Monday, September 26, 2011

Cards vs. Seattle 9/25/11

I'm not going to spend much time on this blog today for two reasons; 1) I'm only going to say what I've said for 19 games in a row and 2) I'm going to vomit if I talk about this much longer.  The Cardinals lost to easily the worst team in football.  Yes, the Vikings and Jaguars are bad, but this Seattle team is a special kind of bad.  At least the Vikings and Jags have a semblence of a running game.  But this Seattle team was a special kind of useless, averaging 47 yards rushing per game.  And yes, that puts them dead last.  Oh but wait, here come those Cards.  They give up 122 yards on 30 carries and make them look like a real NFL team.  On top of that they make Tarvaris Jackson look like a D rated QB, and not the F- that he really is.  They make the Seattle D look like world beaters.  They deserved to lose and are a bottom five team in the NFL.  Again. And Ken Whisenhunt should be firmly planted on the hot seat.

Kevin Kolb played 2 different halves.  The first half he was as usual.  He was very accurate and lead his team well.  They ran some no huddle and had moderate success.  However, his pass to Fitz in the 2nd quarter was unquestionably stupid.  I know its Fitz, but he got lucky that wasn't picked off. The second half he was... well lets just say my two year old had to leave the room because Daddy was yelling at the T.V., slapping the couch, and screaming into a pillow.  I don't know what happened out there today, but either the Seattle secondary played the half of their lives, the Cardinals receivers couldn't get open, or Kolb was blinded by the half shadowed field and couldn't find them.  He would have made Kurt Warner cringe at how long he held the ball to find a receiver.  All to often he avoided the pocket and made errant throws.  He was just plain bad.  He missed Doucet once and, as the announcers pointed out, no one was within 15 yards of him.   He's going to try to shoulder the blame for this one, and for sure he owns a good chunk of it, but I'm done blaming the players for this train wreck. 

Chester looked old.  He's done.  I'd cut him now and pick up a younger player out there.  Alfonso Smith hit holes hard.  He has great speed.  He looks like a poor man's Chris Johnson.  He showed O.K. hands and picked up the blitzes pretty well.  As for Beanie, who was hurt... again, it's time to close the curtain on this one.  He's too unreliable health wise and fumble wise.

WRs couldn't get open all day.  At some point it is either personel or scheme.  I'd say a little of both.  The TEs were used somewhat downfield, but nothing amazing.  Kolb and Fitz still have great chemistry.

The line was both good and bad.  Levi Brown needs a TE pinned to his side to help.  He's useless in pass protection.  Although Kolb didn't help by not stepping up into the hole which has got to be frustrating for a lineman.  However they did make holes for Smith and showed promise although once again the run was hardly used.  Not a bad job today.  Plus, with as long as Kolb held the ball int he 2nd half they were blocking the snot out of Seattle.

D line looked great again.  Calais had the 2.5 sacks and Dockett was disruptive.  I thought they exploded off the line better in the 2nd half as they did a much better job of blowing up the run plays.  Campbell was everywhere. 

I asked my friend to count this time, just to prove that I wasn't crazy, how many times LB's overran their gaps.  He counted 7 in the first half, which is essentially what I got.  And its the whole corps that looks bad.  In the 2nd, though, they looked much better.  Stewart Bradley shouldn't be playing though against the run yet.  He looks lost.  He's fine in coverage. In fact they should move him to safety and put A.W. at LB. 

Jefferson looks better and better every week.  He's really hanging with the WRs.  Peterson looks O.K., but someone needs to tell me why they hang back 10 yards off of the WRs.  I mean, the point of this D is to put pressure on the QB.  So the logically counter attack would be to make quick throws.  So don't you want the CBs bumping at the line and disrupting the play?  I guess they aren't good enough yet, but they gave up a lot of first downs because they gave up so much space.  I didn't see much of Rhodes today.  A.W. wasn't totally terrible.  That Rice catch was a freak catch.  A.W. made a monster edge setter in the 1st.  He needs to be closer to the line.  (Is there an echo?)

Special teams was a sour topic today.  Feely missed two big kicks but both were into swirling winds.  I don't blame him for today.  A.J. looked solid on kickoffs.  He should take one to the house this year.

