With 2014 schedule, London calling?

Posted by Darren Urban on October 8, 2013 – 3:03 pm

The NFL announced today that three teams will host games in London during the 2014 season: Jacksonville, Oakland and Atlanta. Why does that matter? Because you never know if the Cardinals could get picked to be the visiting team to a London game.

The Cards don’t play Jacksonville next season. But they do travel to Oakland, and with an away game at the “matching” NFC South team wherever they finish, there is a chance the Cardinals could have a road game in Atlanta next season — making then two of the three London games possible. We are far away from knowing for sure, of course, but it’s an interesting tidbit to chew on.

So, as long as we are discussion the 2014 opponents — because why wouldn’t you five games into the previous season — here is the list of the Cardinals’ schedule-to-be:


Philadelphia Eagles

Washington Redskins

Kansas City Chiefs

San Diego Chargers

NFC North “like” finisher (If Cardinals finish in second place in division, for instance, they play the second-place team from NFCN)

Seattle Seahawks

San Francisco 49ers

St. Louis Rams


Dallas Cowboys

New York Giants

Denver Broncos

Oakland Raiders

NFC South “like” finisher

Seattle Seahawks

San Francisco 49ers

St. Louis Rams

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How the trade winds blow

Posted by Darren Urban on April 22, 2013 – 4:02 pm

There are plenty of realistic scenarios where none of the top three rated offensive tackles are left on the draft board by the time the Cardinals pick at No. 7. It’s been suggested by some that the Cards could think about trading up in that situation. I just don’t see it. I didn’t before, and I don’t now after GM Steve Keim said “I’m not in the business of giving away picks.”

Smartly, Keim isn’t going to rule anything out. But moving up from 7 is going to be too expensive, even if it was just a spot or two. And frankly, the Cards can’t afford to give up a second or a third right now when those guys have a chance to turn into starters on a team that needs to fill holes. (Mike Jurecki reported the Cards have discussed the possibility of trading for disgruntled franchised Chiefs tackle Branden Albert, but I don’t see that either. If the money he wants on a long-term deal is scaring the Dolphins away, I don’t see how it makes more sense here.)

So maybe the Cards don’t trade up, or trade for Albert. But that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t trade. One thing I can definitely see is Keim willing to trade down, especially in this draft. He may not want to give away picks, but stockpiling them I’m sure is of interest, especially for a draft guy like him. Of course, there has to be someone on the board at 7 someone feels the need to come up and get, which could be a long shot. And who, exactly are the Cards going to seek? Offensive line and pass rusher remain the most obvious choices, and there are a handful that have been discussed not only top 10 but into the 11-15 range that make sense.

I do see Keim being aggressive in such draft moves, willing to move up and back if necessary. That second round pick, in fact, could be interesting in that regard. In the first round, though, I’m thinking back and not forward — if the Cards move at all.


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Tackle situation shows why you don’t fall in love

Posted by Darren Urban on April 18, 2013 – 11:19 am

One of the clichés that always floats around at draft time is that a team never ever ever should fall in love with a player. I mean, if you’re picking No. 1, fine. But otherwise, there is always a risk that said player or players isn’t going to be there. And you don’t want to be disappointed or let the emotion of losing out on such a crush drive you to do something dumb when you are on the clock.

That crossed my mind this morning when NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock talked about what has become a growing sentiment — that all three high-end offensive tackles available: Luke Joeckel, Eric Fisher and Lane Johnson — will all be off the board by the time the Cardinals pick at No. 7. Let’s make this clear, no one knows for sure the Cards even like all three at that point, although it stands to reason they do. For a while, it was people thinking Fisher would be there and Joeckel wouldn’t. Then it was Fisher being gone and Johnson being the consideration. But there is a strong likelihood that the Chiefs take Joeckel at No. 1 (KC wants to trade Branden Albert) and the Eagles (No. 4) and the Lions (No. 5) both easily could take the other two tackles. Even if one lasts to No. 6, the next scenario could be the Browns trading out of No. 6 to the Chargers or Dolphins, both of whom need a left tackle like Johnson (pictured below).

Now, the Dolphins are talking with the Chiefs about the Albert trade, which would take them out of the mix. But the Chargers, picking 11th, could try to jump up (with Ken Whisenhunt’s new team potentially stealing a tackle out from under his old team.)

What does this all mean? Well, this is operating under the assumption the Cards are focusing on a tackle. That was the thought last year too and they took Michael Floyd over Riley Reiff, so there’s that. I don’t see the Cards trading up and surrendering a pick, although I’m not positive on that. If all the tackles are off the board in the top five, I could definitely see the Cards trying to trade down a little, although other than the tackles, I don’t know who would trade up. And again, if three tackles go off the board that early, someone is sitting there that hadn’t been expected. Will it be someone the Cards want?

