Friday before the Bengals

Posted by Darren Urban on November 20, 2015 – 4:08 pm

The Cardinals will play their 100th game at University of Phoenix Stadium Sunday night against the Bengals. They still have one player who has been around for all 100. In fact, Larry Fitzgerald – who, once we get there, will have played in 97 of them – actually can make comparisons, since his first two seasons were spent playing home games at Arizona State.

“I remember back in the days playing at Sun Devil Stadium when you couldn’t pay someone to watch us play out there,” Fitzgerald said. “Now you can’t get a seat in the building. It’s great to see the turnaround.”

It’s been a few weeks since the Cardinals last had a home game. That too was nationally televised against an AFC North team. The Cardinals beat Baltimore on “Monday Night Football.” Now, thanks to a flex choice, the Cardinals get Cincinnati on “Sunday Night Football.”

The 100 games – all official sellouts – includes everything: Preseason and postseason. This one will have a bit of a postseason feel too, given that the Cardinals are 7-2 and battling (for now) to keep the No. 2 seed in the NFC and the 8-1 Bengals hoping they can still catch the undefeated Patriots for the No. 1 seed in the AFC.

This one should be fun, even with the Cards a little beat up. The Bengals have their issues too.

— The Cards will likely be down one starting offensive lineman in right guard Jonathan Cooper, but I’d think Ted Larsen would start for him (Earl Watford is still possible.) They will have Mike Iupati at left guard. I don’t think Michael Floyd plays after missing practice all week, and Smokey Brown isn’t at full strength. But the Bengals are also likely to not have two defensive starters in defensive end Michael Johnson and No. 1 cornerback Pacman Jones, so there’s no advantage.

If Floyd is down, J.J. Nelson will be active, and you figure he’ll be the deep threat if Brown cannot be. Besides, as long as Carson Palmer is in the pocket, the passing game will survive.

— Offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin didn’t seem particularly worried about where the injuries left the Cards.

“We don’t turn the ball over, we’re a pretty good freaking offense,” Goodwin said.

— Bruce Arians acknowledged that he didn’t notice much of a difference last year when the University of Phoenix Stadium roof was open for “Sunday Night Football” against the Seahawks compared to when it is closed.

But, “do I like having it closed?” Arians said. “Hell yeah.”

— No official word about the roof status until Sunday afternoon, most likely.

— Speaking of the stadium, don’t forget there will be heightened security around the game because of recent terrorist events around the globe. Give yourself plenty of time to get into the building.

— With defensive tackle Cory Redding out with a bad ankle, there is a chance we could see undrafted rookie nose tackle Xavier Williams active for the first time this season.

— Palmer was fined $11,576 for his sideline gesture that was caught on camera in Seattle following Andre Ellington’s late touchdown run. Palmer had a couple of first pumps but then threw in a pelvic thrust toward the crowd. Palmer said after the game his reaction was toward three friends he had in the stands.

“I had my buddies on the sideline right four or five rows up,” Palmer said. “I saw them pretty excited, and it got me excited to see them excited.”

— Seahawks linebacker K.J. Wright was fined $23,152 for his crushing hit to the head on Larry Fitzgerald. The Seattle Times reported that Wright, who is appealing, said he apologized to Fitz and that Fitz got up laughing after the hit. (I’m not sure what that matters in terms of the fine, but …)

— ESPN did a breakdown on the luckiest and unluckiest teams in the NFL based on random events, and the Cardinals actually were called unlucky. That’s because out of their own 12 fumbles on offense, the Cardinals have recovered only four, and out of 10 opponent fumbles while on defense the Cardinals have recovered only three. Since fumble recoveries are usually luck of the bounce/right place, right time, the Cards should have more. Also, opposing kickers have yet to miss on 16 field-goal attempts.

— Defensive coordinator James Bettcher is happy with his outside linebacker rotation of Alex Okafor, LaMarr Woodley, Dwight Freeney and Markus Golden, but he said it’s hard to get everyone the playing time they deserve. Golden only played 10 snaps in Seattle in the first game with all four players available.

“As a defensive coach, you don’t want to play more snaps, but you wish there were more snaps for guys to get,” Bettcher said.

— said of their grades, only three cornerbacks do not have a game with a negative number this season: Carolina’s Josh Norman, and the Cardinals’ Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu. (PFF considers Mathieu a slot cornerback since he’s played the most snaps there.)

— Ex-Bengal and current defensive line starter Frostee Rucker has been quietly one of GM Steve Keim’s best signings. Rucker signed in 2013 to be a backup and role player, but has emerged as a highly effective starter and locker-room leader. And Rucker is enjoying his increased role.

“It’s the pat on the back that someone doesn’t have to say, because you know you’re contributing to something that’s good,” Rucker said.

It’s a feeling a lot of Cardinals have right now.

On to Cincinnati.



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Posted in Blog | 21 Comments »

21 Responses to “Friday before the Bengals”

  1. By Chuck 1 on Nov 20, 2015 | Reply

    Massie, keep Palmer upright!!!

  2. By jaime on Nov 20, 2015 | Reply

    thats so dumb Palmer got fined, if thats the case then no more discount double check Rodgers cuz he’s emphasizing the belt/pelvic area. See how stupid that sounds. I’ve watched spongebob shows with more pelvic thrusting.

  3. By Darren Urban on Nov 21, 2015 | Reply

    Jaime —

    RE: Fine

    My guess is that it wasn’t just the thrust but that it was aimed toward the fans.

  4. By Scott H on Nov 20, 2015 | Reply

    First, this question – who has the better dance, John Brown or Drew Stanton? I’d have to say Smoky. And I hope we get to see THAT one on Sunday night.

