Cards Wrap up Season With a Loss (to Rams)
Thurs Jan 2, 2020 - What is it they say about "playing to a tie is like kissing your sister?" The Cards wrapped up their season 5 - 10 - 1, but in place of the usual crop of nay-sayers were more diehards than expected uttering comments like: "Sure they didn't come close to the playoffs, Kingsbury still has a lot to learn and Kyler Murray didn't pitch a perfect season, but the Cards are definitely on the right track."
I'm not sure whether it's "old school", "new school"" or no school", but when it comes to scoping out future performance I tend to downgrade fan or media comments to the effect that "such and such is definitely true without a doubt' and you can take it to the bank." I'm more of an "odds" guy - believing that the numbers favor such-& such happening but not guaranteeing it (because the "football gods" have this distastefull habit of blowing a huge hole in your pet theory - players get hurt. They get sloppy. The oblong ball bounces funny. Refs get weird.
I've also noticed, of late, that the "invisible "meat" of most rosters (i.e. the 25 - 30 players who fly below most radar screens - not All Pro but better than those guys at the bottom of the active roster riding the train between Street, Practice Squad and Practice Squad) - will, as often as not, do something that wins or loses a football game.
How well those 25 - 35 unknown players perform each weekend will determine which GMs and HCs will beconsidered geniuses and which ones will fade into record-book obscurity. Yet all but the most ardent fans (& knowledgeable beat writer) have no clue when it comes to identifying those future unknown heros. Here's how I see the Cardinal roster profiling:
Gamebreakers (9) - Murray, Drake, Fitzgerald, Peters, C Jones, Peterson, Baker, Gonzalez, Lee
"Meat" (20) - Hundley, Edmonds, Cooper, Kirk, Byrd, Arnold, Mxx Williams, Humphries, Pugh, Sweezy, Gaillard, Cole, Z Allen, Gunter, Hicks, Reed, Marsh Jr, Alford. C Jones, Murphy
List looks awfully thin. The hope is that Keim, KIngsbury & Co. will have one which is longer and more accurate, and that there will be a whole bunch of unknowns - currently on the roster or yet to be signed - who will surface as Gamebreakers or Meat guys.
Meanwhile, the best we can do as fans is watch what the FO does, "expect the worst and hope for the best."
So how does that apply to the Cardinals? well, I think Kingsbury's play calling is better than McCoy's and Joseph's defense was more aggressive and creative than Wilks'. Kliff seems to have the control and support of the lockerroom, and he seems to be willing to step back and learn from his mistakes. There are still questions concerning the FO's ability to judge talent at specific positions (most notably wide receiver and safety). The OL, DL and LB appear to remain works in progress.
So what does that suggest for 2020? Hard to say. I think the Cards have it in them to play well enough to reach the playoffs. It should be a wild ride but a lot of things will have to happen at the same time for this to happen.
After all, the ball bounces funny.
Cards Shuffle Deck at RB
Tues Oct. 29 - Some of this is conjecture, but it sure looks like the Cardinal RB Room looked more like a hospital emergency room with David Johnson leaving the New Orleans game early in the contest and Chase Edmonds coming up gimpy late in the 2nd half.
Then came the news that reserve RB DJ Foster (hammy) was put on IR. Do the math.
To refill the RB bucket, the Cards signed RB's Alfred Morris and Zach Zenner and traded a conditional draft pick to Miami for RB Kenyan Drake. (In his three previous years, Drake averaged 4.7 yards a carry and 94 receptions. .According to Kingsbury - “I think Kenyan can come in and do some things that can fit what we need right now"). Drake will be an unrestricted free agent after the season. To clear roster space, the Cards released DB T Williams.
A brief glimpse at the new Cardinal RB's tells you that all of them weigh north of 210 lbs and at least have the potential for being adept at pass pro.
Drake was one of roughly a half-dozen players considered by USA likely to be invoilved in last-minute trades (which in turn suggests that he's a good 'un.
Bill Bidwill Passes
Oct. 2 - Bill Bidwill - sole owner of the Cardinals since 1972 and part of the Cardinal franchise since his father bought the team in 1932 - passed away today. He was 88.
According to his son & Cardinal President, Michael Bidiwill: "“Our dad passed away today the same way he lived his life: peacefully, with grace, dignity and surrounded by family and loved ones."
"Above all else, we will remember him as a man devoted to the three central pillars of his life – his immense faith, his love for his family and his life-long passion for the Cardinals and the sport of football.”
More Cardinal Transactions
Sept. 25 - Sign S Chris Banjp
Sept 28 - Promote P Ryan Winslow from PS
Sept 28 - Release TE Darrell Daniels
Sept 30 - Cut S DJ Swearinger
Sept 30 - Re-sign WR AJ Richardson
Sept 30 - Place WR Johnnie Dixon on PS IR
Oct 1 - Re-sign WR Pharoah Cooper
Oct 1 - Cut DL Miles Brown
Oct 1- Re-sign TE Darrell Daniels to PS
Oct 2 - Sign DL Zach Kerr
Oct 3 - Re-sign DL Miles Brownto PS
Oct 3 - Release RB Justin Davis from PS
Cards Work the Waiver Wire
Sept. 2 - Cards picked up five players on waivers, cut three additional players and moved one other to Injured Reserve. Picked up on waivers were:
Justin Murray OL Raiders
Brett Toth OL Eagles
Jonathan Bullard DL Chicago
Kevin Peterson CB Rams
Charles Washington S Detroit
To help make room for the new waiver pickups, the Cards released RB TJ Logan, LB Pete Robertson and LB Tanner Vallejo. Cards had a surplus of 2 openings on their roster. They also moved CB Robert Alford to IR to make room for the signing of pass rushing specialist LB Cassius Marsh (Seattle - 5.5 sacks for the Niners a year ago). Bullard was a 3rd-round pick who appeared in 46 of 48 games for the Bears.
