Friday before the bye

Posted by Darren Urban on November 6, 2015 – 1:37 pm

There is nothing better than the bye at the true midway point in the season. Getting through a chunk of the games before you are off is invaluable both mentally and physically for a team — although as Carson Palmer said this week, there is no such thing as a bad bye. (Of course, Palmer was not a member of the 2001 Cardinals, who, because of an odd number of NFL teams at the time, drew the short straw and had a bye in Week 1 of the regular season. That’s right — 16 straight games after. That was an emotional time too, because 9/11 happened the Tuesday following Week 1 and games were canceled. The Cards had nearly a month between their last preseason game and their first regular-season game.)

But I digress.

The Cardinals are going to lament the two losses, games that frankly, they should have had, no matter what happens. They hope they don’t cost themselves something significant come playoff time. But it was a good first half of the season, and regardless of opponents, the Cards have proven to be a good team and one that should be in the postseason mix.

— What has surprised me in the first half of the season? Let’s start with Larry Fitzgerald’s big numbers. I thought Fitz had an excellent training camp and I thought he had a chance to get to 1,000 yards, but the Cards have gone to him more than I expected. Part of that started. I’d guess, because of Michael Floyd’s hand injury, but Fitz has looked terrific. Bruce Arians said a big reason is that he has stayed healthy, and if that’s what it took, that’s a good sign for the Cardinals because Fitz remains healthy.

— I’m surprised that Sean Weatherspoon hasn’t been a bigger part of the defense. I don’t see that changing much unless there is an injury. Deone Bucannon, at this point, is a linebacker. It makes for intriguing roster decisions beyond this year.

— I’ve never covered a Cardinals team (since 2000, mind you) that doesn’t say they have plans to significantly upgrade the running game going into a season. But this was the year it’s actually turned out that way. Chris Johnson has been marvelous. When you have a healthy Andre Ellington and he can barely get touches, that’s saying something about your depth.

— Take a listen to the latest Cardinals Underground podcast for talk between myself, Kyle Odegard and Paul Calvisi about the first half that was.

— This team will learn a lot about itself the next two games. In the national spotlight both weeks, at the defending NFC champion and hosting the sure-to-be undefeated Bengals (Cincy hosts Houston after 10 days to prepare.) The game against the Seahawks is paramount; you put Seattle in a tough, tough spot if you can knock them off in their place.

That’s next week, though. I’m going to enjoy a rare fall weekend off.



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23 Responses to “Friday before the bye”

  1. By D on Nov 6, 2015 | Reply

    Honey do list and trying to find my church again. Have a relaxing weekend to all..

  2. By osiris33-and-beastmode5150-are-delusional-trolls on Nov 6, 2015 | Reply

    I literally can’t stop thinking about the wasted chances on the 2 losses. I hope it’s not one of those things that we will look back on and say they ruined the season or playoffs.

  3. By sbrown on Nov 6, 2015 | Reply

    huge to come out of the bye and get off to a great start with a couple of wins.

    now is the Cardinals chance to get that much needed “national respect” by going up to Seattle and getting a win, follow up with a win over Cinn.

    I know the fans and the Red Sea are behind you 100%, Lets Do IT, SB 50 !

  4. By Scott H on Nov 6, 2015 | Reply

    Darren – enjoy some R&R on your days off. We need you well rested for the 2nd half, too! 🙂

    The Seattle game is playoff-game huge. The season isn’t over if we lose, but….losing will go a long way to opening the gate for the Seahawks. Honestly, this game also could go a long way to determining the division. A 3-game cushion AND a win in hand against the Seattle could be VERY hard – maybe impossible – for the Seahawks to overcome because you assume the Cardinals are going to continue winning more games then they lose. Put the Seahawks 3 games deep in the hole….and they might not be able to win enough games to catch you. Simple math.

    But….lose this one and the landscape is quite different. A loss puts the Seahawks right on our tail with a win in hand against us, and it just becomes a springboard for the second half of their season. And if there is a team out there that we know does NOT need a springboard for the 2nd half of a season, it’s the Seahawks. Winning this game puts them right where they want to be, in familiar territory. They KNOW how to be in that role. We’ve seen it and I really don’t want to see it again.

    We need to put them in a place they are NOT familiar with. Way back in the division, trailing a team they know can handle them, in desperation mode BUT with some doubt that they are good enough this year.

  5. By TucsonTim on Nov 6, 2015 | Reply

    Two bold predictions today from USA today say that the Cardinals won’t even make the playoffs. Why??? the Cardinals haven’t beaten any winning teams and they lost at home to the Rams and lost to M Vick and a 3rd string QB. Well, they may have something there.

