Friday before the Eagles, and Fitz tackles

Posted by Darren Urban on December 18, 2015 – 4:14 pm

Larry Fitzgerald has made it clear he doesn’t necessarily like to block. But he likes to tackle.

Sometimes, it’s a subtle attempt at a takedown, like when he was giving Michael Floyd grief near the end of the win in St. Louis when Floyd didn’t come down with a diving TD catch and slowly moved into position before the lighting quick lower-leg takedown on the sideline. (I have been on the receiving end of that move a couple of times over the years.) Sometimes, it’s full speed, like when he took down Smokey Brown after his TD against the Eagles last year (spooking Brown enough that he rushed his TD dance against the Rams later in the season for fear of a Fitz hit). Or, for instance, last week.

Dwight Freeney had just sacked Teddy Bridgewater to seal the Cardinals win. And Fitz sacked Freeney.

“Listen, we’re the two oldest guys out there and you’re running full speed and I’m sitting there wondering what he’s going to do,” Freeney said. “And then I’m like, ‘Oh God, he’s jumping.’ The whole game I’m healthy until that damn play.”

Fitzgerald – who complained he was whacked on the head by guard Ted Larsen’s helmet when Larsen, helmet in hand, went to hug Freeney – said he just got excited.

“I’ve known Dwight for a very long time, a long time,” Fitz said. “To be able to see him do that at that moment, for that number, a $200,000 sack, that was big.”

Ahh, the cash. Freeney hit the $200,000 incentive in his contract for his fourth sack, and he gets incentive money for each sack going forward. Fitz doesn’t miss stuff like that.

“I appreciate that,” Fitzgerald said. “I’m going to appreciate every single one for him here on out, too.”

Maybe there will be a sack-tackle in Philly too.

— Every Friday, both the offense and defense leave for a players-only meeting after practice ends. It’s usually just a wrap-up reminder from unit leaders about the game plan, imploring focus. Most of the time, the defense is gone for 15 or 20 minutes. They met for much longer Friday. After the mistakes made against the Vikings – and what can happen with similar mistakes against the high-tempo Eagles – there has been a drive to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

— The Cardinals haven’t turned the ball over in three straight games, which has helped considering two of them were close (weird to think in the three games before those, the Cardinals lost the turnover battle yet still won, which feels statistically impossible in today’s NFL.) It feels like turnovers will be the deciding factor Sunday night. If the Cards stay clean, I don’t see the Eagles beating them.

— If Rashad Johnson can’t play, I’ll be very interested to see how the defense reacts and what it means. Patrick Peterson said this week he can’t imagine life without Rashad behind the defense. Will they have to find out? (And given that Johnson is a free agent-to-be, could it be a trial run for 2016?)

— If you haven’t seen “Bruce Arians: A Football Life” you might not know that the Cardinals last year adopted the song “I’m About To Whip Somebody’s Ass” for pre-game. Safety Tyrann Mathieu said he is the locker room DJ before games and is the “only one with that song” on the team. Arians sent it to Mathieu during a text conversation last year, Mathieu liked it, and it became part of the team’s pre-game ritual.

“Every game, home or away, it doesn’t matter,” Mathieu said.

It doesn’t hurt that the Cardinals have won many of those games.

— Michael Floyd grinned, admitting again how he probably stole the pass for Fitzgerald last week that ended up being a 42-yard TD for Floyd, with Fitz blocking. Fitzgerald was asked if Floyd was going to buy him dinner in exchange.

“Mike is the cheapest dude on the team,” said Fitzgerald, who never seems to pass up a chance to needle his fellow Minnesota native. “Mike don’t even pay attention. That’s how cheap he is.”

— Yes, the Cardinals are on the road, but in anticipation of what is expected to be an influx of Packers fans next week after a noticeable amount of Vikings fans at University of Phoenix Stadium last week, Fitzgerald isn’t thrilled.

“Nothing that irks me more than seeing that,” Fitzgerald said. “We want to create that same tradition here. I know we have only been here since 1988. … Hopefully we can change that tide.”

— Freeney signed so late in the season he got a locker not with the linebackers but where there was an open stall. It happened to be between quarterbacks Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton.

“It was kind of funny,” Freeney said, who added with a smile, “but I like being near quarterbacks.”

— Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford, on the possibility of throwing at Peterson, who has been as much of a shutdown cornerback as anyone in the league this season.

“Well, I would probably prefer not to,” Bradford said. “Obviously, Patrick’s a great player. He’s proved that in his time in the league. But, if we have the opportunity and it’s there, you’ve got to throw it. You can’t let one guy take away a whole half of the field.”

— Kyle Odegard did a great job writing about running back David Johnson’s journey to the NFL. Check it out if you haven’t already.

