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2014 Regular Season
Gollin's Blog

Cards Banged Up After First Loss
Oct. 8, 2014 - The 41 - 20 thumping by the Denver Broncos cost the Cards more than an "L" in the won/loss column. It put a number of additional dents in the Cardinal roster. Taking it from the top: Drew Stanton suffered a concussion and Carson Palmer is not yet cleared to play (although both could conceivably be available on Sunday - or not. TE Troy Niklas is day-to-day with a high ankle sprain. Calais Campbell (knee) will be out for probably 3 - 4 weeks. Ed Shaughnessy has been placed on IR. Patrick Peterson (ankle) is expected to be ready to go Sunday. Punter Dave Zastudil (groin) has been placed on IR.

To filll in holes left by injured personnel: The Cards signed QB Dennis Dixon to the practice squad and re-signed OLB Marcus Benard to the regular roster while elevating punter Drew Butler from the practice squad. Alex Okafor (who had seen little action after returning to the regular roster due to injury) is expected to play a more active role at OLB.

The injuries leave the Cardinals, at worst with weaknesses and at best, questionmarks at Quarterback, Defensive End and Outside LB. (True, we have no choice but to stay with the "Next Man Up" part of the Cardinal culture - and have done well with it so far - but you can't help wondering at what point the well may run dry).

Another way to put it is - The injuries make it difficult for us to match up with the Seattles, Niners and Broncos of the world, but the jury's out on how well we can compete with teams like our next opponent (1 & 4 Washington). Hopefully, we'll have enough in the tank to take care of Washington, Oakland & (maybe) the Eagles as we buy a little time to regain our sea legs.

Abraham Headed to IR
Sept. 19, 2014 - It just doesn't stop coming, does it. After suffering a concussion, considering retirement and then deciding not to retire, John Abraham has been placed on IR and probably has played his last game as a Cardinal. When healthy, he was far and away our best outside rusher, and, in response to his various changes in status, the Cards played "yo yo" with other LB's movng in and out of the regular and ST rosters.

Frankly, we were skeptical when John announced his return because of unsourced reports that he had been suffering from severe memory loss for the better part of the year (if not longer). Whatever the case, the concussion symptoms had not gone away and, as much as we wished he could play, it evidently would have put Abraham at significant risk.

The Cards used Abraham's roster spot to re-sign punter, Drew Butler (Apparently Dave Zastudil's groin is still bothering him. What next)?

Dwyer Arrested/Deactivated...
Sept. 18, 2014 - Well, Cardinal fans, if you've been complaining that the Cardinals don't get enough media exposure; that all changed last night: Even CNN and MSNBC and network news coverage carried news that Cardinal RB Jonathan Dwyer had been swept up in the media feeding frenzy over domestic-abuse behavior by key NFL players amidst reports that he had been charged with injuring a young woman, throwing an object at an 18-month infant (it's unclear whether the infant was hit) and hurling a phone out the window to prevent the woman from contacting law enforcement. On the heels of this shocker was an announcement by the Cardinals that Dwyer would be deactivated from all team activities.

The loss of Dwyer means that we will be down to three RB's for the Niner game, with Stepfan Taylor and Robert Hughes available for short-yardage/between the tackles duty. (Actually, we may be lucky in that the Niners are especially tough against the inside run and not having Dwyer might have proved to be irrelevent anyway).

Till now, I've been reluctant to enter my 2-cents about what appears to be a complicated yet emotionally-charged issue. Now's as good a time as any:

This morning, below the D. Urban news release were a number of fan-comments. At one extreme, were shouts of "What's complicated about this? Hitting a womanor abusing a small child is wrong. Ban them for life!" Then there were comments at the oppositer extreme, using the appropriate "let's wait until all the facts are in" position to mask a defense for abusive behavior or"spare the rod"approach to discipline

Oh, if things were that simple. I'll try to sort out the various threads of this "cat cradle." With revulsion - over behavior that causes physically injury or scarring to a spouse or child - a given - there are two lines of thinking that run parallel courses but yet impact one another: (1) Legal and (2) Moral.

Depending on jurisdiction, there are varying laws prohibiting assault (domestic or otherwise) and/or abuse and/ neglect of a minor. The legal system carries with it a process by which assumes presumption of innocence until proved guilty. We all would be well-advised to give the process time to play itself instead of adopting an approach that could best be described as "ready - fire - aim." (Domestic disputes tend, by their very nature, to be emotionally charged and the term: "He said/she said" is pretty applicable. This isn't meant to be a cop-out, but It's important to hear both sides of the story before rushing to judgment).

