Bridges to IR?.
Mon. Sept. 3, 2012
- The Twitter World
has relayed Jeremy Bridges' tweet that he tore a ligament in his
thumb and has been IR'd. This is not a good thing; especially
coming so closely on the heels of Levi Brown's injury and the
failure of the brief "DJ Young to LT" experiment.
Before you and
other members of the Cardinal Nation reaches for your
cyanide capsule, consider the following:The loss of Bridges severely hurts us depth-wise, but, to be
honest, our offensive line at the end of last season (when
Levi was at LT and Keith at RT)
wasn't exactly Pro Bowl
material anyway. The current starting lineup of Batiste, Colledge,
Sendlein, Snyder and Massie (backed by Ohrnberger) seems to have
stabilized the porous nature of the O-line.
So where do we go from here? (UPDATE) Cards signed 317 lb FA tackle (from
Cowboys) Pat McQuistan) and placed both Bridges and Levi Brown on
IR. They could also re-sign Russ
Hochstein. While admittedly an OG, he could make it possible for
Colledge (who's played the position) to slide over to LT in an
emergency.One way or another, the Cardinal FO will find a way to get it
done. They have to; they have no choice. Stay tuned:
Cards Trade Jefferson/Fill Part of Practice Squad.
Sun. Sept. 2, 2012 -The Cardinals traded
surplus CB AJ Jefferson to the Vikes for "conditional draft
pick(s)." Additional terms were not revealed. Cards filled
the roster vacancy with former Jets & Dolph OLB Jamaal
Westerman (6-3 265).
Twitterland has been
busy, with uncorroborative tweets that five players have been
added to the Practice Squad: TE Steve Skelton, DL Ricky
Lumpkin, OLB Ricky Elmore (6-5 255 Arizona - who recorded
25½ college career sacks), WR Gerell Robinson
(6-3 227 ASU) and OT Steven Baker 6-8 310
(Colts). Stay tuned.
Cards Trim to the "Final 53"...
Sat. Sept. 1, 2012 - The Cards placed 4
players on Waived-Injured or Injured Reserve and cut a bunch more
to reach the 53-man roster limit. By position"
Quarterback - Bartel was placed on IR, and Lindley
Running Back - Powell beat out Smith. James was
placed on IR.
Wide Receivers - Cards kept 5 instead of 6. In
addition to the Big Four (Fitz, Doucet, Roberts and Floyd) LaRon
Byrd made the final cut. S Williams was placed on Waived-Injured.
Sampson and Isaac Williams are "in the wind."
Tight Ends - Dray beat out Steve Skelton for the
final spot. Webb didn't survive.
Offensive Line - I'm not sure how this works, but
I understand the Cards are keeping Levi Brown on the active 53-man
roster in the hope we'll get him back sometimes during the regular
season. We kept the three drafted rooks (Massey, Kelemete and
Potter). Hochstein, Young and Wedige didn't make it.
Defensive Line - As expected, we're keeping 6.
Talley, Lumpkin and Thompson were let go.
Linebackers - Cards put Brandon Williams on
waived-injured and cut four others (Coleman, Sturdivant, C Parker
and Haggans). Haggans came as a suprise/missing an open field
tackle to avoid a long run probably didn't help. D. Urban
speculates that, if Jefferson goes, it opens up a roster spot to
add another LB (where we're a bit thin)
Secondary - Butler, Gideon and L. Parker are
gone. And Jefferson has tweeted that he's been traded to the
Vikings (although there's no confirmation to that report)/
Teams - No further cuts.
Don't be surprised if there's some minor tweaking as teams scour
the waiver wire and trade from position-surpluses to bolster thin
areas. There may be additional moves on and off the roster as the
Cards jockey to fill their 8-man Practice Squad. Click here to see
Scoping Out the "Final 53"...
Mon. Aug. 27, 2012 - A qualifier: There
will be both happy and unhappy surprises. The following
categorizes all remaining players as either (a) "Safe, (b)
"Competing for a Spot" or (c) "Vulnerable. That's the best I can
Kolb and Skelton are safe (barring a
trade). 2 players (Bartel and Lindley) are battling for the final
Running Back (4 Spots)
Beanie, Ryan Williams, LSH are safe. 2 players (Powell and A.
Smith) are competing for final spot. Javaris James is vulnerable.
Fullback (1 Spot)
The Shermanater is safe. (Backup will be a TE).
Wide Receiver (6 Spots)
Fitz, Doucet, Roberts and Floyd are safe. 3 players *S. Williams,
Byrd and Sampson) are competing for final 2 spots. I. Williams is
Tight End (4 Spots)
Heap, King and Housler are safe. 2 players (Dray and Skelton - who
would double as FB) are competing for final spot. Webb is
Offensive Line (8 Spots)
Sendlein, Batiste, Snyder and Colledge are safe. 5 players
(Massey, Bridges, Kelemete, Potter and Ohrmeyer) are competing for
final 4 spots. Hochstein, Wedige, Young and Clayson are
Defensive Line (6 Spots)
Dockett, Campbell, D WIlliams, Eason, and Carter are safe. 3
players(Holliday, Talley and Lumpkin) are competing for final
Linebacker (8 Spots)
Bradley. Acho, Schofield and Haggans are safe. 3 players (Walker,
Sturdivant and Groves) are competing for final 2 spots. B
Williams, Coleman and C Parker are vulnerable.
Defensive Back (10 Spots)
Wilson, Rhodes, Peterson, Gay, Flemming and Bethel are safe. 5
players (Jefferson, Toler, Adams, Sanders and Johnson) are
competing for 4 final spots. Butler, Gideon and A. Parker are vulnerable.
Special Teams (3Spots)
Feely, Zastudil and Leach are safe.
So that's the deal - we might keep fewer or more players to shore
up various positions, and there's always the Injury Gods lurking
around the field for the final game. But that's how I see it.