— I think Johnson, who has 99 and 92 yards rushing in his two starts, cracks 100 yards this week.

— Next stop, Philadelphia.


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26 Responses to “Friday before the Eagles, and Fitz tackles”

  1. By hummer53 on Dec 18, 2015 | Reply

    It seemed as though BA was a little short and edgy in his press conference answers today. Looks like the game face is on as we get into late December and into the playoffs.

  2. By Steve on Dec 18, 2015 | Reply

    Darren: The next time Fitz decides to try another lightning quick lower-leg takedown of you on the sideline, how will you prepare for it and do you still have the athleticism to perhaps hop over or side-step Larry??

  3. By Darren Urban on Dec 19, 2015 | Reply

    Steve —

    RE: Fitz

    You are assuming I had the athleticism in the first place.

  4. By CreditCard on Dec 18, 2015 | Reply

    Another tough game looming. Both teams fighting for a play-off position.

    Philly fans can turn on their team in a wink of an eye. If the Cards can win the line of scrimmage and jump out to an early lead; I think the Philly fans will become hostile to the home team. (Remember the snowball beating Santa received in Philly several years ago.)

    I am in more so in hopes Rashad Johnson plays over Ellington. It would be great if both play. Sendlien has been nursing injuries again this year. My opinion, a bad center can ruin the entire O-line.

  5. By Scott H on Dec 18, 2015 | Reply

    OK, post game, watch out for Fitz. Probably a more aggressive take-down than anything you saw during the game. BTW, his comments about Floyd being the cheapest dude on the team were LOL funny!

    Looking ahead, here are some things to be on guard against with these Eagles. Their special teams. Their ST’s was such a big part of how they won games last year. Hasn’t been as much of a force this year but it has started to wake up a bit the last two weeks. Was a BIG part of how they beat the Pats in NE. Sproles is lethal. He gets through the initial wave….you might not get another chance. Putting the ball out of bounds on some punts might not be a bad idea.

    Sproles ( again ) as a weapon on offense. Again, lethal. He is SO fast and SO small and SO hard to get a hold of. He’s like a rabbit, that guy. Their offense has pretty much been going through him. He doesn’t get a lot of touches…he just does a lot with the ones he gets. As much trouble as we have had with guys like Gio Bernard and Todd Gurley and ( to a lesser degree ) AP….Sproles is every bit as lethal. Which leads me to…

    …my concern for how a guy like Sproles could SHRED this defense if our bltzes are not getting pressure on the QB. I cite the Vikings game. The Vikings are ( I believe ) the 2nd worst passing offense in the league. But they sure didn’t look like it against us. Bridgewater was making it look easy against us. Their O-line was doing a very good job of picking up our blitzes and Bridgewater was having no trouble finding wise-open outlets, guys in space, getting big yards after the catch. The Eagles have a very solid O-line. If we blitz as we usually do and we’re not getting there….that is going to sustain drives for them, keep the game close, and keep our defense on the field. THAT is where / how Sproles could do a TON of damage Sunday night.

    Their TE’s. Ertz and Celek have been catching a lot more balls lately, making a lot more plays. I think that is a big part of why Bradford has played so much better recently than he was during the first 7-8 games. Not that their WR’s can’t make plays. But it seems like Sproles and the TE’s have been the guys making the offense go.

    The best defense is a good offense – one that sustains drives and / or ends drives with TD’s. The Eagles are on the verge of allowing a record number of TD passes this season. That plays right to our strengths. NO reason this should not be a 3-4 TD night for Palmer. If we are rolling on offense, I don’t think the Eagles can keep pace. Sam Bradford vs Carson Palmer??? Unless Palmer is having a VERY off night, that is a mis-match.

    This game is HUGE!! It is not gonna feel real good if we drop this one and then NEED to win against GB or Seattle to bring home the division. We can wrap up the division HERE and we need to wrap it up HERE.

    BTW, I took off from work on Monday and I need to keep the un-blemished streak of blissful days off after a win going! I’ve taken off after every prime time game so far. All have been wins. C’mon, fellas – don’t screw up my happy Monday!

  6. By John Donohue on Dec 18, 2015 | Reply

    Just wanted to share the perils of Nfl flex policy. The family and I are season ticket holders and have to be in Philadelphia this weekend. Perfect right? Well it was perfect. Tickets purchased – flights lock in for a 7:30 flight home. All until. Game was flexed…. Nfl needs to consider traveling fans a little more

  7. By georgiebird on Dec 18, 2015 | Reply

    Cards should have never been part of changing the time of this game. Playing in 35 degree weather instead of 44 sunny is a big disadvantage. The extra 7 hours to play the game is not worth the temp change even if it keeps the Cards on AZ time.
    The Cards are winning but not playing great football at this time. Don’t know what will happen in the other Sunday games but I’m not expecting much help.
    Our main advantage is Bradford is the Eagles QB. If Bradford plays a decent game, the Eagles are as good now as any team we have played.
    During the game, Cards’ players might end up feeling that the Packers’ game is the most important game of the season-and it probably is.

