There is nothing better than the bye at the true midway point in the season. Getting through a chunk of the games before you are off is invaluable both mentally and physically for a team — although as Carson Palmer said this week, there is no such thing as a bad bye. (Of course, Palmer was not a member of the 2001 Cardinals, who, because of an odd number of NFL teams at the time, drew the short straw and had a bye in Week 1 of the regular season. That’s right — 16 straight games after. That was an emotional time too, because 9/11 happened the Tuesday following Week 1 and games were canceled. The Cards had nearly a month between their last preseason game and their first regular-season game.)
But I digress.
The Cardinals are going to lament the two losses, games that frankly, they should have had, no matter what happens. They hope they don’t cost themselves something significant come playoff time. But it was a good first half of the season, and regardless of opponents, the Cards have proven to be a good team and one that should be in the postseason mix.
— What has surprised me in the first half of the season? Let’s start with Larry Fitzgerald’s big numbers. I thought Fitz had an excellent training camp and I thought he had a chance to get to 1,000 yards, but the Cards have gone to him more than I expected. Part of that started. I’d guess, because of Michael Floyd’s hand injury, but Fitz has looked terrific. Bruce Arians said a big reason is that he has stayed healthy, and if that’s what it took, that’s a good sign for the Cardinals because Fitz remains healthy.
— I’m surprised that Sean Weatherspoon hasn’t been a bigger part of the defense. I don’t see that changing much unless there is an injury. Deone Bucannon, at this point, is a linebacker. It makes for intriguing roster decisions beyond this year.
— I’ve never covered a Cardinals team (since 2000, mind you) that doesn’t say they have plans to significantly upgrade the running game going into a season. But this was the year it’s actually turned out that way. Chris Johnson has been marvelous. When you have a healthy Andre Ellington and he can barely get touches, that’s saying something about your depth.
— Take a listen to the latest Cardinals Underground podcast for talk between myself, Kyle Odegard and Paul Calvisi about the first half that was.
— This team will learn a lot about itself the next two games. In the national spotlight both weeks, at the defending NFC champion and hosting the sure-to-be undefeated Bengals (Cincy hosts Houston after 10 days to prepare.) The game against the Seahawks is paramount; you put Seattle in a tough, tough spot if you can knock them off in their place.
That’s next week, though. I’m going to enjoy a rare fall weekend off.
Tags: Bengals, Cardinals Underground, Deone Bucannon, Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, Seahawks, Sean Weatherspoon
Posted in Blog | 23 Comments »
A few things to ponder while I wait for my new (and painfully expensive) air conditioner to arrive:
— Ron Wolfley, Paul Calvisi and I will be doing an offseason Cardinals Underground podcast early next week (Tuesday is the plan). We’d like to answer some of your questions. So if you have a question for us, e-mail me at askDarren@cardinals.nfl.net, put “Underground” in the subject line and we will get to as many of them as we can.
— Speaking of things for the fans, if you have been looking for some new wallpapers, we finally have some up. Just go to this page for a cornucopia of choices.
— Is this where we get into the discussion of where LeBron plays next year?
— One point I meant to bring up in yesterday’s item on Deuce Lutui is that neither he nor the team could have foreseen the Faneca signing. No one thought the Jets were going to cut the guy. Once he was cut, however, the Cards — who had wanted him for a long time — got their man and changed the game. Like the unfortunate turn of events with the CBA that hurt Lutui’s leverage, the Faneca situation threw another wrench in Lutui’s situation.
— Personally, I don’t think Brian Cushing should have gotten defensive rookie of the year award after failing the test for banned substances. He’ll still serve his punishment of a four-game suspension, but that’s the regular season. Meaning the first crowd he has to deal with at a game will be at University of Phoenix Stadium — where the Texans open up the preseason against the Cards. That should be interesting.