First Round of Roster Moves Take Place
Sat. Aug. 25, 2012 - The Turk was active during the 24 hours following our loss to
Tennessee. To reach the 75 man limit before the Monday deadline,
the Cards put Levi Brown on IR, FB Jared
Crank and RB Thomas Clayton on the
waived-injured list and released DL Landon Cohen, WR Gino
Crump, WR Tre Gray, DB Eddie Elder, DB Marshay Green, WR Jaymar
Johnson, FB Reagan Mau'ia, LB Marcus McGraw, LB Zack Nash, DB
James Nixon, P Ricky Schmitt and LB Paul.
This set of cuts represent the "easy cuts"
(because we only had to get from 90 to 75 players. The next cut is
in early Sept. and involves cutting 22 less marginal players to
get from 75 to 53. Some of the cuttees will wind up on our PS but
must clear waivers first (& you'd better believe that other NFL
scouts will be scanning the waiver wires - just as ours will).
Oakland Recap Still Delayed - Looking toward Tennesse
Thurs. Aug. 23, 2012
- I'm still dealing with PC issues, so I can't complete the Raider
game recap. (I'll post it and the recap of tonight's game vs.
Tennessee as soon as I get everything fixed). Sorry.
Biggest omission trying to report on the
Raider game "from memory" was how good Ryan Williams looked in his
first action since being injured a year ago. He displayed great
vision and sharp cutting skills. One notable run featured Williams
hurdling a would-be tackler in the middle of a cut. If he can stay
healthy, he will make a big difference in our running attack
(Think of him either as "a lighter, shiftier version of Beanie" or
"a bigger version of LSH").
Will Skelton continue to outplay Kolb?
Or will Kevin mount a mini-comeback?
How will Beanie look in his 2012 debut?
How will our running attack look with Beanie and Ryan Williams
running behind a Levi-less offensive line?
Who, if anyone, will emerge as a viable
starting LT? Didany of four candidates (Young, Batiste,
Bridges, Potter) embarrass us? Or did they step up to the
Will the backups who shined last week
(Lindley, Walker, Sturdivant, Flemming, Bethel and Powell)
continue to flash unexpected talent? Or will they regress a
Will Floyd be given a bigger chance to
show all of us what he's got?
Implications for the final roster?
That's all. Beat them Titans!
BRS PC Crash of 2012 is Officially "Over"
Wed. Aug. 22, 2012 -
Last Friday morning, when I tried to log on to brag about our
win over Oakland, Windows refused to boot up. To make a long story
short, it's Wednesday, and (thanks to a sharp webhost) we're back
up and ready to rock 'n roll. Sorry for any inconvienience:
Bye Bye Oakland/Howdy, Tennessee
the Oakland game with much trepidation - Our defense looked
sluggish and sloppy as did our offensive line. Kolb played
miserably, as did R Walker, Gay and many others. There was a lot
of soul searching (& hitting) during the week going into the
Raider game, and it apparently paid off. We started off strong,
and wound up a 31 - 27 winner, but it didn't come without some
cost - Starting LT Levi Brown tore his tricep and will out for the
season. A recap of highlights and lowlights:
Both offense and defense (&
special teams) played a physically tougher, more
disciplined brand of football.
Levi - not that he didn't have
his critics, but we don't know who will replace him
(could be Young, Batiste, Bridges, Potter or some new
guy) or how well his replacement will do?
Kolb started out 3 for 3, in
the first series but wound up going 3 for 6 and was
sacked 3 times. With the help of Ryan Williams (who
looked like a later-day Barry Sanders) , he led the
Cards on their first TD drive capped by a nifty
Williams counter-cutback run off RG for a yard or two.
Kolb, unfortunately, still looks like he's wandering
around in and out of the pocket when pressured,
without a solid idea of what to do.
Albeit only in for a short
series, Skelton came in and went 3 for 3 (including a
nifty red zone TD pass to Sherman by the right
stantion. While Coach Whiz continues to benefit from
the luxury of time, it seems as though Skelton is
beginning to separate himself a bit from Kolb.
Reggie Walker did a 180-degree
turnaround from the previous week and played like he
deserves to start. Acho rebounded from a subpar KC
Justin Bethel blocked a FG and
a punt (returning it for a 19 yard TD).
Flemming played well enough to
suggest he'll start by mid-season. Gay did not play
Quan Sturdivant had a strong
game (a solid inside force).
William Powell ran low to the
ground with enough shiftiness to challenge Alfonso
Smith for the final RB spot.
Sherman had a strong game
(blocking, catching and on special teams).
Lindley has proved he belongs
in the NFL in terms of physical talent, but mentally,
he still makes rookie mistakes and learning the
non-physical and intangible aspects of the game will
be his challenge.
Going into Tennessee, Young
will start at LT, Batiste will start at RT (& then
move to LT later in the game). Skelton gets the start
(it's his turn).
Against the Titans, l want to
see how Skelton and Kolb do. Also whether young
flashers like Walker, Sturdivant Powell, Flemming and
Bethel can repeat last week's performance. Finally,
whether any offensive tackles step up and play well
enough to be trusted yet.
That's about it - I'll try to post an Oakland game recap within a
day or so. Then it's on to Tennessee.
Culprit: "Lack of Preparation?"
Fri. Aug 17, 2012 -
What seems to be sinking in among coaches, players, media and fans
is that, in their first 2 games, the entire team hasn't been
playing very well and there should be a sense of urgency about
turning things around. Typically this would either involve (a)
changing the players or getting existing players to "play harder"
or "execute better." Sometimes that will work. (As Mel Brooks'
2,000 Year Old Man once observed: "Fear is the chief motivator").
But not always.
Something more specific needs to be addressed, and it cuts across
all roster positions: "Preparation (or lack thereof)." The team's
play - across the board - has seemed tentative (i.e. you get the
feeling that, much of the time, our guys aren't really sure where
they should be or what they should do on any given play). Our
opponents haven't seemed to have had that problem:
Our QB's aren't 100% confident
their protection will hold up or where the pressure
might be coming.
Our receivers aren't sure whether
or when to break off a route or come back to help out
Our RB's aren't sure where a hole
will open up (if, in fact, at all).
Our pass blockers aren't totally
confident about who to block or where or when to hand
off a stunting pass rusher to a fellow teammate
Our Front Seven doesn't always know
their keys, bites on fakes & gets suckered on screens.
