It’s the Cardinals vs. the Rams, a game that in Bruce Arians’ time as the Cards’ coach has often provided some memorable moments over six meetings.
- In 2013 in St. Louis, Arians’ first game as coach, Tyrann Mathieu had his famous forced fumble from behind, although it wasn’t enough in a Cardinals’ loss;
- In 2014 at home, Carson Palmer tore his ACL but the Cards, thanks to Drew Stanton and the defense, poured on late TDs to move to 8-1;
- In 2014 on the road, Stanton suffered what turned out to be a season-ending injury, and the defense was brick-wall-esque in a brutal 12-6 win. That’s the game in which Arians talked about a team “always 8-8.”
- In 2015 at home, Todd Gurley broke out and the Rams managed a big upset over the undefeated Cardinals.
What comes this Sunday at University of Phoenix Stadium could determine the direction of the season. A 1-3 start is a difficult hole out of which to climb. The Cardinals are 2-2 — especially with a short week and trip to San Francisco coming Thursday — and life is much more settled.
— It will be helpful, to say the least, to have guard Evan Mathis in the lineup against that defensive line.
— I know the Cards knew the Bills were going to run last week and the Bills still killed them on the ground. I know Gurley is good. But I’m betting this defensive performance will look more how the Cardinals dealt with Gurley in St. Louis than that out-of-control 144-yard half in Arizona last year.
— Usually, no one pays attention to the long snapper. That hasn’t been the case with the Cardinals, and newcomer Aaron Brewer — who snapped for the Super Bowl champion Broncos last season — would like for that to change.
“Hopefully everybody forgets who I am and I kind of fall away into the shadows,” Brewer said. “That’d be the best. … That means you do your job well, when no one knows who you are.”
— It’s not ideal when two of the three pieces in the kicking operation changes in one week, but kicker Chandler Catanzaro said he’s already found a comfort level with Brewer and new holder/punter Ryan Quigley. “I understand the business of it, that it is a production business and things have happened,” Catanzaro said. “That’s something I can take on my shoulders and we can fight through it. That’s part of the deal as a specialist.”
— Yes, punter Drew Butler was supposed to hold but his bad calf won’t let that be possible. I don’t know what happens if Quigley impresses. Arians said this week Butler would remain on the roster unless an injury forced a move.
— Roy Green will be inducted into the team’s Ring of Honor at halftime Sunday (we will have a story posted Saturday about Green.)
— Much talk this week about Mike Leach coming out of retirement. The former long snapper told the “Doug and Wolf” show on Arizona Sports he actually went out and practiced snapping at his house with a helmet and pads on, to see if he could still do it. He could — except the way his body felt the next day reminded him why he retired. Few know how much time Leach spent in the training room the past few years getting his body ready to play every week.
— If you missed it, here’s the Cardinals Underground podcast from this week.
— This point was brought up to me by a fan, that the passing game stumbles through the first three games is reminiscent of similar issues Kurt Warner and the Cardinals had through three games in 2009 after big expectations. That year, the Cardinals found their rhythm and won nine of their next 12 games (although the passing game never quite reached 2008 levels.)
This isn’t about streaks right now, though. The Cardinals just want one win, at home, against a team they’ve played generally well against (even in last year’s loss the Cards moved the ball, they just lost the turnover battle and stalled in the red zone.)
— In 2002, the Rams — coming off a tough Super Bowl loss and bringing back basically the same powerful team — ended up starting 0-5. Then-quarterback Kurt Warner has said (and reiterated this week on Arizona Sports 98.7) it was because the Rams were pressing too hard to show how good they were.
Warner said he thinks that is happening to the Cardinals. Arians agreed. Now we’ll see if the Cards can adjust that and fix the direction they are going.
Tags: Aaron Brewer, Carson Palmer, Chandler Catanzaro, Drew Stanton, Evan Mathis, Kurt Warner, Mike Leach, Rams, Roy Green, Ryan Quigley, Todd Gurley
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