Practice Squad Signees
Cards assigned 7 players to the PS: QB Drew Anderson, Wr AJ Richardson, TE Caleb Wilson, TE Darrell Daniels, LB Vontarrius Dora, LB Dante Booker, CB Nate Brooks. That leaves 3 openings on the PS in case the Cards plan to make other moves. One such move (still unofficial) may be free agent QB Kyle Sloter (who tweeted he was joining the Cardinals).
Cards Address Final Round of Cuts
Sept. 1 - The Turk paid a visit to 34 Cardinals. (Official release says the number was 28, but check the following and "do the math."). Summary of the "Damage":
QB - Drew Anderson* (Cut), Charles Kanoff (Cut)
RB - Wes Hills (Injury Settlement), Dontae Strickand (Cut)
WR Pharoh Cooper (Cut), AJ Richardson (Cut), Chad Williams (Cut), Isaac Zico (Cut)
TE Drew Belcher (Cut), Darrell Daniels (Cut), Ricky Seals-Jones (Cut), Caleb Willams (Cut),
OL - Max Garcia (to PUP), Rees Odhiambo and William Sweet (Waived- Injured), Parker Ehinger (Cut), Colby Gossett (Cut), Patrick Lawrence (Cut), Jacob Ohnesorge (cut), Coleman Shelton (Cut),
DL Siupeli Anau (Cut), Sterling Bailey (Cut), Bruce Hector (Cut), Pasoni Tasini (Cut)
LB - Pita Taumoepenu (Waived Injured), Dante Booker (Cut), Vontarrius Dora (Cut), Cameron Malveaux (Cut),
DB - Brandon Williams (Waived Injured), Nate Brooks (Cut), Deatrick Nichols (Cut), Jonathan Owens (Cut), Tyler Sigler (Cut),
P - Ryan Winslow (Cut),
No major surprises. The Williams boys were let go. Ricky Seals-Jones didn't help himself by not hanging onto the football after an impressive catch 'n run in the Denver game. Very few players we were pulling for who didn't make the cut: TE's Daniels and C Wilson, LB Dora. We didn't get to know much about Hector, but he looked pretty good late in the Denver game.
Some of the released players may find their way onto the Cardinal practice squad or the PS of another team. #3 QB Drew Anderson would appear to be at the top of the Cardinal PS list, but with a new coaching regime and perhaps a different set of priorities, you can never be 100% sure what Cardinal mgt might do. It appears that the Cardinals probably "over-cutted" to give themselves a little wriggle room should there be available waived players or someone on another team's trading block, but - as with the practice squad, it's hard to know what SK and K2 are thinking.
Since Monday, Aug. 26 -
Recent Cuts - WR Kevin White, DL Terrell McClain, LB's Andre Branch. Hayes Pullard, Jeff Holland.
To IR - WR Hakeem Butler, S Josh Shaw.
Traded - S Rudy Ford. OL Korey Cunningham to New England for a 6th round draft choice.
Trade Pickup - DL Bruce Hector. (Unofficial),
Signed OC Jacob Ohnesorge, DL Clinton McDonald, Siupeli Anau.
Battle of the Backups: Cards Fade in Fourth
Sunday, Aug. 25 - The Cardinals held the Vikes to a 1st quarter TD and led 9 -7 at halftime (on 3 Gonzalez FGs) only to lose the "battle of the 3rd & 4th stringers" in the fourth period, giving up 13 unanswered points to lose 20 - 9.
The first quarter TD came on a 75 yard scamper by Minn RB Dalvin Cook - who cut back against the grain on an inside-the-tackles running play and outran a bunch of lunge and grab would-be tacklers to take it to the house.
Answers to Commonly Asked Questions: (1) No major injuries to our knowledge. (2) Murray played far better than he did in Game #2, but still hasn't thrown a TD pass. Instead, the refs apparently ganged up on Hundley (who had two consecutive false-start penaltied early in the game. (3) The OL did a better job in pass pro/not so hot on run blocking. (4) The D-Line was more solid against the run (other than the embarrassing Cook TD. (5) Byrd and KS Johnson had a solid games at WR. Cooper had a bad hair day. Cards played with a depleted secondary - especially at CB.
Cards Make a Few Mid-roster Adjustments
Friday, August 23 - As usually happens toward the final one-third of the way through Training Camp, roster strengths and weaknesses became clearer, and the Cardinals made a few adjustments:
WR Hakeem Butler Injures Hand - Butler was said to be king of the jump-ball battles. Cards appear reluctant to make public the exact nature of Butler's injury or whether they will place Butler on IR or keep him active and wait things out.
WR Michael Crabtree Signed - Crabtree is an 11-year standout whose production dropped to 54 catches, 607 yards and 3 TD's when the Ravens went the Lamar Jackson route midway through last season. He brings veteran leadership and familiarity with Kingsbury's system to Larry Fitzgerald and an otherwise young receiving corps. We wouldn't be shocked if Butler's injury speeded up a signing process characterized by some last-minute back and forth hondling.
Cards Cut WR Kevin White - Big, fast FA receiver thought to have become expendible when Cards opted to finalize the Crabtree deal.
The WR picture now looks like: Fitz, Crabtree, Kirk, K Johnson and Isabella with Sherfield, Paharoah Cooper and Damiere Byrd fighting for 2 roster spots on a 7-man unit.
Cards Trade S Rudy Ford for Bruce Hector - Depth at safety made Ford expendible to a trade. While not exactly the second-coming of Reggie White. Hector brings solid play and no apparant baggage to a very thin D-Line room.
