Fitz’s lone shutout, Friday before the Bills

Posted by Darren Urban on September 23, 2016 – 2:30 pm

Larry Fitzgerald did not catch a pass, and that was only the beginning of the brutality that was the Cardinals’ last trip to Buffalo.

It was way (way) back in Fitz’s rookie year of 2004. It was Denny Green’s first season. Anquan Boldin was coming back that day after missing the first six games with a knee injury suffered in training camp. Boldin had four catches for 50 yards. Fitz, alas, was shut out – the only time in his career he has not caught a pass in a game.

“That was probably the first time in my life I didn’t catch a ball,” said Fitzgerald, whose consecutive-games-with-a-catch streak is at 181. “Ever since I started playing football. There’s a first for everything.”

(Fitz did have a rushing attempt, for four yards.)

Of course, there weren’t many completions, period. Josh McCown completed just 9-of-24 passes, Drew Bledsoe just 8-of-17, as the teams played in nasty winds up to 30 miles an hour plus rain. It was a joy to watch. (It ended with a 38-14 Bills win).

The weather isn’t supposed to be bad Sunday. The temperatures will be mild, the sun is supposed to be out, the wind at a minimum. And of course, Fitz is playing with a team 12 years later that is light years better than that group that went to New York.

— No Evan Mathis this week, cut down by the dreaded turf toe. Earl Watford gets the start in his place. That’s an interesting development, in part because …

— Sunday will be a big test for right tackle D.J. Humphries. The defense played by the Ryan brothers usually features high-pressure from the outside. Do they go after Humphries? Goodwin said Humphries is doing better, although he noted there were mental lapses both against the Buccaneers and in practice this week. “He is always going to feel the pressure from me and coach (Arians),” Goodwin said.

Now you have Watford and Humphries on the right side of the line without Mathis.

— Defensive coordinator James Bettcher, on his reaction after hearing Bruce Arians accepting the blame for the zone-first defensive philosophy in the Patriots loss: “The first thing I thought was, we needed to tackle better in that game … our communication wasn’t good enough.”

“I love coach’s input,” Bettcher added. “He is one of the smartest men I have ever worked around. Not only is he the best head coach in the National Football League, he is a smart, smart football coach.”

— The Cardinals have yet to turn the ball over. Carson Palmer should have been picked a couple of times so far – the drop by Bucs CB Brent Grimes on the bad route by David Johnson last week the most memorable – but overall the QB has been good protecting the ball. In an offense like this, where the passing game will go down the field, a minimum of interceptions is impressive.

“Experience is one thing,” Palmer said in his explanation why. “You know when to take your shots. You know whether it’s the right type of third-down situation to be in, the right time of the game. You’ve got to be smart.

“(Interceptions are) going to happen. You try to avoid them as long as you can and when they do happen, you bounce back and go down and score on the next drive. That’s something that I pride myself on.”

— While Arians said the cornerback spot across from Patrick Peterson would be shared work-wise between Marcus Cooper and Brandon Williams, Bettcher said whoever had the better week of practice was going to earn the playing time Sunday.

— As we go, don’t discount the idea that newcomer Tharold Simon could also start to get some defensive snaps at cornerback.

— Former Cardinals linebacker Lorenzo Alexander, now 33 years old, is starting in Buffalo and has 1½ sacks and nine tackles in two games, plus a forced fumble and tackle for loss. “Lorenzo is playing really, really well,” Cardinals offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin said. “He’s got a sack and a half and he’s missed two or three. Just missed.”

— So far, Markus Golden is keeping up with the higher-profile Chandler Jones in sacks. Both have two in two games. Golden shrugged off his pace, but admitted he’ll be looking at it at season’s end.

“At the end of the year, of course, numbers mean something to everybody,” Golden said. “You want to do stuff people didn’t think you could do, so of course the numbers matter, but I feel like if you compete at the high level and play to win, you’ll get the numbers no matter what.

“Just got to keep hunting.”

Buffalo awaits.


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Posted in Blog | 11 Comments »

11 Responses to “Fitz’s lone shutout, Friday before the Bills”

  1. By eierb43r on Sep 23, 2016 | Reply

    Hi Darren,

    do you remember that rushing attempt by Fitz? Was it a backwards pass?

