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Gollin's Blog - by Jeff Gollin
The 2012 "Bite Me" Hall of Fame
  •  No One - We deserve what anyone says about us.

 
Cards Enter Next Phase - Tues. Dec. 11, 2012 - Right about now, you get a pretty good sense of whether a team (a) is a shoe-in for the playoffs, (b) is in contention for a playoff spot, (c) hanging onto playoff hopes by a bare thread, (d) playing for the future or (e) doing whatever it takes to save the coach's job.

Welcome to "d" or "e."  The 58 to 0 drubbing by division rival, Seattle marked the 9th consecutive loss by the Cardinals (after a promising 4 & 0 start). Forget about the playoffs (Playoffs???) Start thinking about Coach Whisenhunt's future with the club. The owner (Michael Bidwill) said yesterday that he would not let emotions lead him to any premature thinking or unwise decisions about the status of his head coach or any other staff member. No changes, if any, would take place until after the regular season.

But this doesn't mean the status will remain quo with regard to the Cardinal roster. There appear to be two overriding objectives guiding the team for the duration of the season: (1) Win a freakin' game as soon as possible. (2) Look for opportunities to ugrade the team whenever they occur.

The first objective is self-explanatory. Everyone associated with the team (including its fans) were humiliated last Sunday. Clearly the overriding feeling is to "stop the hemmoraging." The second objective is already being implemented. Inside the roster, you see it in the amount of additional playing time given younger backup players. You also see it in the release of a few injury-plagued players; most recently Todd Heap and Isaiah Williams.

Outside the roster, you see it in the pick up of former NE and Pittsburgh backup QB Brian Hoyer. (During the offseason a year ago, Hoyer was mentioned as a top "below the radar" free agent QB prospect who backed up Tom Brady. I'm not sure what happened since then - other than that he wound up on the Steelers, was cut and then claimed by the Cardinals. Teams don't cut QB's willy nilly if they're any good, so there has to be a "Claimer Beware" tag around Hoyer's neck. But when your other options consist of Ryan (10 for 31) Lindley, John (5 Turnover) Skelton and Kevin (Accordian Ribs) Kolb, there's little to lose by rolling the dice on Hoyer. It's doubtful we'll see Brian this Sunday vs. the Lions, but quite possibly, we might see him in action during one of both of our last two games.

Meanwhile, back to the issue of Head Coach. Michael Bidwill has promised a thorough, comprehensive, unemotional review which is, no doubt, taking place right now and will continue into the early off-season. My guess is that it will encompass all areas of club operations - from GM to Head of Scouting to Head Coach to Position Coach to key players.

I've never been a big fan of pointing the finger and singling out individuals for blame. I do, however, believe in analyzing how decisions panned out and how those decisions were arrived at. I see four reasons for the train going off the track:

1. A series of horrific decisions, in the aftermath of Kurt Warner's retirement, about who will take over the QB reins.

2. Benign neglect of the state of the offensive line (the "lead domino" that impacted our run-game. passing attack and led to the collapse of  a talented and valiant defense.

3. The questionable decision, way back when, to divide OC duties between a Run Game Coordinator and a Passing Game Coordinator. (If you can't successfully integrate the two functions, the danger is that you'll tip off running and passing plays).

4. Unexpected injuries (Not an excuse - injuries are a fact of life, but they are what they are and came at a bad time ).

It's unclear (whether most or all personnel decisions stemmed from one individual or were a collective product of "group-think", but many of them clearly didn't work out and we need to get to the bottom of "why?" (The logical course of action then would be to take future decisions out of the hands of those who screwed up and assign more responsibility to those whose decisions proved successful.

Whether this would involve a wholesale sweeping of the proverbial broom, the surgical replacement of key principals or changes in the way business is conducted remains to be seen. Complicating the entire matter is the status of defensive coordinator Ray Horton (who may be on the short list of teams looking for a new head coach) who is considered by some to be "too good to let leave." Elevating him to Assistant HC may not be enough to keep him in the fold, and the Bidwills may decide that he represents a better option going forward than does Coach Wiz. Another consideration figures to be the shambles that has become our offense. To me, there's a clear need to bring in a new set of offensive coaches who know what they're doing. Such names as Andy Reid, Norv Turner, Cam Cameron and Mike Holmgren are reportedly seeking employment.

Lots to ponder, but right now, let's go back to Objective #1 - Win a freakin' game!



Mucho Obligato  -
Wed. Nov. 21, 2012 - I don't blog very often about the Cardinals, and the reason is pretty self-evident: Covering this year's version of the Cardinals has been a gut-wrenching tangle of pain (kind of like running a hot needle back and forth through your eye - because it feels so good when you stop). Which is why I'm posting one more cheesy "we have a lot to be thankful for" column for your reading pleasure.