The mission of Law Enforcement is to (duh!) enforce the laws. The mission of the NFL (being a corporate industry) is to maximize profits. It shouldn't be the mission of the NFL to enforce laws; (that's what law enforcement does). But the League does have the right (some would say: "obligation") to protect its "corporate brand" by enforcing socially high standards of ethical conduct by its employees and other associates. Just so long as those standards and League policy toward enforcing them are made crystal clear to everyone (preferably in advance and not simply as a reflex-action to something that went wrong).

We shouldn't forget that the NFL enjoys tax-exempt status and, therefore, isn't the same as most other corporations. Also - part of its (extremely lucrative) "brand"franchise is reinforced by a "role model" component which relies, to no small degree, on kids "wanting to be like Fitz or Calais." Bottom line - whenever a player or other League employee does something illegal, immoral or dumb, the NFL Image (and therefore its P & L) suffers. The NFL, therefore,has an obligation to all who depend on it (from teams, staff and players to fans, advertisers and media) to enforce high standards of conduct that protect the proverbial "golden goose."

Where things have gotten a bit confusing is a 21st century media environment and short news cycle which encourages the media to hop all over an issue because a herd of writers feel the League office "didn't say the right thing", "didn't do the right thing" or "didn't move fast enough." Give me a break - Does anyone really think that Roger Goodell and his staff are spending countless hours in meetings trying to figure out ways to make abusive behavior acceptable? No doubt - like any other group of normal humans, they're spending a lot of time trying to sort things out, make sense out of the chaos and do the right thing. Were they late to the party in dealing with the issue? Probably - but so too have most other institutions in our society. (Sometimes it takes a crisis to get everyone's attention).

One justifable rap on the League is that they don't always treat all offenders equally, while at the same time, lacking transparency as to why this should be). I think the League tiptoes on a dangerous tight-rope when it forgets it's a for-profit business and (for PR reasons in the face of insatiable media pressure for more & more information) acts like a Law Enforcement agency and prematurely makes policy instead of waiting for the legal process to play itself out.

Finally, there seems to be a growing awareness that the problem of spousal and child abuse is far broader than that of a professional football league and should be approached as a deep-seated societal/cultural problem needing to be attacked on several fronts. But there's the danger that it will be used as an excuse to let the League off the hook (i.e. "since it's a broad, societal problem, it should be society's responsibility to solve it...and not ours").

Not so fast! There are many who believe that the physically aggressive (some would say "violent") nature of the game and its culture lend itself to more violent behavior off the field. Common sense would tend to support this position, but is it really true? Is the incidence of domestic violence among NFL staff and players higher than among the general US population? The NFL is said to be swimming in oodles of money. It might be a timely and productive "first step" for the League to spend some of it on a comprehensive research study to determine the extent of domestic abuse within various population segments, its root causes and programs for dealing with it.

I hope at least some of this makes sense - JGG

Palmer's Shoulder Suspect for Sunday...
Sept. 13, 2014 - The pre-weekend injury report lists QB Carson Palmer (right shoulder) as "questionable." But HC Bruce Arians dismissed the shoulder issue as a "nerve thing" and thinks that Palmer will be "fine." We hope he's right, but, for us, the shoulder report does raise a red flag. At the very least, we'll consider BA' take on Palmer's injury a "reality check" in future situations when we puzzle out the possible impact of an injury to a key player.

Abraham May be Done
Sept. 11, 2014 - When John Abraham (concussion) left the field Monday night, Cardinal fans were concerned that we might lose his pass rushing presence for several games of the regular season. Now, it looks like he might be gone for good. He's apparently told BA that there were other times during the game where he really "wasn't into it" and felt it would be a disservice to his teammates to keep on playing. As of yesterday, he had 5 days to figure out what he wants to do.

There are three contexts within which Abraham's likely absence must be viewed: (1) if there's one basic remaining weakness on the Cardinal roster, it's been its lack of pass-rushing presence. Abraham represented the one tried and true edge rusher on a Cardinal defense which (2) had lost several star players including Karlos Dansby (signed elsewhere), Daryl Washington (suspended) and Darnell Dockett (injury).