    Just hope this team keeps the focus….remembers that the other team on the field had played 9 games and only lost one of them. Not all of them easy, either. The games they played against Seattle and Pittsburgh looked like losses until the Bengals fought back, executed, and made them wins. This is a team that can come in here and win if they play their best.

    Unfortunately for the Bengals, I don’t think they can come in here and win if the Cardinals play THEIR best.

    Just keep the focus. And, BTW, this would probably be a good game to NOT lose the turnover battle in. Just sayin….

    Whatever else they do on Sunday night, it would be really nice to see a Palmer to Gresham TD pass at some point. Heck, the way Gresham is starting to warm up, it was likely to happen, anyway!

  5. By Bernardo Lopez on Nov 20, 2015 | Reply

    Hey Darren,
    What happened to Gunter? I know he had the big safety in the preseason and was having a decent camp, if my memory serves me correct. I havent seen much of him on the field. It could be because i am not looking, he isnt making plays, or he just truly isnt out there?
    Do you think he make a difference out there Sunday night?

  6. By Darren Urban on Nov 21, 2015 | Reply

    Bernardo —

    RE: Gunter

    He’s not making a huge impact but he’s part of the rotation and playing fine.

  7. By Blake on Nov 20, 2015 | Reply

    Hey Darren, just curious but any word or when do expect the cards to wear red on red uni’s? Thanks

  8. By Darren Urban on Nov 21, 2015 | Reply

    Blake —

    RE: Red/red

    I don’t know.

  9. By Nick Pepe on Nov 20, 2015 | Reply

    I expect Sunday to be the loudest it’s ever been in all of those 100. This one is off the charts storyline good. And we deserve the hype. and we will back it up. On prime time. Again.

    Nick Pepe
    Lifetime Member ’70-’71
    Best it’s ever been

  10. By Credit Card on Nov 20, 2015 | Reply

    Good article about Michael Bidwill and the Cards organization. As for injuries … cohesion along the o-line is very important, losing a starter is big. Larson has started many times as well as Watford a handful of times. Depth is a good thing.

    Receiver mix will be determined as the game is unfolding and what match-ups the Cards can exploit. The energy of a game will temporarily “heal” sore muscles and slight strains.

    How is Stinson and Gunther doing? I thought Mauro has played very well — especially in Seattle. D-line rotation will too be big. Cards might call up Williams.

    Special team play will also be big. Hopefully Bethel is feeling better. I’ve also been impressed with Jaron Brown and Alani Fau’s special team play this year.

  11. By Perry matherne on Nov 20, 2015 | Reply

    O-line,do your job protect carson we can win against Cincinnati,stay jacked-up,play like a team obsessed.Watch the deep passes for that I KNOW they will try,cause I guarantee we will stuff the run!

  12. By Perry matherne on Nov 20, 2015 | Reply

    Go big red,O-line protect carson!

  13. By brian r on Nov 21, 2015 | Reply

    i think fining someone for pumping his fists and pelvic thrusting is too much. the guys are excited for all theyre currently achieving. imo this is the best cardinals team i have ever seen! keep having fun guys, and go Cardinals!

  14. By Morgan on Nov 21, 2015 | Reply

    Cooper not playing could be an upgrade. Even with our WRs out I feel we can win this game. Not worried. Just goes to show you how great this team is and I expect Carson’s best game of the year.

  15. By JohnnyBluenose on Nov 21, 2015 | Reply

    Scott H….sorry to disagree with you. Stanton’s dance was just as good but more importantly to me his dance (if that’s what it’s called) was celebrating Ellington’s big play. Brown seems to celebrate mostly his own. I think Brown needs to borrow a page from Larry’s book when it comes to celebrating big plays, his own and those of his teammates. The only concern I had about Stanton’s celebration was his close proximity to the playing field…way too close for my comfort level.

  16. By JohnnyBluenose on Nov 21, 2015 | Reply

    Two friends of mine from Nova Scotia have been in Arizona for a week. Last week they were in Sedona and went to the Grand Canyon and had a great time. This week they are in Phoenix and they are going to the game tomorrow. They have never attended an NFL game before. They will see a great game but more than that, they will have a great experience at U of P Stadium. It is no surprise that the SuperBowl will return there sometime soon.

  17. By dan on Nov 21, 2015 | Reply

    Shaq Riddick ever play? What a waste of a pick, called that right away after watching highlights…….I could see the dude sucked after 1 minute.

  18. By Big Ken on Nov 22, 2015 | Reply

    Looking forward to seeing Xavier Williams get on the field.

  19. By Big Ken on Nov 22, 2015 | Reply

    Another Sunday night game? I guess we’ll have to put up with Chris Collingsworth probably talking up his old team. One more reason to cheer for the Cardinals.

  20. By Scott H on Nov 22, 2015 | Reply

    JohnnyBlue –

    OK, but….Stanton isn’t playing so he can’t celebrate anything he does. He can ONLY celebrate what someone else does, he doesn’t have much of a choice! Hey, I have no problems with JB celebrating his own TD’s, that is usually how it goes in the NFL. Besides, I think when Smoky does his thing, he is celebrating a TD for the TEAM. Wouldn’t you agree? Nothing about Smoky has suggested that he is a me-me-me guy.

    Dude, I hope we’re ALL dancing by about midnight tonight! You with me?

  21. By JohnnyBluenose on Nov 23, 2015 | Reply

    Scott H….I think I watched most of the game standing so I did not do any dancing when the game was over. A couple of fist pumps was about all I had left. I guess we are both a little tired this morning. At least I no longer have to get up early and go to work. My friends from Nova Scotia were treated to a great game. Looking forward to hearing their stories.

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