Archive for the ‘Arizona Cardinals’ Category

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It was garbage time. The stadium was being cleared out by fans who had watched the Cardinals build a 13-point lead over the hometown Jaguars. A second past the two-minute warning was all that was left when inside linebacker Kevin Minter made his season debut 11 weeks into his rookie year.

He was on the point of the Jags’ Trips Bunch set, in a two-point stance with his knees bent, chest hanging over his toes and his arms dangling to his sides. Abruptly, the play began and he jammed the point-man and passed him off to the deep coverage, changing focus to the outside receiver running a supposed hitch route that was really serving as a rub. It was designed to get the flat receiver open, and he ran away from Minter and caught a quick pass from quarterback Chad Henne. Just like that, Minter’s first play was over.

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As good as the Cardinals’ Andre Ellington was on Sunday, racking up 154 yards rushing, he missed open running lanes.

“There are some of those plays, you wish you could get back,” he said after the Week 8 beating of the Atlanta Falcons. “That’s what the next game is for.”

The former Clemson running back is one of the league’s most dynamic runners because of his ability to bounce any run outside and take it to the house. But like any other home-run hitter, that’s also his downfall. He goes too much for the home-run and ends up striking out altogether. In other words, he misses open running lanes that can move the chains, and instead on those runs he gets a meager two yards.

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Mike Glennon’s snap count can be heard clearly. “EIGHTY!” His voice is so loud that it drains out the cheering crowd, putting it into the distant background. He’s under center and is set to take a crucial 2nd-and-6 snap. But he’s backed up at his 11-yard line, which only intensifies the pressure of making a big play and avoiding an even bigger turnover. He’s also a rookie, making this much harder, especially with Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson to his left.

Peterson is lined up in press man coverage on No. 1 target Vincent Jackson. He’s a yard inside the 10-yard line and a yard off the line of scrimmage. It’s about as close as he can get to Jackson without committing a sinful penalty. After checking with the referee if his alignment is legal, Peterson folds at his waist, sticks his rear end out and locks his elbows. This is the first fundamental of football, aligning the body properly so it’s ready to take action. It’s similar to how receivers line up, that is receivers not named Vincent Jackson. Jackson has his arms lose to the side, making it more difficult to gear up at the start of the play. But loose and lazy arms are common with receivers. No one knows why.

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With Bruce Arians and Carson Palmer set to bring competence back to the Cardinals offense, suddenly Arizona won’t be a complete toxic fantasy debacle. Maybe.

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Today has been a day of discovery, and we’ve learned so much about the coaches of the NFL and what they’re passionate about. Specifically, Pete Carroll is a strong supporter of the American military, but he may or may not believe 9/11 was a real thing. Alright then.

Meanwhile, new Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians has another matter he feels strongly about, and he had a rather interesting way of articulating his views:

That’s his stance on pre-practice stretching, which seems like an odd opinion for a man who leads a group of athletes. I’m far removed from my days as a world class Skee Ball player, but I believe it’s customary for athletes to stretch prior to strenuous exercise, and get the muscles they use to do crazy amazing things properly limber.

This is why most teams presumably have an organized stretching period before practice, because dedicating a few minutes to doing snow angels on the field is a pretty easy preventative maintenance measure to avoid hammy pulls and other such strains.

Arians will not tolerate that nonsense. Stretch on your own time, Cardinals peasants.

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I’d say “let’s start making Lane Johnson Cardinals jerseys” but who buys offensive lineman jerseys?

Kevin Kolb isn’t all that great at being a quarterback. This is now common knowledge to the fine people of Arizona, and Bills fans are surely aware that at best, he’s a bridge to something better.

But in fairness to Kolb and anyone who tried to play quarterback for the Arizona Cardinals last year, standing behind their offensive line was the equivalent of Homer Simpson’s best boxing efforts. Get punched a lot, and just hope and pray to the almighty that the other guy gets tired before you lose consciousness.

The Cards’ O-line allowed a league worst 58 sacks last year, seven more than the 31st place Packers in that category of pain. Over the previous three seasons, that sack total would have still been a league low. What’s even more remarkable/woeful is that Kolb was the victim of 27 of those QB hurtings, and he appeared in only six games before finally breaking. Kolb’s final three games of the season starting in Week 4 looked like this: eight sacks, nine sacks, five sacks.

There was some improvement over the second half of the season, but the real improvement now needs to come from the draft, with the Cardinals likely in a position to pick Lane Johnson, one of the premier left tackles available. The urgency to employ him is furthered by the recent acquisition of Carson Palmer. Like Kolb in Buffalo, he’s not the future, and instead he’s a fine bridge. But as a statuesque quarterback who plants himself in the pocket, he’ll crumble quickly under intense pressure.

For our Cardinals draft preview I had a quick chat with Jess Root from Revenge of the Birds. He thinks that while Johnson is a strong first-round possibility, the Cards will stick to their draft boards and likely select the best player avaliable. Also, we could see Arizona come away from the draft with several offensive linemen.

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The Raiders have finally completed their cycle of Carson Palmer shame, and the return is…no words.

Well, there are words, but typing between snot spitting laughter is difficult. A trade that’s been called imminent for the past two days is now something more than that, as according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Palmer has officially been traded to the Arizona Cardinals. For what? A conditional seventh-round pick in 2014 if he starts 13 games. A swap of 2013 picks (the Cardinals’ sixth rounder, for the Raiders’ seventh rounder) was also included.

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