— As long as we are talking about potential picks at No. 7, we have our annual mock draft contest ready for play right here. Hope you decide to take a crack at who you think the Cardinals will select.


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As the coaching info turns

Posted by Darren Urban on January 9, 2013 – 11:47 am

With Steve Keim in place as general manager, the Cardinals now need to find a head coach. That is ongoing, and there was some spark thrown into Wednesday morning with conflicting reports about the Cardinals and Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley. Some reported there was an interview happening, others said no. (Or absolutely no.) What we know is that the Cards have talked to Ray Horton and Mike McCoy and are going to talk to Jay Gruden Thursday. President Michael Bidwill said all those things Tuesday. The team has been pretty transparent with all their interviews once they are lined up. Then again, Haley might want this kept quiet (which doesn’t necessarily prevent leaks, not when it is fellow coaches apparently saying what is going on.)

The Cards, in the Haley case, are not commenting.

(UPDATE: Steelers president Art Rooney said Haley is interviewing. Feels like a solid source.)

Regardless, nothing has changed with the hiring time frame, which was that there was no time frame. Bidwill reiterated that notion. “The timetable is the timetable that gets us the right coach and the right decision for the team to move us forward,” team president Michael Bidwill said during Steve Keim’s introductory press conference Tuesday.

One final interesting note, which comes via Geoff Mosher from CSN Philadelphia, via tweets that make me think he too has been hit with many questions from concerned fans about no head coach yet hired, in his case with the Eagles.

“KC was first NFL team last year to hire HC, on Jan. 9. Chiefs went 2-14, fired Crennel. Colts hired Chuck Pagano on Jan. 25. Made playoffs”

Mosher makes the point of various successful coaches over the years and their hire dates: Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin Jan. 22 (’07); Baltimore’s John Harbaugh Jan. 19 (’08); Denver’s John Fox Jan. 13 (’11); Atlanta’s Mike Smith Jan. 24 (’08); and Seattle’s Pete Carroll Jan. 11 (’10). Again, I’m not trying to say every coach hired is the right one, or that waiting always is a benefit. But clearly, it’s not like taking time crushes chances for success. Of the seven teams that need new coaches, only two have hired new coaches, and that doesn’t include the possibility Jacksonville could change coaches now that they have a new GM.

— One final outlier here: After the Cowboys fired DC Rob Ryan Tuesday it became popular — driven by media speculation — that Horton could be a candidate to replace him. Horton was wooed by Jason Garrett to be on staff two years ago as Horton was coming to Arizona as DC. Here’s the problem: If the Cards don’t hire Horton has head coach, I’m pretty sure they want him to stay as defensive coordinator. Now, that can always change depending on who the head coach is, but with Horton still under contract for another season, he can’t go anywhere (except as a head coach) if the Cards don’t want him to. And I just don’t see the Cards allowing a lateral move, even if Horton did (of which I’m not sure either).

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Chiefs aftermath

Posted by Darren Urban on August 10, 2012 – 11:41 pm

It was a little play, certainly not the end-all-be-all of the game. But the Cards had opened with one quick first down and thought they’d have another facing a third-and-1 on their opening drive. Alfonso Smith instead got snowed under for a two-yard loss.

The play was blocked wrong, coach Ken Whisenhunt said. In technical terms, the offense should have treated a safety in the box as a linebacker. It wasn’t an exact play the Cards had had a chance to run before, but the scheme was sound and the play generally had been practiced. “You’d like to think we are sharp enough we could make the adjustment because we talked about it,” Whisenhunt said. “That’s part of preseason but when there are enough of those, it becomes frustrating. Because you feel like you are a better team than you showed.”

In a nutshell, the Cards feel like they are better than they showed against the Chiefs. It didn’t matter in the final score, however, and it didn’t make some of the rough spots look any better. Larry Fitzgerald probably put it best:  “It wasn’t pretty today by any stretch of the imagination. I don’t know what it is but we have to get it fixed and get it fixed pretty quickly.”

— It did look like John Skelton felt comfortable but in the end, there wasn’t much to show for his start. For a moment, it looked like the interception might be a completion to Fitz. There isn’t much difference between good and bad, however. Kevin Kolb also probably should have had better numbers, but the protection broke down once or twice. It doesn’t feel like either man has separated in this race.

— Ryan Lindley did a nice job on the last 30 seconds before the half and led a touchdown drive. I like the kid and he’s going in the right direction. But let’s not crown anyone yet. Lindley’s development isn’t going to go any faster even if fans think he’s better than the top two guys. We can argue about it being too early for the veterans as we go. For a rookie sixth-round quarterback, it’s way too early.