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

    Georgie —

    RE: Cards and changing the game

    What are you talking about? Teams don’t get a choice in being flexed.

  9. By Dr. G. on Dec 18, 2015 | Reply

    Reading the DJohnson narrative, like any compassionate person, I feel really sorry for what a kid like this went through. Back in he 60s, when the president tried to create the “Great Society,” he basically destroyed many of the families-to-be by paying young women who had children, unmarried, and looking to trap a husband. The husband-to-be has his fun and splits because the government wanted to hold him financially accountable. The young unmarried girls will lose the $$$$ if the dad was identified. No mention of the dad here?

    How many times have you heard the young athletes yell “Hi mom,” because dad is gone or unknown? These moms pass the dependency on to the son who now has succeeded despite the incredible odds against him. We are now in probably the 5th generation of this behavior…who should really be held accountable? The PC police do not want to have this dialogue… My congratulations to all these young men who have succeeded despite being these pawns of negligent adults… editorial appropriate to pro sports… my heart breaks for these kids.

    Darren…you may deny this truthful post, but it is food for PC thought &analysis. Thanks…

  10. By Valerie Amend on Dec 18, 2015 | Reply

    You’re still the best writer, you spread the Cardinals love sharing links like you do, and they are usually highlights of fun stuff like game action, behind-the-scenes peak into a lot of stuff we might miss during the course of the game. I didn’t miss any of the stuff that you touched on, whether TV or radio, and you always seem to write it with a clever note attached. Just wanted to say thanks for many great reads through the years with our Cardinals, the good and not-so-good. Appreciate ya! Val

  11. By Bradley Sher on Dec 18, 2015 | Reply

    I would be honored to be the locker room DJ. My Dad and I had season tickets for the Cardinals from 1988 to around 2013. We couldnt attend games together after because my Father is ill with Parkinsons disease. I feel that I would be an asset to the Cardinals organization by motivating the team and the 12th man around the world. I thank you for the opportunity to help the team succeed for future generations to come.

    Great fully-fledged fan,
    Bradley Sher

  12. By Robert B. Cooper on Dec 18, 2015 | Reply

    I have been a Big Red fan my entire life, and also a Cardinal Baseball fan. I think you need to think about how expensive it is in different markets for people to travel and attend games. Even as rich and historical of a history as the baseball Cardinal’s have when they play the SF Giant’s or even the Cubs you get a lot of people that travel to those games. Cubs tickets are expensive, it is cheaper for them to come to St. Louis and spend the weekend. SF Giants have been sold out for years, their tickets are relatively high, it is cheaper for their fans that want to see their team to travel to St. Louis and see a game. I have been in all inclusive areas in the past couple of years and the entire section was bought out by SF Giants fans. I asked one of them why and he told me he couldn’t get tickets in SF for the Giants and it was cheaper for him to buy the tickets in St. Louis. I would guess that the same would hold true for a lot of NFL teams, particularly Packer fans. 10 plus years of 11+ wins may change that, and after all with non blackout what incentive is there for someone to not just sit home and watch the game locally unless you want to make it an event.

  13. By Don Short on Dec 19, 2015 | Reply

    Darren, right on about Kyle’s story on DJ. Very moving. Don Short

  14. By Eric G on Dec 19, 2015 | Reply

    See you tomorrow night at the game Cardinals! I’ll be cheering loudly from the cheap seats. Beat them iggles.

  15. By Big Ken on Dec 19, 2015 | Reply

    Had to give Frenney an ‘open stall’. lol Got to love what he brings to the team.

  16. By DTL on Dec 19, 2015 | Reply

    Re David Johnson:

    Was going to stay silent, but Dr G drew me out: David Johnson’s story made me emotional, reflecting on my life and my children, several times. My God. His story, sadly, not that unusual. God has blessed him. His is a pillar of a young man. Kyle’s excellent story telling and David’s path is an inspiration to us all in the Christmas season. Btw, notice how many great stories the Cardinals have on this roster, from Mathieu to Chris Johnson to David. This comes from the top of the organization, all the way down. Strength of character is what wins the close ones (along with a good bounce;)

    Man, go Cards!