Tags: Brian Cushing, Cardinals Underground, Deuce Lutui, Texans
Posted in Blog | 52 Comments »
Some Friday morning kibbles and bits …
— There have already been a handful of players showing up for offseason workouts here in Tempe. Mostly it is first- and second-year guys as John Lott’s strength and conditioning program had its “soft” start, but there have also been veterans like Adrian Wilson and Beanie Wells. The “official” start comes Monday, and there should be a good turnout (although I am not expecting Fitz back from India). I guess the 2010 season is upon us.
— A Twitter exchange between safety Kerry Rhodes and potential kicker Jay Feely, who were teammates last year with the Jets. Rhodes (answering a previous comment): “no question and u better be my teammate in AZ!” Replied Feely. “LOL. Thanks bud, we’ll see.” So Feely doesn’t sound close to signing yet. Neil Rackers hasn’t either, so the Cards are still kicker-less.
— A new Cardinals Underground has been posted, as we talk about the offseason thus far. In the next few weeks, we have another podcast planned and some videos previewing the draft (as well as stories by yours truly. The first round is less than a month away — April 22).
Tags: Adrian Wilson, Beanie Wells, Cardinals Underground, Jay Feely, Kerry Rhodes, Larry Fitzgerald
Posted in Blog | 61 Comments »
— The final Big Red Rage of the season comes Thursday, at the normal time — 6 p.m. — at the normal place — Majerle’s Sports Grill in Chandler (although the rain might force the show under cover). If you can’t make it, tune into Sports 620 KTAR. No guest this week, instead Bertrand Berry will fly solo kind of, with Paul Calvisi and Ron Wolfley along for the ride.
— Speaking of Calvisi and Wolf, the season wrapup of Cardinals Underground will be posted tomorrow as well.
— Finally, for all those fretting about possibly losing Russ Grimm to a head coaching job, the Bills officially hired Chan Gailey for their job Tuesday, meaning Grimm won’t go anywhere (although it never seemed like it would happen with Grimm in Buffalo anyway). After the coaching staff upheaval of last year at this time, it looks like the Cards will stay constant.
Tags: Bertrand Berry, Big Red Rage, Cardinals Underground, Russ Grimm
Posted in Blog | 19 Comments »
A few items to clean up after landing in dreary, rainy New Orleans:
— Today’s injury report officially had WR Anquan Boldin (ankle) and LB Gerald Hayes (ankle) as limited and questionable for the game. I still have my doubts of them being able to go, but we’ll see tomorrow.
— Paul Calvisi, Ron Wolfley and I taped a 10-minute, late-in-the-week, Cardinals Underground (Cardinals Aboveground, in this case) on the charter flight. That should be posted soon.
— DRC, fully healthy according to the injury report, was sporting a mohawk colored red. He’s ready.
— Some fines were handed out after the playoff game, including Bertrand Berry getting hit for a $5,000 fine after his helmet-to-helmet hit on Aaron Rodgers in overtime that didn’t draw a flag. The other fines included Darnell Dockett getting one for $7,500 for his horsecollar tackle; Packers DT Cullen Jenkins $5,000 for roughing the passer when he grabbed Kurt Warner’s facemask; and Packers cornerback Atari Bigby was nailed for $5,000 when he grabbed the facemask of LaRod Stephens-Howling.
That’s it for now.
Tags: Anquan Boldin, Bertrand Berry, Cardinals Underground, Darnell Dockett, DRC, Gerald Hayes, Kurt Warner, LaRod Stephens-Howling, Packers
Posted in Blog | 20 Comments »
In case you haven’t seen it, the new azcardinals.com has now reconnected with iTunes so fans can download not only the Cardinals Underground podcasts, but also In The Red Zone with Ken Whisenhunt and the Big Red Rage. So, compliments of the multi-talented Jim Omohundro, here are the step-by-step instructions:
Step 1: Open iTunes
Step 2: Click on “Advanced”
Step 3: Click “Subscribe to Podcast”
Step 4: Copy and paste the following link in the box: http://prod.static.cardinals.clubs.nfl.com/assets/podcast/podcasts.xml
Older podcasts are not available, but they are up and running from this week.
Tags: Cardinals Underground, Jim Omohundro
Posted in Blog | 4 Comments »