Thursday, July 28, 2011

Moving forward

I have one last thing to say on this Kolb trade (yeah right).  No matter how good Kolb turns out to be this trade is still  terrible for AZ.  To sell DRC low and buy Kolb high is just bad trading.  Then they throw in a 2nd rounder, which is absurd.  Then they pay Kolb $12 million a year.  Now its asenine.  The Cards showed their hand when they spoke of desperation for a QB.  Philly promptly drove up the price, which is smart.  They should have walked away when they mentioned DRC and let Kolb ask for $12 million from some other team.  Kolb is too much of an unknown commodity to be in this kind of talks.  The deal should have been finalized at two second rounders (as comparable to the Matt Shaub trade) and a $10 million per year contract (the same that Matt Cassel got).  The Cards couldn't have picked a worse time to buy a QB.  Which is why its a bad deal.  (My friend James says its like when they draft a guy in the first that they could have gotten in the third.  Even if the guy turns out to be great, was it a good pick?)

With that said I hope Kevin Kolb turns out to be a perennial Pro Bowler.  I like him.  I love his 60% pass completion.  I hear he's a gym rat.  Players say they respect him.  And I think he and Larry already have chemistry.  Everyone says he'll fit well into this offense, but I think everyone doesn't consider that no one outside of Kurt Warner fits into this offense.  I figure Coach will finally realize he has to mold his offense to his players unlike 2011.  Otherwise we're in for another long year.   

They need to solidify their starting line by adding a LG and resigning Deuce.  I guess Hadnot, Levi, and Lyle will be retained which has me wondering.  How good can Kolb be with 4/5 of last years line?  If they throw the ball 65% of the time like last year, I'll bet Kolb doesn't survive the season. If they go to a more sensible 50/50 or 55/45 pass/run ratio than I think he'll be fine.  That would also play more to the strengths of the OL since they fit the mold of a run first offense.  But if they threw the ball so much with D.A. and the others, why would they throw less with Kolb? 


I sure hope Kolb proves me wrong.  With this offense and with this offensive line he better be able to read defenses fast and not hesitate.  My guess is he'll be labeled as that guy that "just can't seem to stay healthy". 

But even if he turns out to do well, I'm stunned at the logic of this trade on paper.  The Cards give a former first rounder (16th) who made the Pro Bowl, was a top five CB in INT during his years, and suffered under a miserable defensive coordinator along with the rest of the Def.  Yes, he had issues, but talented players usually do.  Ray Horton would have fixed him.  They also give up next years 2nd.  All for a former 2nd rounder who has played in 7 games with a QB rating of 73.2 and has a history of concussions and promptly paid him $60 million.  And since when do back up QB's out of Philly do anything?

Kyle Orton would have been cheaper and brought more experience.  John Skelton is now... what?  I guess the heir apparent to Kolb or whatever.  My guess is that Kolb will have repeated injuries and Skelton will play well when he's out.  Thus creating a QB controversy that Coach Whiz will deem "a good situation to be in".  Skelton might eventually replace him if the Cards don't land Andrew Luck with the first pick next year.
I'm gonna miss Breaston, but I feel the same way I did when they let go of Q: WR is just not that important for this team.  I'm glad they didn't try to give him too much.  Man I'm gonna miss him absorbing hits like Gumby.  Roberts, Doucet, and the 249th pick Sampson should step up and fill his gap nicely. 

I'm gonna sick up on this whole Kolb for DRC trade.  I'm hearing the Cards at least have the common sense not to give next years first, but this is still lopsided in favor of Philly. 

Friday, July 1, 2011

Worst moments in Az. Cardinals history?

Mike Fioro of PFT was listing off each NFL team's worst moments in history.  I laughed immediately because the Cardinals have that topic trumped on every level.  They can beat you with a bad free agent signing, draft picks, coach picks, plays on field, off field, or yearly standings.  You pretty much name the topic and the Cardinals can hang their head in shame.  So he started listing off his 4, at this point any other fan would wince in preparation for the impending blow.  But not Cardinal fans.  No we have grown immune to being embarrassed for our football team.  I have visible callouses on my heart that can be seen on a scanner that protect me from emotional turmoil from further catastrophes.  He apparently wanted to only mention the last 14 years, completely ignoring the fact that the team is 113 years old. 

Here's his top four:
#4 was when the team lost to Dallas in 1987 in week 15 while they were in St. Louis.  I guess they missed the playoffs which is pretty big, but I don't remember because I didn't really start following them till 1992. 
#3 was when they lost to the Saints in the 2009 playoffs. 
#2 the Dennis Green's meltdown after the Bears game
#1 the Superbowl loss.