Update - No Thanks to the Michigan High School Football gods - the District 5 Championships did not include perennial single-wing powerhouse, Menomonee HS (sometimes FSN will mess up its scheduling info). Thank you DirecTV...And thanks to the Eatontown, NJ satellite installer who did such a good job of installing the mast and dish on my roof that it was one of the only high-tech things that survived Tropical Storm Sandy...And while we're talking about Sandy - thanks to the love of my life (Dr.) Mrs. G for insisting a year ago (after Hurricane Irene) - over my strenuous objections-  that we bust the family budget and install a natural-gas powered generator...and thanks to the On-Cor utility folks from Ft. Worth, TX for helping us Jersey guys to get our power back on. (Personal note - "Guys, I plan to live up to my promise to you not to badmouth Jerry Jones if you could get our electricity working)...And thanks to the Tree gods for not killing us (7 old-growth trees fell on our property. Miraculously, all missed falling on our house. Meanwhile, we ignored warnings to sleep on our lower floor. Call it "the luck of the stupid"...And thanks to Amazon.com for expanding its mp3 download library so that I can recapture really obscure jazz, blues and country tunes (like Maynard Ferguson's "The Fugue", George (The Fox) Williams' "The Romper Stomper"  or Kenny Drew's "Blues in the Closet") for just 99 cents per number. Sweeeet!

Back to football (sort of): Thanks (& congrats) to Greg Toler for his between-the-legs "save" of a Snelling fumble that was otherwise destined to go out of bounds last Sunday. The play was listed as #1 NFL Net "play of the week"...

Final post-Sandy thought - I was daydreaming last night about where, in the US, we might move to avoid natural disasters like Sandy. Logical first choice would be AZ (except you guys get wild-fires). The west-coast would be nice (except for the mud-slide). How about Austin or San Antonio? (nada - enduring severe droughts). Plus there are tornados in the upper-south and mid-west, floods along the Gulf Coast, hurricanes along the east coast and blizzards along the plains, Great Lakes and Appalachians. Bottom line - Natural disasters like Sandy can happen to any of us (regardless of how smart we are or how nice we are). If you've got an extra sheckel or two, send it to a relief effort - it can happen to anyone; it could happen to you.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Ryan Williams Out/Crezdon Butler Re-Signed 
Wed. Oct. 10, 2012 - When he left the Ram game Thursday night, Ryan William's shoulder injury wasn't thought to be all that serious. Well, it turns out that it will require surgery and Ryan is done for the season. This means the Cards will be without their two feature RB's (Wells and Williams) until at least Nov. 25th when Beanie is eligible to return from recallable IR. Until then, ballcarrier responsibilities will be shouldered (no pun intended) by LSH, WiPo and the Fonz (i.e. LaRod Stephens-howling, William Powell and Alfonso Smith). The 185 lb Howler is the scatback of the trio but does have surprising power to zip between the tackles. At 205, WiPo is the closest in running style to Williams (not quite as explosive perhaps, but a bit stronger). The 208 lb Smith is the most adept at following his blockers and denting the pile).

We can't be sure what talent the Cardinals might or might not find in the outside RB market, but odds are slim that any significant roster move will be made to bring in another RB.

To fill the roster vacancy made available from the departure of Williams, the Cardinals re-signed CB Crezdon Butler, leaving some Cardinal followers shaking their heads, wondering why we didn't fill the spot with another RB. Here's my take: The Cardinal secondary has been victimized for 2 straight weeks by quick, agile, speedy slot-type receivers. Neither William Gay or rookie Jamell Fleming have displayed the necessary speed to keep up with these receivers - especially on slants. It appeared that our best option would be Greg Toler (recently back from knee-rehab), but Toler came up lame after being torched for a long TD in the Ram game. I'm guessing that Horton and Cioffi recognized that opposing offenses would see our weakness on tape and continue to exploit it. Butler provides a bit of speed and depth.



Beanie Out, Strike Over, Other Roster Moves
- Thurs. Sept. 27, 2012 - Beanie Wells has been put on recallable (IR) and will be out til late November. With LaRod Stephens-Howling sidelined with a hip injury, Ball carrying chores are expected to be  "by committee" with Ryan Williams, William Powell and (the re-signed) Alfonso Smith carrying the load

The blown call that handed Seattle a "surprise gift" in the Green Bay game blotted out the Presidential election, the UN, the weather and every other major news story over the past few days. The League and the NFLPA finally have agreed to basic terms, and things can return to normal - although a division rival (Seattle) still gets a "free" win, and the League continues to insult the intelligence of anyone with a pair of eyes by maintaining that the call was an accurate one.

I
n the aftermath of our blacktopping of the Eagles, Sunday, most of the national media is finally showing us some love - which can come as a mixed-blessing. (It's nice to hear the nice words; just so long as we remember (a) what's got us here and (b) what it was like before that when we started last season 1 & 6). Sometimes handling success is more challenging than dealing with adversity.

