Calais returns, Friday before the Jaguars

Posted by Darren Urban on November 24, 2017 – 3:22 pm

The tale of the two players facing their former teams Sunday at University of Phoenix Stadium also is a tale of their teams.

Calais Campbell comes back to the Valley with the Jaguars, after his nine seasons with the Cardinals and beloved by the fans. He’s already got a career-best 11½ sacks, he leads the best defense in the NFL and they are in first place in their division. Blaine Gabbert is long removed from his time in Jacksonville and he’s the starting QB for the Cardinals now – despite beginning the season third-string – as the Cards have endured so many injuries and have moved in a lot of ways to evaluation mode with many players.

On paper, it’s an uphill battle Sunday for the Cards. There is no other way to look at it. The Jags might be without top CB Jalen Ramsey, but in the end, they are playing better than the Cardinals right now and have momentum and the carrot of trying to secure the division. The Cardinals are without their top … well … too many to have it not matter.

The Cardinals can’t let Leonard Fournette run all over them, and they have to protect Gabbert. Maybe Adrian Peterson can get loose – the Jaguars are only middle-of-the-pack in run defense, although they give up a paltry 14 points a game. The spotlight will be on Campbell and Gabbert in a lot of ways, and the Cardinals have to reverse each player’s narrative to get a win.

— Another spot to watch Sunday is what running back D.J. Foster can do on third downs. Foster gets his chance now that the Cards let Andre Ellington go. He had nine snaps (and two catches) a week ago and he’s probably a better pass catcher than straight runner at this point. Coach Bruce Arians said receiving is what Foster does best.

“He’s a little bit small to be a pass protector but he’s tough enough,” Arians said. “That’s all you can ask a guy at his size, fight your tail off and get your ass kicked with dignity.”

— We all know Chad Williams, the third-round pick, will get snaps this weekend with John Brown injured. It’s a crucial time for Williams, who frankly is being counted on in as a key component of next year’s receiving corps. Larry Fitzgerald had good things to say about Williams’ maturity and work ethic. Now we see it on the field.

— Carlton Agudosi, whom Fitz and Arians also praised, also could play Sunday with Brittan Golden dealing with a groin issue – although the last time Golden battled that groin injury, he didn’t practice Friday and still played Sunday.

— If you didn’t see Fitz’s comments about Campbell, please check them out.

— Unfortunately for Fitz, he was fined $24,309 for the crackback block he was flagged for Sunday in Houston. The Adrian Peterson rush gained no yards, regardless.

— There has been a lot of talk about Campbell’s ability to get to play defensive end in the Jaguars’ 4-3 scheme and how it was his natural spot. Campbell was in a 3-4 in the base defense here in Arizona and then played inside in the Cards’ four-down-linemen passing down packages. Campbell still moves inside for the Jags on obvious passing downs. Here was his take:

“All of it plays a role,” Campbell said. “I always thought it’d be nice to play on the outside in the 4-3 scheme. That’s where I played in college and pretty much most of my life, but at the end of the day, I’m a football player. Put me anywhere you want me to, and I’m going to give my best shot. But, it’s cool being able to play on the edge a little bit, and I still get the rock inside and go back to the three-technique on third down, which is fun. I think that’s been beneficial. It’s a combination of a few things. A lot of good players around me make my job a lot easier.”

— There is one other “revenge” scenario for Sunday. Cardinals right guard Earl Watford signed a free-agent deal with the Jaguars last offseason, got $1 million guaranteed and was still cut at the end of the preseason. Jaguars coach Doug Marrone: “Unfortunately, he was hurt for a long period of time. Then, we just had players that were playing, and he did a nice job. It was a tough decision.” Watford declined to talk about his time in Jacksonville, brief as it was.

— Through 11 weeks, Fitzgerald had more receiving yards – 546, of his 768 – out of the slot than anyone else in the NFL, according to ESPN.

— A note from our esteemed social media manager Brandon Naidus, who once worked for the Jaguars (and who would undoubtedly be disappointed if I did not drop this in): The Jaguars have drafted three quarterbacks in the first round during their history, and all three will be on hand Sunday. Blake Bortles (2014) is their current starter. Gabbert (2011) is the Cardinals starter. And Byron Leftwich (2003) is the Cardinals’ quarterback coach.