Really?  Sadly 2 of those four stand out as the best moments in Cardinals history.  I'll give you the Denny Green meltdown.  That's an eternal classic.  The Dallas loss does sound bad so I'll trust that it was pretty bad (even though it was when they were in St. Louis.)  But N.O.?  The Superbowl?  The N.O. year represents the first time the Cardinals got to the divisional round of the playoffs in back to back years for over 30 years.  They also won 10 games that season, a first in 30 years.  They lost to the Superbowl Champs and you could tell they were grossly overmatched.  While the Superbowl stands out as the single greatest moment in Cardinals history probably dating back to 1948.  It certainly is the best in Az. history. 

But even arguing that is insulting the sheer magnitude of the Cardinals ineptitude.  Arguing what are the worst moments in Cards history is like arguing what are the best movies of all time.  You can't tell me Godfather is clearly better or worse than Casablanca.  They're too close to call.  Plus you're forgetting the artistic elements of each.  And that's just what the Cardinals ineptitude is: art.  Its as if Shakespeare himself penned this tragedy and we are just watching his masterpiece unfold through the years.  So without putting them in any particular order, let's reminisce shall we?

  • During the offseason after beating Dallas in the 1998 playoffs and turning the corner into a real NFL team, Chris Gedney, a well loved and respected player is diagnosed with cancer.  Bill Bidwill promptly cuts him.  The next year they go 6-10. (To be fair, they did resign him later only the damage had already been done)
  • In 1997, at 3-12 they beat the Falcons in the last game of the season forfeiting the #1 overall pick that would later be Petyon Manning.
  • In 2003, at 3-12 they beat the Vikings in the last game of the season forfeiting the #1 overall pick that would later be Eli Manning.
  • In 2011, at 3-12 they beat the Seahawks in the last game of the season forfeiting the #1 overall pick that would later be Andrew Luck.  (Trifecta?)
  • The day they drafted Levi Brown over Adrian Peterson
  • The day they basically traded Terell Suggs for Calvin Pace and Bryant Johnson (they could have had all three if they actually knew how to draft)
  • The entire 2002 draft: Wendell Bryant, Levar Fisher, Josh McCown, Dennis Johnson, Nate Dwyer, Josh Scobey, and Mike Banks.  McCown made an amazing 8 year career inspite of missing a brain, and Scobey was an average returner.  The rest didn't do squat.
  • Seth Joyner looking like an imbecile as Steve Bono runs by him for a 76 yard TD
  • Bill Gramatica tearing his ACL while celebrating a made field goal.  No it wasn't a game winner.
  • Buddy Ryan's infamous entrance, "You've got a winner in town."
  • Buddy Ryan's infamous exit, he left before the end of the game.
  • Buddy Ryan placing Ricky Proehl and Steve Beuerlein in the expansion draft instead of players that couldn't actually play. 
  • The countless numbers of games the Cardinals lost in the fourth quarter based soley on using prevent defense.  The most famous, blowing a 16 point lead with 7 minutes to go against San Francisco.
  • Simeon Rice bolting for Tampa Bay calling Arizona the "armpit of the NFL".  He later won the defensive player of the year.
  • Thomas Jones breaking his hand while "answering a phone".
  • Ken Whisenhunt dumping Matt Leinert because Derek Anderson could run the team better.
  • I can't remember which game, but I swear the Cardinals had a game where the other team called for an instant review to assess whether the pass was a completion.  The ref came out and after the review threw the flag against the Cards.  He saw illegal contact while looking at the instant replay.  Only the Cards.
  • In 1996, the Jets go 1-15.  Their only win, against the Cards.  Adrian Murrell runs for big yardage, so naturally the Cards traded for him the next year.
  • In 2010, the Panthers go 2-14.  One of their wins, against the Cards.
  • Leonard Davis getting called for a false start on the Rams 5-yard line with 7 seconds left down 5 points.  One ten second run-off later, the Cards lose.
  • Joe Bugel vs. the Ultimatum
  • The hiring of Dave McGinnis to motivate the Cards to go 19-45 during his tenure.
  • Give Jake Plummer more money than he actually asked for. 
  • Taking $15 out of a players paycheck because the Cardinals used Fedex to give it to him.
That's good for now.  I'll add an addendum when my buddy James calls to tell me 20 more.

They don't need a new QB.

