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Gollin's Blog - by Jeff Gollin
The 2012 "Bite Me" Hall of Fame
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
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.
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
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:
series of horrific decisions, in the aftermath of Kurt Warner's
retirement, about who will take over the QB reins.
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.
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).
injuries (Not an excuse - injuries are a fact of life, but they
are what they are and came at a bad time ).
(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
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.
to ponder, but right now, let's go back to Objective #1 - Win a
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
- 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
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
"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."
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!"
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.
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...
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)?