— It’s interesting to see the dichotomy between the fan bases on Gabbert this week. Cardinals’ fans are (rightfully) encouraged by Gabbert’s play last week and are anxious to see him play again. Jaguars’ fans also are excited to see Gabbert this week – mostly because they feel he will not succeed. Clearly there are still hard feelings there with Gabbert’s failures as the Jacksonville QB.

— Don’t forget there is a food drive Sunday, so bring your canned goods and/or a monetary donation. They will be accepted at all stadium entrances.

— Might the Cardinals be able to run the ball a little? Adrian Peterson has a combined 55 yards rushing the last two games. If Gabbert’s task isn’t hard enough in the first place, another sluggish running effort could cripple the Cardinals.

“It’s something those guys are taking personal up front, and I’m taking it personally as well,” Peterson said.

— See you Sunday, where you come for the reunions, and stay for how the season begins to play out for the Cardinals.

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Posted in Blog | 19 Comments »

19 Responses to “Calais returns, Friday before the Jaguars”

  1. By Scott H on Nov 24, 2017 | Reply

    Gee…..isn’t it interesting, the little things you have to look for in a match-up when your team just isn’t very good?? Sad…..

    Darren, that is in NO WAY directed at you as a criticism. I know you write the same posts, regardless. I think it’s all a matter of perception on my end. I think I perceive it the way I do because this season has been no fun at all ( much like 2016 ).

    There is little reason to think this is not going to be a win for the Jaguars.

    But I applaud the approach of starting to take a look at some other players. So many players here we just need to close the book on. John Brown injured again? Really? That is a shame for him but we have just been waiting too damn long for him to come around. Ya wonder if getting guys like Gabbert and some of the rookies into the mix now will breathe some damn LIFE into this team. It may not make them a better team this week but it sure as hell is a lot more interesting than another game with the same faces, the same lack-luster play, and another un-inspired loss.

    Unfortunately, the player roster is not the only place where new blood is sorely needed.

  2. By Corgon on Nov 24, 2017 | Reply

    Hi Darren,
    It’s a bit off topic, but can you tell me please what is the connection between big man CC’s sack number and Century link field? Few years ago I heard something in Big red rage, that his 12 or how many sacks in there are really high on some list.

  3. By Darren Urban on Nov 24, 2017 | Reply

    Corgon —

    RE: Calais

    I assume you’re talking about Calais having so many sacks in Seattle? Really, the main connection is that Seattle’s offensive line has not been great for many years. And Russell Wilson, as a scrambler, was also susceptible to sacks.

  4. By CardsNation on Nov 24, 2017 | Reply

    If o-line blocks and receivers don’t drop passes. It’s gonna be a win. I have a lot of faith in our defense but if the offense continues sucking, we’re done.

  5. By Dr. G. on Nov 25, 2017 | Reply

    “””Get your ass kicked with dignity?””” Whaaaaat? BA is recycyling this cute cliché again.

    This is typical BA bs speak for planning to call some plays expecting a guy out of position to get his ass kicked with dignity…sounds like some frat guy trying to be cool. Use a TE or get a FB!

    Frankly, this stuff needs a more professional approach ((new coach please)) This is not Animal House; it’s the NFL!! Play calling has been bizarre at times…costly! 👽

    The post game story will be all about our **O-Line** and **STs** getting it done. The other guys can play well enough to get a win…the talent is there.

    Go Cards…

  6. By Corgon on Nov 25, 2017 | Reply

    No no (this is clear for me) , not that kind of connection, but some statistical. If my memory serves well it was somekind of a list about who has the most sacks in the CLF or something and he was unbelieveable high on that. Anyway thanks for the answer.

  7. By clssylssy on Nov 25, 2017 | Reply

    It’s painfully obvious that the Cards have missed Calais & all he contributed to this team, and it will be great to have him “home” (even if the Jags put a hurt on us in our own house). I hope our fans will show some class & give him a warm welcome & remember who is responsible for him not being ina Cardinal uniform.
    Good organizations recognize their core players & plan accordingly to retain them.

  8. By Big Ken on Nov 25, 2017 | Reply

    Calais Campbell is a great player and a smart businessman.

  9. By Steve on Nov 25, 2017 | Reply

    Darren: Playing the “what If” game, say B.A does retire after the season and Jim Harbaugh becomes available do you see him and Keim being able to co-exist as coach and GM and get along if Bidwill hired him?