— The starting defense didn’t do well. They know.” It can look a certain way right now,” safety Kerry Rhodes said, and that way is bad. But there didn’t seem to be a concern by anyone on that side of the ball. “There will be a difference when we gameplan,” Rhodes said. The first drive was tough, though. Better tackling, but the Chiefs just kept getting first downs. Got to get off the field.

— Here’s why you get gun-shy about making grand pronouncements. LaRon Byrd had a good game – even Whisenhunt said so – and his three catches for 33 yards, all at the end of the first half, got the Cards a field goal. Good stuff, right? Sort of. Whisenhunt said Byrd was supposed to run a diagonal and would have been open in the flat but ran the wrong route and “left our quarterback out to dry.”

“You see the big plays and you think he has a good game but one of the small things happens and the quarterback keeps the ball in his hand because he’s looking to throw and LeRon isn’t there,” Whisenhunt said.

— Along those same lines, Skelton admitted he called the wrong play in the huddle on his first drive. For an offense fighting to execute as it is, mental errors are killers.

— William Powell had his 29-carry game last year in the preseason, and 92 yards rushing (on nine carries) Friday night. He broke 100 all-purpose yards including his nine-yard reception. Even without a 67-yarder by Powell, the Cards still ran for 86 yards on 23 carries, which wasn’t bad.

— Rookie cornerback Jamell Fleming made a nice play to tackle a running back for a loss and also broke up a pass that ended up being intercepted by teammate Rashad Johnson. That’s a plus.

— Adrian Wilson absolutely lit up Chiefs receiver Terrance Copper on an incompletion early in the game. Wilson lowered the boom, but – correctly, I think – no flag was thrown because Wilson used his shoulder, went into Copper’s chest and didn’t leave his feet. He did, however, probably leave a mark. Hopefully the league sees it as clean too.

— Whiz didn’t want it to be an excuse, but it did seem like the Cards were like an NBA team at the end of a long road trip, out of gas. Don’t know if that was true or not, but the vibe was there.

— Finally, Ryan Williams did not play. Not a surprise. He and Beanie did dress for warmups though. They are getting closer.

This trip is over. Time to fly home tomorrow (later today?) and get back to some normalcy.

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Thursday before the Chiefs

Posted by Darren Urban on August 9, 2012 – 3:25 pm

The last stage of the training camp week away from training camp is over.

(It reminds me of one of the great George Carlin’s comedy bits of being on vacation and then going to another place while gone. “Supply lines become longer and harder to maintain!”)

I’m thinking it’s being embraced by the roster, after a couple of days in Canton (staying an hour away from the Hall of Fame), a trip to St. Joseph, Mo., for more dorm life, and now this trip into Kansas City for Friday night’s game against the Chiefs. What’s it been like? “Honestly, it’s been hell,” guard Daryn Colledge said, in the way only he can.

Colledge saw the joint practice with the Chiefs kind of like a game, so “we’ll end up with another one so that’s three in five days. The bed (at the dorm) is made up of a pallet with sandpaper on it and my sheet is similar to a dryer sheet. Hey, it’s not been the greatest stop in my life. There is a part of me looking forward to get back to Flagstaff. But it’s been good. The school has excellent facilities to practice and play in, everyone was nice. It was a good stop overall.”

Never thought I’d hear a player happy to be going back to Flagstaff. First though, there is the game against the Chiefs.

— We’ll see if Kevin Kolb plays at quarterback, but this will be John Skelton’s first start and that’s a big deal. Skelton hasn’t had the greatest of first-quarter showings. He looked steady in his 94-yard touchdown drive last week. That’d be huge if he could do that again.

— Watching the defense try to bang with Chiefs running back Peyton Hillis, the man is a load when he hits into the line. Considering the Cards struggled with tackling last game, he will be a test.

— As I have mentioned before, and this is my guess only, I’d think Ryan Williams won’t play one more week. But I’ll admit I won’t be shocked if he does.

— On the road I didn’t get a chance to re-watch last week’s game. I’ve had a lot of fans do so and talk about the offensive line, about guard Adam Snyder and tackle Levi Brown and mistakes they might have made. I’m going to try and watch the unit more this game. It, like the entire offense, could benefit from a faster start.

— If you haven’t seen it, there’s a good story about the friendship between Williams and Chiefs GM Scott Pioli.

— There weren’t any scuffles in the joint practice this week. But a couple years ago, when there were some between the Cards and Titans in their joint practice, that came after the two teams played. Maybe the reverse will be true this time.

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Arrival in Missouri

Posted by Darren Urban on August 6, 2012 – 3:07 pm

OK, not everyone. I’m here with a few of my broadcast brethren at Missouri Western State in St. Joseph, Missouri, sitting in my new but barren dorm room. It’ll be a fun three nights, I’m sure. The team arrives this evening.

