Panthers aftermath

Posted by Darren Urban on December 19, 2010 – 6:50 pm

That high the Cardinals were on last week after beating up the Broncos? Gone today. In a season that has already been disappointing, to lose to a team with just one win hurts a lot. Plus, the Cards head into a short week and have to play a team Christmas night that has found its groove in the Dallas Cowboys.

It was tough not to notice the growing pains of quarterback John Skelton Sunday. The offense simply doesn’t have consistency – which was brought up time and again – and struggles to score touchdowns. “It’s just getting old,” Larry Fitzgerald said.

— The Cards actually seemed to do a good job putting themselves in manageable third downs, especially early. The Cards’ third down-to-go yardage in the first half: 4, 4, 3, 3 (after a five-yard penalty), 3, 4, 4, 4, 10, 5. Unfortunately, the Cardinals converted only four of those 10 plays (and one was the third-and-10.

“One of the things we’ve been battling is third downs and a lot of that is because we’ve had third and long,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “We did a better job of getting into the third and (short) section.  We had good plays there and we didn’t execute.  We had guys open.  Part of that is a young quarterback and going through his reads on those things.  He’ll get better at that as he progresses.”

— Skelton was matter-of-fact about his day and his errors. He knows he is still learning. On his interception – a bad choice – he said “those are plays that at a lower level you can get away with but you come here and they’re going to make plays on defense. You know even though the plays might have gone the wrong place with the ball and they’re drops or incompletion or whatever, they are still plays I need to make.”

— One final note on Skelton: It was funny to see this quote from Panthers rookie QB Jimmy Clausen about Skelton: “That’s what I told him after the game. I said, ‘Everything will slow down for you. Just give it some time. Just keep working.’ I was in that situation before. He’s going to be a heck of a player.” Nice words, but considering Skelton actually had an NFL win before Clausen did – Sunday was Clausen’s first – and considering Clausen is just as green, it just struck me as odd.

— In terms of the quarterback situation going forward, wanted to note that Rich Bartel signed a two-year contract. Does that mean he’ll be around in 2011? Not necessarily. But he will be around in the offseason as the Cards try to figure out how they are putting together the QB puzzle for next season.

— The Cardinals used four down linemen quite a bit to battle the Panthers’ running game. It worked at times, although early on, missed tackles didn’t help the defense much. The Cards sold out to stop the run most of the day; that’s what happened on the Panthers’ lone TD when Adrian Wilson was caught on play-action and couldn’t recover to cover tight end Jeff King.

— Drops hurt the Cards again early. TE Stephen Spach, RB Beanie Wells and WR Early Doucet each had passes they couldn’t come up with (a screen to Tim Hightower, in my opinion, was a little too hard in a tight space to be considered a drop) as the Cards had those issues. Again, it might not be more than the past, but when you have trouble moving the ball, those mistakes are magnified.

“I said to our team last night, watching the Thursday Night game, early in that game they put a ball up and their player comes down with and scores a touchdown,” Whisenhunt said. “That kind of got them going and kind of set the table for San Diego.  I said that is what has got to happen for us. We have to have some guys step up and make a play for us.  We didn’t make any plays until late in the game.”

— The final defensive stats are always iffy, since coaches go back and tweak them for every team. But defensive end Calais Campbell had his best game of the season. He was credited with 11 tackles, a sack and four tackles for loss.

— Whisenhunt said he isn’t worried about losing the players or having them shut it down despite the record. “I haven’t seen it,” Whisenhunt said. And wide receiver Steve Breaston said you couldn’t think that way anyway. “You can’t cancel the season in the middle,” Breaston said.

Nope, you can’t. Fourteen down, two to go.

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After the second day

Posted by Darren Urban on April 23, 2010 – 9:56 pm

Coach Ken Whisenhunt made a joke earlier this week about the Cards taking “the best player available that fits the our need.” This year, he wasn’t kidding. Three picks, three players that just so happened to fit major holes, capped by the slot receiver/punt returner Andre Roberts in the third round. So after that (and the choice of LB Daryl Washington in the second round), some thoughts:

— There are clearly some of you out there less than thrilled about the Roberts pick. Know this — the Cards have been looking for a punt returning alternative for Steve Breaston for a while. Not because Breaston isn’t good, but because he has become that valuable as a receiver. Before Roberts, there wasn’t anyone on the roster that was a true candidate. The Cards also needed speed at receiver. Roberts has some of that as a former track guy. They needed a slot guy. Roberts does that. They needed another candidate as fourth receiver, since the leading in-house candidates were unknown quantities in Ed Gant and Onrea Jones.

