Tillman and the NFC East, Friday before Washington

Posted by Darren Urban on December 15, 2017 – 4:01 pm

Washington used to be a division trip. The first two seasons I covered the Cardinals, there were home-and-home with the NFC East, before realignment. The last time the Cards went there as an NFC East team was in fact Pat Tillman’s last game in the NFL. It was played in a freezing rain, and the Cardinals came up short, 20-17 on the scoreboard and therefore in their quest to finish .500 – a rare achievement in those days. That was the 2001 season, the last game of the year and only the last game of the year because, as the Cards’ first game of the year, it was bumped because of the cancellations due to the 9/11 tragedy. Tillman talked to us in the locker room after, clad in only a towel, lips blue and teeth chattering, angry at the result.

I also remember the trip to Washington in 2008, because it was the front-end of a week-long trip away, in which the Cards stayed in Virginia to bridge games against the Redskins then the Jets. That was a memorable week despite back-to-back losses. Anquan Boldin famously broke his jaw against the Jets. And before that, with a 2-1 record after a loss to the Redskins, I went to dinner with three co-workers and we talked about what it would be like if the Cardinals won a Super Bowl. None of us really believed it could happen, and then, a few months later, that’s exactly where the Cardinals were.

I’m not sure this trip to Washington is going to hold the same memories, although, like the one in the 2001 season, getting to .500 (or above, if the Cards win out) is a goal. When the season started this game looked important for both teams when it came to potential playoff positioning. Now, the Cards have to win to keep breathing, and Washington is already done.

— So Adrian Peterson is done for the year, something that has certainly been trending that direction for a bit. Kerwynn Williams has entrenched himself as the starter so the Cards have already handled the idea they won’t have AD. The question now is whether Peterson – who is under contract for next season, for $3.5 million – returns. Bruce Arians said Friday he can see Peterson on the roster. But there are other factors. David Johnson will be back. Not only do you have to find a way for Johnson and Peterson to co-exist, but Peterson would have to be OK with a reserve role. The Cards will also have to be OK paying a chunk of money to a reserve back.

The roster can go so many different directions this offseason. Peterson’s role is just another detail to sort out.

— No one is getting into the muck of the postseason, really, but know this in terms of the Cardinals and being officially eliminated from the playoffs – it can happen one of three ways:

— A Cardinals loss
— A Seattle win
— A win by both Atlanta and Carolina.

Just sayin’.

— Washington coach Jay Gruden praises the toughness of new safety and former Cardinal D.J. Swearinger this season, after Swearinger arrived as a free agent. Swearinger was even named a captain, and he used that to its fullest this week, calling out his team for going through the motions at practice. We’ll see how they respond. One thing is for sure, and that’s Swearinger is geared up to play the Cardinals.

He said the Cards made him an offer last year but pulled it just before free agency started (which more or less makes sense; I’m sure the idea was that they wanted Swearinger but if they didn’t get him at their price, they were going to go in a different direction.)

As for Sunday, “It’s definitely extra juice,” Swearinger told the Roanoke County-Times. “I’m going to be on the edge. I can’t wait to play.”

— Everyone will be watching rookie left tackle Will Holden Sunday. He may just be the key to the game. If he holds up, I think the Cards should be fine. Arians said newcomer Kahlif Barnes will be active, but I’m sure they’d rather not have it come down to him playing on only a couple days of practice.

— As I write this, the forecast for Sunday is 49 degrees and only a 10 percent chance of precipitation. Perfect football weather.

— A victory by the Cardinals would give Arians his 49th win as head coach, including playoffs. That would tie him with Ken Whisenhunt for most wins in franchise history with postseason included. Arians already has the most regular-season wins as a head coach, with 47.

On to D.C.

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Posted in Blog | 11 Comments »

11 Responses to “Tillman and the NFC East, Friday before Washington”

  1. By D on Dec 15, 2017 | Reply

    I was lucky enough to be at that game against the Skins in 2011 as a guest of the Cards, stayed at the team hotel in Alexandria, a close game, with new QB, Kolb that had everyone excited. Great area to visit.

  2. By Scott H on Dec 15, 2017 | Reply

    Would be great to see an east coast trip win for the Cardinals. Not usually a good spot for them – or any other west coast teams, really. Look at Seattle getting handled pretty good in Jacksonville last Sunday. Granted, these aren’t the same Jaguars of recent years.

    The Redskins are totally beatable. Jay Gruden doesn’t impress me in the least. Their QB is very in-consistent. They never seem to know who their RB is. They have been significantly down-graded at WR.

    Then again, the Redskins are one of those teams….you never know who they will be from one week to the next. One week, they look like they can go toe-to-toe with anyone. The next week, they get blown out by a bad team. As much as they are totally beatable, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them win this game by 2 TD’s or more.

    Going by the win-one, lose-one pattern of our season, we are due to lose this one.

    The Redskins looked like they’d quit last week. The Cardinals are still playing hard and playing to win. But how many more injuries can this team possibly overcome???

    Tough one to call. But when my teams plays, I want my team to win!

  3. By JohnnyBluenose on Dec 15, 2017 | Reply

    Scott H….are you going to the game? Washington fans have given up and are selling their tickets for ten bucks. No way to predict the outcome of this game but maybe our defense can win two in a row.

  4. By CARDS62 on Dec 15, 2017 | Reply

    I agree Scott that Washington is a strange team this year, but few things I will be looking to see during this game.