  10. By Darren Urban on Nov 25, 2017 | Reply

    Steve —

    RE: Coaching

    Too many what-ifs for me.

  11. By D on Nov 25, 2017 | Reply

    Jim Harbaugh still tops my wish list for HC in AZ

    (MI alum can’t be happy always losing to OSU)

  12. By Scott H on Nov 25, 2017 | Reply

    I do NOT have a lot ( or much at all, really ) of faith in our defense. What would I be basing that on?? Look, 3 of our 4 wins came against the 49ers ( twice ) and the Colts, two of the most offensively challenged teams in the league this year. So….what are you really taking from THAT???

    We just played a pretty bad QB against Houston and managed to make him look pretty good. Probably the best he has looked, will look this season.

    Meanwhile, against teams like Philly, St Louis, Detroit, Dallas….we either got blown out of the building or just faded in the 2nd half.

    Really, the ONLY inspired performance I’ve seen by this defense against a good team all year was against Seattle.

    ONE inspired performance out of 10 games???

    No, that gives very little cause for faith in the defense.

    But, I agree, the offense hasn’t offered much more.

    And the ST’s doesn’t even warrant consideration.

    What CAN we even hang a hat on this season? Larry Fitzgerald ( of course )….Chandler Jones…..Budda Baker…..maybe a few other players ( and I mean FEW )….and, maybe Blaine Gabbert before it’s over. Oh, and our punter hasn’t been killing us, if we want to count that.

    Not a whole lot, is it?

  13. By drblogubc on Nov 25, 2017 | Reply

    Darren, this is a really well written and interesting article. I think it is a realistic assessment of what might happen tomorrow. Thank you.
    Go Cards!

  14. By Dan Nicholson on Nov 25, 2017 | Reply

    AP is going to bust a 100 yard game tomorrow, just got the feeling he is due. And when he does it, Cardinals WIN

  15. By Rowlan Colorado Springs on Nov 26, 2017 | Reply

    I’ve been dreading this game for awhile. It compares to Aeneas in a Rams uniform and Anquan in a Raven uniform. On a good note, they both finally won a Super Bowl……Best of Luck #93. And thank you for your service to the Cards. I will finally admit that I don’t really know what I’m rooting for to happen today? The work week is rough but you always had the game to get fired up for. I guess I need to get the fire back like I am asking them to do. Here’s to hoping they give us something to cheer for today

  16. By dynosoar on Nov 26, 2017 | Reply

    1st choice for head coach – Bruce Arians

    He’s our coach and until that changes, he’s my choice for HC. (frustrating past two seasons and all. Maybe play calling, may not be. Can’t deny injuries play a huge roll in winning and losing.)

    Harbaugh – never

    Urban Meyer – if we lose BA for any reason, Urban would be at the top of my wish list. All he Ever does, Anywhere he goes is WIN. (He’s the one putting the hurt on Harbaugh’s team in Michigan, so why not want Meyer?)

    HOWEVER – BA is STILL our coach and until that changes I’m behind him.

  17. By Fmr USAF Pilot on Nov 26, 2017 | Reply

    Big Ken,

    GREAT is an overused word.
    VERY GOOD OR EXCELLENT would be more accurate.

  18. By Dr. G. on Nov 26, 2017 | Reply

    Cards Fans – – Jim Harbaugh? He loves college football…and unless he is fired, no way he is available. Money will not talk; he makes more than most NFL coaches.

    Consider Josh McDaniels – – he knows Qbs, and Defense… been with the Pats for 5 Super Bowls…had some stints with a couple teams with bad leftovers. If he could come to AZ, I can see a dynamic with a young QB ((Gabbert or a draft pick)) that could bring long term success. His experience under Belichick can only be incredibly helpful! The no bs approach! Go Cards today!

  19. By Scott H on Nov 26, 2017 | Reply

    Don’t know about McDaniels…..let’s be honest, if he’s not bringing Tom Brady with him…..I just think McDaniels is one of those guys just better suited to be a coordinator. And he’s hardly the only guy to struggle to find success after leaving the Pats.

    And speaking of bad leftovers…..sorry to say, but what do we think we’re looking at HERE in 2018?

    The thought of Harbaugh is interesting. I think I would take him in a heartbeat. But I’m not sure why he is going to leave college again for another go ’round in the NFL.

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