It is unquestionably a harsh reality the Cardinals and Tyrann Mathieu were officially handed Monday, with the news Mathieu had torn his ACL and was done for the year. Mathieu has had a fantastic season. They will miss him on the field. But what struck me is how personal this is, for Bruce Arians and players. This cuts them, because Mathieu is such a great person. This is ground that has been covered many times, but it makes sense why people want to root for this guy. He has a charisma that few have. He is genuine. Add in the fact he can play football, and it resonates. I’m not afraid to say he’s one of my favorite guys to cover in my 16 years around this team.
This is why the news is extra painful.
“Luckily we have the next couple of days off to let this emotionally sink in,” safety Rashad Johnson said. “Not so much not having our guy to play in the playoffs, but our hearts go out to him because of everything he’s been through and how hard he has worked to get back to this point and having the season he’s having.”
As for on the field, the Cardinals have to find a way to make due defensively without Mathieu. You can’t replace the playmaking ability. That’s innate. You do have — assuming no more serious injuries — depth, however. Johnson should be back from his ankle injury. Jerraud Powers plays more slot. Justin Bethel gets on the field. And new safety D.J. Swearinger plays more with Tony Jefferson.
Also part of the equation: This happens. Take a look around the top teams. Almost all have lost at least one significant player, if not for the season, for an extended period of time.
— Seahawks: TE Jimmy Graham, RB Marshawn Lynch, RB Thomas Rawls
— Panthers: WR Kelvin Benjamin
— Steelers: RB Le’Veon Bell
— Packers: WR Jordy Nelson
— Bengals: QB Andy Dalton
— Patriots: WR Julian Edelman, every decent running back they had
— Broncos: LT Ryan Clady, QB Peyton Manning (yes, I understand you can quibble with the Peyton pick.)
The point is it’s the living example of that well-worn quote coaches and some players have been saying for years: “The other team isn’t going to feel sorry for us.” The other teams have their own personnel losses. It’s the business.
Tags: Andy Dalton, D.J. Swearinger, Jerraud Powers, Jimmy Graham, Jordy Nelson, Julian Edelman, Justin Bethel, Kelvin Benjamin, Le'Veon Bell, Marshawn Lynch, Peyton Manning, Rashad Johnson, Ryan Clady, Thomas Rawls, Tony Jefferson, Tyrann Mathieu
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Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is a talented, young player. That was evident last season. But right now, the cornerback is just that – talented and young. He has yet to reach a Pro Bowl, and while he seemingly knows what he has left to do, that doesn’t mean he is immune to games like he had against the Packers Friday. He was burned on a couple of deep passes – the 76-yard touchdown to Jordy Nelson the worst-looking one, but there was also a 32-yard pass allowed to James Jones – and even on a good play, coach Ken Whisenhunt wasn’t doling kudos. DRC was on Donald Driver on an attempted bomb during the second play from scrimmage, and while he knocked it away, he should have had the interception – something Whisenhunt noted Monday. An interception there, the coach said, and the game may have changed because the Cards would have gotten a spark it desperately needed.
“I wouldn’t say he is freelancing, I would say he’s a young player that at times is undisciplined, and it is our job and our defensive leaders’ job to get on the same page,” Whisenhunt said. “He was disappointed in the way he played, embarrassed, and he worked in practice a lot better. We’ll see.”
For his part, DRC – using the phrase of the week, apparently – called it his “wake-up call.”
“That’s a ball I want thrown,” DRC said of the Nelson pass, “and it finally came, and I wasn’t prepared.
“It’s just another chapter. It’s all about preparation. I should have had a better week of practice, I had my ups and downs in practice, and it showed in the game. That’s what you learn from.”
Tags: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Donald Driver, DRC, James Jones, Jordy Nelson, Ken Whisenhunt
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