Training Camp Opens
Sunday, July 28 - This preseason is weird - the arrival of a new coach with an innovative new offensive system with a rookie QB to run it and a log jam of multi-talented WRs to throw to - makes it difficult if not impossible to develop any sort of credible won-loss prediction for the upcoming year.
That said - I'll try to combine "what we think we know" with "gut feeling" to give us all a better understanding of what we can expect in the coming year.
But before we get into the nitty-gritty, a few words about "fan sentiment": The lackluster performance of the Cardinals during the (fortunately short-lived) "Steve Wilks era" left Cardinal fans in various stages of numbed shock which has (in this writer's opinion) resulted in a dense fog of negativism and the tendency to focus on past sins rather than future hope. We realize that each new season brings with it an avalanche of hyperbole buried beneath a huge pile of Super Bowl predictions. For die-hard fans to be somewhat skeptical of the Kool Aid is understandable, but geez, folks it's a little early to be reaching for Dr. Kevorkian's phone number in the old Roladex.
My challenge, therefore, is to separate fact from opiinion and offer as realistic a picture of the upcoming season as possible.
New Coach, New QB, New Scheme etc.
KIngsbury is a bit guarded about what his version of the Air Raid offense will look like, but I suspect that, most of the time, the Cards will line up in a shortgun with a QB, one RB and 4 WR's. Base formation figures to feature an inside and outside receiver both left and right with the QB and RB deep. (There also figures to be plenty of opportunities to bring in a TE or a second RB or put guys in motion). KIngsbury also warns against stereotyping his offense as "wide open", "pass happy" etc. suggesting that he will be flexible and open minded enough to tailor his offense to existing talent and opposing strengths, weaknesses and matchup tendencies (but I suspect we're stll going to pass more and run less - within reason).
The decision to trade away a promising rookie with a more traditional skill-set, blow up the more orthodox Wilks/McCoy offense and place all the chips on a 5-10 QB with a cannon arm and happy feet was a gutty move by Steve K and Michael B (Quite often, the more traditional strategy ends up with the team settling into .500 hell, but equally possible is that your diminuative rookie QB gets injured or his aggressive nature translates to scatter-armed inconsistency. You just never know - the ending could be happy - or not.
I've heard the nay-sayers holler "Remember Michael Vick" but personally, I'm all for "putting pedal to the metal" and rolling the dice on a wide-open offense spearheaded by Kyler Murray. (My gut tells me he has both the skill-set and "gunfighter eyes" to make the Cardinal offense both exciting and a winner. One thing's for sure, things won't be boring.
Outlook - Other Offensive Positions -
Early strategy is to return David Johnson to a more meaningful RB role - both in his number of touches and the different way he can be effectively utilized. (“In previous years, D-ends just slammed down right at me. Now they’ve really got to try to read it. Kyler’s a fast guy, too. It’s going to make them honest and put them in a bind.”) At thisearly stage, , it looks like it will be DJ in a starting role, backed up by Chase Edmond with TJ Logan and DJ Foster duking it out for support roles.
At WR, Kingsbury says that he's looking for versatile guys who can fill several different roles and that he relied on as many as eight in college. (Although Darren Urban downplays that possibility, I wouldn't be so sure). Training Camp roster is saturated with talent and versatility. Only locks appear to be Fitz and Kirk. The three draft picks (Isabella, Butler and KS Johnson) are making lasting impressions). Add Sherfield (who has a year of experience), K White (who brings size and speed), Pharoah Cooper and Damiere Byrd (who's gotten some 1st unit snaps) and there's your 8. When you consider the damage a few injuries could do (whether they're season-enders or "owies") 8 doesn't seem "way too many" at all.
Cards offense doesn't figure to be very TE-oriented - not a lot of TE talent on our roster nor available via waiver or trades. Look for the TE roster to consist of 3 or 4 nondescript names on a roster list.
TV crews don't zero in very much on blockers, so the only thing I have to go on is "what I here people say." This is not an especially sexy offensive line. Best lineman still appears to be DJ Humphries, and the Cards have surrounded him with additional veteran experiece in Pugh, Cole or Shipley, Sweezy and Gllbert. The best we should expect is that we'll stay healthy and get solid but unspectacular play from our starters and won't hurt ourselves on the blocking front. (& Murray's mobility should be a big boost in this dept.). Our biggest potential liability figures to be OL depth - we'd better have sound backup guys in place should (as we can expect) a few of our linemen should go down. It's still too early to figure out who these key backups will be, except that we've got an eye out for the rookie interior lineman (Gaillard)
6 week suspension of CB Adrian Peterson. On the defensive line, it looks as though the Cards are trying to add a bit more pass rush energy in the 3-4 at both DE's (in Z Allen and Dogbe). Peters and Gunter provide experience inside.
The addition of Suggs to rush the passer and hold down the fort opposite Chandler Jones should make for interesting havoc on the pass rush. We'll have to wait and see how Hicks works out and whether Reddick (currently rehabbing scoping of his meniscus) can get the job done at one of the inside LB spots next to Hicks (whio will assume "Mike" duties).
The secondary has all the earmarks of a team- strength. At corner, the plan is to start Alford in place of Peterson, with Brock, Murphy and C Jones competing for the starting CB2 spot. All seem capable. Budda Baker and Swearinger figure to start at safety, but don't take your eyes off "The Tompson Twins" - D Thompson (5th rounder) and Jalen (a supplemental draft pick)
Special teams issues seldom get addressed till the very end of preseason.
So that's the deal - think of the above write-up as mainly "early season speculation" (i.e. As the preseason progresses, injuries will occur, a few unknowns will play their way onto the roster, a few "knowns" will play their way off the roster and and the nature of our offensive and defensive schemes will begin to crystalize). Stay tuned - JGG
Peterson Suspended 6 Games
Friday, May 17 - According to the official Cardinal website, "Patrick Peterson has been suspended for the first six games of the 2019 season for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy...Peterson would be eligible to return in Week 7, a road game in New York against the Giants. The first six games of the Cardinals’ schedule are home against Detroit, at Baltimore, home against Carolina and Seattle, at Cincinnati and home against Atlanta. He is allowed to take part in offseason and training camp activities, as well as preseason games."
