Friday before the 49ers

Posted by Darren Urban on November 11, 2016 – 4:11 pm

OK, maybe it’s a little strong to say this is the John Wetzel game, but it’s definitely the beginning of the John Wetzel-half season. Wetzel is the guy who is replacing left tackle Jared Veldheer (torn triceps) for the rest of the season. He isn’t the only variable over which the Cardinals may or may not make the run they need to make, but he is definitely one of the biggest.

“The thing about Wetzel that you have to get over is every time you look at him, he looks freaking miserable,” offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin said. “Just miserable. Makes you upset to your core too, like ‘What’s the problem?’ As long as he’s got that miserable look on his face, that means he’s ready to go, ready to play.”

Wetzel has apparently looked absolutely down in the dumps this week, so optimism reigns.

His appearance, however, is the perfect proof of how this season is different than the fun run of 2015. Somebody as crucial as Veldheer didn’t get hurt this early last season (Tyrann Mathieu’s injury came as the Cards were wrapping up the division.) All the key guys were basically healthy. The offense had no question marks. Not like now. The Cards should get better offensively Sunday, because the 49ers defense is simply bad. Can they keep up something consistent through the rest of the schedule? Through the rest of a five-road-games-in-the-final-seven-weeks schedule?

— Underscoring the injuries. The Cardinals have had 58 different players appear in at least one game this season. The Cards had only 56 players appear in at least one game all of last season.

— David Johnson ran for a season-high 157 yards against the 49ers. The Niners have allowed a 100-yard rusher in seven straight games, a ignominious NFL record. Everything points to a lot of Johnson this week.

“If you’re getting 5-to-10 (yards a try), you keep it up, but it’s hard to get 5-to-10,” coach Bruce Arians said. “If you’re giving up five, you’re not very good. Sooner or later, you’re not going to get five and your quarterback’s not in any kind of a rhythm to get a first down on third down. So, you’ve got to mix it up.”

— Granted, it’s because questions are asked, but there has been a lot of positive things spoken about both Smokey Brown and about Michael Floyd this week. The Niners aren’t exactly great against the pass either. Would it shock me to use Johnson sometimes as the decoy to open up the passing game? No.

— The Cardinals are No. 1 in the NFL in total defense. It’d be nice to stay there against this opponent.

— What’s missing on offense, according to Goodwin? (Hint: It’s no surprise): “Getting those explosive plays, which we have a number we want to hit, is key to our offense,” Goodwin said. “As far as getting enthusiasm going, getting excitement going, getting chunk plays. We have to get back to that.”

Goodwin said he wouldn’t say how many the Cards want to hit per game, but it was more than five. Let’s say an explosive play is at least 20 yards — the Cardinals have 31 such plays this season in eight games. That’s less than four per game.

— No Tyrann Mathieu and no Tharold Simon mean a pretty big opportunity for either Brandon Williams or Justin Bethel. The season hasn’t gone the way either of them have wanted, not at cornerback. This is an important moment for at least one to make a mark.

— While I hope everyone got a chance to see the recent Pat Tillman “A Football Life” episode, I hope you also check out our most recent Zoom episode on Tillman. That’s the full interview that Tillman gave in the summer of 2001 that gives an insight into Tillman the person. It’s fascinating, especially in hindsight.

— In each of his three previous Cardinals seasons, Arians has had his team with a winning streak of four games, six games and eight nine games. The Cardinals have only a two-game winning streak this season so far.

— Don’t forget the annual food drive before Sunday’s game. Volunteers from St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance and Cardinals Cheerleaders will be at collection points outside of all five stadium gates and the Great Lawn. Fans are encouraged to bring non-perishable food items and/or money for donation.

— The second half has arrived. The Cardinals need it to be so much better than the first.


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10 Responses to “Friday before the 49ers”

  1. By Scott H on Nov 11, 2016 | Reply

    I know we play the 49ers this week. There will be a game and when the game is over, it will go in the win column or the loss column. So, in that sense, it matters. Of course it matters. When you’re below .500 after 8 games, it matters, regardless of how lousy the team you are playing is.

