2018 Schedule Released
Apr. 20, 2018 - Here are the top-line takeways:
We open at home vs. Redskins
Three of first four games are at home,
Maxmium number of consecutive Away games are two (it happens three times during the season)
Our Bye Week is smack dab in the middle of the season (Week #9)
We have one 10 am (AZT) game (@ Vikes) and three 11 am (AZT) games (@ KC, @ GB and @ Atlanta
Potential Snow/Cold/Ice Days: Dec. 2 @ Green Bay and Dec. 16 & Atlanta (with Nov. 11 @ KC an extreme long shot).
Final Game (could mean a playoff spot/or could be irrelevent) is Dec. 30 @ Seattle
The other teams in our division each appear five-times on non-Sunday afternoon national TV.
But other than the national tv snub, I think we came our pretty good - no lengthy road trips; we open at home; (with the exception of the GB game), we're unlikely to be clobbered by blizzards.
Mar. 19, 2018 (10:50 am ET) - Cards re-signed Bynes and signed former Giant FA guard Justin Pugh and former Bengal OL Andre Smith. For the first time in a few years, the Card WR Room will be Brownless (both Smaoky and Jaron moved on to greener pastures). Josh Mauro was released.
In general, what Steve Keim seems to have done over the past several weeks is to minimize the likelihood that the Cardswill be held hostage in the draft toward filling roster needs. The only major exception being big time voids at WR (where we're down to FItz and JJ Nelson as fixtures - see more below).
To accomplish this, Keim's strategy seems to be too move financial resources around to strengthen the OL and rebuild QB depth with money freed up by the departure of Tyrann Mathieu and the exit of both Browns (Smoky and Jaron) from the WR corps. Cards are said to be very much in contention to sign a CB with starting potential in EJ Gaines.
The moves leave us with (1) a top-level (when healthy) QB and his backup, (2) solid front-line and backup depth at all positions across the OL, (3) the loss of a playmaker in the secondary (the Badger) and (4) a WR corps consisting of Fitz, JJ Nelson and ("who?"
Mar. 15, 2018 (10:50 am ET) - Cards are expected to re-sign LB Josh Bynes. They're hosting a visit by Giant OG Justion Pugh. They're expected to sign Bengal OL Andre Smith
Cards Add/Lose Talent
Mar. 14, 2018 - Cards took a major step in addressing their absence of a QB situation by coming to terms with former Viking Sam Bradford. His most notable traits are: (1) pinpoint accuracy and (2) a history of injuries. He is expected to be joined by Bear QB Mike Glennon. Gone are: RB Adrian Peterson and DB Tyrann Mathieu. There are also uncorroborated reports that WR Smoky Brown and OLB Kareem Martin are headed elsewhere.
I'd rather not overreact or react prematurely, but I would like to share a few thoughts:
I'm not a big fan at pointing fingers at Management directly after a personnel move (because we seldom have the complete back story and would be better served to see how events pan out over time. That said - I hate for us to acquire unexpected gems, smile at our "luck" & spend a lot of time developing them only to give them up for nothing (i.e. kind of makes us a minor league player development resource for other NFL teams). Giving up talent for nada does not make sense to me - therefore, my angst at losing AP, the Badger, Smoky and K-Mart.
And as a fan, I worry that the Cardinals will be less fun to root for than when we had CC, Tyrann, AP, K-Mart and Smoky.
Fitz to Return
Feb. 19, 2018 - This is a very big deal. Although most of the tea-leaves pointed to Larry Fitzgerald's return, we could never be totally sure he'd back until he made it official. It's official - Fitz will be back for 2018.
The reason it's a big deal is that Fitz has shown little if any evidence of slowing down - all indications are that, barring injury, he will continue to produce at an elite level and stabilze a passing attack that otherwise has gaping structual hoies - from (any) QB to reliability at WR, TE or the OL.
"Leadership" is a much overapplied term that out-of-town media people label any player with decent stats and several years under their belt. You could say that about Fitz, but you'd come up way short. From the way he leads his life off the field to the way he plays the game, we are talking about a rare human being determined to get everything possible out of his life inside and outside football - a well-earned "face of the franchise." He not only makes the Cards better offensively, he makes the entire team environment and culture better (i.e. a team any FA would be interested in joining).