Still frustrated by all this talk about the Cardinals desperately needing a QB, I went out blogging for other guys thoughts on the situation.  All the ones I read had the same phrases in them: the Cardinals need a new QB badly, QB is the top priority this offseason, the Cardinals suck, and I miss Kurt Warner.  O.K., I agree with the latter two.  But the very fiber of my being opposes the first two statements, which are essentially the same idea.  The Cardinals absolutely do not, I repeat do not, need to go get a new QB as a top priority.  I can even make an argument that they could have gone to the playoffs last year with D.A. starting every game.  But let me focus in on the idea that the Cards desperately need a new QB.  I'm a stats guy so let me state my position by hitting the numbers.

The 2010 Cards threw four QBs at us: Derek Anderson, Max Hall, John Skelton, and some guy that backed up Daunte Culpepper in the UFL).  Since none of them really stood out that much, let's lump all their stats into one.  Yes, that's one awful QB.  And for discussion's sake, if I mention another team I'm going by team stats rather than one individual.  

The first stat that makes me want to vomit is the total percentage of pass plays.  Since there's only two types of plays on offense (pass and run), the two numbers have to equal 100%.  (I'm sure someone will call me out on this, but whatever).  The Cardinals threw the ball 64% of the time and ran the ball 36% of the time.  Let's just focus on that 64 passing percentage.  To put this in perspective the Superbowl Champs, Green Bay, threw it 56% and the Pittsburgh Steelers 50%.  New England: 54%  Indi: 63% New Orleans: 63%  That means the Cardinals threw the ball 8% more than the pass happy Packers.  If G.B. is pass happy then what does that make Indi and N.O.?  And the Cards actually threw more than they did.  Also, those five teams have at least one thing in common: a really good QB.  It makes sense that they'd throw as much as they do then.  So maybe Big Ben doesn't belong in there.  Fine.  Maybe thats why the Steelers throw the ball less than the other four.  Now if those teams have stars at QB and the Cards have less than squat, why do the Cards throw more than them?  Wouldn't it make sense for the Cards to throw less than any of these teams?  Even Pittsburgh.  If they throw the ball 50% for Big Ben how much should the Cardinals throw with what they've got?  Coach Whiz asked his QB's to throw like the other superstars in the league and then when they didn't he threw them under the bus saying, well they didn't execute.  That's like telling Josh Childress to shoot most of the jump shots for the Suns and then reaming him because he didn't execute.  Well no crap he didn't execute.  He can't shoot.  You're a moron for asking him to.  I don't blame the Cards QB's for the rediculous percentage of pass plays.  That's on coach Whiz.

Now let's compare the Cards to some other successful teams that didn't throw the ball very well.  The Raiders went 8-8 last year and surprised the crud out of me.  I thought for sure they were gonna win only 2.  The Chiefs, another major surprise, went 10-6 and had a good sniff of the playoffs.  The Jets went 11-5 and are looking like anything less then the Superbowl is a dissapointment.  All these teams had one stat in common: pass completion percentage.  They were all in the bottom ten: K.C at 58% ranked 24th, Oakland at 57% ranked 28th, and the Jets at 55% ranked 30th.  The Cardinals were 51% and dead last in the rankings.  And worse, they were a full 2% points behind Carolina (yes, that Carolina).  In statistics, you might call the Cards an outlier.  Kinda like the planet Pluto.  All these teams had bad things happening at QB this year.  K.C. and the Jets at least had the same guy look bad.  Oakland was similar to Az. when they ran out Campbell, and Gratkowski.  Yet this is the thing that blows me away about those three other teams.  Going back to the percent of rushing plays from the second paragraph: K.C. ran the ball 54% of the time, Oakland 64%, and the Jets a whopping 65%.  Compare that to the Cards 36%.  You see, those teams get it.  When your QB sucks, don't throw.  Instead of trying to fit a bad QB into a system designed for a Hall of Famer, just hand the ball off and let your line do the work.  And don't try to sell me that those three teams had studs at RB to start the season. Only Shonn Green was supposed to be good and he sucked so bad he almost single handedly destroyed my FFB season.  (Ironically, Jamaal Charles and D. McFadden saved it).  I love that these three teams take the ball out of the QB's hands and give it to the RB behind the O line.  At worst you run the clock down and beat up their Defense while resting yours.  At best you set up play action and give your bad QB a chance to throw to someone open downfield.  Coach Whiz refused to help his QB's out with run support.  Instead he just tried to force his players into his offense, rather than make an offense that compliments his players.  That's either stubborn or stupid.  And that'll win you 5 games in the leagues worst division.