Followed by the expected words of "disappointment", apologies, excuses and finger-pointing.
Peterson is arguably the most talented player on the Cardinal roster (who has become increasingly outspoken about various topics over the past several months). Therefore, my wish to commit my feelings to writing:
First of all, let's talk professional football - it's a competitive sport where, those who play best within a commonly accepted set of rules, win.
When they sign professional contracts, players agree to not gain unfair advantage by taking performance-enhancing drugs. When they choose to ignore this, they upset the competitive nature of the sport - not only do they gain unfair competitive advantage over opponents (who presumably play by the rules), they also gain unfair advantage over teammates competing for the same roster spot.
This isn't just a matter of being busted for a little bit of recreational weed (we'll save the pros and cons of that issue for another time). It all boils down to cheating.
I don't know about everyone else, but the reason I follow the Cardinals and root for them to win games is because they played the best under a common set of rules and not because a player, an owner or an executive used their weasel-skills to gain an unfair advantage.
The selfish part of my brain is very upset that we won't have our top cornerback on the field for 6 straight games, but another part of me hopes that Patrick will clean up his act and return action for the final 10 games. (Frankly, I'm not that optimistic - I didn't hear anything yet from Patrick or the team to give me much hope - but, for Cardinal fans, there's still hope).
State of the Roster
Monday, Apr 29, 2019 - As we wait for the final list of Undrafted Free Agent Cardinal rookies, it's as good a time as any to take a brief look at the Cardinal roster and see where we might stand.
Enter the new Kingsbury Era featurning 5-10 207 lb (?) rookie mighty mite Kyler Murray. We don't know much about his backup (Hundley). We have to assume that there may be some fluidity to the backup situation (i.e. where are we offensively should Murray get hurt?
Pretty much the same as last year (only change is addition of DJ Foster) ; the hope being that David Johnson will snap back from a down-year. Same question as for QB - Who steps up should DJ get injured
Last year's depth chart could best be described as "Fitz, Kirk and a bunch of guys named Ernie." High on the Keim and Kingsbury "To-Do" list was to bring in additional receiving help via the draft. Keim went overboard, filling various roles with a Waterbug (Isabella), Mr. 50-50 (Butler) and The Good Hands Man (D Johnson). Add to this piece of the puzzle - a big fast veteran (Kevin White) and we should end up with 13 high-level receivers fighting for 5 or 6 roster spots (a far different story from a year ago).
Not a pretty picture. We have two guys who can catch but not block and 2 other FA signees we don't know very much about. Implied message - KIngsbury doesn't plan to make TE an integral part of his offense (at least for the time being).
The weakest (& most depressing) part of our roster last year. Was the main problem lack of talent? Injuries? Poor Coaching? All of the above? It's hard to say. What we do know is that the injured guys are returning to action, Kingsbury brought with him a respected OL coach (Sean Kugler) and the Cards signed a few more FA veterans. Starting Front 5 should consist of Humphreys, Pugh, Cole, Sweezy and Gilbert. If anyone doesn't get the job done, there appears to be 15 other linemen waiting to jreplace him.
Cards switch back to a 3-4 from their one year adventure running the 4-3. This means that pass rushers like Chandler Jones will switch from DE to OLB and Peters, Gunter and Valentine will play inside at NT. Our DE's will be in the 285 lb area with the only DE of note being Robert Nkemdiche (who looks to be on the cusp of greatness but, injury and production-wise, "there's always something). This is another decent unit with little or no depth.
Looks like rookie Zach Allen will be paired with pass rusher Chandler Jones on the outside.
Haason Reddick will man one ILB. Other ILB spot figures to go to Jordan Hicks. Little if any other high-profile guys in this unit - just a lot of high-motor guys fighting for a roster spot.
Looks like we have three contenders for the CB#2 spot in FA's and Alford and Brock. Add to these guys 2nd round pick Byron Murphy and we should be OL. At safety, Budda Baker returns to a more traditional centerfielder role, with Swearinger providing a physical presence at the other safety position. All told we have 15 defensive backs, so this too looks like a matter of many contenders scrapping for a low number of roster spots. (The good news is that we should have enough backups to withstand any unexpected rash of injuries).
Andy Lee performed at a Pro Bowl level last season. Zane Gonzalez showed flashes of brilliances but occasionally would flame out. More consistency is expected from a pro kicker. It will be fun to see which WR or DB emerges as our kick returner of punt returner. Plenty of guys who run fast and know what to do with the ball in their hands.
Unofficial Undrafted Free Agent List
The Cardinals published their official llist of Undrafted Free Agents. It is considerably different from lists compiled by ROTB and other sources.
Cards Kick Off Day 3 in Style
Saturday, Apr 27, 2019 - Checking the "Players Available" list as we det up our Day 3 Board, Hakeem Butler's name stood out like a sore thumb. One thing missing from the Cardinal passing attack last season was a big ol' possession wideout. Despite drafting a blazing route runner (Isabella) early in Round 2, the Cards still needed someone who could go up and win the majority of jump ball battles. Butler was at the top of their Board (& mine). And Butler was the name called with our first pick in Round 4.
With the 5th round (#139) pick, the Cards scooped up Alabama safety, Dionte Thompson whose write-ups make him sound that he came right out of Central Casting (i.e. has the build, has the speed, has the athleticism, film-room junky, etc.). Most draft services rated him 1st, 2nd or 3rd (PFW was the one exception; not writiing him up at all). One rap that may have caused Dionte to drop was an off-the-field assault charge.