Our Back Eight is often out of
position or late to the ball.
|In short, they don't look totally
prepared. Now I realize that (at least according to one
Cardinal coach) the Cards don't spend a lot of time
game-planning for opponents in preseason, but with the
lack of preparation comes a lack of confidence and
tentative style of play. I don't know how - compared to
other teams - our coaches prepare their players for
upcoming games; only that other teams look better prepared
overall than we do. (Why is it that rookie QB's like
Bradford, Stafford, Newton, RG3 and Luck seem to pick
things up quicker than our two guys - who still look a bit
lost going into their 3rd season? Are their teams
preparing them differently)?
When a team's players feel "ready
to rock 'n roll", they're more equipped to "do less
thinking" and just go out there and kick butt. I'm
not sure our coaches are preparing our players well
enough to do this; and simply "more reps" may not provide the entire
answer. The bottom line is making sure (& feeling secure
that) each player knows all his stuff all the time. If it means daily quizzes
inside meeting rooms or on the practice field, the key is
to get the necessary information into each guy's brain
(so that it becomes instinctive and second-nature) and
for both coach and player to know that the player "has it
Then and only then will our athletes be
able to play to their potential - instinctively,
energetically and without hesitancy.
Looking Toward Oakland
Tues. Aug. 14 -
Apparently, our lackluster performance vs. KC has caused some
Cardinal die-hards to dial up the late Dr. Kervorkian's number in
the old Roladex. Having not yet seen the entire game, I can't
comment with much certainty.
A word about TV coverage of Cardinal preseason games. Firstly, FSN
-AZ continues to "take money" from DirecTV sports package
subscribers by blacking out Cardinal preseason games. (They have
been doing so for several years now, but have never explained why
allowing a Cardinal fan in Chicago, Alabama or New Jersey to watch
the game would have any impact at all on local advertiser sales).
Then, yesterday, NFLN (who "got it right" on their website
drop-down schedule) rebroadcast the Cardinal - Chiefs game late
yesterday morning; but the on-air DirecTV scheduling grid
incorrectly said it was a different game (either StL - Indy
or GB - SD). I came upon the game "by accident" and managed to
pick up the action midway thru the 3rd quarter. (I did catch the
audio feed of the game "live" via SIRIUS, but hearsay from Glen
Parker isn't the same as seeing it in living color).
So based on incomplete information, my only two take-aways are
that (a) we got physically pushed around by the Chiefs on both
sides of the ball and (b) Kolb looked awful (again) and Bartel
(who appeared to be frequently "running into sacks") looked no
better than Kolb
If the decision had to be made today
(& putting it within the context of porous pass blocking) , I
think the edge would go to Skelton (who seems a bit stronger in
the pocket and a bit more decisive than Kolb). But we don't have
to make that decision right now.
Everyone is rushing to judgment, and we don't have to. We've Kolb
and Skelton for less than 30 preseason snaps apiece. Bartel and
Lindley have seen less than 4 total quarters of mop-up time.
That's not a lot of snaps on which to base judgments that will
have a profound impact on the future direction of the football
team. We have three preseason games left to play. Our soundest
course of action should be to grit our collective teeth and let
the process play itself out.
Biggest news is that
D'Antnony Batiste has been moved ahead of Jeremy Bridges at RT on
the depth chart. (Makes sense on face value, because this
allows Bridges to settle into his more comfortable and useful role
as backup LT, RT, LG and RG while buying more time for Bobby
Massie to continue to learn his trade until he's ready to earn a
starting spot at RT.
Other major roster story line has to do with the return of the
walking wounded: RB Ryan Williams is expected to
see action vs. Oakland. Beanie Wells has resumed
practicing but will probably be held out until at least the
Tennessee preseason game. TE Jeff King has been
removed from the PUP list and is returning to practice, but
probably won't see action til Tennessee. FB Reagan Mau'ia has
rejoined the club (to split reps with Sherman, now that Crank is
injured). WR LaRon Byrd (shoulder) is day to day
but expected to be ready for Oakland. No report as to when
Paris Lenon will return.
Thoughts on Why the Defense is Struggling in Preseason
The conventional wisdom is that Ray Horton's defense has struggled
thus far because, although it relies mainly on deception, the
Cards have been playing mainly "vanilla" schemes. I'd like to
explore a different avenue:
But let me digress. A few years back, Giants' head coach Tom
Coughlin took a look at the offensive/defensive matchups and
determined that his team had a decided advantage in size and
physicality. He decided to go the smashmouth route and repeatedly
ran Brandon Jacobs down our throats. Guess what? It worked.
Which raises the question: "If you were an OC facing a Ray Horton
defense which places greater emphasis on quickness and deception
(over size and strength) and you felt your offense was
bigger and stronger, wouldn't you try to push the Cardinals around
physically? With the exception of Dumpster Dan Williams, no
starter or backup on our defensive line weighs more than about 300
lbs (& Williams dropped his weight down to 314 lbs to gain more
quickness and mobility).
That's all I got - revisit the Cards - KC
game recap for updates.
Thurs. After Night Drill/Before HOF Game
Thurs. Aug. 2, 2012
- To bring us all up to date on personnel, the Cards: Waived
WR Stanley Arukwe, placed C Blake DeChristopher and Ryan
Bartholomew on Waived-Injured list, added G's Rich Ohrnberger and
Russ Hochstein and RB Thomas Clayton. (You never know about
longshot newcomers, but DeChrostopher, Bartholomew and Arukwe were
on my short-list of guys to watch, and I was sad to see them go.
With Kolb (thigh bruise) held out of drills for one or two days,
Skelton got most of the reps and not only didn't take advantage of
them but was (at least according to fan observations) horribly
inaccurate - frequenty overthrowing the open-man and being picked
off a few times. This in turn unleashed another one of those
lengthy (and, frankly, boring) "no he ditn't/yes he did" back &
forths among the Cardinal faithful. I love the fan reports from
ASFN and other sites but am a bit leery of their objectivity (they
sometimes provide a forum for a diehard trying to advance his own
agenda re Kolb, Skelton, the coaches or the FO. For that I reason,
before passing judgment, I'll cool my jets until I get to
see these guys in real (well almost real) game conditions with my
Darren Urban did have a few things to say about the Thursday night
- Kolb played and said his quad "held up fine."
