Friday before the (memorable) Rams

Posted by Darren Urban on September 30, 2016 – 3:10 pm

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.

Black uniforms Sunday.

— 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.


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Posted in Blog | 15 Comments »

15 Responses to “Friday before the (memorable) Rams”

  1. By texascard on Sep 30, 2016 | Reply

    I believe that’s the best blog I’ve ever read authored by you. I never thought the Rams game would have so much on the line

  2. By hummer53 on Sep 30, 2016 | Reply

    Be ready for a load of Ram fans peeps. Brokers had a field day with Californians. Our players and our fans need to match and beat their enthusiasm.

  3. By TucsonTim on Sep 30, 2016 | Reply


    So what you’re saying is that you think Campbell might actually show up and earn his million per game pay check

  4. By Steve on Sep 30, 2016 | Reply

    Darren: Nothing against Drew Butler personally but here’s hoping Ryan Quigley does enough to take the job permanently this season for the Cards.

  5. By JohnnyBluenose on Oct 1, 2016 | Reply

    Is this year’s team the 2015 edition of the Arizona Cardinals or the 2015 edition of the Baltimore Ravens? Maybe we will have a better idea after tomorrow’s game. I am not expecting our offense to put up a lot of points unless our defense chips in with turnovers. Can we protect our quarterback? Can we tackle and rush the passer? If we can’t this will be a close game and not a very pretty one.

  6. By Chuck 1 on Oct 1, 2016 | Reply

    I’ve read a lot of comments by Cards’ players over the last week about how they’re going to turn it around this week and start playing like they did in 2015.
    Although I’m NOT from Missouri, in this case I can relate to the old saying “SHOW ME”!!!
    Talk is cheap.

  7. By Scott H on Oct 1, 2016 | Reply

    This may sound like a small thing but I think it is much more of a big-picture thing and I will be watching this closely. Yeah, Butler may “just” be the punter and punters aren’t guys you count on to win divisions or conferences or SB’s. Fine. But a poor punter can definitely hurt a team on a regular basis and contribute to losses. My point? I have HAD IT with Drew Butler continuing to be a poor punter and never seeming to be held accountable. And there is NO EXCUSE for this team to go back to him now. There is NO EXCUSE to go back to a player who has under-performed since he has been here ( going on 3 seasons??? )

    This is a big picture thing – and a chance to make a change that has been over-looked for entirely too long. IF Quigley DOES impress, then do the right thing and let him continue as our punter. Period. There is NOTHING complicated about this. DO NOT have someone else come in here, do a better job than Butler, and then go back to Butler.

    That would be nothing short of absolutely ridiculous. And that is not how a winning organization does things.

    And if Quigley doesn’t impress? Then keep looking for someone who does. Solve the damn problem.

  8. By TucsonTim on Oct 1, 2016 | Reply

    “pressing too hard…” BULL…

    That might be true for the last 4 possessions when it was really sinking in that the Cards were not going to come back against the dumpster fire in Buffalo.

    No, this is a low energy team with a history of very low energy performances in 2015 (BA commonly referred to them as “lulls” remember): Cleveland, St Louis (1), San Francisco (2), Steelers, Ravens, and the coup de grace…season finale against Seattle. Even in some of the solid wins, BA complained of “lulls”.

    Did it matter? 14-2 and we still go to Carolina. 10-6 could have easily happened but it didn’t. So, I see a team with little motivation to change behavior. 13-3 ordinarily would get you home field throughout.

  9. By Danny Heksolson on Oct 1, 2016 | Reply

    Well, much has been said, but I wish this is correctible, I trust our organization, we are still on time to grab the bull by the horns! Keep the support, dont hesitate and lets outplay the LA fans!

  10. By Joe C. on Oct 1, 2016 | Reply

    Darren, Did I ever tell you about my friend who got picked up by the Rams as a long snapper with three games left in the season back in the early 80’s? Great story if you have time!

  11. By Storm Byrd on Oct 1, 2016 | Reply

    I may be mistaken, but I believe Mathieu’s FIRST ACL injury also occurred against the Rams in UOP Stadium.

  12. By Jon Elder on Oct 1, 2016 | Reply

    Here’s to hoping Quigley impresses and we can, at long last, put an end to the Drew Butler era. Its went on for too long. The guy is not an NFL caliber punter and it is absurd that he is punting for a team with super bowl aspirations this season.

  13. By Scott H on Oct 2, 2016 | Reply

    Just realized my last post didn’t really make the point as well as it should have. Because it’s not Drew Butler that I’ve had it with – it’s the TOLERANCE of Drew Butler’s on-going poor performance that I have had it with.

    We are supposed to be a SB contender. But SB contenders don’t drag obvious liabilities with them. They cut them lose and find a way to bet better at that position. It’s about time we did the same. You wouldn’t see Butler still punting for the Pats or the Broncos after all this time.

    Drew Butler is a liability. WHY DO WE TOLERATE THAT??

  14. By clssylssy on Oct 2, 2016 | Reply

    I gotta love what B Bilichick has done with Brady’s suspension, in using the time to groom not just one backup, but several guys who could carry them through the playoffs if necessary, including Julian Edelman…Wow,people can hate on BB but at least he experiments with a variety of ideas and the Pats will never be considered a one trick pony! Really would like to see the Cards take a page or two from the BB playbook and start being more innovative and creative; it seems that I recall that BA was suppose to have a great mind for such and am wondering when he’s start pulling some surprises out of his bag of tricks. Hopefully, it is this week against the Rams, as we are starting to look stale and uninspired…players are getting thin skinned and defensive and BA looks like he’s about to blow.
    I hope we come out fast and strong b/c the Rams are head hunters and QB killers,and what they lack in talent they make up for in brutality so hope our offense has there big boy pants on today and are ready to do some serious blocking for Carson. And, yes, I believe that Tyrann suffered his first (and really bad) ACL injury at the hands of the Rams so hope he is looking for some payback as well.

  15. By Scott H on Oct 2, 2016 | Reply

    clssylssy –

    Nice try. At least YOU showed up with a little passion today.

    Girl, we got problems.

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