Plus, Whisenhunt likes the idea of a guy from the Citadel. Don’t get him wrong. Roberts is here because of what he does on the field. But add that to surviving and thriving at a military school, well, Whiz likes that. His father attended the school and he knows what it is about (Whiz took a visit there before going to Georgia Tech).

— The last NFL player drafted from the Citadel? In 2005, the Redskins spent a seventh rounder on a fullback named Nehemiah Broughton — who just happens to be Roberts’ new teammate on the Cards. Of the 12 Citadel players drafted in history, six have been Cards at one point.

— The Cards have been big on the small schools. Roberts, TE Ben Patrick (Delaware), T Brandon Keith (Northern Iowa), RB Tim Hightower (Richmond), CB Greg Toler (St. Pauls) and DRC (Tennessee State) have all been taken since Whiz came aboard. “Because we have had success with those guys,” Whisenhunt said, “we may be a little less inclined to be scared of that.”

— I think the move to get Washington was important. Defensive coordinator Bill Davis loves the idea of Washington coming in to (eventually) fill Karlos Dansby’s shoes. Davis told a story of putting on a tape of a Clemson-TCU game, when running back C.J. Spiller (who went ninth in the draft to Buffalo) caught a swing pass and the only thing in the flat to stop Spiller was Washington. And there was 10 yards in between the two. Nevertheless, Washington “gets him down easily,” Davis said.

“It’s one play,” Davis siad. “But the athleticism …  if you start with speed and athleticism, which you can’t teach. T hen talk to him, he’s a classy young man and football means a lot to him. I talked for maybe two hours. I know he’s sharp enough to learn the NFL system.”

— By the way, the Cards have zero concerns about Washington’s size and/or weight. And the idea is, if Dan Williams and the rest of the defensive line succeeds as planned, Washington will have the space to use his skills to make plays.

— With three picks left, I expect serious consideration on two of them to go to offensive line and defensive back. But in terms of the offensive line, that’s why they signed Rex Hadnot and why they have groomed Keith. That’s why the re-signed Jeremy Bridges. Do they want to keep stockpiling? Yes. But just because some pundits (and some fans) see offensive line as this major need doesn’t mean the Cards do as well.

— If the drop of Jimmy Clausen and Colt McCoy proves anything, it’s how weak this QB class is considered. Because of that, I won’t be surprised to see the Cards get a rookie QB, but after the draft as an undrafted free agent.

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Waiting on Williams?

Posted by Darren Urban on April 22, 2010 – 6:41 pm

With the Falcons taking LB Sean Weatherspoon, I am guessing the Cards are hoping nose tackle Dan Williams falls to them. If he does, I think they grab him. If he doesn’t, keep an eye on TCU LB Daryl Washington. I think the Cards think he fits.

I don’t think there is any way they take Jimmy Clausen, if you’re wondering.

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Making a mockery of the draft

Posted by Darren Urban on April 21, 2010 – 3:04 pm

OK, after much work — and in the end, I’m sure most of it is wrong — I’ve put together my mock first round for tomorrow’s draft. If there are any trades, all bets are off, and even if there aren’t any trades, don’t be betting anyway. This is strictly for fun and amusement, likely your amusement in making fun of me tomorrow night.

It’s difficult to get a handle on what will happen even at the top of the draft, and anytime you are sliding the Raiders in the top 10, that tends to blow everything up anyway. In it, I have the Cards taking linebacker Daryl Washington from TCU (Weatherspoon and Dan Williams are off the board by then, as are Jerry Hughes and Sergio Kindle. And I think there are reasons to like Washington regardless).

No, I don’t have Tim Tebow going in the first round. I have Jimmy Clausen going to San Francisco. I have five linemen among the first six picks. And I have a scenario in which the Cards could end up trading out of the first round to add picks (but no one, like a Rolando McClain for instance, dropping far enough that would make the Cards want to trade up).

So take it for what it’s worth. Again, not sure it’s much. It’s about the effort — right?

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Live chat and Ginn to Niners

Posted by Darren Urban on April 16, 2010 – 10:06 am

On the heels of the news that the 49ers have reportedly acquired wide receiver Ted Ginn for a draft pick (and reportedly would take quarterback Jimmy Clausen in the draft if he is there), a reminder that my live chat on is coming in about an hour (11 a.m. Az time, 2 p.m. eastern). We’ll talk draft and the Cards, and if you want to talk NFC West, we can do that too. Click here for the chat.

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