- Intensity was white-hot (lots of trash talking).
- Gay (taken out in goal line situations) took over as "sideline
cheerleader" for the defense.
- Fitz outsnookered Bethel on a batted ball contested by both.
- Colin Parker delivered a "woo" hit on Sherman (with helmet
- A-Dub and Powell came off the field with leg owies (evidently
not deemed serious).
That's all I got (for now).
"The Monday After..."
Mon. July 30, 2012
- Cards usually take Sundays off during preseason, so there's
usually little or nothing to report; but there are a few tidbits:
- Mash Unit - LB Zach Nash (ankle), RB Javarris James (abductor -
2 weeks), C Ryan Bartholomew (knee - a few days)
- Rod Graves fired cap/administrative guy, Justin Casey and
replaced him with a CPA with no NFL experience, Sean castle. Kent
Somers of the AZR wrote a fairly lengthy investigative piece
wondering out loud why the move was made, since Casey appeared to
be well-liked and his work satisfactory. Graves seemed to dismiss
the move as merely moving guys around and tweaking the FO
personnel in order to best fit the administrative needs of the
organization. WIthout meaning to make a bigger deal over this than
necessary, I am curious about why Rod (who tends to keep things
low-key) "fired" Casey instead of allowing him to "resign".
"pursue other career opportunities." Having been fired more than
once during a lengthy and colorful business career, I can't help
but speculate that Justin must have broken some unwritten
organization law (like revealing sensitive information,
overstepping his authority or simply letting some sort of
bureaucratic minutae slip threw the cracks. Whatever the case, it
does spice up an otherwise slow news day.
- Watching taped-footage of NFLN's coverage of the Red & White
scrimmage, there was some interesting commentary by an off-camera
expert (likely to have been Lombardi). He noted that, when he
worked in the Niner FO with GM Bill Walsh, one principle they
stuck to was that "you build the rest of your roster first, before
you turn your attention to WR." He felt that, in drafting Malcom
Floyd, the Cardinals violated that golden rule. When pressed
further, he pointed out that the Cardinal O-line needed rebuilding
(especially in light of the number of sacks they gave up, the
inconsistent run-game and the pummeling/injuries absorbed by Kevin
Kolb). When asked whether he thought that many problems at other
roster positions Typically flowed from an NFL team's (specifically
the Cards') O-line play, he replied: "Yes I do."
- While rewatching the footage, I couldn't help but note Ryan
Lindley's scrunched-up throwing motion - he appeared to lose 2 or
3 inches of height from his release point and seemed to be
"steering" his throws. (Since Lindley had been frequently
criticized for "lacking touch" on some of his
short-to-intermediate throws, perhaps the scrunched-up motion was
more an overreaction to this criticism).
- And Kudos to NFL Network on its 6 am (ET) "live" morning show
launch. I hope they will proivide some Cardinal news on a daily
basis. (I taped it, and only watched an hour or so, but nada stuff
about the Cards so far). One weird aspect of the show - it's being
aired from their LA studios - which means their announcing staff
has to look bright-eyed and bushy-talied at 3 o'clock in the
freaking morning (i.e. are getting up super-early in the morning
or coming off a late night on the town? Also - the show likes to
do what appears to be a "live" whip-around to reporters in
different NFL cities, but it seemed kind of disconcerting to watch
the early-AM staff converse with "Stacy" or "Melissa" (in full
sunlight) "at Patriots, Dolphins or Jets camp. And - doesn't this
mean that the AZ-East Coast time-delay will make it
near-impossible for NFLN to provide "live" coverage from Flag,
Tempe or Glendale at 3 am? Still, something is better than
nothing, and I wish NFLN much success.
Yesterday was my 73rd birthday - We pigged out on steamed crabs &
beer, enjoyed playing with our grandson (Josh David Gollin) and
rewatched footage of the Red vs.White scrimmage. Thanx to English
on tour, Mitch, Gaddabout, DemsMyBoys, BullheadCardsFan, az jam,
FArting, Snakester, BuckyBird, DBackJon, Dr. Jones, AzStephenCal
and Brian in Mesa (on ASFN) for their birthday wishes. Life is
large here in NJ.
Red & White Scrimmage Recap
Sun. July 29, 2012
- First, the obligatory annual word of caution: There's not much
definitive to be gleaned from this early scrimmage, but, if you
know where to look, you often can pick up tiny indicators of
things to come.
Attendance was somewhat north of 14,000 (which shoved the foot of
a boorish Philly fan - who was critical of the size of the
Cardinal fan base - squarely in his mouth (Attendance at a similar
Eagle scrimmage was just 6,500).
Much of the scrimmage was covered "live" by NFL Network on and off
for most of the afternoon, so I got to see more stuff than usual.
I believe this marks the first decent in-depth coverage by the
media of the Cardinals as a team since our trip to the Super Bowl.
I'm probably making too big a deal over this, but I thought the
drills lacked tempo and both the offense and defensive units lined
up kind of "shaggily." After practice, Larry Fitzgerald observed
that the offense, at times "looked sloppy" (& I'd have to agree).
I understand; it's early, but I hope things willl look a whole lot
crisper when we face the Saints Aug. 5. Now for some specifics:
QB - Neither Kolb or Skelton looked especially
sharp (but Kolb looked "less dull"). Lindley lacked touch. A
blogger criticized Skelton for "playing too careful."
RB - Ryan Williams was reported to have broken
one for a long gain, but I didn't get to see it. Javaris
James looked pretty smooth catching out of the backfield. William
Powell ran well in goal-line action.
WR - Floyd had a couple of grabs. I thought
Doucet looked pretty fluid running his routes and snatching the
ball. Byrd, Arukwe, Sampson and S Williams each had at least one
grab. Byrd looked good laying out for an overthrown ball and
TE - Nothing of notice. An ASFN blogger noted
that Dray was doing nothing to solidify a roster spot. Nice
15-yard grab by Housler.
OL - Charley Casserly said that we should keep
our eyes on Nate Potter as a potential starter at (not LT but) RT.