The third context centers around Abraham's missing at least three weeks of off-season and training camp practice time while he dealt with personal problems which included a DUI charge incurred in late June (which hadn't yet been addressed by the criminal justice system or the League). The conspiracy-theorist in me can't help but wonder whether the timing of John's announcement had anything to do with the NFL's credibility problems stemming from the Ray Rice incident, and whether John has decided to beat a hasty retreat before more bleep hits the fan.

Meanwhile back to football. What about our pass rush? As BA is fond of saying: "Next man up" (whether that means annointing another LB like Acho or Benard "designated rusher", promoting Kareem Martin earlierr than originally envisioned or altering our schemes to, say, involve the Honey Badger as more of a blitzing presence when he returns to action).

I think we have to look at Abraham's possible departure the same way we do injuries (note - the Rams just lost Long for more than half a season). Injuries are a hard to control fact of life in the NFL. All you can do is hope your GM has built enough backup depth to allow your coach to manage the team's injury problems and move forward without missing a beat - with one possible modern day football "adjustment" - that the concept of the IR be expanded into a bigger "risk of down-time" category that includes injuries, suspensions and personal issues.


Ellington's Status Uncertain for Mon. Night
Sept. 6, 2014 - Earlier in the week there were rumblings that Andre Ellington was being held out of practice ("nothing serious", "maybe just a sore foot due to improperly fitted shoes"). Things grew dicier as the week progressed, amidst rumors that "the foot was more serious than expected" and that Andre might be out as long as a month. This is not good. BA had announced prior to preseason that a greater part of the playbook was being built around the explosive and multi-talented Ellington.

If you've been paying attention, you'd be aware of my concern over not having a RB like Ellington available to back up Ellington. (The Cards have three backup between-the-tackles thumpers in Dwyer, Taylor and Hughes but no one else who can outrace defenders to the corner or cause an opponent's knees to buckle in the hole or open field). With no one else similar on the roster, the playbook will most probably shrink. If Ellington can't go, expect to see more of a power running game and less fast-break basketball on Monday night.

Fortunately, the Cardinals have better straight-ahead run-blockers than last year and enough other weapons at the skilled positions to still put a lot of points on the board. They'll just have to do it differently.

Partial Post-Cut Waiver & Practice Squad Moves
Sept. 1, 2014 - In the wake of the final cutdown to 53 roster players, the Cards picked up a LB (Thomas Keiser) from the Chargers on waivers, cut WR Walter Powell to make room for Keiser and added 6 players to the practice squad: Brittan Golden WR, Andre Hardy TE, Kelvin Palmer OT, Anthony Steen G-C, Jonathan Brown LB and Jimmy Legree CB.

D Urban speculates that the Cards would have liked to sign DT Bruce Gaston to the practice squad but he was claimed by the Patriots. He also notes that Ryan Lindley made it onto the Charger practice squad nd that Keiser was credited with a strip of the ball from Logan Thomas in Thursday's preseason game.

Cards Get Down to Final 53
Aug. 30, 2014 - The Cards released Potter on an injury agreement and placed S Eddie Whitley on IR. The Turk also paid a visit to 20 other Cardinal roster members to bring their roster down to 53. Among the cuttees were: RB's Jalen Parmele and Zach Bauman, receivers Dan Buckner and Brittan Golden, TE Andre Hardy, OL's Kevin Palmer, Phillip Blake, Anthony Steen and John Estes, DL's Christian Tupou, Isaac Sopoaga and Bruce Gaston, LB's Adrian Tracy, Marcus Benard and Jon Brown, DB's Bryan McCann, Jimmy Legree, Teddy Williams, Curtis Taylor and Anthony Walters.

There were few surprises; the most notable being the retention of veteran Tommy Kelly (who on paper looks to be similar in playing style to the injured Darnell Dockett and unsung UDFA's Kenny Demens and Glenn Carson (who racked up 10 tackles in the San Diego preseason game).

Quite possibly there may be additional surprises as the Cards and other clubs jockey to sign a FA veteran or sneak a few unheralded but promising rookies onto their respective practice squads. Most frequent buzz involves veteran Max Starks (who can play either LT or RT) who was cut a week or two ago but who could be brought back after the first regular season game (when a more favorable deal can be structured under the NFL by-laws). Bottom line - this process isn't quite over yet. Stay tuned.


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