So what if you put D.A. on the Raiders.  Would they be much worse?  I bet they'd be about the same. Gratkowski and Campbell probably won't be in the league much longer.  Maybe the Chiefs and Jets would be worse, but I don't think by that much. 

Question: who would you rather have at QB: a) Dennis Dixon and Charlie Batch, or b) Derek Anderson and Max Hall?  If you answered c) Neither, then you answered correctly.  However, Pittsburgh in their first four games were without Big Ben due to a suspension for being an idiot.  So they ran Dixon and Batch out as fill in.  Steeler fans were hoping to at least go 1-3 and then try to recover the season when Ben got back.  In game one of the season they ran the ball 57% of the time against a 13-3 Atlanta team and won.  The second game they ran 65% against the Titans and won.  Game 3 they ran 65% against the 10-6 Bucs and won.  In game 4 they ran against the staunch 12-4 Ravens 54% and they lost. (They only lost because Jeff Reed missed two 40+ FG's towards the end)   With two bad QB's the Steelers game plan was to run the football behind that line and let the QB's throw some to maintain some balance. Lo and behold Batch and Dixon get the Steelers to 3-1 without Ben.  Does that mean the Cardinals need to run out and get those two guys?  They'd probably be dumb enough to do that.(Actually, there were rumors about getting Batch)  Obviously it means that if a team like the Steelers can put the offensive game squarely on the shoulders of the RB's and the O-line then why couldn't the Cards?  You might argue that they don't nearly have the talent that Pitt does.  O.K. but is that because they are less talented or because they never got the opportunity to run that offense?  Even if they weren't as talented as the Steelers, I bet you they're better than Oakland or K.C.  At the beginning of the season everyone was raving that this offensive line is the deepest and one of the more talented ones in the league.  But then they threw the ball 64% and told them to play against their strengths.  (I feel bad for Alan Faneca.  Man did he pick the wrong team to come to.  We forced him to retire.) 

So the question remains, do the Cards desperately need a new QB?  If they are going to throw the ball 64% of the time then I say a resounding YES.  But who's out there that can succeed throwing that much? Kolb? Bulger? Hasselbeck? Orton?  Hill?  (I might go for Carson Palmer, but he sure hasn't looked good for a while.)  C'mon. Not even Peyton Manning or Drew Brees threw that much.  Now, let's say they wised up and modeled their team after one of the aforementioned teams and ran the ball 55% or more.  Well then, and let me be bold in this statement.  If they had done that in 2010 with all the same players and Derek Anderson at QB, even then I say they win the division and make a third straight playoff appearance.  And I'm not saying much, because that division is considered the worst in the history of football.  They only needed to win essentially 2 more games.  And if they had, what would we be talking about?  Here you go, we'd be saying how smart coach Whiz was to modify the system to play to the strengths of his players.  Sure, we'd also be saying that they need to improve the QB position, but without the intense desperation. 

So what should the Cards do?  Simple.  Coach Whiz needs to change his offensive philosophy to a more conventional run oriented one. (that he ironically ran before Kurt Warner)  He needs to build an offensive line that fits that  run orientation. (4 out of the 5 starters last year would be considered a more run oriented type of lineman anyway)  Then go lowball one of those veteran QB's and start him till they think Skelton is ready.  While running the ball this takes the pressure away from that position and gives Skelton a chance to ease into the role.  They certainly don't need to fret so much if Larry Fitzgerald doesn't get a ton of catches.  I don't see Hines Ward complaining about his Hall of Fame career in Pittsburgh. Now that they've committed to Ryan Williams they need to run him between the tackles and hope he hangs on to the football. (ahem Timmy and Beanie)   And this hopefully rests the defense and gives them new life after the dreadful year they had last year. (in which I fully blame Bill Davis)  Will they then be an amazing football team?  No.  Well, maybe no.  At best they have a chance to be like the Chiefs or Jets, which is pretty darn good.   But it would be a far cry better than what they did last year.  And it won't take a drastic change at QB.  But it will take a drastic change from a very good head coach.

*A couple of other interesting stats I found:

The Cards four highest percentage of run plays were 50% against the Raiders, 47% against Denver, 46% against Dallas, and 45% against the Saints.  All four games the Cardinals won.  Their only other win was against the Rams; they ran 33% of the time.  In that game Derek Anderson played well and Sam Bradford played like it was his first start ever. (It was). 

They went 3-2 in games when the QB threw no interceptions.