The Cardinals made their first “big” free-agent signing Friday, getting tight end John Carlson to sign a two-year contract. Given the uncertainty at the position — Jeff King, Jim Dray, Jake Ballard and Kory Sperry all have expiring contracts — someone was going to have to sign to fill the spots.
Tags: Arizona State, free agency, Jake Ballard, Jeff King, Jim Dray, John Carlson, Kory Sperry, Will Sutton
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We interrupt the normal gameday inactives post — because there are no surprises on it following the bye week — to note the Cardinals’ defense, coming into the weekend, were the top defense in the NFL based on footballoutsiders.com’s DVOA rankings. The DVOA rankings are in many ways better than the NFL rankings because it takes into account so much more than just yards. (DVOA stands for Defense-adjusted Value Over Average, balancing a team against the league average and multiple categories). FO says the Cards’ strength of schedule plays a factor, as does the turnovers (although DVOA doesn’t give a ton of credit for fumble recoveries, because those tend to be the luck of the bounce) and the fact the Cards do well defending on second- and third-downs. Something to chew on going into today’s game.
Speaking of today’s game, the (not surprising) inactive list. Bradley Sowell will start as usual at left tackle, Jake Ballard gets a spin at some tight end:
— WR Brittan Golden (hamstring)
— QB Ryan Lindley
— RB Ryan Williams
— LB Dontay Moch
–G Earl Watford
— TE Kory Sperry
— DE Ronald Talley
Tags: Bradley Sowell, Football Outsiders, inactives, Jake Ballard, Texans
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“I don’t know how they are 2 and 6.”
Larry Fitzgerald said that about the Texans this week. Coach Bruce Arians said something similar. Normally, eh. Players and coaches are always going to say nice things about the opponent, lest bulletin board material be uttered. But this is a week where that seems to make a little sense. The Texans have the top-ranked defense in the NFL. They have the top-ranked pass defense. They have a top 10 offense. Those things don’t usually add up to 2-6 as a record.
But it is the cracks in the armor that put the Cards in a good position coming off the bye. Those stats don’t translate into wins because the Texans don’t generate a lot of turnovers. They have a hard time stopping teams from scoring touchdowns once they get into the red zone. They’ve managed to give up a lot of points when they are playing offense (although a quarterback change has helped that) and their special teams aren’t very good.
Add in a missing head coach who also happens to be the team’s play caller, and the Cardinals seem to be set up for an opportunity coming off the bye.
— Texans quarterback Case Keenum has played very well since taking over for Matt Schaub. But for an inexperienced guy, it just feels like there will be a bump coming sooner rather than later. That could be Sunday. The Cards do a nice job against the run and tend (unless you have an athletic tight end) not to get beat deep. Keenum likes to throw the deep ball. I just have this feeling that will get him into trouble this week.
— That will obviously mean Patrick Peterson will be on display, especially since he will be chasing Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson much of the game. Johnson went off for 229 yards and three touchdowns last week. The spotlight will be on both. Peterson hasn’t given up a touchdown pass since Week 3 in New Orleans, when he was beat late on a Jimmy Graham slant. Profootballfocus.com says that Peterson has been targeted 48 times in eight games by opposing passes, and he has allowed a completion on only 50 percent of those throws.
— Cardinals tackle Eric Winston not only played with Johnson in Houston, but also in college at Miami. “Andre is that specimen-athlete-type guy,” Winston said. “He looks at a weight and he puts on weight. At Miami we made him stop coming to the weight room because he got too heavy. He ate McDonalds every day and had two percent body fat.”
— Jake Ballard will be active this week. I do not expect him to be a revelation at tight end, but the Cards hope he can show a little bit as he works back into the game following so much time off.
— Rashard Mendenhall will start. Not a big deal. Andre Ellington should get his touches. That is a big deal.
— I expect Bradley Sowell to start at left tackle. Watching how the Cardinals deal with J.J. Watt, however, is going to be a line-wide job. Can they hold him off? That run game (the Texans are just 18th against the run) is going to be so important in making that pass rush hesitate at least a little.
— Saw Jonathan Cooper this morning in the weight room. The rookie guard still has a boot on his foot but was doing some dumbbell work. A good sign as he slowly progresses in his rehab.
— Heads up for anyone going to the game Sunday. Not only is the football game going on, but there is a concert at Jobing.com Arena and then the annual NASCAR November race at PIR. Traffic is expected to be heavier than normal on the 101 and around the stadium. Be prepared and give yourself extra time. Parking lots open at 10 a.m. – remember, with the rest of the country changing clocks, kickoff this weekend is now 2:25 p.m.
— And in case you missed it, the Cardinals will be wearing their black jerseys.
— As we wrap this up, I found this Karlos Dansby video very entertaining (now the world sees what I have known for a while, how Los repeats your question.) His one comment might be the quote of the year: “Batman, man, he’s gonna have problems. He’s gonna have issues.”
See you Sunday.
Tags: Andre Johnson, black uniforms, Bradley Sowell, Case Keenum, Eric Winston, Jake Ballard, Jonathan Cooper, Karlos Dansby, Larry Fitzgerald, Patrick Peterson, Texans
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The Cardinals agreed to terms today with tight end Jake Ballard, who is coming off a torn ACL but in 2011 had a very good season with the Giants with 38 catches for 604 yards — a gaudy 15.9-yard average, especially for a tight end — and won a Super Bowl. To make room, the Cards cut seventh-round tight end D.C. Jefferson, who was an interesting story and even tattooed a Cardinal on his stomach before he made the team. But he also struggled quite a bit with a transition to the NFL game. Kent Somers reported he was arrested for a DUI Friday night, which I’m sure didn’t help his cause either. UPDATE: Arians said the decision to release Jefferson for Ballard had come before Jefferson’s arrest and did not play a factor.
If Ballard is healthy, he could be a real find, although the Cards only signed him through the end of the season, so this will be a trial run of sorts. Ballard’s story has had some interesting twists. He was playing on the ACL tear in the Super Bowl when it finally gave out on him, so his celebration of a win over New England was tempered by his knee problems (pictured below). He was going to spend 2012 on IR for the Giants but, through a quirk in the rules, was exposed to waivers and the Patriots claimed him. He then was on the physically-unable-to-perform list all last season before the Patriots cut him at the end of preseason this season.
The Cardinals need better tight end production. Ballard was in for a tryout a couple of weeks ago and apparently the Cards liked what they saw (and might have been ready to move on from Jefferson, too.) We’ll see how quickly he can get integrated into the scheme, but the Cardinals have not had the play from tight end position overall that they wanted or needed this season.
— In one other player move, the Jacksonville Jaguars, who play the Cards in two weeks, signed wide receiver Kerry Taylor off the Cards’ practice squad today and put him on their active roster.
Tags: D.C. Jefferson, Jake Ballard
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