With their #174 pick (6th round) pick, the Cards came right back and drafted a third WR. KeeSean Johnson is considered a technician - thin on athleticism and a bit subpar in measurables but who makes up for it in versatility, effort and technical execution. With #179 (in the 6th round), the Cards drafted their first offensive lineman, center Lamont Gaillard (UGA). Gaillard was ranked #11 on my OC - OG ranker chart and #106 on my BPA Big Board. Great value for the 6th round.
Cards finished off the Draft with three more picks (#248) OT Joshua Miles, Morgan St; (#249) DE Michael Dogbe from Temple (and #254 - " Mr. Irrelevent)" TE Caleb Wilson (UCLA. Miles has prototypical size, Dogbe has incredible strength and Wilson has 4.56ish speed. The latter three picks are kind of like having three pre-designated undrafted free agents.
(Currently the phones around the League are blazing, with reps attempting to sign prospects who weren't drafted. The list of UDFA's is continually shifting (as players sign and then renege and then re-sign with various teams. For that reason, I'll delay publishing the UDFA list until there's something more concrete).
Saturday, Apr 27, 2019 - After the Cards rolled the dice on Kyler Murray, the one uncompleted task at hand (other than, you know...the Draft) was What to Do About Josh Rosen. Rumor had it that Miami and Arizona had been on the horn consistently and that the deal was done - the Dolphs would part with their #48 pick in the 2nd Round in exchange for Rosen (pick for player)...This got our attention. With the first piick in the second round, (#33) the Cards chose CB Byron Murphy (#1 on my board and considered a "ball hawk," That left us at the front end of a 14-pick "death watch": Would we draft a big, physical WR like AJ Brown or Metcalf? Or maybe an OL (C Ford or J Taylor)? Tick Tock; Tick Tock...#48 came and went, with Miami dealing the pick to the Saints. "WTF!" we exclaimed. Couldn't Steve Keim at least nail down a done-deal?
But then - as we approached Pick #30 (#62), it became apparent that: (1) it was owned by Miami abd (2) the Dolphs had (hurray!) dealt the pick to the Cardinals. Cards used the pick to draft speedster wideout Andy Isabella (best described as a Bill Belichick type WR with 4.31 speed (perfect for the Air Raid offense).
Three picks later (#65), the Cards snapped up a 280 lb defensive lineman Zach Allen, described as "a safe player clubs love to find in the second round" (except we got him in the third). Not a bad haul considering the Rosen clownfest - the only nagging feeling of disappointment being that, twice in a row, we had a targeted WR stolen right before our nose (Harry to NE with the last pick in the 1st round and Metcalf with the lastl pick of the second round.
Otherwise, within the parameters of roster-need, we did OK - We got our QB to operate Kingsbury's offense. We landed a playmaker to play opposite PP21. We got a "take the top off" wideout to open up the offense for Murray. And we grabbed lunchpail-like Golden DE to shore up our Front 3.
Still left to do - TE (I believe Irv Smith is still available). Butler, Harmon and Ridley still out there at WR. Gaillard and Samiel are interior OL's wrth worth consideration. And what about Benschwagel?
Will probably not post anything more till tomorrow. Seeya.
Meet "Mr. Relevant"
Friday, Apr 26, 2019 - "Cards Select QB Kyler Murray" - After an obscene amount of useless smokescreening (that netted absolutely nothing in the way of trade offers, draft picks etc.) the Cardinals - with the first pick of the first round of the 2019 draft - selected (fanfare!) Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray.
The rationale for (1) drafting Murray and (2) presumably jettisoning Josh Rosen was that, after a disasterous 2018 season (whose single biggest hallmark was the firing of their head coach after only one year) the Cardinals went all-in for a young college head coach with a reputation for being an offensive revolutionary. (I have images of HC Kliff Kingsbury and Murray jumping off the proverbial Sundance Cliiff into the abyss.
If the final pick in each year's Draft is known as "Mr. Irrelevent" - in terms of one individual's impact on the future of the franchise - Kyler Murray at #1 (& his impact on the future of the franchise) has the inside track to the title of most relevant player on the Cardinal football team. For Cardinal fans, this figures to be a roller-coaster ride - i.e. will we sit on pins and needles hoping that Kyler will pull another rabbit out of the proberbial hat? Or prayy that he not be chopped into mincemeat by larger grown professionals?
Cards' next scheduled pick is at at #33 (at the end of Round One). At the top of what I think is their BPA Board are: Murphy (CB), G Williams (CB), J Taylor (OT), Metcalf (WR), Risner (OL), AJ Brown (WR) and C Ford (OL). Isabella is a late-rising lunchpail type WR who's difficult to pinpoint on the rating scale, but he might belong on this short list as well. Catch you Saturday. - JGG
And Down the Stretch They Come...
Mon April 22, 2019 - Draft starts Thursday. Expect to see the rumor fires stoked during these last few day and, along with this, a serious uptick in mistruths, smokescreens, disinformation and outright lying by NFL clubs as they jockey for position on the trading front.
And speaking of trades, let us not forget that GM's get paid for (1) making the right personnel moves and (2) being at least a little aggressive and creative as traders (i.e. if they they act like robots and follow a preordained script, who needs them. Thus, built nto the process is an automatic bias for "doing deals" - especially later in the Draft.
The Draft has come along way from those early days when it would be held in the ballroom of a NYC hotel and a bunch of us would mosey on over during Lunch Hour to be eyed with suspicion by League personnel. The Draft now takes two evenings and a Saturday, with full media blitz starting roughly a full month before the actual event. Nary a day goes by when one or another sportswriter will publish his latest in a series of mock draft.
