Adrian Peterson was the story of the week after he was traded to the Cardinals Tuesday. For a few days, all you can really have is speculation. The coaches and players are enthused about his arrival and what he might be able to do. Really, you’d expect nothing else. Optimism tends to reign in these situations.
“You got Adrian Peterson and Larry Fitzgerald on the same team, and Carson (Palmer) is delivering the ball to both of them,” tackle D.J. Humphries said. “It’s like, ‘What?’ That sounds like something you would do on ‘Madden,’ a team you’d create on ‘Madden.’ ”
The spotlight will be on “All Day” Sunday. If I had to guess – and this is purely a guess – I’m guessing on 12 or 15 touches. The revamped offensive line has to make some inroads, and that’s no guarantee. And while Peterson supposedly has looked good since arriving (we cannot watch practice), there’s no way to know exactly what the 32-year-old will do in a game situation. Still, there is little arguing that, after a bad game in Philly, there was a vibe of hope around this offense this week.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I think he’d be on my team,” offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin said. “But he is.”
— The Cardinals have another Peterson. Patrick represents the other side of the ball. Unlike Adrian Peterson, who is still looking to prove he has a lot left, Patrick Peterson doesn’t need to, because he is at the height of his powers. But that can only go so far. And before the offensive Peterson arrived, it was the defensive Peterson’s overflowing passion in Philly that underscored some of the issues with a defense of which so much was expected.
Let’s say P2 does his job on Mike Evans this weekend. The Cards have to find a way to control DeSean Jackson and some good tight ends. They have to get off the field on third-and-long. (An aside, the Cardinals have been good at forcing third downs and even third-and-longs. They just have to close the deal.)
“It’s definitely something we’ve struggled with all season,” safety Tyrann Mathieu said. “I think it’s something we can correct. We’ve got a veteran group on the backend. Everything has to go together. If you call a zero blitz, the pressure has to get home. If you’re dropping zone, you’ve got to affect the passer. I think everything goes hand-in-hand.”
A zero blitz, like the one that didn’t get home at third-and-19 last week.
— Speaking of getting home, it was a tough first game at outside linebacker for rookie Haason Reddick. He made a couple of nice plays – there was one great stay-at-home play on a zone-read run by Eagles QB Carson Wentz – but mostly was locked up and a non-factor as a pass rusher.
“I don’t think he played as well as he wanted to play,” defensive coordinator James Bettcher said. “He had four days playing the position. Play fast and play hard, he did that. Now we stack pieces on top of that.”
— Sunday is the Cardinals’ “Crucial Catch” game so if you have a chance to wear pink and represent, here’s your opportunity.
— Will be interested in seeing how the interior of the offensive line handles Gerald McCoy.
— With the running game having its issues and Palmer throwing all the time, he’s up to 1,573 yards passing. That’s a pace for 5,033 for the season, which would obliterate the franchise record.
— Another reason defense always seems to be a key: Under Arians, the Cardinals are 34-3-1 when holding the other team to 20 points or fewer.
— The Cardinals will wear their black uniforms Sunday (and for those who have forgotten, it was the Buccaneers who were the opponent in 2010 when the Cards wore their black alternates for the first time.)
That’ll be two straight home games in which the Cards wear black, because they’ll break out their Color Rush unis for the next home game Nov. 9, Thursday, against the Seahawks. The difference? The Color Rush jerseys will have red numbers instead of white. And the pants will be black, not white.
Here endeth the jersey conversation for today.
— OK, maybe not all the jersey conversation. After the talk about Adrian Peterson and Justin Bethel and wearing 28 (and there is a chance the league wouldn’t allow an in-season change, but I could not get an official answer on that), Larry Fitzgerald was asked if he went to a new team if he would expect whoever had No. 11 to give it to him.
“I would just go where I fit in,” Fitzgerald said. “It wouldn’t bother me. I wore No. 1 my whole life until I got here. They gave me 11. At the end of training camp a couple of 80-numbers were available, but I was like, I’ll stick with it, this is what they gave me. The number doesn’t make the player. The player makes the number. I’ve always thought that.”
— The Cardinals leave Monday night for London. But first, the Bucs. See you Sunday.
Tags: Adrian Peterson, black uniforms, Buccaneers, Carson Palmer, D.J. Humphries, Gerald McCoy, Haason Reddick, Harold Goodwin, Larry Fitzgerald, London, Patrick Peterson, Tyrann Mathieu
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Ken Whisenhunt admits it. If Sam Bradford is there as the 26th pick overall, the Cardinals will draft him.
OK, so it isn’t going on a limb. Bradford isn’t making it out of the top three, and at this point, it’ll be an upset if he isn’t selected No. 1 by fellow NFC West tenant St. Louis. But the Cards are, not surprisingly, going to look and see if they can find a quarterback somewhere in the draft. That’s something the Cardinals’ coach acknowledged the team has considered the last couple of years. Whisenhunt also admitted figuring out if a quarterback will truly fit and succeed is one of the toughest jobs for a team. Any team.
“Sometimes it’s the scheme, sometimes it’s the talent around the quarterback,” Whisenhunt said. “I think early in a quarterback’s career there are a lot of things that can determine where his career is going to go. If he has a strong team around him, he can turn into something good. There are quarterbacks who are high picks coming out and don’t have a good team around them and they take a beating and they never seem to recover. There are a number of factors involved.
“There are things important to us that we have learned over the years – technique, drops, how they throw the ball, knowledge of the game, how they do reads, the things that would make them successful. But once again, we never know how they are going to react to the stress of this level.”
That’s why quarterbacks like Bradford end up going No. 1 overall because teams can’t afford to pass on them when they are franchise quarterback-less.
In other breaking news, Whisenhunt said if defensive tackle studs Ndamukong Suh or Gerald McCoy is sitting there at No. 26, the Cards would be willing to select them. Offensive tackle Russell Okung too. I’m sure you’re stunned at such information.
Three other quick draft related points:
— General manager Rod Graves, acknowledging it is a personal preference, said unless there is an exception player on the board like a left tackle, he prefers to stay away from drafting an offensive lineman in the first round. I always thought the Cards would go defense in the first round anyway, but anyone mock drafting the Cards will take a tackle or someone like guard Mike Iupati is probably off-base;
— Whisenhunt said the team will obviously be looking for defensive depth but he feels the defense is helped by some of the offseason moves, notably linebacker Joey Porter’s signing. “It helps when you get a guy like Joey, who you feel brings a lot to the table not only as a player but as a guy who can help with the mentality of your team,” Whisenhunt said. “To me, that was something as a team we needed to improve on. We did at times and other times we didn’t.”
That said, the Cards’ braintrust sure sound like defense will be an important factor in the draft. Whisenhunt stressed they won’t pass up an important offensive piece they can use if such a player were highly rated just to reach for a defender, but I think defense will be the focus.
— Speaking of defense, Whisenhunt disputed the idea there weren’t a lot of quality inside linebackers, noting that the lack of inside guys projected for the first round may be more a result of the draft’s overall talent, especially on the offensive and defensive lines.
Don’t forget, live chat with yours truly tomorrow (here’s the link), 11 a.m. PST (2 p.m. EST).
Tags: draft, Gerald McCoy, Ndamukong Suh, Rams, Russell Okung, Sam Bradford
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