With Beanie sidelined & with RB Stephens-Howling (hip) and our lead blockers - Sherman (hammy)and Dray (knee) -  not practicing Wednesday, the Cards picked up (ex-GB) FB Korey Hall and re-signed RB Alfonso Smith (who in the past had proved a force between the tackles and can fill in for Wells in the power-run game). To make room, the Cards cut OT Pat McQuistan.

Cards also put practice squad receiver Gerell Robinson on the "Suspended by Commissioner" list and replaced him with ASU receiver Kerry Taylor. They also released ASU linebacker Ricky Elmore from the PS and re-signed LB Zack Nash.


Off-Topic - Here's to the Wilmington (DE) Police -
Thurs. Sept. 13, 2012 - This past Saturday, my wife and I were driving home from Maryland to New Jersey late at night. As we neared the Delaware Memorial Bridge on I-95, "nature called." (Note - When you are 73-years old with a prostate the size of a grapefruit, nature really calls and the so-called "window of time" is pretty narrow). What to do? This stretch of the Interstate has no shoulders or woods lining it, so there was nowhere to stop and take care of business. I did the next best thing. I took the first turnoff, which put me on a deserted "road to nowhere." Fortunately, to my right was what looked like a hospital and a parking lot (surrounded by a wooded buffer). I made tracks for the pine, relieved myself (whew!!!) and we headed back toward the Interstate.

That's where the story gets interesting. The road leading back to I-95 didn't put me back on I-95, but instead led me around and around a spaghetti network various ramps, access roads, overpasses and underpasses. We finally found ourselves driving deeper and deeper into an industrial section of Wilmington, DE on something called "Business Route 13." We passed a cop car, but were already well-past it to stop safely. Finally we were able to turn into a well-illuminated gasoline station. Unfortunate;ly, while the lights were on, the place was all caged-up and  deserted.

Just then, the cop car was driving by and I flagged it down.

"I am really lost", I exclaimed to the officer. "We're trying to get back to the Delaware Memorial Bridge. Can you help us?"

"Follow me", the officer replied. We followed the police cruiser through a bunch of twists and turns through back alleys and residential streets until the officer signalled me to pull along side.
 
"Just continue on this road for another mile or so, and it will put you right on the bridge."

"Thank you", I replied, "You saved my life."

"Well let's not go overboard", the officer said. "But come to think of it, Wilmington was just named 'Most Dangerous City in the US.' (It used to be Camden)."

 "We're #1! We're #1!"

And off we went. Cops do more than check your ID and write tickets. We came across a good one. Here's to the Wilmington police.


Seattle @ Cards: Pregame Odds & Ends
- Fri. Sept. 7, 2012 -  Congrats to Daryl Washington for signing a 6-year deal and Rod Graves and the Cardinal FO for getting it done...

All this talk about the Card offense morphing into a "ground 'n pound" attack may be a wee bit overblown. The way I see it, there are two (not always mutually exclusive) types of running attacks: (1) one that relies on guile, misdirection and quick bursts
(frequently off stretch zone blocking and play action) and (2) another that centers on raw power. The first tries to outwit defenses that lack mobility and gap-discipline. The second might be better described as: "We're going to run it down your throats and you can't stop us no matter what you do." I kind of doubt that - given the questionable talent and inexperience of the Cardinal offensive line - we can execute "Door #2."  It's much more likely that the Cardinal running attack will be used to compliment our passing attack off play-action, quick-pitches and bubble-screens. What we should be aiming for is (a) a balanced run/pass mix, (b) unpredictable play-calling and (c) lethal execution in the run game that breaks enough long-gainers to make defenses think twice before mounting an all-out pass rush (or, conversely, bringing up an 8th man in the box). So while we may not yet have the raw physicality to run the ball 7 or 8 times in a row to consistently gain 4 or 5 yards a clip to protect a lead late in the 4Q, look for Beanie, Ryan, LSH or Wi-Po to rip off a half-dozen or so medium to long runs to put just enough fear-of-God into the minds of enemy pass rushers to buy time for our QB...

The bookies have made the Cards 3-point home dogs. (The national media pundits have been somewhat less generous). I'm not in the Predictions business, but do issue the following word of caution: Unlike many veteran NFL teams who have already established their offensive and defensive identities, there really isn't a book yet on Cardinal tendencies and we didn't give enemy OC's and DC's much to look at during preseason.  Instead, we kept our offensive and defensive playbooks close to our vests (because our offensive play calling was primarily designed to evaluate & compare new blockers in various game-circumstances) and because Ray Horton likes to keep enemy OC's guessing. Seattle, while somewhat less of an enigma, is still starting a rookie QB with only a preseason body of work.  So I'd be wary about being real certain about the outcome of this game. There are too many questionmarks - both talent and execution-wise. The game could go either way and could turn out to either be a nail-biter or a blow-out. (How's that for going out on a limb)?



 



 

 
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