Within this modern-day context, what's important to most hard-core Cardinal rooters is: (1) "Who will we get?", (2) "Who did we get?" and (3) "How good am I at predicting who we'll get?" Add to this the rare spectator-sport of comparing our current 1st year starting QB (Josh Rosen) to possible #1 draft pick (Kyler Murray) as potential "QBs of the Future." Rosen is young, green and talented. Murray is talented and considered "a winner" but is only 5-10 and slight of build. Fan support for either appears to be split down the middle - 50 - 50.
If you're one of us obsessive types who can't resist "doing just one more" mock draft, the mocks conducted within a day of the Draft are the only ones that really mean anything. A few hints for improving your ratio of "hits to misses":
Pay close attention to late entries by local beat writers - they know their teams best and often will have at least one team source who'll provide inside information (sometimes as the result of a "you scratch my back/I'll scratch yours" exchange of favors)
Sometimes writers with big national followings have their own network of inside sources - keep a short list and follow it. Back in the day, Paul Zimmerman and Gary Myers were two writers who seemed to have the highest "batting averages." These days, I'd pay extra attention to SI's Peter King and newcomer Daniel Jeremiah.
There are three players with relatively late medical red flags - Rashan Gary, Jeffrey Simmons and Montez Sweat. All three are first round talents, and each team has different policies as to whether to retainor downgrade their ratings or drop them from their Boards altogether. This will only add to the Draft's unpredictability and make 1st round mocks all the wilder and woolier.
So far as my own Cardinal draft projections - my gut favors Murray over Bosa or Q Williams, with an 80% likelihood of Rosen being traded. I also feel that the this year's draft class is (1) more talented than usual and (2) relatively "flat" - i.e. talent-level is pretty much the same from player to player at least thru Round 4; thereby making any attempt to predict "who will go when" a somewhat futile undertaking.
By position, S Keim, in addition to Murray, will try to add an EDGE rusher, a disrupting run-stuffing defensive lineman, a couple of receivers; each of who has at least one freakish trait (i.e. wins 50-50 battles, home run hitter, razor crisp routes etc.) at least one interior OL, a CB and a TE. We currently have 10 picks (which could go up to 12 if we trade Rosen or could be packaged to help us nail down a prospect we really like.
I may add one more draft article if anything earthshaking happens before Draft Day. Otherwise, fasten your seat belts - JGG
2019 schedule announced -
Fri. April 19, 2019 - Every Spring since the beginning of time, this writer has waited on pins and needles, wondering which regular season games would be gimmes* or challenges*, when would we be featured on MNF or on Thursday or Sunday nights, would there be any "snow games", were there games where either team had the advantage of a longer or shorter practice-week etc.
This year - at least on paper - is different. The Cardinals ranked close to #32 in just about every category (including, of course, W's and L's) which, by default makes every game a "challenge."
Therefore, there's a lot less to say - but there are a few things worth noting:
1. BYE week is late in the season (Week #12).
2. Every game - except for the Thursday-nighter hosting the Niners on Halloween - is a Sunday afternoon game.
3. Barring extremely weird weather Biblical in nature, there are no "snow games") - The latest away game in the East is Oct. 20 at the Giants.
4. Our last 6 games are the "second games" on Sun. afternoon.
5. After our BYE week, we have three straight home games Dec. 1, 8 and 15 - the only home or away streak more than 2 games.
When I have time after the Draft, I'll take a look at whether our opponents are coming off a short or long week, whether our game can be considered a "trap" game or comes at the end of a road trip - & all that good stuff. Other than that, the most i can tell you is that the schedule looks pretty "ordinary" and the team's weekly routine shouldn't be disrupted by a whole bunch of non-Sunday afternoon contests. Have a good day! - JGG
Week 1 Sun Sept. 8.........vs. Lions..........4:25 p.m. ET Fox
Week 2 Sun Sept. 15.......at Ravens........1 p.m...... ET...Fox
Week 3 Sun Sept. 22.......vs. Panthers....4:05 p.m. ET...Fox
Week 4 Sun Sept. 29.......vs. Seahawks..4:05 p.m. ET...Fox
Week 5 Sun Oct. 6...........at Bengals.......1 p.m......ET...Fox
Week 6 Sun Oct. 13........vs. Falcons.......4:05 p.m.ET Fox
Week 7 Sun Oct. 20........at Giants..........1 p.m......ET...Fox
Week 8 Sun Oct. 27........at Saints..........1 p.m......ET...CBS
Week 9 Thu Oct. 31........vs. 49ers..........8:20 p.m.ET Fox/NFLN
Week 10 Sun Nov. 10........at Bucs ..........1 p.m.......ET..Fox
Week 11 Sun Nov. 17........at 49ers 4:05 p.m. ET Fox
Week 12 BYE - - -
Week 13 Sun Dec. 1.........vs. Rams........4:05 p.m. ET Fox
Week 14 Sun Dec. 8.........vs. Steelers....4:25 p.m. ET CBS
Week 15 Sun Dec. 15.......vs. Browns.....4:25 p.m. ET CBS
Week 16 Sun Dec. 22.......at Seahawks..4:25 p.m. ET Fox
Week 17 Sun Dec. 29.......at Rams.........4:25 p.m. ET Fox
"We're #1" (in Rumors) - Wed. Mar. 6 - Welcome to "crazy time" - the Combine is over, front office personnel (when they're not attending Pro Days) are holing up with piles of digital material to dig thru. And, with a month and a half till draft day, it's "Disinformation Time." And, with the Cardinals owning the #1 drafting spot in all 7 rounds, it stands to reason that they'll bear the brunt of the early barrage of rumors, specuation and the occasional nugget of fact. (Sources of this so-called info can best be described as: "I know a guy who knows a guy").