Coaching Staff Signed
Feb. 15, 2018, 2018 - The listing of coordinators and assistant coaches is typically little more than a footnote in most NFL rosters, but this season, the list takes on more importance for a number of reasons. First, we have a new coach who, understandably comes in with his own ways of doing things and people he can trust to implement them. And nearly as important is the new head coach's apparent belief in delegating authority and driving responsibility as far down as possible on the coaching totem pole. For these reasons, Cardinal fans would be well-advised to know who the coaching assistants (and their strengths & weaknesses) are. The Transactions release in my local newspaper lists Cardinal assistant coaches as follows:
- Head Coach: Steve Wilks
- Offensive Coordinator: Mike McCoy
- Defensive Coordinator: Al Holcombe
- ST Coordinator: Jeff Rodgers
- Quarterback Coach: Byron Leftwich
- RB Coach: Kirby Wilson
- Ass't RB Coach: Terry Allen
- WR Coach: Ken Garver
- TE Coach:Jason Michael:
- OL Coach: Ray Brown
- Assistant OL Coach: Steve Heiden
- Offensive QC Coach: Troy Rothenbuhler
- Offensive Assistant Coach: Cameron Turner
- Senior Assistant DL Coach: Don Johnson
- Assistant DL Coach: Chris Achuff
- LB Coach: Larry Foote
- DB Coach: David Merritt Sr.
- Assistant DB Coach: Charlie Harbison
- Defensive QC Coach: Alomso Escalante
- Assistant ST Coach: Randal McCray
- Ass't to Head Coach: Ben Burress
- Strength & Conditioning Coach: Buddy Morris
Welcome to the Cardinal family, gentlemen.
OC: Everything Points to McCoy
Jan. 26, 2018 - According to the official Cardinal website, there are "multiple reports" that HC Steve Wilks is closing in on hiring an offensive coordinator and that it will be former Chargers HC Mike McCoy. Both the Cardinal website and other sources have been careful to qualify their reports; preferring instead to advise that the 2 parties are "close to a deal."
McCoy was former Chargers head coach and most recently, Denver Offensive Coordinator who was let go in Nov. He was up for the Cardinal HC post five years ago, but accepted the Chargers post instead. He started out 9 & 7 in his first two years but tailed off at 4 & 12 and 5 & 11 during the next two seasons and was fired. He then hooked up with Denver as its OC but, after one successful season where he coached Peyton Manning, Denver started the next season at 3 & 11 and McCoy was let go. Some say McCoy was victim of unusual circumstances - an unsettled QB situation; (benching Trevor (who?) Simeon and starting Brock Osweiler.
According to CBS Sports: "The Cardinals seem likely to undergo an identity change on offense under McCoy, as his system differs greatly from that of retired coach Bruce Arians. (Carson Palmer has been already lost to retirement and they do not have a definitive QBOF on the roster. it would not be a surprise if they tabbed a passer for McCoy to develop in the first round of the draft."
McCoy - Early fan reaction mixed but passionate:
Extremely creative offensive mind who can balance a running game with an explosive passing offense. Smarts and creativity to pick apart defenses, create favorable match-ups
Cons: Offense can get complex. Saw him as most effective when a savvy vet runs the offense: (Rivers, Manning). Thought he might have overloaded Simien as the year went on -- although he did note the Broncos O-line situation sounded worse than the Cards, so take that fwiw
Fan B: "Incredible how this guy keeps getting jobs because he was the Peyton’s OC...."
Fan C: "He has never developed a young qb. He worked mostly with veterans qbs ( Delhomme, Manning, Rivers) Not a good sign."
Fan D: "Actually it's a sign that QBOF ain't being drafted this year, unless they luck into one..."
Fan E: "We’re going to sign Brock F’ing Osweilier. Watch."
FanF: "I don't like the hire, but I understand it."
Fan G: "It’s just unbelievable how this dude keeps getting jobs. “Let’s hire a guy who rode Manning’s coattails, sucked as a HC with a good QB, and was abysmal with bad QBs and wasted good talent at the RB and WR positions with poor scheming.”
Fan H: I'm comfortable with this choice. In fact, I even like it. ..."
Fan I: "His role is a sort of tutor of our head coach?"
Fan J: "Run game to protect the young QB. Mc Coy is not being hired as a head coach...Good times in store"
Fan K: ...Completely overlooking what he has done at his career stops.