DL - Nada (linemen seldom get noticed in practice
LB - Nice pick by Reggie Walker (At first I
thought it was #55 Bradley, but I'm pretty sure it turned out to
be #56 Reggie).
DB - Nice breakup by Jefferson of a pass to
Floyd. Parker (pick) and Bethel (goal line stop) each made nifty
plays. Apparently, Ryan Williams got a bit mouthy after beating
Rhodes on a running, and on the next snap, A-Dub made him pay. Gay
said to have done a pretty good job of covering Fitz.
ST - I read someplace that Schmitt was being
outpunted by Zastudil. Roberts muffed a punt.
Bottom Line - (1) QB situation still up in air,
(2) If Williams can stay healthy, our running attack could be
hellacious, (3) the WR battle should remain a doozie, (4) Ditto
2/3 of our secondary. (5) Keep an eye on Potter, Bethel, Byrd and
all those talented corners (at least one of whom could turn out to
be trade bait).
Early Workout Impressions
Sat. July 28, 2012
- Darren Urban is not a big fan of doing play by play recaps of
practice, and I agree. There's a natural bias toward overhyping
skilled positions (because that's what stands out most and
that's what most fans watch). But hard-core Cardinal fans are
hungry for any tidbit that offers the tiniest clue as to "what the
deal is" regarding the potential success
of an individual player or what it means for the
team's future success. With these words of caution, here's what
I've been able to glean from various sources as we look forward to
Red & White drills:
QB - According to one source, Kolb outplayed
Skelton in 7 on 7's, but the same source in an earlier occasion
rated him as merely "OK." (and "a page out of Derek Anderson's
greatest hits"). Although Peter King had nice things to say
about the rookie (Lindley), the rookie's footwork (& accuracy) has
been pretty awful.
RB - Raves over the sharpness of Ryan Williams's
cutting as he comes back from serious kneee surgery. (But the Card
medical staff and coaches plan to err on the side of caution and
not bring him back too fast). Alfonso Smith blew up Acho in blitz
pickup and is making a clear run at roster survival.
WR - Fans apparently are happy with Floyd
(however he did lose a one-on-one battle with PP21 who made an
insane one-handed pick). Floyd made a nice catch of a Skelton
end-zone fade. He bolo'd on a high jump ball in the end zone, but
later on made a nifty tip-toe catch near the sideline .Byrd made
an impressive one-handed catch on a throw from Lindley. Mixed
reviews on Sampson - who beat Greg Toler in the EZ for a TD but
(according to another observer) looked pretty invisible most of
the time. Isaac Williams was also panned (2 drops/no separation).
TE - Housler continues to impress - especially on
OL - It's still too early to sort things out, but
Urban says that the 2nd Unit consists of Young, Kelemete,
Bartholomew/Wedige, Stewart and Batiste - which suggests that
Massey and Potter haven't earned their way up the depth chart yet.
Cards added veteran presence in Russ Hochstein (who can play G or
DL- Nothing much other than that Nine-Oh has
bought into his role in Horton's defensive scheme and is ready to
rock 'n roll. That plus that they look wello-conditioned overall.
LB - Nada
DB - Nice bat/pick of a Bartel pass. In 2-minute
dime packages (with A-Dub and Rhodes deep) the four CB's in the
scheme were Peterson. Gay, Jefferson and Adams (Toler's absence
ST - Nada
But like I said at the beginning of this piece - Chill! It's
early. See what else is inside the proverbial "Cracker Jack" box.
Enjoy the show.
Serious Workouts Underway
Thurs. July 26, 2012 - 7 on 7's
started yesterday. I understand full-contact hitting will start
today. ESPN's Chris Hanson was up in Flag to give a "live"
report on the opening of the Cardinal camp. Lots of Skelton and
Kolb footage along with Peterson vs. Fitz and Peterson vs. Floyd.
(Nice one-handed pick by PP21 on one throw). Not much new to learn
(Kolb took the first snap of the 7 on 7's, but he and Skelton
divided the reps pretty much right down the middle).
OL Blake DeChristopher was placed on waived-injured list. LB Zach
Nash (leg) left practice early. That's all for now.
A-Dub to be Around a Little Longer
Wed. July 25, 2012 - Cards
restructured Adrian Wilson's contract, to ease their annual
cap-hit and extendi him to 2015. Wilson has emerged as a quiet
team leader (a case might be made for his being considered the
"Ray Lewis" of the Cardinal defense). Equally important is that
the Cardinal FO remains consistent in making sure certain
core-players remain "one of their own.
Odds 'n Ends - Beanie Wells and Jeff Kings (both
rehabbing) failed to pass the entry-physical and will be placed on
the PUP list. Coach Whisenhunt indicated that he didn't consider
this a big deal, that both will continue their conditioning work
and will be available to return to the active roster within a
reasonable amount of time.
Football is Back!
Mon. July 23, 2012 -- Training
Camp starts today (Yay!), and I thought it might be entertaining
to post my first and last non-football blog of the offseason. Here
Back in December, I came down with an unpleasant "plague" (runny
nose that evolved into a bad chest cold) that wouldn't go away
until well into March. (I suspect it might have been a low-grade
case of Pertussis or Whooping Cough - I had a
difficult-to-diagnose case when I was 10, and they say immunity
tends to dissipate over time). All I know is that I stopped all
exercise until mid-June, and it cost me - my hips have no strengty
& tend to lock up when I walk uphill. I'm finally back on
the treadmill & resuming back and stretching exercises. It's been
a long slog, but I'm gradually getting stronger. Moral - When it
comes to exercise, "use it or lose it."...Nice to see that Justin
(aka "Elvis") won the Food Network Star competition. (I'm not sure
I'd want to cook or eat any of his outrageous recipses, but
there's no one better for keeping one entertained - the dude is a
culinary maniac...Speaking of food, Jersey Corn is on the
farmstands. Yumm...Our 14 month old grandson (Josh David - aka
"JD") learned to walk a month or so ago and definitely looks more
like a scatback or WR than a linebacker....Bummer that Zach Parise
is no longer a NJ Devil (but at least we still have Marty
Brodeur)...With summer not even half over, we've had to endure
heat-waves, a water-crisis and a a brief electric outtage. (In my
first 60 years living in Greater NYC, I never experienced a
blackout or a boil-our-water emergency. In terms of
infrastructure- advances, we are definitely going
backward....Newsroom (on HBO) brings back memories when I used to
sit in on daily news conferences at The Trentonian as their promo
guy. Our boss used to say that we were doing good if "we got
things right 5% of the time."). I'm kind of rooting for the
fictional Jeff Daniels and staff to "aim a little higher"...Our
hearts, needless to say, are with the victims of the massacre in
Colorado. What grabbed me was how those unfortunate folks were
just like us - it could have happened in our town at our theater
to our friends or loved ones....Just learned that they threw the
book at Penn State. Many folks in Happy Valley were victims of
"collateral damage" (i.e. things that happened that they had no
control over). It's unfair, but also mild when compared to what
happened to the kids who were abused. Sometimes we have to
remember that (a) college is first and foremost, a place of higher
learning and (b) "it's only football," The University and
the NCAA felt they had to send a wake-up call to the football
establishment, the Penn State family and to citizens in general
about "what happens when you don't do the right thing." Can't
blame them, but I still feel bad about it....So that's about it -
On to Cardinal Football!