It's started already. First rumor was that the Cards were shopping QB Josh Rosen and planned to draft Kyler Murray with the #1 pick in the draft. Fact? Rumor? Speculation? Hard to say, except that the most recent source of this report was former GM and TV commentator Charley Casserly (who cites 2 or more football insiders as his sources). Charley is not likely to stake his reputation on material from sources that do not exist; so however wierd the rumor, we'd be well-advised to give it serious thought. (Then again, the rumor, while it sounds plausible, also seems unlikely.
Several factors make this rumor intriguing: In doing the deal, the Cardinals would be trading away a textbook, pocket passer with prototypical size, live arm and notable accuracy; but inexperienced, less productive than expected and, at times, prone to shakiness under pressure. In return, the Cardinals would be drafting a smallish athlete short on big time football experience, with playmaking talent and freakish mobility outside the pocket. Plus - new Cardinal HC Kliff Kingsbury knows him and likes him. So do the Cardinals throw away one year of effort developing Rosen (albeit under ineffective offensive systems) in order to draft a small athletic playmaker short on experience that Kingsbury likes? Stay tuned.
Well, actually we don't have to "stay tuned" because Casserly relayed a set of new rumors that dwarfed the Murray/Rosen buzz: Something to the effect that Murray had poor work habits, couldn't decypher board work and had the worst intangibles "of any top QB prospect in recent memory." So OK - we're supposed to jettison a prototypical QB prospect who didn't turn into Johnny Unitas in his first 16 games in favor of "a dumb midget who can run fast." (my quotes). Being a Cardinal fan is not for the faint of heart these days.
My advice to Cardinal fans is: (1) Don't ignore the rumors (because "this is the Cardinals") but (2) understand that it's in the Cardinals' interest to ratchet up high value for both Rosen (as trading asset) and the #1 pick (as a target for teams "in love" with Murray, Bosa or any other prospect). (3) Conversely, it's in the best interest of other trade-interested NFL teams to lower the perceived value of either the #1 pick, Rosen or any other player they plan to trade up for - thus the possible smokescreen generated by the Casserley buzz. (Truth or smokescreen? Logic favors a smokescreen, but I just don't see Charley making this up or passing along bogus info).
Bottom line - There is no bottom line (& they're won't be probably till Draft Day. The stories don't follow a single logical path: If reports of Murray's lack of maturity and poor classroom skills are true, the Cardinal brass will learn this and probably walk away. If they wind up drafting Murray, it would logically indicate that they did their due diligence and stil have faith in him. (Or a very big "or"): Despite positive public commentary - how do the Cardinals really feel about Rosen and what impact does all the controversy have on QB-Team relationship and Rosen's overall confidence-level?
There's another aspect worth exploring - There are two ways an NFL team can manage a rebuild: (1) Do the conventional things you do to build a winning franchise - just do it better than anyone else or (2) Break the mold early and often - with new personnel, new culture, new schemes etc.. If the Cards go the Murray route, they'll choose "Door #2." If they stick with Rosen, they'll be pursuing "Path #1." It seems as if Michael B was all-in with the conventional route only to discover that (at least under Wilks) it was full of "tired blood." So now, he's going the "blow it all up" route and it kind of scares me. Either approach will work if you have the right guys in place to execute flawlessly. .
New Additions - Wed. Feb. 20 - One of the hidden perques of finishing last is that you get first dibs on waivers. Naturally this fact hasn't escaped the watchful eyes of Steve Keim and his crew, and we've all been advised to keep up with a very busy bottom-of-the-roster. This can keep the part-time blogger very busy during the period between the Kingsbury signing and Draft Day. (Result - I may miss a couple of signings, and may have to play "catch-up" from time to time, but I'll try to keep us all up to speed on any significant signings from free agency or the waiver list.
Five signings worth mentioning:
S DJ Swearinger 5-10 205 6 South Carolina (definitely in contention to start)
LB Tanner Vallejo 6-1 230 2 Boise (Waivers - Browns)
CB Robert Alford 5-10 186 6 SE Louisiana (FA - 3yr. Favoried to start at CB2 opposite P Peterson)
LB Brooks Reed 6-3 254 8 Arizona (FA-1 yr)
TE Charles Clay 6-3 255 8 Tulsa (FA - 1 yr). TE competition wide open)
Fitz to Return - Thurs. Jan. 24 - When your favorite team has what many of its fans consider "the worst season in the history of the franchise", it seems as if nothing will go right. So, whenever the question arose of Larry Fitzgerald's future with the Cardinals, my immediate reaction would invariably be: "Let's not talk about that."
When it comes to anything about the Cardinals, the automatic response among today's rooters was to "expect the worst." (I automatically accepted the conventional wisdom that Larry would retire, the Cardinals would be without a team leader, and the leader of our depleted wide receiving corps would be second-year man Christian Kirk.
You'd figure that, should Larry return, the news would be accompanied by a lot of hoopla and fanfare. Not really - the news kind of showed up one day. Kind of low key - kind of like Larry Fitzgerald. Looking back over the past15 years, there were zero, zilch zowie seasons where Larry didn't live up to very high standards. And he did it the right way - with an unequalled work-ethic, never-ending desire to be the best at what he did....and it translated to performance on the field.
Cardinal fans are, by and large, ecstatic about their opportunity to spend one more season with "The Face of the Franchise." I only hope that the rest of the NFL community gets to know and appreciate (the football and non-football) FItz as much as we do.
Focus Shifts to Coaching Assistants - Tues. Jan. 15 -With the naming of former Texas Tech Head Coach, Klif Kingsbury, attention shifts to the naming of a staff and teaching/development of players. (You needn't watch more than a few plays in any game the Cardinals played last season than to know that play calling had no tempo, execution of those plays looked discombobulated and techniques were seldom executed with much consistently. When searching for causes, the finger always seemed to fall on fundamentals and the teaching thereof.