1. Squeezed career years out of Jake Delhomme and Kyle freaking Orton
2. When he was handed Tebow, he turned the **** popsicle into the best rushing offense in the league and beat the steelers in the playoffs.
3. Adjusted Broncos offense yet again when a noodle-armed manning replaced Tebow.
... He took what he was given and made the offense put up points. Will be asked to take what we have...and turn it into an offense that is good enough to win games and put up points alongside what will undoubtedly be a very good defense. A team in transition like the Cardinals needs that specific skillset...may not be asked to develop a QB, as that will be the job of the QB coach......for what the team needs right now to "retool" and win games, he is a good fit.
Fan L: Dude makes the offenses so complicated that even Stephen Hawking doesn't understand them.
Fan M "...perfect for a QB who can read a D a la Mr Warner. This just made my day!"
Fan N "Leftwich will develop the QB but he has to play in McCoy's system. In McCoy's defense Siemen / Lynch / Osweiler were hot garbage so not all of the Denver train wreck is his fault."
Fan O "So this guy gets fired twice within a year and we hire him? What does the FO see in him?"
Fan P: "...Us Chargers fans threw a party at a forum meet up in SoCal when McCoy was fired. We wanted to throw a god damn parade when news broke that our hated divison rivals hired McCoy ...Broncos fans are lucky, they only had to experience the demise of Mike McCoy for 1 year while us Chargers fans endured it for 4+ years!!
Conclusion - Whatever the circumstance, "he's ours." Let's see what the Cardinal brass, players and McCoy have to say. (Better yet, let's see how the 2018 Cardinals actually perform onthe field).
"Most Likely" List:
Head Coach - Steve Wilks (Carolina)
Offensive Coordinator - Mike McCoy (Denver, Chargers)
Defensive Coordinator - Al Holcomb (Carolina)
QB Coach - Byron Leftwich (Cards)
RB Coach - TBD
WR Coach - Kevin Garver (Cards)
TE Coach - Steve Heiden (Cards)
OL Coach - Ray Brown (Carolina)
DL Coach - Don Johnson (Carolina?)
LB Coach - Larry Foote (Cards)
DB Coach - David Merritt (Carolina?)
ST Coordinator - TBD
Jan. 23, 2018 - Coach Wilks was introduced to the Cardinal nation at an introductory press conference. Remarks by owner Michael Bidwill occupied the first 5-minutes followed by comments by the new head coach and a Q & A session with members of the local media.
Initially, (at least to this writer) both Bidwill and Wilks seemed a bit ill at ease in front of the cameras, relying on the usual stuff owners and new head coaches are prone to put forth in an initial presser - lots of stuff about "Trust", "Commitment", "Accountability", "Physicality", "Football IQ" (& "EQ"*), "Finishing", "Culture", "Value of Teaching", "From the Guy Who Calls the Plays to the Person Who Makes the Coffee."
All important values (sometimes cliches are nothing more than stating the obvious, but nonetheless truisms), but we learned very little new about what the Cardinals would be like and how they might be the same as or different from the Bruce Arians or Jim Bettcher Cardinals.
However, things started to relax during the Q & A portion of the presser, and we got a better sense about what it would be like during a Steve Wilks era. Here are some early impressions:
"Coach Wilks, the Person"
Primary strength said to be his leadership skills...Comes across as a straight-arrow individual whose strengths include forging strong coach-player relationships...Places a high priority on "Football EQ" (i.e. Emotional Quotient"...Believes in treating each player as a unique individual with unique ways of accepting coaching, processing information etc....
Offensive and Defensive Philosophies
(Had little to say yet about the offense other than that the Cardinal braintrust "had a plan" for filling the roster-hole at QB) and that the foundation of the offense would be "running the ball."
Although he most recently been a 4-3 defensive coordinator, he's also comfortable with the 3 - 4 and describes the current Cardinal defensive system (& presumably most of its personnel) as "It ain't broke/why fix it."
The "800 lb Gorilla"
What kind of QBs running what kind of offense? Nothing new to share at this time.
No new info, but "we want him back."
No new word from SW, except to note that the Cards hoped to have most or all of its staff hired by the Super Bowl.
No clue as to which, if any players or coaching assistants Coach Wilks will bring with him from Carolina. (We can guess, though, that there will be a few of each - new HCs frequently rely on veteran players brought over from their previous teams to help install new systems and terminology to members of their new team - we just don't know who (yet).
