Reg. Season Schedule Released
Apr. 21, 2015 - There are certain things you do first when you take off the wrappers and take a peek at a team's upcoming schedule:
Are there any Sunday, Monday or Thursday night (or Saturday) Games?
In fact there are 3: The Cards play host to the Ravens on Mon. night Oct. 26. They play in Seattle Sunday night, Nov. 15. They have a Thursday night contest hosting the Vikings.
When's the Bye Week?
Midway thru the season (perfectomondo)! Week #9.
The game in Philly Dec. 20 is most likely. We also have away games in St. Louis Dec. 6, SF on Nov. 29 and Seattle Nov. 15. (I must confess to being behind the times as to which of the three latter stadiums have covered roofs).
Any glaring scheduling advantages or disadvantages
A cursory glance at the schedule has us (1) playing at 10:00 am AZT in Chicago Week #2 and in Pittsburg Week #6. (2) Our Sunday night game will be in Seattle Week #10. (3) We have to fly east for 11 am games in Cleveland Week #8 and Philly Week #15. (4) On our final 2 weeks of the season, we host Green Bay and Seattle. (5) We open the season with a home game vs. NO. (6) hree of our first 4 games are at home.
Other scheduling features
When I get around to it, I want to take a look possible competitive scheduling advantages or disadvantages resulting from short or long intervals between games, coming off long. tough road trips, "trap" situations (i.e. where a game is sandwiched between a tough game before and a tough game after).
Bottom line - I like our schedule; keeping in mind Coach Arians' observation that whatever the circumstances, "you gotta play them all."
The Silence is Deafening...
Apr. 8, 2015 - Some years, the draft can be reliably predicted thru, say, the first 20 picks. Other years, media-pundits and fans won't have a clue. (Of course, a last-minute trade at the top of the draft can be a "bracket-buster" draft-wise). Within a week or two after the Combine, we began to gain a picture of what the draft might look like - but only with regards to Picks #1 - #4 (where it looks fairly likely that TB will grab Winston, Tennessee will take L Williams, Jacksonville will grab Fowler and Oakland will either take White or Cooper).
But everything comes to a screeching halt when we get to the Redskins at #5 - Do they draft Mariota (RGIII's durability isn't iron-clad), do they draft for need and take an edge rusher like Beasley, Gregory or even Ray? Or are they simply ginning-up trade talks? Then you come to the Jets (when you try to scope our what they plan to do, "think Redskins").
From #4 forward, the draft looks like a crap-shoot. There are many reasons for this: First and foremost, some GM's actually mean it when they say they'll draft the best available athlete (BPA), and each team's board will differ at least a little from every other team's board. Second (& at least my perception), some teams have unique position-profile priorities. One GM favors length in a CB; another might stress pure speed. (some GM's place a higher priority on combine numbers (because they value pure athleticism), others on game-tape (because they place a higher priority on production). Some teams are more flexible than others tolerating so-called "character" concerns. Some are in a better position to roll the dice on injuries. And finally, there's the trend toward versatility - with players being asked to fill different roles in varying "flexible" defensive and offensive schemes (witness safety Deone Bucannon being a valuable cog last season at ILB).
This looks like one of those years where one team's "late-first rounder" might be another team's early 3rd or 4th round pick. Or some team with a late-first round selection (I'm guessing Patriots) drafts totally out of the box in order to fit a unique position profile need.
So how do we scope out this year's draft. A few time-worn "tricks of the trade":
(1) Ignore all the rumors concerning hq. visits, Senior Bowl interviews etc. - It's like trying to find a needle in a haystack. Virtually every team has met with at 20 or more prospects, and - while a few guys interviewed invariably wind up on that team's roster - far more do not. In fact, a team might bring in someone late in the process purely to juice up trade talks with another team who likes the guy. Or it could be that there are a few unchecked boxes on a player's resume that a team wants to fill in.
(2) We're still almost a month out - don't get too wrapped up in what the media-pundits are saying right now (In fact the nuggets of new draft nfo that hitting the wires are so few that they get repeated endlessly in louder and louder bursts - like bits of sound reverberating within a giant echo chamber). Keep your panties dry, ladies and gents.