    If the Cardinals play with “lulls” and they have had them in every game, then against teams like Cincinnati, Green Bay, Minnesota, Seattle and the Rams, this could easily be a 9-7 season and there won’t be any playoffs.

    It shouldn’t happen. Maybe they have grown as a team, but their first half against a pathetic Browns team argues otherwise.

    Average teams strive to make the playoffs
    Good teams look to play deep into the playoffs
    Better teams set their sights on the super bowl
    Great teams see anything less than a SB win as failure

    Who do the Cardinals want to be? They have the talent. Do they have the desire, drive and determination? Do you think Brady, Rodgers, or Manning skip practice? Do you think they will be happy just to make the playoffs?

    BA gets lots of love, but skipping practice isn’t what winners do.

    I wish everyone in the Cardinals organization would read “Training Camp: What the Best Do Better Than Everyone Else” by Jon Gordon. He actually worked with the Atlanta Falcons.

    BTW, the short answer is a fanatical commitment to practice.

  6. By Darren Urban on Nov 7, 2015 | Reply

    Tuscon —

    RE: Practice

    So you are thinking one canceled practice (because that’s all it is; the CBA mandated the players off Thursday-Friday, and the “off day” Monday is traded for the normal off day Tuesday, on which they are practicing) is going to cost them the playoffs?

  7. By Eazy E on Nov 7, 2015 | Reply

    Don’t just give Cincinnati that game against Houston Darren… Any given Sunday or Monday or Thursday and it is the NFL! Cincy is a better team, but we’ll see, they still have Andy Dalton at QB!

  8. By Alex on Nov 7, 2015 | Reply

    Great first half! Enjoy you’re weekend off!

  9. By Crow on Nov 7, 2015 | Reply

    lets go cards can’t wait for the Sunday night games

  10. By Marlin on Nov 7, 2015 | Reply

    Tucson Tim……I respect your passion, and appreciate your sense that the Cards might have a “constant motor” lull at times. But you’re being a little hard. As a leader, BA will make decisions at times (like the extra day off) that fits something he sees the group needs. Gotta have confidence in those decisions. We’ll be ok. Gonna win 2 back-to-back Sunday night games.

  11. By clssylssy on Nov 7, 2015 | Reply

    Nice article on the “No Fly Zone” and I see that the Cardinal secondary is ranked #1 on (whatever that means, but still nice to get some recognition) but that the Seahawks and Rams are also there in the top 5. Would still feel better if we had someone with a little more wisdom and experience as the DC, or at least had a mentor to assist–can’t really compare ours to the Wade Phillips defense in Denver or the way Dan Quinn have turned the Falcons around. We still aren’t getting pressure on the QBs and are allowing too many yards, gonna have to be a whole lot more disruptive with the teams we are about to face. This is when LBs like Karlos Dansby or Probowler Daryl Washington would be difference makers and their contributions worth their price and forgiveness.
    This team SHOULD be the best team, talent wise, to go the distance but, still, are committing the same mental errors as in the loss to St.Louis, and seemed to have started “relaxing” long before the bye–which is a major concern.
    At least the Seahawks also have a bye with us, but am sure the electricity of playing at home on Sunday night will spark them into a playoff-like energy, just hope we can pull some of that juice to fuel a Cardinal victory. The Rams are now 3-0 in the division and climbing so this win in Seattle is critical as our lead evaporates with each week.

  12. By Mike G on Nov 7, 2015 | Reply

    Hey Darren–Hope all is well! Nice spot for the Cards to be in at the half way mark.
    Definitely pleased with their injury situation at the break(Knock on wood). Everyone seems to be contributing which is a good sign. The 2nd half of the season will be more challenging given the schedule–nothing would start it off better then a win at Seattle. My only real concern at this point is turnovers–to me they must drastically focus on taking care of the football better. They have 17 giveaways at the midpoint and only the Eagles have more at 19. If that trend continues that will ultimately lead into trouble and losses. Darren–Do you think the turnovers have been more of a focus issue???? or is it not that much of an issue going forward???

  13. By Darren Urban on Nov 7, 2015 | Reply

    Mike G —

    RE: Turnovers

    They can’t have them. To say they are more of a focus makes it sound like it wasn’t a focus, which I do not think is true.

  14. By Richard S on Nov 7, 2015 | Reply

    Fitz has always had reliable hands. It used to be throw it to Fitz or Boldin and they’ll hang onto it. John Brown is becoming pretty reliable too. As for all the running backs I remember when the team had a lot to look forward to because they now had 2 really good wide receivers. Now they’ve got several very reliable receivers. Keep the good play up. Stay even keeled. Don’t get too overconfident. Remember the Titanic and the Vasa, two mighty ships that didn’t quite reach their destination.

  15. By Steve on Nov 7, 2015 | Reply

    TucsonTim, Peyton Manning often skips practice on Wednesdays according to PFT.