  2. By Darren Urban on Sep 23, 2016 | Reply

    eierb43r —

    RE: Fitz rush

    I’d have to check. When Fitz first started, Green liked using him on end-around plays so I’d guess that’s what it was.

    UPDATE: And I checked. You were right. A backwards pass. Fitz was targeted five times in the game with forward passes.

  3. By Big Ken on Sep 23, 2016 | Reply

    Let’s apply the beat down to the ‘Ryan Bros’ can’t stand’em!

  4. By Big Ken on Sep 23, 2016 | Reply

    I remember a gadget play I saw this summer at the Red and White scrimmage this summer. Fitz caught the backwards pass from Carson and threw a TD to Jaron Brown. This might be a good opportunity for such a play. Just say’n..

  5. By rightinhissight on Sep 23, 2016 | Reply

    I’m one of.. well maybe one Cardinals fans in Western NY. I went to this game. I a pretty sure McCown got sacked on a running play in that game. The good news was, the game was so out of hand, I wasn’t bothered by Bills fans.

  6. By Scott H on Sep 24, 2016 | Reply

    As far as the teams themselves go, it isn’t really close – the Cardinals are a much better team. If things were simple – and the better team played better – the Cardinals would win this game simply because they are a better team. But it’s the NFL, it’s never simple, and the best team doesn’t always win.

    And I don’t expect it to be simple. Our first road game, going to the east coast, going against an 0-2 team that does NOT want to be 0-3….and the Bills have a ton of speed at WR. For west coast teams, going to the eastern time zone is often the great equalizer.

    But the Cardinals ARE the better team, and I think they started to find their mojo again last week.

    Here is a list of good things to see on Sunday –

    – a 3rd week with no turnovers
    – 150 yards on the ground for the Cardinals ( with CJ involved in 2nd half )
    – a breakout game for Michael Floyd ( over 100 yds and at least 1 score )
    – increased pass rush , 2 sacks for Jones
    – at least 3 take-aways, win the T/O battle by at least 2
    – Drew Stanton mopping up by mid 4th quarter

    Cardinals 30, Bills 19

    And how ’bout THIS trend – the Cardinals are 9-0 against the spread in road openers since 2007, including 3-0 under Arians.

    Arians is also 18-6 against AFC teams. Good man to have around!

  7. By clssylssy on Sep 25, 2016 | Reply

    Very well stated Scott! I have to wonder if the lack of “chatter” leading up to this game is indicative of some “nerves” amongst the Cardinal faithful. I, personally, see how this could be a trap game for us coming off such a big win at home, having to travel several time zones and BA said last week, some of the young guys were still having trouble settling down; it’s going to be a VERY hostile crowd and the Ryan brothers have a lot riding on this game.
    This is a game where I hope we will stick to what works and not get to creative until/if we can establish a comfortable lead and then I hope the guys can just feed off each other’s energy like they did last year in Detroit.
    I hope Carson doesn’t start forcing the ball and our pass rush will find their grove.
    NO TURNOVERS , NO INJURIES…we’re 50/50 and either the 9ers or Seahawks are expecting to take over the Division lead this week. We need to stay on top!

  8. By clssylssy on Sep 25, 2016 | Reply

    This game is starting off pretty ugly and these slow starts are going to kill us. Geez, if we get out coached , by the Ryan Brothers,then it’s going to be a VERY LONG season.
    Come’n man, let’s wake up and show these guys last week week wasn’t a win by the Birdgang!

  9. By Crash on Sep 25, 2016 | Reply

    WTF is going on with the Cardinals?! So it turns out that we will be 1-2 because we play like sh**! We are Cardinals, or Browns?

  10. By James samuels on Sep 25, 2016 | Reply

    Pitiful playing on today. Why is it Arians is so BRUTALLY HONEST to the media about every other defensive player for the previous games except Honey(money)badger. He needs to step it up like everyone else and not give the fans and media a pep talk and excuses……if others need to play through pain and rehabilitation Badger does too…….period.

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