2021 Schedule Released
May 13 2021 - Each new schedule brings with it the same basic questions:
How many prime time games? Any snow games? Grudge matches between traded superstars and the teams that traded them? Any early afternoon Sunday games on the East Coast?
Then we dive deep into scheduling ABC's:
Which are the short or long practice weeks between games? Which games follow or precede an especially tough game? Are there any potential "trap games"
This sort of analysis takes a lot of digging (& research). time; so, rather than give you a superficial take on the Cardinal schedule, we'll spend a few extra days delving deeper, and publish it in a week or so.
(Unofficial) Cards Add 4 UDFA's (so far)
May 2, 2021 - They said that the Pandemic environment would shrink the pool of undrafted free agents available at the end of the draft. So far - this seems to be the case. From an unofficial source - we know of 4 Cardinal UDFA signees. Bagged by Steve Keim & his staff were two TE's - Bruno Lavalle (from Cincinnati U) and Cary Angeline (a 6-7 beast out of NC State), CB Lorenzo Burns (a former Arizona Wildcat) and 300 DT Cameron Murrray (from OK St). That's it for now (& a word of caution - signings aren't 100% valid "until they are."
Cards Add 7 Lunchpail" Draftees -
May 1, 2021 - We're not sure how the trades came off, but the Cards wound up with 7 draft picks - LB Zaven Collins, WR Rondale Moore, CB M Wilson, LB Vincent Dimukeje, CB T Gowan, S Jameswiggins and C Michel Menet. It's been a ;long day, and we'll complete their write0ups and provide a more detailed analysis tomorrow.
What I can say is that Steve Keim engineered what I'd term "a lunchpale draft." (i.e. mostly unfamiliar names and unspectacular reputations but truly a "solid seven"group of guys who can keep their heads down and get the job done in a workmanlike manner. One otherthing that leaps out at you are some pretty impressive Pro Day measurables (that speak for themselves).
See you tomorrow.
Cards Pick "Undersized' "freak of nature" WR in 2nd round -
May 1, 2021 - with the 49th (2nd round) pick in the 2021 Draft, the Cards went for a small, speedy mobile type and sent a clear message to Andy Isabella that "he'd better step up and produce or they'll find someone who can."
We neared our second round pick (at #49) with Malifonwu, O-Karamoah, Eskridge, R Moore, Basham, Ojuari and Marshall II at the top of our Board. We opted for the speedy waterbug WR *Moore).
A few years back, Rondale Moore entered the college football scene with a resounding "boom", but found his career sidetracked by the combination of COVID-19 dislocation and a rash of injuries that raised questions about whether - at 5-9 170 lbs, - Rondale, at his size, could withstand the physical pounding in the pros. His freak-like production has declined over the past two years,but consensus among Cardinal Kool-Aiders (& apparently the team) is that he's overcome those shortcomings and will let his freak-like Pro Day scores (i.e.. 4.29 or-better forty and 40+ VJ) speak for themselves.
What we're left with after two rounds are two off-the-charts,, roll-the-dice athletes at ILB and WR and vulnerability at TE, backup QB, CB and S. Next pick is 100+ picks later in the 5th round (#160), followed by late round shots at #223, #243 and #247.
Cards Pick "Oversized" LB
April 30, 2021 - As one top guy after another came rolling off the Cardinal Board, the brain trust opted to go for "talent and potential" when they chose Tulsa LB Zaven Collins who figured to add versatility, size and toughness to the Cardinal defense at ILB along side Campbell, Hicks and Simmons.
The Draft itself reminded me of all the unecessary show biz glitz and hype you'd expect from a movie awards presentation. It was a revolving door of reruns, ads and more QB hype. I understand the need for the NFL to expand its market, but as a long time hard-core fan, I must confess to screaming at my TV screen to give me more football stuff. During the 8:00 pm (ET) bloc, the only thing of football-relevence was an "ah ha" moment when I realized that the NFL - with teams representing cities states and regions - was a metaphor for our country (where regions, traditions and ideologies come together on the way to forming that "more perfect union."