    But let’s be honest – beating the 49ers means nothing. Beating up on a dreadful team – a team that has lost 7 straight – means nothing. If we somehow LOSE this game? Then there is no discussion to even be had after Sunday.

    The week AFTER this game, we start a 3 game stretch against teams with winning records. And THAT is where it either turns around or it never will. THAT is where we either save this season or this season is over. Even if we go 3-1 in the next 4 games, we are only 6-5-1. That will still have us barely on the outer fringe of the playoff discussion. Any less than 3-1 over that stretch….and we have pretty much run out of road.

    But for now….let’s just win the game we have in front of us. All we can do.

  2. By Kevin S Mesa on Nov 11, 2016 | Reply


    The Cards’ winning streak last year was nine. Started 4-2, rattled off nine wins, lost to Seattle in the finale.

  3. By shannon robinson on Nov 12, 2016 | Reply

    I’m down with the miserable part. I watched closely when he played left tackle in a preseason game. He went down with a knee or leg injury and got off the field. I thought ,’too bad he got hurt I thought he was doing good…” Then a couple plays later back in he goes with a bad hip and yes, the way he moved he looked miserable. I used to tell my front row players that their job was to suffer. That’s also what an offensive lineman has to do. I really like this kid and it was a big deal when he made the 53. Wetzel’s a tough man, and yes, miserable. A tip of the Cardinals’ wing to Taylor Boggs for making the roster

  4. By Scott H on Nov 12, 2016 | Reply

    Kevin –

    RE: Last season

    Ah, those were the days, huh? I hope they can find it again. I know you have presented detailed scenarios of what you believe they need to do over the 2nd half.. I have read them but let me just cut to the bottom line here – would you agree that 6-2 over the next 8 games is the minimum they can do to even have a chance at a playoff spot? I say it is. That gets them to 9-6-1. And even that is no guarantee. And, BTW, one of those wins MUST be the game in Seattle.

    I’d feel better about 7-1 over the next 8 and ending up at 10-5-1. But…..( get your thumbs downs ready, folks )….how do you even dare hope for that from a team that hasn’t been able to win any more than TWO in a row and has yet to beat a good team / team with a winning record?? I’m finding it hard to find that kind of optimism, gotta be honest.

    Hope, I have. If you can’t have hope, you have no business being a fan of an NFL team. And there is NOOOOOO way I have managed to be a fan of this team for more than 40 years without hope. I am forever hopeful. Why not? To quote the great John Belushi ( as Bluto ) from Animal House – don’t cost nothin.’

    Optimism? 2016 has made that harder to muster. Ya know what? Show me you can beat Atlanta and Minnesota. Then, maybe we can re-visit the whole optimism thing. I don’t think that is un-reasonable.

  5. By clssylssy on Nov 12, 2016 | Reply

    Now even is predicting the 9ers to upset the Cards because of a “vintage” performance by Kaepernick!
    Kinda hard to get any optimism going with those kinds of bold predictions and with the Cards history of falling hard to “lesser” team.
    This needs to be a statement game either that we’ve got our act together and are in it to win or we’re ready for some house cleaning and a complete redecorating, starting with the front office!

  6. By TucsonTim on Nov 13, 2016 | Reply

    Ultimate trap game. 13 1/2 pt favorites….don’t see that at all.

  7. By Kevin S Mesa on Nov 13, 2016 | Reply

    Scott H —

    I would agree that it’s hard to imagine this team going 6-2 (now 5-2, after they squeaked by) in their last 8 games after not being able to run the ball at all against a team that was allowing 193 YPG on the ground.

    If our O-line injuries mean that we can’t run the ball against the worst run defense in football, we’re in trouble.

    As I write this, Seattle/NE haven’t kicked off yet. If NE wins as I expect, the scenario for winning the division is still there, but we would need to really step it up.

    Fortunately, we’ll be catching the Vikings in the middle of a tailspin. Hopefully we can win there. I am not optimistic about Atlanta though after watching our D give up quite a few big plays to Kaepernick. I swear, I never see our receivers wide open — seems like every play, Palmer has to either make a great pass, or throw up a 50-50 ball. But on our opponents I see receivers wide open all the time.