UPDATE: 7/24/12 - I forgot to
mention that the past month or two has been an excellent time to
catch up on reading and music. I'm 2/3 of the way through James
Lee Burke's 757 page "Creole Bell" (more than just a crime
novel - he knows his psychology, the many characters are colorful,
he cares about the ecology of the Gulf and you can smell the
gumbo)... Searched-for and downloaded a bunch of tunes I dug in
the old days - "The Fugue" (Maynard Ferguson), "Blues in the
Closet" (Kenny Drew - Jazz Higheay - "live"), "The Romper Stomper"
(George "The Fox" Williams), "The Shout" (Les McCann), "Ooh Ah"
D'Di Di" (Wild Bill Davis), "Birdland" (Manhattan Transfer);
"Chica Boo" (Loyd Glenn); a whole bunch of Latin Jazz by Eddie
Palmieri, an even larger bunch of European Swing Guitar pieces
(Django Rhinehart, Boulou Ferre and Birelli Legrene) plus ten
hard-to-find Alan Freed Camel Rock & Roll concerts via Armed
Forces Radio...ESPN kicked off its Camp coverage with a little bit
of Cardinal content - other than Kolb vs. Skelton and some Fitz
highlights, there wasn't much meat on the bone...Glad to learn
that, this Monday (July 30), NFL Network will launch an early
morning show (at 6:30 am ET). Good idea, but of course, it will
depend on what they serve up each day with breakfast. Dat's all
Kolb? Or Skelton?
Tues. July 3, 2012 - The blogs
are filled with Kolb and Skelton back & forths notable for their
(a) lack of objective information, (b) inane reliance on
incomplete information, (c) an overreliance on (&
misinterpretation of) statistics and (d) endless repetition of the
same arguments. Blame it on the "black hole" of NFL media coverage
(which is still obsessed with NO Bounties, Tebow, Revis and Top
100 lists). But like a fresh cool breeze washing through a sweaty
summer heat-wave came a fascinating article by NFL.com's Bucky
Here it is (in edited-down form). "V'la
L'bon vent" (Ian & Sylvia),
The Problem with Applying Sabermetrics to
Thurs. June 28, 2012
- Like just about every sports fan, I saw Moneyball,
loved Jonah Hill and can appreciate the use of esoteric and
targeted statistics to analyze and dictate personnel and game-day
Of late, there has been a
plethora (I’ve always wanted use that
word) of pro football blogging threads and posts
which rely on detailed statistics from
sources like Football Outsiders, Pro Football Talk to support
arguments about which player, drafting philosophy, offensive or
defensive strategy etc. is better, best, worst or sucks.
But football ain’t baseball.
Before I explain why, a brief primer on Sabermetrics:
Wikipedia defines it as “the
specialized analysis of baseball through objective evidence,
especially baseball statistics that measure in-game activity. It
was coined by Bill James. It attempts to answer objective
questions about baseball, such as "which player on the Red Sox
contributed the most to the team's offense?" or "How many home
runs will Ken Griffey hit next year?" It cannot deal with the
subjective judgments which are also important to the game, such as
"Who is your favorite player?" or "That was a great game."
It may, however, attempt to settle questions such as "Was
Willie Mays faster than Mickey Mantle?" by establishing several
possible parameters for examining speed in objective studies (how
many triples each man hit, how many bases each man stole, how many
times he was caught stealing) and then reaching a tentative
conclusion on the basis of these individual studies.
Sabermetricians frequently question traditional measures
of baseball skill (i.e. that batting average is useful since “it’s
runs win ballgames, and that a better of a player's worth is how
he helps his team score more runs than the opposing team).
Sabermetrics is concerned both with determining the value of a
player or team in current or past seasons and with attempting to
predict the value of a player or team in the future.
The problem with falling back on
Sabermetrics to compare NFL players and strategies is the
time-worn cliché that “football is a team sport.” But it’s true.
Dissect any baseball play and it will, at most involve (1) how
well a pitcher
throws the ball, (2) how well the hitter hits (or doesn’t hit) it,
(3) a couple of guys making plays in the field and (4) maybe a
couple of guys running the bases.
But all of the activities they
perform are individual
acts. No one helps the home run hitter “go yard.” . No one helps a
pitcher blow heat by a batter. No one helps an
infielder gobble up a grounder up the middle or an outfielder run
down a line-drive through the gap. (True, there are some nuanced
exceptions – good hitters in the lineup helping to “protect” other
hitters or a catcher
the right calls – but most plays pretty much comprised of
individual performances which can be measured, compared and
Not so much with football.
For a QB to be successful, his
receivers have to get open. His blockers have to protect him. The
right plays have to be called to match up with opposing coverages.
Each play’s success depends, in part, on how good or smart the
opposing defense is.