Later Info - Assistants
Names being floated around include OC Darrell Bevell (Seattle) (In Minnesota interviewing for OC Coach and may be off the board), (DL Coach) Don Johnson (Chargers) who'll replace Brentson Buckner, (DC) Al Holcomb (Carolina); (OL Coach) Ray Brown (Carolina), (S Coach) David Merritt (Giants).
James Bettcher leaves to become Giants DC...Cards lost WR Coach Daryl Drake to PIttsburgh...Cards hope to keep Asst WR Coach Kevin Garver. (OC's) Mike McCoy (Chargers), Darell Bevell (Seattle) and John DeFillipo (Eagles). Bevell visiting Minnesota and may be off the board. Wilks said to favor DeFillipo but he's still coaching in the Super Bowl and the silence surrounding his name has been "deafening."
The Value of "Teaching" & Player Development
The biggest thing I took away from the Wilks' presser was the value he puts on teaching and developing player talent- he believes (as I do) that one way to increase the "net worth" of a franchise is to improve the quality-of-play of its players so that they're better going out than they were going in. ("Improved players are like 'gold'").
"Talk" is just that - Talk. We'll have to wait and see what kind of offense we'll run...who the QB's will be to execute it...arrivals & departures...how effectively the players will execute the seasons...how our guys relate to BA's successor...game to game coaching decisions and, the ultimate judge - W's & L's. So far, things look positioned to move ahead positively. Go get 'em, Coach!
Wilks New Card HC
Jan. 22, 2018 - 48 year old Steve Wilks signed a four-year contract with an option for a fifth season.
Press conference is scheduled for Tuesday (Jan. 23).
Wilks considers his hiring part of a retool and not a rebuild. “We have the culture of winning here. We just have to be able to sustain it. It’s all about trying to get to the next level and the consistency you need to get to the next level." He believes building a culture based on three things: "Trust, commitment and accountability.”
Under Wilks’ leadership, the Panthers’ defense was 7th in total defense, 11th in points allowed, 3rd in rush defense and 3rd in sacks. When Patrick Peterson, found out about the hiring, he tweeted: "I LOVE IT."
The new Cardinal HC has been coaching since 1995 and has been an NFL assistant since 2006. The Panthers hired Wilks as a DB coach & added Assistant Head Coach to his title in 2014. He was promoted to defensive coordinator in 2017, (along with role as assistant head coach). He has also coached with the Bears and Chargers and in two Super Bowls (Bears and Panthers).
According to Michael Bidwill, Wilks comes to the Cards with a reputation for passion and leadership skills. (“Players love playing for him”).
There had been reports that the Cards might have had second interviews with Brian Flores and John DeFilippo, but those were scrubbed after Wilks’ strong second interview with Bidwill and GM Steve Keim Friday.
(Source: W Mitchell, ASFN Forum)
Notre Dame 2004---Ty Willingham
Washington Huskies 2005---Ty Willingham
Chicago Bears 2006-2008---Lovie Smith
San Diego Chargers 2009-2011---Norv Turner
Carolina Panthers 2012-present---Ron Rivera (Super Bowl Runner-up 2015)
Years of NFL Coaching Experience: 12
Regular Season NFL Team Records: 117-74-1
More info will be added as we get it.
Bruce Arians Retires
Jan., 1, 2018 - It's official - after a whirlwind of rumor, retraction and more rumor about Bruce Arians' status with the Cardinals, the team posted on its website: "The 65-year-old Arians announced he was indeed going to retire after five seasons with the Cardinals, a move not unexpected but the first domino in what could be an offseason of significant change for the franchise."
Other than that BA's down-to-earth coaching style and "cool uncle" personna was something unique and special - there haven't been too many coaches like BA (if any) that we're aware of.
I'll add that anyone who feels that "changing coaches is no more complicated than changing yout socks", is headed for a huge awakening. Teams take on the personalities of their head coaches, and a HC in the NFL has to be multi-talented - a first-rate evaluator of talent, good at assembling quality staff, well-organized, good teacher, good leader - both handling adversity and success, forward thinking - both in X's and O's and with Big Picture approaches to off-the-field disciplins as strength & conditioning, nutrition and psychology.
I'm sorry to see BA go - I had hoped he'd stick with us for another season. As more info comes in, I'll add additional comments. - JGG