  8. By Scott H on Nov 13, 2016 | Reply

    Even against a very bad defense, this team STILL can’t find its alleged high-powered offense.

    23 points? That’s what we put up against the 49ers? A last second FG? That’s what we needed to beat the 49ers?

    Hey, it’s win. Great. It hardly FEELS like one, but…..the scoreboard says it is. But we’re no closer to finding a team that vaguely resembles a playoff team than we have been all year. Am I the only one feeling REALLY disappointed about that?

    Hey, I said it myself – beating the 49ers was going to mean nothing. But if we are who we think we are, this should have been a double-digit win without really breaking a sweat. It should have never been in question. Instead? We watch the 49ers ( the 49ers, folks ) tie the game with under 2 minutes to go and then have hope / pray we can get a FG to end it w/out going to OT. And, really, with how shaky the Cat Man has been this year on big, late-game kicks… confident were you, really, as we lined up for a 34 yard kick??

    Yes, I said it myself – beating the 49ers was going to mean nothing. I just didn’t know how scary it was really going to get before we did. It should NOT have felt like a game we had to escape with a win from.

    So, after 9 games, we have yet to have our heads above the .500 mark and we have yet to shake this black cloud of disappointment.

    Next week, we play a team with a 5-4 record BUT also a team that has now lost 4 straight. Well……something’s gotta give. ONE of those teams is going to make move to save their season. And if we’re gonna let a team that has been struggling as bad as the Vikings have use US as a step-stool to get out of their rut…..I think the rest is rhetorical.

    And one again, we will be searching for some kind of identity. Wish we weren’t still searching for it in Week 10, but…..we are.

  9. By clssylssy on Nov 14, 2016 | Reply

    Ya know it was a division game, and by now you should know that every team plays division rivals a little more intense. Everybody is that much better It played out about like I thought it would (or even better) and I’m thrilled to get a W. As the week goes by nobody will remember the score, only the W. I didn’t think we played with the same intensity that we played the Seahawks and so, it was disappointing, because we CAN do better and have. But, now it’s time for our metal to be tested as we face some teams on the road who started out hot; are starting to cool, but,like the Eagles yesterday,have it in em to come back and surprise. As Fitz said, this is playoff football now, the games I worry the most about are going to be fought at home against the Saints (if that had been the Saints yesterday, Brees would have owned us and our No.1 defense) and the Redskins.
    What I liked about the game? Most of all, seeing Fitz being Fitz, showing the young’ns how to play tough through pain, and flashing that million dollar smile that we haven’t seen all year while getting the other receivers amped up. He and Floyd seemed to have their own thing going there. Still think we need bigger, more physical guys in the end zone as the little guys lose that battle every time.
    Carson was good and seemed almost, at times, like he found himself on the bye.
    Our O-line protected Carson better but the offense,as a whole, didn’t do much in the way of opening up lanes for David–this is when I miss Chris Johnson b/c he knows how to find the skinny routes
    Our defensive front was the best part of our “No.1 defense” while our secondary, except for Swearinger, seemed to miss a lot. Special Teams was better and Bethel made a good play!
    The 9ers are going to come back and the Rams are knocking on our door. The Seahawks are flat out amazing and we have our work cut out if we expect to hang on to the division. The Falcons, at home, after a humiliating loss? Cards better be rested and be FULLY prepared to face the current MVP, and our “No 1 defense” better earn it’s title (personally, I don’t see it).

  10. By TucsonTim on Nov 14, 2016 | Reply

    Scott H –

    Searching for identity? I think we have a well defined identity. Coming off a bye, at home, against the 49’s, we won the toss, took the ball and promptly went 3 and out. “Low energy” is our identity. the politically correct way of saying lazy.

    We skip practices and script a slow start in every game. We are erratic on offense because someone always fails to show up. Yesterday it was Nelson. Erratic on defense because someone always fails to communicate. Special teams, actually pretty consistent…bad; ever hear 50 thousand people breathe a collective sigh of relief???

    Take Fitz off this roster and we are the Browns in Arizona.

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