Ditto RB’s – each has his own style
(maulers are statistically comparative “oranges; scatbacks
jukers “peaches” and pass-catchers
“prunes” (because they each bring something different to the
table. They too have to rely on effective blockers in order to be
Receivers also come in different
sizes and are asked to do different things (like “go deep”, catch
over the middle, grab jump balls, tight-rope the sideline pick off
fades in the red zone) and above all, “get open.” They too have to
rely on other team-members to help them be successful: The QB has
to get them the ball. His pass blockers have to give him enough
time to get them the ball. The defense has to get the ball back
earlier and oftener. And, of course, there’s always
well the two teams match up; player-to-player, down to down.
Blocking assignments usually involve
at least 5 guys working in tandem to open up holes, trap
off tacklers, lead interference to the corner, pass block etc.
against a variety of opponents which include edge-rushers,
bull-rushers, blitzing defenders, roving LB’s or wide-bodies
clogging holes. How valid are tackling statistics for an
unprotected LB or a DL forced to help out a weaker line-mate.
And what scheme was the dude playing
it fair to compare tackling stats for (a) a SS who spends most of
his time as the 8th guy in the box with (b) another SS
more likely to provide deep coverage? Does it make much sense to
compare the sack totals for a NT in a 3-4 (who’s relied on to
protect his LB’s) with a 4-3 DT (expected to penetrate into the
One final cautionary word about the
over-use of statistics (in baseball as well as football) can best
be illustrated by this brief final story:
A couple of days ago, the
StLCardinals were in the midst of a late-inning comeback vs. the
Florida Marlins. Bases loaded; 2 outs; pitcher due up. The
Cardinals (due a screw-up on their line-up card by the home-plate
umpire - but that’s another story) had exhausted their supply of
pinch hitters and were forced to bring in rookie pitcher, Joe
Kelly. Kelly hit a routine slow grounder to the shortstop but
miraculously beat the throw to 1st base (Who knew he
could run that fast).
That infield single was instrumental in
finally winning that game in extra-innings.
Play goes down as a routine “single” in Stat Land, but
this single was different from your standard ground-ball up the
middle or line-drive to center. Of all things, it involved (a) a
rookie, (b) a pitcher, (c) a pitcher who made contact and then (d)
ran his ass off to beat the throw. If you’re strictly a “stat guy”
who didn’t actually watch the game, there’s no way you could know
From PFT's or Outsider’s statistical
viewpoint, a spectacular play by Daryl Washington would be
no different than a routine tackle
made by a fellow LB – I have a problem with that.
Like many other aspects of any
competitive sport, statistics add interest and have some value as
tiny red flags that provide context, raise questions and can lead
the way toward closer scrutiny of specific areas of the game. But
I don't believe a sport as beautiful or complex as football (or,
to a lesser degree, baseball) can be sliced and diced all the way
down to a few basic numbers. As they used to say about lamp posts
– “Use them mainly to illuminate and less
prop up drunks.”
1st Annual Black Hole Place-Filler Column.
Wed. June 27, 2012 - The
single-best way to describe the 4 - 5 week period period between
the end of minicamps and the beginning of training camp is that
"nothing's happening." The players are off doing their things.
Writers like D Urban and Ken Somers are (physically or at least
mentally) "on vacation." 90% of the NFL coverage on NFLN and ESPN
is about Bounties, Tebow, Revis or Top 100 lists.
Cardinal blogs have become dominated by Kolb vs. Skelton, Power
Ratings, "Best Of"/Worst Of" debates and Fearless Forecasts about
everything from Final 53 rosters to Playoff contenders. Everything
has become so innane and repetitious that I keep waiting for a
bunch of ASFN bloggers to remove their rubber face-masks and all
turn out to be Skip Bayless). I guess a lot of Cardinal fans feel
they've got to say something, but that doesn't mean that it's
worth reading. (Hint - sometimes less is more).
In the absence of hard news, we fans are left to our own devices -
which usually means one of two things - (1) Everyone wants to
prove how good they are at predicting the future (&/or defending
earlier predictions that fell flat) or (2) Try to create a bunch
of polls just to fill the time and space. Don't get me wrong -
there's nothing wrong with making predicitions, but it might be
more worthwhile if they were based on something more than recaps
of last season, draft-guide reports and OTA/mini-camp
Under the tough lense of objectivity, all we really know at this
phase of the off-season is (1) how certain players did last
season, (2) what so-called experts say about their physical,
mental and moral skill-sets and (3) whether they looked good or
bad in non-contact drills. Not that this information can't be
valuable - more that realistically it's about 80% incomplete.
We're going to have to wait til training camp to see how each guy
does. There will be surprises - a few guys starting out closer to
#90 in the food chain will flash something and wind up challenging
for a spot on the Final 53...More than a couple of promising
youngsters and a go-to veteran or two will end up on IR...A few
established regulars will lack the necessary "oomph" to compete at
a high level in the pros. This I can promise you. What neither I
(nor anyone else) can promise you is who these players will be. We
can only guess - and right now, those guesses would be predicated
on a lack of information. For this reason, I'll refrain from
making any predicitions until we're well into training camp. Look
at it this way - If you were about to watch a 5-Star movie, would
it be necessary to be able predict in advance how the plot would
unfold? Think of preseason as a top-rated TV series and enjoy what
transpires as it happens "on the fly."
"Black Hole Time" is "OT Time"
(Yay! I get to
say anything I want here - football or otherwise): Ignore the
panning by New Yorker of the new TV series "Newsroom" on
HBO. It's a keeper. It's fast-paced, timely with good initial
character-development. It may be a bit too cliched for New
Yorker's taste, but we shouldn't forget that most critics probably
worked in a print or TV news-room at one time or another and have
definite ideas of how the perfect cable news channel should be run
or how they'd write the mini-series if they were king or queen.
It's nice to have high standards, but no doubt, Mr. Sorkin feels
obliged to write for a somewhat broader (& less "inside-baseball")
audience...Anyone else feel as frustrated as I do about TV
election coverage - I'm almost as upset with the folks on my side
as I am those across the aisle. A particular gripe - A candidate
says something especially outrageous. An opposing cable network
hijacks the clip and runs it over and over again presumably as an
example of why it's bad; thereby giving the other side oodles and
oodles of free exposure (i.e. in a sense, "repeating the
lie")... I think MLB provides a more "local" and fan-friendly
listening and viewing experience than does the NFL. (Am digging
every StL baseball game via satellite or I-Pad)...From a national
security aspect, we obviously "gotta do what we gotta do" but our
political leaders should be well-advised to remember that
"democracy is often messy" and that, when we encourage free people
to determine their own destiny, things don't always turn out the
way we hope they'll be." This is why policy must, by necessity, be
nuanced and "nation specific" (because each situation is unique,
the stakes different and the dynamics on the ground unpredictable.