    Our Defense is looking good. Can they keep it up against K. Cousins?
    I see Chandler Jones with 3 tackle for losses this game.
    Can our O line hold up? Our injuries are major to our line and running backs.
    Will our game plan be one to rely on our defense and protect our O line ?
    Can Gabbert make our passing game go against lesser defenses but with our diminished oline and inconsistent receiving corps?
    Will our team actually show up and play well for an early east coast game? I just hope for this more than anything to build upon for next year. I just can not stomach another game like the Eagles, or Rams in London. Colts and Lions game was also not good football, but no where near as bad as the Eagles and Rams.

  5. By Dr. G. on Dec 15, 2017 | Reply

    Still heroic and sad at the same time. We have seen every college and NFL game Tillman played…a super overachiever. I’ve posted articles over the years here noting his bold, unique and patriotic character and at the same time a bad ass opponent…no quit in this young man.

    On a funny note, a Phoenix connection… looking at the ‘Skins depth chart, I see Kyle Kalis, a rookie OG. We helped his dad (Todd) with his tennis game when he lived here and was on the Thunderbird High School team.

    His mom and dad bought a small local tennis club where we also played. When he exploded from a normal size kid in about 1 year from maybe 150 to 250lbs, the football coached freaked and begged him to leave varsity tennis for football though he didn’t want to…((I always wondered)) He would eat every hot dog in the place!

    I would challenge some good players to play doubles and then say no one is really available…I’ll just take this kid (now a 16 yr old clumsy looking giant) as my partner. They would laugh until they realized this kid could play and they were over their head. Todd never knew we had a bet on those games.

    Then he played at ASU and had a good NFL career…Now we need to beat Kyle’s team on Sunday. Go Cards!

  6. By creditcard on Dec 16, 2017 | Reply

    Cards, beat the Red-hawks!

    I think the team needs to prove to themselves that they can: 1. win two games in a row, and 2. win an early game on the east coast.

  7. By Scott H on Dec 16, 2017 | Reply

    JohnnyBlue –

    Nah, I’m not venturing down to DC for this game. Still got this kidney stone thing going on. Last Sunday, I watched football from a hospital bed. Tomorrow, my comfy couch by the Christmas tree at home is just fine with me!

    Redskins fans are bailing out, huh? I don’t know that I blame them. Dan Snyder has been a horrible owner. I don’t think the Redskins have had any real success since he’s been there. Hey, it’s a week before X-mas, gonna be about 40 degrees, and their team is out of it again. Maybe they really do have better things to do.

    But, yes a win-able game for the Cardinals.

  8. By Scott H on Dec 16, 2017 | Reply

    Now AP is the latest Cardinal to go on IR. Un-believable. We’re down to our 3rd QB…..we’re so shot out on the O-line, I don’t even know where to start…..we’re down to….what, our 4th or 5th RB? It is amazing this offense is functional at all. But give them credit, they are.

    But back to AP…..I don’t see him being here next year. I don’t know why we need him with DJ back. I didn’t see it coming, but Kerwyn Williams is making a case for himself. I say we move on.

  9. By clssylssy on Dec 17, 2017 | Reply

    RE: AP
    According to BA (who is sounds will be back, along with Keim) David has learned that he’s not an every down back and to try to push him to get 30 carries (?) is to increase the odds of his getting reinjured and losing him for another season. Can you imagine how much better our offense would have been with DJ or AP doing the heavy lifting for our run game? KW has stepped up and offered some unexpected relief but since we are now on our 4th or 5th RB, it would seem obvious that you’ve answered your own question. I know we have young guys at the position in the wings however having a seasoned veteran in the room to help mentor these young guys, like CJ did for DJ, has proven to be the best way for these guys to learn their position. DJ also had Stump Mitchell and it wouldn’t appear that this organization is ready to break out of their comfort zone and make any revolutionary coaching changes. Having player coaches is probably the best we can hope for. Guys like Fitz and AP have a lot of insight and wisdom they can share that some of these other coaches just don’t have the same perspective for b/c they have never really been in the trenches and played the game at the NFL level.
    On the other hand, it seems that part of the reason we are on our 3rd or 4th back is b/c of BA’s tendency to fall in love with one player and then ride him into the ground. We have seen this with John Brown, Andre Ellington, David Johnson; just hope David last a little longer than ther other “favorites”.

  10. By Scott H on Dec 17, 2017 | Reply

    clssy –

    Oh, I’m well aware of the value that a player like AP COULD have. But what is he going to want in terms of $ and are we going to give that to a guy who SHOULDN’T have to play that much if David Johnson is back to his old self? I’m not sure I would.

    It would be GREAT to keep AP in a case that says “Break glass in the event of an emergency” and not have to pay him unless he needed to play. But that is fantasy. In the real world, AP is gonna cost a little and I’m not sure he’s gonna be worth it, being one more year and one more injury down the road come next season.

    This team needs to get younger! And younger would be Kerwyn Williams. Don’t forget, we also have the kid we drafted this year, the kid who was going to be our return guy, coming back as well. Shame on me for not remembering his name at the moment, but…..

  11. By clssylssy on Dec 19, 2017 | Reply

    I agree that this team needs to get younger but also recognize the value of having a few respected and proven vets on the roster to help the guys coming up learn their job “straight from the horse’s mouth”. Young players listen to people like Fitz & AP & value their words of encouragement & wisdom, little inside tips that coaches don’t know,never having played the game. DJ credited Chris Johnson for teaching him how to run routes & as his on field mentor & Dwight Freeney brought stability & a certain quiet confidence to our defense that has been lacking. The fact is we don’t pay these guys all that much (their contracts are incentive layered which we don’t have to pay if they go on IR).
    BA has constantly said that teaching is not in his job description so, having these guys on the team seems like a pretty sound investment to me. Besides,for people like Fitz & AP, age is just a number & their body will tell them when it’s time to do something a little less taxing.

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