  16. By geggam on Nov 7, 2015 | Reply

    The games the Cardinals lost they beat themselves. Once they get whatever issue causing that to happen cleared up I dont think there is a team I have seen they cant win against.

  17. By Scott H on Nov 8, 2015 | Reply

    VERY glad to see the Rams lose to the Vikings today. But, geez, now the Vikings are looking pretty strong and we have them coming up as well. When the schedule came out, that looked to be a pretty sure win that would not have required our best efforts. Now? Nope. They are now plying themselves into the playoff race and will have a lot to play for going forward.

    Actually…I think I am gonna be rooting for these Vikings going forward ( except when the play the Cards, of course ). Because if they can somehow take that division away from the Packers, that is a VERY good thing. We do NOT want to have to go to Lambeau in January.

    This 2nd half of this schedule is no picnic. Heck, even San Fran – freed from the shackles of being stuck with Kap – might even be a feistier team by the time we see them again.

  18. By Tucsontim on Nov 8, 2015 | Reply

    Darren –

    It is a mind set. We have done nothing except beat teams who have a collective 13 – 34 record. Is that your definition of “proven to be a good team” ?

    It’s about attitude. It’s about a fanatical commitment to excellence. It’s about telling everyone: you will never beat me because I didn’t prepare enough for you.

    I said it before, the one word definition of this team is LAZY. Skipping practice just reinforced what I believe to be true.

    Are you going to hang out at the Greenbrier for another week before Philly?

    There is a lot of opportunity. I have made it clear that I believe in the talent. But I haven’t seen the desire. This team should be 8-0. Just because the Cardinals have always been underperformers doesn’t excuse that. The veteran leaders should not have let a chance to practice and prepare and win slip by.

    Take a look at what is coming…. a lot better than 13 – 34. I wouldn’t have taken a minute off.

  19. By Darren Urban on Nov 8, 2015 | Reply

    TucsonTim —

    RE: Lazy

    Yes, this team is lazy. Exactly.

    Laziness caused Fitz’s fumble against the Rams. It wasn’t Harrison’s helmet-removing hit on John Brown that forced a fumble, it was because Brown was in a hotel in West Virginia the week before the game. (By the way, that argument cracks me up. Many of these players live in really nice houses in Arizona and are there every night, but somehow being in a nice hotel — to only sleep in, by the way, because the days in West Virginia they were actually at a practice facility much like the one in Tempe — changes the players.)

    If the Cards just would practice six days a week, Carson Palmer would have absolutely seen Mike Mitchell coming from the weak side in Pittsburgh. And it would’ve weakened the Rams’ defense for sure in the red-zone, making them not the best red-zone defense in the league. David Johnson definitely dropped the ball on the goal line because he doesn’t catch enough passes generally.

    What do you think these guys have been doing constantly since late July? Practicing. Do they have stuff they have to get better at? Yes. Should they strive for perfection? Sure. Guess what — they’re never going to achieve it. They are going to lose some games. They are human. I’m sure you wouldn’t have taken a minute off. I’d also guess you wouldn’t be coaching very long either.

  20. By Tucsontim on Nov 8, 2015 | Reply

    “FOXBORO — The Patriots were in another practice when it happened. An undrafted rookie on the scout team intercepted Tom Brady.


    Malcolm Butler was a nuisance last season. The Patriots’ fifth cornerback was Brady’s biggest nemesis throughout 2014”

    Darren, do you remember Butler saying that he practiced that play, just once, in the week before the super bowl. And because of that PRACTICE he recognized the play and knew exactly what to do.

    The BEST never miss a chance to practice and they certainly don’t demean it.

    And YES I actually do think skipping just one practice could result in the Cardinals not making the playoffs. One practice won a super bowl. Why would you think differently.

  21. By Tucsontim on Nov 8, 2015 | Reply

    Isn’t “lull” and “loss of focus” just code for LAZY.

    Sorry I just call it like I see it.

  22. By Darren Urban on Nov 8, 2015 | Reply

    Tucsontim —

    RE: Practice

    You are the guy who gets mad when players put on social media they went golfing one day because you want to know why they weren’t working on football, right?

    If “lull” and “loss of focus” are code for lazy, and since it is Arians using those phrases, why would he cancel practice?

    And that’s part of the problem — you don’t see it. You see a tiny part of it. Three hours on Sundays. You don’t see this team 95 percent of the time. So how could you know how hard they are working?

    I guess the Cardinals won’t win the Super Bowl this year because of last Wednesday. I’ll let Arians know.

  23. By JohnnyBluenose on Nov 9, 2015 | Reply

    Clssylssy….Dan Quinn has turned the Falcons around? Really?

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