This is what we know so far:
Offensive Coordinator - Unfilled (2 contenders: John DeFillipo and former Giant OC)
Offensive Line - Sean Kugler / Assistant Offensive Line Coach -= Brian Natkin
Running Backs - (Unfilled - Leading candidate - James Sexton)
Wide Receivers - David Raih
Tight Ends - Steve Heiden
Defensive Coordinator - Vance Joseph
Defensive Line - Unfilled)
Linebackers - Bill Davis
Defensive Backs - Unfilled)
Special Teams Coordinator - Jeff Rodgers
It was rumored that Stump Mitchell would be hired as RB coach (following other unconfirmed rumors that James Sexton - credited with development of a world class Steeler running attack - would joinng the Cardinals to coach RBs).
The hiring of Kugler is considered to be the key to turning around what was considered by many to be feeble offensive line play and Joseph (who was a former Denver HC) has impressive creds as well - he is expected to oversee transition back to the 3-4 (after a disasterous attempt to move the Card defensie to the 4-3.
Major remaining coaching issue - "Who'll be the OC? (No doubt I'll be proved wrong, but I'd expect Kingsbury to take on the role of "super OC" with the actual OC supporting KK in the offensive game with eyes, ears and experience. Power on!
Cards Hire Offensive Innovator New HC - Wed. Jan. 9 - It's official. The Cardinals named former Texas Tech Head Coach, Klif Kingsbury, their new Head Coach. Kingsbury, who hasn't quite reached 40 years of age, is known for being an offensive innovator and disciple of the Air Raid offense. (One of the most notable characteristics of the recent collapse in Cardinal fortunes had been the deterioration of Bruce Arian's "no risk-it, biscuit" offense to what was, according to most fans, a lethargic, passive approach to offensive football.
Kingsbury's move was not without controversy - after being released by Texas Tech after 4-seasons with a sub-500 (35-40) record, he recently accepted an OC position with USC, but took advantage of an attractive buy-out provision in his contract a short time later to make the move to Arizona.
The only Assistant Coach said to be moving to the Desert with Kingsbury thus far is former Bowling Green HC and USC RB Coach Mike Jinks. A number of other likely assistant signees were snapped up by Arians (who decided to return to coaching as HC of the Tampa Bay Bucs). Former Jet HC / Card DC Todd Bowles and former Cardinal OC Byron Leftwich are joining BA in Tampa.
The Mike Leach Air Raid offense is said to involve nearly all the snaps coming from shotgun, trips alignment and empty sets with 4 receivers (1 slot/1 wide on either side) and getting the ball into receivers' hands "in space" and "on the move" as much as possible. There are more Kingsbury wrinkles than my brain can absorb - quad alignments, wide-bunched sets, slot WR's covered up by outside receivers at the LOS, 4 verticals and stick, slant-flat, follow, mesh and smash concepts,
Kingsbury believes in getting his best athletes the ball in space as quickly as possible. The key to these plays working is a quick release from the quarterback, as well as accuracy to hit the receivers with ball placement that allows for forward momentum.
The most impressive thing about Kingsbury’s adaptations is how he is able to adjust his play-calling around his own and opposing personnel. His offense looked different from Case Keenum to Johnny Manziel to Patrick Mahomes to Davis Webb. Additionally, there were instances of attacking weak spots of the defense on a weekly basis.
Reaction by Cardinal Nation has been mixed - many members of "the great unwashed" apparently feel they know more about hiring head coaches than the owners and professionals who do this for a living. (No problem with fans speaking their mind; it's the "certainty of opinion" that bugs me - Football is a people occupation and when you are dealing with human beings, nothing is "for-certain").
(Note - Lost in all the X's and O's talk is Kingsbury's youthful age (not quite 40). Latest League trend is toward hiring Millenial/New Age disciples (see: Pete Carroll in Seattle or Gruden and Mayock in Oakland). Keep an eye on innovations involving leadership approaches and team culture when following the Cardinals).
Wilks an Ex-Cardinal - Wed. Jan. 2 -- As expected, the Cardinals gave HC Steve Wilks and his staff their walking papers shortly after Janikowski's FG attempt split the uprights with 0:00 on the clock to clip the Cards by 3.
Seldom do teams hire a HC in Year One only to fire them in Year 2, but the Cardinal play over the past season was abysmal under Wilk's oversight. Cards apparently have decided to keep GM Steve Keim despite heavy fan criticism of Steve's behavior (DUI infraction) and performance (for some unexplained reason - all at once the wheels all came off what seemed to be a perfectly good Cardina roster. Cards wound up winning the "We're #32!" race for Top 2019 Draft Spot.
Names atop the list of possible head coaching replacements for roughly 8 openings throughout the NFL: Dan Campbell (NO Asst HC), Zac Taylor (Rams QB Coach), Eric Bienemy (KC OC), Adam Gase, Kliff Kingsbury (QBC), Josh McDaniels (NE OC), Pete Carmichael (NO OC), Jim Caldwell (Ex HC GB), Mike McCarthy (Ex HC GB, Chuck Pagano (Ind Ex HC). No doubt there will be additional candidates and the list will expand.
Just one writer's opinion: I'd like us to sign a creative, aggressive and courageous offensive play caller who will fill out his staff with assistants who have pretty much "seen it all" (and no how to handle adverse conditions. (What Wilks seemed to lack was a plan for fixing what was broke and turning what Steve Keim gave him into effective offensive and defensive units).
The way things look, expect "breaking news" on probably a daily basis (When you get first-dibs on the waiver wire, you tend to be super-active churning the bottom of your active roster).
Note - 8 players were signed to Futures contracts: Charles Kanoff QB; Dietrick Nichols CB, Justin Evans OL , Will House OT, Jonathan Moxey CB, Pete Robertson LB, Coleman Shelton OL, Brandon Wilds RB