But enough of the set-up hype - the Draft started about 15-minutes late. I crossed my fingers in the hope that one of the two top CBs (Horn and Surtain II) would fall to us (They didn't). Or maybe Parsons (He didn't). All the top Cardinal targets were gone by #11 and the roof of my mouth felt like the aftermath of a warm beer mouthwash.
I did make note in earlier write-ups that - barring a trade up or trade down, the Cards might have to resort to a Plan B - which involved rolling the dice on oversized but oh so versatile Zaven Collins. And so it happened.
6-4 260 - 270 lb Collins was named the 2020 National Defensive Player of the Year and an Associated Press first-team All-America. According to Steve Keim: Collins was one of five players on the team's draft board who was given the "alpha tag" internally, which is provided to those who demonstrate "exceptional leadership."
Mel Kiper Jr. and other analysts expressed concern that some franchises had with Collins' weight (he measured in most recently at 270 pounds). According to SI - Keim confirmed on local media that Collins will play MIKE linebacker for the Cardinals "right next to Isaiah Simmons." But NFL Media's Ian Rapoport reported he would play a SAM role.
The way I see it - last season, Cardinal ILBs too often lost mismatch battles and the addition of Collins adds bulk speed and toughness to the inside role. What we don't know is how much of last year's defensive scheme will remain the same and how much will be changed or upgraded.
Cards next pick is 17th (#49) in the second round (They don't pick until the 5th round (#160) after that and #223, #243 and #247 to wrap things up). Top players remaining on my Board are Moehrig S, O-Karamoah LB, Ojulari LB R Moore WR, Jenkins OL, Barmore DL,, Samuel Jr CB but expect the Cardinal brass to draft another guy with a special trait that can win specific mismatch battles.
The "Morning Of" -
April 29 -
It's about an hour before noon on Draft Morning. Little if anything has transpired of late; leaving it up to the football journalists to invent creative things they can do with their draft rankings (i.e. "What would you do differently if you were Keim?" "Dualing Mocks." "How do you see the draft going - and how should each GM change strategy?" "Which GN was left for 20-minutes on Call Waiting?")
This is one of those rare years where Steve Keim will be hard-pressed to skip position-need and avoidthe BPA route. (The Cards are short one sure-fire starter at corner and cant afford to remain vulnerable at one of the two CB spots). Top 4 corners (according to most so-called experts are: Surtain II, Horn, Farley and Newsome (& Farley is coming off a second round of back surgery procedures). Odds are likely that the good corners will be gone by the time we pick at #16. My wish list is short: (1) Horn and (2) Parsons, with aa BPA strategy should both of theses guys be gone at #16. We could also wish for a trade up to #7 (Detroit) in the hope of landing Horn, Parsons, Waddle &/or a "surprise" QB or BPA who fallls down to us. I'm not thrilled with a trade-down strategy because the talendt-dropoff between #16 and later-round picks would be too steep and would be akin to drawing on an inside-straight.
So....I hope we land a quality corner (specifically, Surtain or Horn (Or maybe Newsome) or a talented, reliable LB...and we'll just have to wait this sucker out.
Welcome to "the week before"...
Apr 26, 2021 - Aside from a trade at the bottom of Round One involving the Chiefs and Ravens, things have been pretty quiet of late. Here's what we expect:
- Higher than usual drafting of sleepers - the absence of comparable Combine measurables leaves it up to individual teams to "fill in the blanks" and fly solo when they stack their boards.
- Despite the lack of movement in recent weeks, there's been a higher than usual amount of trade buzz - as teams turn to non-draft measures to fill in roster holes. More f ree agent signings (Richard Sherman still hasn't found a new home)?. More involvement and higher value placed on future-round picks - i.e. a " no Player is is un-expendible"approach when stocking a roster - Cardinals set the mold: "drafting a QB (Rosen)? in Year 1 and then drafting another QB (Murray)? in Year 2 and trading the first guy.
- -Following either one of two extremes to build a winner - 1): Roll the dice to win now or 2): Rip & Rebuild.
Bottom line - Expect to be surprised - old rules are there to be broken.
Fun time. Barring anyrhing of a blockbuster nature...see you Thursday!
And Down the Stretch We Come...
Apr 14, 2021- "Welcome to Weird Draft #2." Call me an old-stick-in the-mud, but there are things about the 2020 and 2021 drafts that are hard for us old timers to swallow. (Remember that we used to attend the NFL Draft in NYC on our lunch hours during a time when most onlookers wondered out loud: "What's a draft?").
