.

    But if Coop comes back maybe we can run again because that’s the only chance we have.

    And as for me, I like BAs play calling.

  20. By rod on Dec 27, 2014 | Reply

    Oh and Rex Ryan to replace Bowles next season?

    Talk to me!

  21. By CreditCard on Dec 27, 2014 | Reply

    Ryan Lindley behind center, I’m thinking Mike Leach might get a half dozen tackles or more.

    At best something is not being said from the Card organization regarding Thomas and Lindley. Perhaps Thomas has behavioral / leadership issues, it certainly can’t be because Lindley is viewed as being better.

    If the Cards want to win, play Thomas, ask him to scramble constantly, and play an organized chaos game. Playing Lindley in a traditional drop back game — it will get ugly in a hurry.

  22. By CreditCard on Dec 27, 2014 | Reply

    The locomotive has derailed. Don’t think stoking the boiler with more coal will place the locomotive back on the tracks. It will not happen.

    Lindley has derailed the team. Cards need to jump on another direction, based on the talents of the players left on the roster. A leader would do this, a person with an uncontrollable ego will charge straight ahead despite the factual data.

  23. By CreditCard on Dec 27, 2014 | Reply

    My last post .. I promise. The only thing that I can see benefit of playing Lindley to start , is that it is a cot move. that is Lindley plays one play or one series and Thomas the rest of the game. This way, Lindley addresses the media throughout the week, and Thomas can concentrate on the game.

    Anything short of what is mentioned above, then I would believe the Card organization is playing to lose.

  24. By kennyfinley on Dec 27, 2014 | Reply

    Like to cheer up the birdgang, go to youtube metro retro redbird check it out and getfired up !

  25. By S.Carolina Card on Dec 27, 2014 | Reply

    As a 40 year Cardinal fan, I can say that this year has been great, but I do think the run is over. I can’t believe this team is a quarterback away from, possibly playing in the Super Bowl, but Cardinal fans can now say “maybe next year” and actually have some hope.

  26. By Dr. G. on Dec 27, 2014 | Reply

    Darren – – Re: Thomas Reps….

    Yeah, I sometimes forget that the NFLPA / NFL agreement have limitations on practice times, if that is part of what you allude to here. It has been discussed for a number of years to assemble a practice league like AAA, but the injuries would be worrisome. It probably cannot work in football. I just hate to see a guy like Thomas not get the training he needs to make the determination of his potential and then develop him in short order.

    I hate unions….i didn’t really say that, did I…..?

    Thanks for the commentary and reminders….Sunday is important to see what we may be able to do….be well…

  27. By shannon robinson on Dec 28, 2014 | Reply

    Players play. They don’t care about the odds against them and they rally as a team to help someone who needs help. As fans we’re learning what it means to win with who’s on the field. Dancing with Miss Adversity is really a thrill because if you can spin her the victory is sweet.

  28. By Richard L on Dec 28, 2014 | Reply

    Darren, did you just jinx Mike Leach?

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