  17. By Mike G on Dec 19, 2015 | Reply

    Yo Darren–Hope all is good. Looking forward to the game Sunday Night. Card’s have done a nice job the last three taking care of the football. If they continue that trend they should be in good shape. Eagles have been bizarre this year in their performance really an up and down team. The last two ball-games against Philly the previous two years have been good ball games. Looking for C. Campbell to have a big game tomorrow. Cards must be wary of Fletcher Cox on the Eagle D-Line. Interested to see how the Cards perform in their short yardage situations – to me it is their biggest weakness on offense . If the Cards can get this game–it will be a big advantage for them with all upcoming games coming through University of Phoenix Stadium(except Carolina) No travel needed. Hey-Darren–Where does the Eagles Stadium rank to you (The Linc.) compared to other stadiums you hit throughout the year??? Like or Dislike????

  18. By Darren Urban on Dec 19, 2015 | Reply

    Mike G —

    RE: The Linc

    It’s fine. It’s not a bad stadium. I don’t know if it’s one of my favorite spots, but it’s a solid place.

  19. By georgiebird on Dec 19, 2015 | Reply

    re; FLEXED
    It’s a sorry state of affairs to schedule the Cards in the Northeast in late December. It’s not fair to make it a night game. If the teams have NO say than it’ borders on being a game changer and a possible season changer. Hope I’m wrong.

  20. By Darren Urban on Dec 20, 2015 | Reply

    Georgie —

    RE: Flex

    They have no say. Not sure why they would.

  21. By Scott H on Dec 19, 2015 | Reply

    John Donohue –

    It should be very apparent by now that the NFL does not care about you. They are showing that in many ways these days. They do what is in THEIR best interests, period. If you are in-convenienced, they are not losing any sleep over it.

    You raise an interesting point, though. This flex-schedule thing can really screw up the plans for traveling plans. If possible, I guess all we can do plan to fly out the next morning.

  22. By JohnnyBluenose on Dec 19, 2015 | Reply

    @CreditCard….Sendlein is the best centre we have and he is doing the best he can and he’s playing hurt. What more do you want at this stage of the year? @Scott H…agree with you. @Darren…Johnson has certainly overcome a lot Very nice to know that he and his family are in a much better place. And regarding Fitz and his penchant for celebrating his teammates’ successes by running and jumping at them….maybe he and everyone else should tone it down before someone gets hurt. It happens. Let’s win tomorrow. More importantly, let’s win next week against the Packers and clinch a first round bye.

  23. By Kevin S Mesa on Dec 20, 2015 | Reply

    Re: UofP having lots of opposing fans:

    Let’s face it, folks, this isn’t going away any time soon. You’ve got three major factors at play:

    1. Most Arizonans are from somewhere else. Tons of people relocate but keep allegiance to their hometown teams.

    2. AZ is a warm-weather destination for a sport played in a cold season. Who wouldn’t want to come to Phoenix from, say, Green Bay next weekend?

    3. Tickets here are generally cheap. I got great lower-level seats, 10 rows from the action, for games on the secondary market for around $220 earlier this year. I paid over $400 each for tickets that weren’t as good for the Cards’ week 2 game that I attended in Chicago. People can often fly here AND buy a ticket for the cost of a ticket alone back home. (Now, granted, the GB and Seattle tix are pretty pricey — not surprising, given that all 3 teams are battling for playoff spots, and how many people are probably making a long holiday weekend trip from GB).

  24. By route66rambler on Dec 20, 2015 | Reply

    Weather is not as big a factor with this team as it is made out to be. Arians coached in Indy, where it’s cold. Palmer played in Cinci where it’s cold and Oakland where it rains. Fitz and Floyd are from Minnesota and Fitz played in Pittsburgh in college, at Three Rivers. These guys have all played in places where it rains, snows and knocks you down with the wind. They don’t have chewy nougat centers (yum… Nougaaaaat….) just because they play on a desert team.

  25. By Scott H on Dec 20, 2015 | Reply

    Weather up-date from Philly area…..beautiful sunny day out here. Not exactly mild, but definitely better than what it should be for late December! It will be cold at game-time but NOT ice-bowl cold and there is no wind. Overall….pretty friendly, weather-wise.

    Just saw where the Giants tied the score against the Panthers. Go G-Men! Keep the door open for the Cardinals. Giants should be leading….a WIDE OPEN OBJ dropped a sure TD pass earlier. That is why the Giants have the record they do…can’t get out of their own damn way.

    BTW, anyone else feel like Ted Ginn just totally took last year off with the Cardinals? Sure looks like he did. He had a career season with Carolina in 2013 and is now surpassing that THIS year for the Panthers again. In between? He was a TOTAL ZERO in 2014 for the Cardinals. I swear, I can’t even say what I REALLY think about him. Holidays and all. But rest assured, it is not nice. Just gives me another reason to hope we get a chance to take Carolina down at some point!

    But for now….GO G-MEN!!

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