(3) Within a few days before the draft, start paying attention to mocks conducted by local beat-writers. Many of them have inside access to sources tied to the team(s) they cover and gain inside information that will make them look good.
Meanwhile, enjoy the ride - JGG
Ladies and Gentlemen - Start Your Engines...
Mar. 11, 2015 - We didn't even have time to synchronize our I-Pads before the Internet turned into "Tweet City." Suddenly in StL, Sam Bradford was out/ Nick Foles was in. NO tight end Jimmy Graham was suddenly a Seahawk and center Max Unger was no longer sleeping or sleepless in Seattle. The names - like a relentless Tsunami surf kept coming and coming.
From a Cardinals standpoint, we won a few and lost a few but, all in all, (as we see it) seemed to be emerging a winner as free agency began to unfold. Best way to assess things figures to be position-by-position.
QB - No additions or subtractions - except that Carson Palmer indicates he's good to go for 2015 and that's a big net-plus.
RB - Nothing to report thus far. Adrian Peterson rumors refuse to die, but as of now, no changes. Rumors we're interested in DeMarco Murray appear to be unfounded, but the Cards and CJ Spiller have been mentioned in the same sentence along the FA grapevine.
WR - Getting Fitz signed allowed us to pretty much stand pat (although we did let Ted Ginn head for greener pastures).
TE - No news here (none was expected). Seattle's trading for Graham gives them a leg up on us.
OL - Former Niner, Mike Iupati, was 4th-ranked on the NFLN list of available FA's. He's now a Cardinal. This gives the Cards a working front five of Veldheer, Iupati, Sendlein, Cooper and Massie. Iupati is considered a devestating run-blocker. Cooper (who will have to earn his starting spot) provides a smash-mouth factor over on the right side (where Paul Fanaika is expected to be gone). Also visited and signed - center AQ Shipley (Colts) which triggered the release of last year's starting center (& said to be a locker room leader) Lyle Sendlein, whose production apparently fell off last season. Ted Larsen and Shipley are expected to duke it out for starting center. It may not matter whether the Cardinals upgrade their RB situation, the run-blocking, in and of itself, may be enough to make the Cards scary runners.
DL - Cards have work to do - especially inside with Dan Williams and Darnell Dockett headed elsewhere. Cards had re-signed Alameda Ta'amu (but he's still still rebounding from a knee injury). They took important early steps by signing former Falcon Corey Peters (6-3 305) who has the versatiility to play outside or move inside in a manner similar to Dockett and Colt DE Corey Redding (said to be a model of consistency during his time in Indy).
LB - Lots of rebuilding to do. Daryl Washington's role both for the near and distant future remains an enigma (as in: "we can't count on his being available.") Abraham hasn't been asked yet to re-sign.Sam Acho is still a FA. Okafor is on a police blotter. Larry Foote has moved over the line to become an assistant coach.(Ouch!) Cards took two significant steps by signing OLB LaMar Woodley to a one year deal and inking former Falcon ILB Sean Witherspoon (considered a "playmaker" before he hurt an Achilles) for a year. Cards also expect to host former Bronco LB Nate Irving and Wash OLB Brian Orapko.
DB - From the way they were stockpiling young, undrafted DB's, you could speculate that the Cards were concerned about shoring up their defensive secondary. Good thinking - last year's starter Antonio Cromartie will join Daryl Revis with the Jets. Paired with Patrick Peterson last season, Cro gave the Cards a rock-solid CB tandem, and (frankly, I'd have had no problem overpaying to keep him because it because it helped set up everything else we wanted to do on defense). Assuming nothing else major happens in free agency or the draft, it will be up to former S Justin Bethel (long on raw athletic ability/ a bit short on experience at CB) to step up and replace Cro.
ST - We re-signed LS Mike Leach (no brainer). The returning Zastudil and rookie standout Catanzaro figure to make us solid here. The departure of Ginn does leave us in need of a "long ball" kick returner and punt returner.