So what can we expect. ?
1. No Combine #1 - You don't get to determine where Player A ranks on various metrics vs. the players on a Position List. (The best you can do is draw comparisons of Player A vs. Player B within a list of local Pro Day participants
2. No Combine #2 - Getting credible injury info is a challenge
3. No Combine #3 - Because the analytical tools available to most teams are incomplete at best, expect many teams to leverage insider information and roll the dice on the dude coming off an injury or has a compelling off-the-field excuse or story).
4. Welcome to the Age of Digital and COVID - Only a year or two ago, it was possible to whip into the local supermarket a week or two before the draft and pick up a copy of the Lindy or PFW Draft Guides to flesh out missing information. Two weeks. No Lindy's. (I hate when that happens). Having run into that problem, I did the only thing I could do - I went OnLine. In the past, I could rely on trusty old nfl.com to provide needed Draft resource material (including Draft Order). These days, trying to uncover credible, easy to manipulate draft info is hard to come by. But knowledgeable, credible, well -staffed resources (like PFF) do a far better job than I can (if you can endure the techy way they convert most of their files to hard to print "Password-Required pdf format).
For the reasons outlined above, this may be the last Draft Issue of the BRS - I turn 82 in August and PFF and others can do what I try to do far better than me.
When - after priding myself in comprising and memorizing long lists of prospects, rosters etc. - my short-term memory leaves me struggling to remember an All Star Cardinal cornerback's name (It's Aeneas, dummy)!, it just may be time to hang up the old computer mouse and call it a very much enjoyed lifetime rooting for the Cardinals.
Wish the BRS Draft Issue was a bit more meaty, knowledgeable and entertaining. I'm weighing whether to give it a go for one more bleeping year or limit my activities to dropping by various Cardinal blogs. Either way, I'll see you then.
JJ Watt Signs With Cardinals
March 1, 2021 - We were all but dead-set on not publishing a lot of guesswork, speculation or a lot of "this is what's best for the Cards" prognostication given the weird, unpredictable times we live in. (Like most of you, I'm past Injection #1, with Shot #2 a 3 week or away).
So I've been inclined to log-off my I-Pad and wait for Draft Day to clarify all things pro football.
That was until the news flash appeared across my TV screen.
"Cardinals Sign JJ Watts."
My first inclination was to log onto the Arizona Sports Fans blog to determine who the idiot was who posted such a big crock of bleep. Well, surprise ! Turns out that JJ (who apparently has remained in close touch with former Texans WR DeAndrea Hopkins and DC Vance Josep)h was let go by the Texans and had indeed signed a 2-year mga-bucks deal with Arizona.
At first blush, you've got to like this deal if only because it installs an icon in the Cardinal locker room (we'd expect some of the miscues and dumb play that may very well have cost us a Playoff berth to be unacceptabe to a JJ Watts inspired defense). The net-impact on the field to the addition of JJ is promising but not a slam dunk either. On paper, the new Cards seem to be overloaded with EDGE guys (i.e. Watts, Chandler Jones, Hassan Reddick, Markus Golden, Isaiah Simmons). cap-wise, we probably can't keep 'em all.
Nevertheless, reaction around the League seems to be a smidge over the top - the NFL Network folks and a local AZ Republic/USA Today columnist are shamelessly crowning the Cardinals as a playoff-bound, "team of the year" and as a franchise "image changer' but most Cardinal diehards have "been there and done that" when it comes to hyped up optimism.
As I see it, there are too many pieces to the puzzle and inside relationships to fully iunderstand all the pluses, minuses and internal chemistry that still have to play themselves out. But, at the very least, you've got to love the increased leverage it gives the franchise at a position much coveted by most NFL teams.
It's hard not to lick your chops about Watts and C Jones coming off the edge, with Reddick and Golden as backups along with Simmons lined up at safety next to Budda Baker. One option would be for the Cards to trade some of that surplus pass rushing talent to plug a roster-need at OL, RB or TE.
Bottom Line - In the NFL, "nothing is a 100% slam dunk", but the deal looks pretty dang good.