Egypt isn't Tripoli, Russia isn't China and Tripoli isn't Syria.
For this reason, be extremely wary of any politician claiming to
have a cookie-cutter, "one size fits all" approach to foreign
That's it for now.
FanFest Reveals a Little
June 14, 2012 - (Happy Flag Day!) We'll start off this section
by cautioning - "Don't read too much into the minutae of a bunch
of guys running around in shorts."
example - Early Doucet came down with a couple of pretty grabs
during Fanfest drills yesterday - but his two biggest challenges
figure to be (1) consistently getting open and (2) consistently
hanging onto the ball (and staying healthy) after absorbing a big
hit. The OTA's aren't going to tell you that.
But there may be snippets of intelligence from the Fanfest and
other practices that fans are eager to ferrett out. While not
end-alls, they may offer clues as to how a player is doing:
Kevin Kolb did not look consistent, took too
long to pull the trigger and (judging from the booing) does
not have the fans in his corner. Skelton didn't look that much
better, but he didn't get boo'd.
Beanie is behind Ryan Williams in his rehab
and didn't participate. Williams had a few carries, was able
to make cuts without problems and did not appear to display
any noticable limp.
Floyd is said to be keeping his nose to the
grindstone, caught a long TD pass yesterday and displayed
decent hands (but, as in the case of Doucet, catching while
not under pressure, is only a small part of the story - how
will he do in traffic under real game conditions)?
Massie passes the eye-ball test (better he
should look big and ripped than small and flabby) but will
still have to earn his way up to #1 on the depth chart.
Reggie Walker had a Pick-6.
Coaches are saying nice things about
Fleming, his poise and grasp of the pro game. Buzz - as
of right now - is about Gay vs. Toler for starting CB opposite
Peterson; with Fleming, Jefferson and Adams battling for
backup roles. (But that could all change in an eyelash).
here for a roster-wide chart with
current roster-battle information. Oh yeah, one final observation
- 15,000 fans battled traffic to attend Fanfest. That's pretty
impressive (especially to us old timers regularly embarrassed by
out-of-town fans outdrawing Cardinal fans in our own stadium.
Final Pre-MIniCamp Roster Tweaking
Tues. June 12, 2012 - The remaining 2 unsigned Cardinal draft picks
(Jamell Fleming and Michael Floyd) are now signed. Cards (as
expected) re-signed DL Vonnie Holliday to a one-year deal. In
addition to being a perfect backup lineman, Vonnie brings valuable
leadership and work-ethic to the Cardinal lockerroom. To make room
for Holliday, the Cards released UDFA defensive lineman, Conrad
Obi. While, when it comes to rosters, "you never know", it looks
like the Cardinals took care of business and look toward their
first minicamp with their roster pretty much set.
OTA's Underway; First Roster Change
Fri. May 25, 2012 - Very little
information flowed out of the team-wide organized team activities
that commenced a week ago other than that Jeff King and Beanie
underwent off-season "clean out the sucker" minor surgery and that
other rehab work appeared to be on-schedule. In fact, things have
been so quiet that hard-core Cardinal bloggers have had to reach
into their old bag of greivances to come up with anything to say.
("Skelton vs. Kolb", Why Graves Must Go (or Stay)", "Is Wiz Too
Pittsburgh-Loyal? Yada Yada).
First bit of personnel news - The Cardinals picked up LB Quentin
Groves, a 4-year veteran FA whom I'm pretty sure the Cards had an
interest in a couple of years back. The move came somewhat as a
surprise (the Cards were expected to bring back Clark Haggans).
Groves has a somewhat underwhelming 95 career tackles along
with 2½ sacks, 2 picks, 3 forced fumbles and 2 fumble recoveries,
but - at 6-3 266 - he does fit the classic Harrison /Woodley
Steeler OLB prototype that Ray Horton may be looking for. (Note -
Since it's unlikely Joey Porter will be re-signed, there could be
an additional spot for Haggans on the final roster). To make
room for Groves, the Cards released WR Marc Wilson of St. Anslem
College. (Wilson may have made a poor career-choice when he picked
up the day before Draft Day on charges of possession of cannabis).
Rookie Camp to Open/Calais Inks 5 year Pact
Fri. May 11, 2012 - Welcome to
Preseason 2012. The Draft's been held, UDFA's signed and a few
veterans in limbo brought into the fold. The stage has been set
"on paper " It's now time to see how all this translates onto the
field (well, at least the practice field).
The long awaited
Calais Campbell's deal has been
done. The NFL office confirms that it is for 5 years and
$55-million, with $36 for the first three years. How much is or
isn't guaranteed has not yet been disclosed; nor has the projected
cap-hit for 2012. What the math does tell us is that the contract
is slightly front-loaded, averaging $12-million a year for the
first three years and $9.5-million a year over the last two years.
(His franchise-tag salary would have been $10.7-million for 2012,
so its unclear whether this helps or hinders the team's tight cap
The beginning of preseason also heralds a
3-month media "black hole" period before the Cards kick off the
exhibition season August 5. In the information business, "rumor
and mischief fill a vacuum." Instead, what I'd love to see from
the Cardinal PR department and local media is better charting of
the various position "horse-races" leading up to the various
interim and final roster cuts. (We try to do this here on the BRS,
but we're situated 2,000 miles from Tempe or Flagstaff to
witness daily workouts, film-room sessions etc. While we get
snippets of info from Darrel U and an occasional ASFNer up at
Flag, the info is haphazard and not very complete). I realize
careers are at stake and there are company secrets to protect and
roster-politics to consider, but the League trend is toward more
non-game transparency (for example, their expanded coverage of the
draft) which, in turn, boosts fan-involvement and knowledge of the