To sum up - We look like we'll be a similar team to the one that went 11 & 5 last season - with the exceptions that (1) we should have a healthy Carson Palmer and (2) our OL should be 20 - 25% better (expecially in the run game). One looming Achilles - Cromartie will be hard to replace at CB.
Scoping Cardinal Player Moves Mainly a "Crap Shoot."
Mar. 2, 2015 - Let me put it this way - trying to figure out what the Cardinal roster will look like come this summer is like trying to to hit a moving dart board blindfolded.
It makes for interesting off-season give and take and helps fill the time between Super Sunday and Draft Day, but several unpredictable factors suggest that what the Cardinal roster looks like going into training camp will bear no resemblance to what we think it will look like based on what we know right now. Anyone who tells you different is blowing smoke.
Some of those factors:
Cardinal veteran free agents. (The Fitz deal got done/the Dockett deal didn't (at least not for now).
Which free agent veterans on other teams are willing to negotiate deals with the Cardinal front office (i.e. just because everyone thinks David Harris would be a good ILB fit doesn't mean that Harris or the Cardinals feel that way - at least at the going market price).
The ability of the coaching staff to identify high-upside players both on our team and on the open market, aggressively go after these players and then develop them. (This "X Factor" may be the single biggest factor contributing to the unpredictability of the process.
How we evaluate talent compared to other teams (it seems, of late, that Steve Keim and Coach Arians pull a number of players our of their butts that leave uneducated fans shaking their heads, only to find that the coaching staff finds a way to get these players (when healthy) to produce at a higher-than-unexpected level.
For these reasons - although we'll go through the motions of ranking prospects, conducting mock drafts etc. (mainly because it's fun), what will be lacking on my part will be a "sense of certainty" that somehow suggests I know what the bleep I'm talking about. All I know is that, whether I'm 95% accurate or only a measley 10%, I'm going to spend most of my time "watching the dance" and enjoying the process.
What Did I Miss?
Feb. 6, 2015 - On Nov. 30, the EMT ambulance sheparded Bryna, my beloved wife of 52 years, to the ER of RIverview Hospital. She displayed "stroke-like symptoms." Tests ruled out a clot, hemmorage or mass. Preliminary diagnosis (which turned out to be accurate) was Hydro Cephilus (a build up of fluid in the outside of the brain). She (& I) have been in and out of the hospital for the past 8 - 9 weeks. Prognosis is promising but not without the occasional "bad day" which will dampen a couple of consecutive good days.
This has meant that, till now, I haven't had the opportunity to post anything on the BRS and, unfortunately, have left many of my readers in limbo. I apologize, but frankly had to place Bryna's health and the well-being of the Gollin household above everything else. Hopefully, now that things are beginning to settle down, I'll be able to get back to talking Cardinal football (though with the ups and downs of Bryna's recovery), there will no doubt be "gaps in coverage,"
I feel as if I've been stuck in a 9 week time warp - I'm pretty sure we had Christmas several weeks ago and, following that, New Years. (Gotta use 2015 instead id 2014). There was a Super Bowl, no? (How 'bout those Seahawks)!!! Combine's coming up fast. I don't have a clue about who the top draft prospects are (gotta play a lot of catchup - just don't expect me to provide as thorough a job of breaking down this year's draft class as I'm used to doing). Thank goodness I didn't forget our anniversary Feb. 2 (opted to pass up flowers with a big display of fresh fruit).
Congrats to Bruce A for being named Coach of the Year and Todd Bowles for stepping in a few miles up the road as coach of the Jets. A word about BA and Steve Keim: I think their secret strengths are identifying and developing talent (which means that the pedigrees of the players they bring aboard are less important than the rate which they improve along a training-continuom to eventually become a key "next man up" contributor if and when called on). Under the watcful eye of Coach Arians and his senior staff of mentors there will always be guys like John Brown, Carson and Bethel stepping in (seemingly out of nowhere) to perform at a high level and keep the overall play of various Cardinals ujnits at or close to a top ranking.
In other words, it's less important who we draft or pick up during the offseason and more important what BA and his people do with them.
Glad to be back.