The schedule sets up like this: A walkthrough Tuesday morning and a joint practice against the Chiefs at 3:15 p.m. local time (and yes, it’s open to the public. Info here on The Cards will then have another walkthrough Wednesday morning and a practice indoors on their own Wednesday afternoon. Thursday is a travel day and then comes a preseason game against the Chiefs in Kansas City — about an hour away — Friday night.

We’ll have the coverage of the week on I’ll have a story on the homepage in a bit on Stewart Bradley.

(P.S. Watch the video from last night’s game to see the portion when Kevin Kolb came off the field and supposedly “dissed” John Skelton like so many claim. I see a guy who is hurt and not noticing anything, especially Skelton and Skelton’s hand off to the side. I’m sure John knows that. To suggest Kolb blew off Skelton on purpose is ludicrous.)

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Officially, Cards to spend practice week in K.C.

Posted by Darren Urban on June 28, 2012 – 2:31 pm

The speculation has come true: The Cardinals will indeed practice against the Kansas City Chiefs the week of Aug. 6, in between the Hall of Fame game against the Saints Aug. 5 and the preseason game in Kansas City Aug. 10. That was confirmed Thursday. The workouts will be at the Chiefs’ training camp home of Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph, Mo.

“There are many benefits to this arrangement and we appreciate Coach (Romeo) Crennel and the Chiefs working to make this happen,” Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said.  “Logistically it makes a lot of sense since we play Sunday night in Canton and then Friday night at Kansas City but I’ve always found there’s also great value in getting work against another team in a setting like this. We’re looking forward to it.”

The actual dates and times of the combined practices are still to be determined.

“Training camp is about us continuing our development and evaluating our players,” Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel said. “We are very excited to be hosting another NFL team for competitive practices. This will give us another opportunity to further evaluate our team under a different set of circumstances before we get into our preseason schedule.”

The move just made sense. The Cards would have had to fly home in the dead of night after the Hall of Fame game and trek up to Flagstaff the next afternoon for what would have amounted to two days of work before driving back down to fly out for the Chiefs game. Going right to Kansas City made sense, much like the Cards’ trip to Nashville back in 2010.

“We could not be happier to host two NFL franchises this year at Missouri Western,” said Missouri Western State University athletics director Kurt McGuffin. “There is a buzz in the air about camp this summer, and with the addition of the Cardinals, the interest is elevated around St. Joseph and beyond. We would like to thank the Chiefs for bringing us this opportunity.”

The Cardinals’ full training camp schedule has yet to be released, but it is expected out very soon now that the details of the Kansas City week have been finalized.

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The Kansas City practice possibility

Posted by Darren Urban on June 5, 2012 – 1:17 pm

Coach Ken Whisenhunt acknowledged Tuesday the possibility the Cards could practice against the Kansas City Chiefs during training camp, during the week between the Cards’ Hall of Fame game against the Saints in Ohio Aug. 5 and the Cards’ game in K.C. against the Chiefs Aug. 10.

“We’ve talked about it,” Whisenhunt said. “There’s nothing really firmed up yet. I’m not opposed to it. We’ve done it before with Tennessee a couple of years ago and I thought it was a great experience. It’s a good chance to evaluate your team against other players. You don’t get a chance to do that unless it’s in a game. When you get more reps and see them in certain situations, it’s a good tool. I hope it’s something we will be able to work out.”

Whisenhunt said there are “a lot of things” that go into the decision. One of which is the travel, because the Cards would be doing a lot of moving around in a short period if they did come back to Arizona in between games (since camp is up in Flagstaff.) “We are still in the process of figuring all that out,” Whisenhunt said. “Part of it is making sure we have facilities. We’ve talked about it and I don’t know if it will get anywhere, but it’s certainly not anything I am opposed to.”

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Cards reportedly talking Kansas City practice

Posted by Darren Urban on June 1, 2012 – 11:11 pm

There has been some “mention” of the Cardinals spending some time in Kansas City and practicing against the Chiefs early in training camp, according to Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel. The Cardinals play in the Hall of Fame game Aug. 5 — a Sunday night — and will play at Arrowhead Stadium the following Friday night. The Cards could go to Kansas City early. “I’m not opposed to it,” Crennel said. The athletic director of Missouri Western State University acknowledged Cards’ decision makers had visited the campus to evaluate the facilities. That story emphasized nothing yet had been decided and talks were only in the early stages.

It wouldn’t be unprecedented for the Cardinals to make such a choice in camp. In 2010, the Cardinals played in Nashville against the Titans and then stayed in the city to have a practice against the Titans before flying directly to Chicago for their next preseason game against the Bears.

At this point, the only portion of the training camp schedule the Cards have released is report day of July 24 and a practice on July 25. The full camp schedule usually is announced in late June.

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