I know I beat this stat to death, but I think its important.  The Cards threw the ball 60% of the time today, and that's misleading because Kolb scrambled 3 times (so actually its 64%)  And they lost again, essentially bringing their total to 0-13 when throwing 60% or more.  I'll say it again.  This team has to run the ball to be consistant.  They controlled the game when they ran the ball.  And since they don't have Kolb up to the level of a Brady or Manning or Rodgers they need to take the pressure off him by running. 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Ken Whisenhunt Report Card

This pains me to admit, because I have defended him since day 1, but up to this point Ken Whisenhunt has been a bad head football coach.  He has no idea how to run an offense without Bill Cowher or Kurt Warner.  He makes no commitment to running the football, and when he finally does, its at the wrong time.  He's never been better than 28th in rushing in the league.  He forced D.A., Hall, Skelton, and Bartell on us last year and had them throw the ball more than 2/3 of the time.  Matt Leinert got worse here.  Outside of Kurt Warner, no QBs have ever gotten better.  His offensive line never gets better.  Last year experts were raving that this line was deep and going to be good.  Instead they turned out to be horrible.  He never used his TEs, and then when he finally does he goes and gets three of them.  Sure the WR have done O.K.  But Fitz is going to be great no matter what.  And Q was going to be tough no matter what.  And Breaston ran from here to the guy that he thought was the real reason he was successful:  Todd Haley.    

Apart from the magical run to the Superbowl, he can't get a team to stop the run either.  He's hired lame Defensive Coordinators in Pendergast and Davis.  And while I like Horton, it appears that he is also falling victim to the curse here.  A.W. gets worse by the week and never sees the bench and I'm starting to see signs that Paris Lenon and Rhodes, the two guys that came outside of the organization last year, are starting to come apart.  So if DRC plays undisciplined last year and you trade him, then what do you do when your entire team does? 

Coach Whiz has shown nothing apart from Warner.  His players play undisciplined and their seems to be little or no consequence when they do.  His teams are plagued with penalties and turnovers.  He loses games that very few could.  It was Seattle today, it was Seattle, S.F. and Carolina last year.  It will continue.  This team won't turn the corner.  They will just keep us on edge thinking that they have only to prove the next week they really haven't. 

 I used to think it was both Whiz and Kurt who turned the franchise around.  Instead, it appears the it was only Kurt, and he's gone now.  That leaves us seeing Whiz for what he really is.  A calm coach who thinks that you have to throw to win no matter who's at QB.  Defense isn't all that important.  And it's the players fault for not executing.  Well, who put those players in that position?  And the big question: why aren't your players getting better?

This franchise has had a long run at being inept.  You can never tell if the coach or player is really bad untill they leave.  It turns out that every head coach here died on the vine.  Tobin, Buddy, and Denny never coached again.  Bugel and Coach Mac coached limited roles.  Head coaching here is a career killer.  I truly wished that Ken Whisenhunt would escape the trap, but it doesn't look like its going to turn out that way.  I've seen nothing in the last 19 games to indicate that he's going to figure it out.  Going on that, he'll finish 5-11 again and get fired at the end of the year.  Only to be replaced by the next guy this franchise will destroy.  From 1976 to 2007 they only went to the playoffs once. (minus that strike year)  Sadly we might be looking at another 30 year run.  

Same old Cards

They're back.  That old team that made you believe they could do something only to rip defeat from the jaws of victory are alive and well.  Losing to the worst team in football logically makes you the worst team.  There is no explanation as to why they lost to this dreadful Seahawks team other than "they are who we thought they were." 

Friday, September 23, 2011

Bracing for embarassment

I don't know about you, but I get the sense that the Cards are ripe for a loss to the worst team in the NFL.  They should beat the woeful Seahawks by 3 or 4 TD's, but when do the Cards actually do what they should do?  I'm guessing that Tarvaris Jackson will look like a real NFL QB only to be abysmal for the rest of the year.  Of course, he'll look good again against the Cards late in the season.  If Lynch has a big game all us Cards fans should jump off the proverbial bridge.  The Hawks O-line is lousy.  Lynch currently has 44 rushing yards on 19 carries in 2 games.  In case you suck at math, that's pretty bad.

My friend who's a huge fan of Seattle will be pissed if the Hawks win.  He just ordered his Andrew Luck Seahawks jersey.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Cards vs. Washington 9/18/11

I'm not one to really ever give credit to the other team.  And no, I'm certainly not going to start now.  The Cardinals played terrible.  Shoot, this whole game was awful.  The officiating was unprofessional. (how many times did they call the wrong number?  And I swear I saw a ball bounce 2 feet in front of a receiver and they called it a catch)  And the commentators must have been practicing with the Cards all week, because they were just as unprepared.  I mean they didn't even say anything when the Cards blocked a FG.  One time they actually said that "Whisenhunt likes to run the ball."  What the?  What team did you prepare for?  This team hasn't "liked to run the ball" since Ronald Moore days.

I guess you can chalk this one up as another terrible east coast game, or another game where they threw the ball too much, or another game where the linebackers overpursued their gap and got slammed by the cutback.  This game reminded me a lot of last year, minus a crappy QB.  I just don't get it.  When is Whisenhunt going to learn that you actually have to run the ball more than just one quarter?  Wait, let me do a quick stat check...  Okay they threw the ball 69% of the time.  69%!  Which of course means they only ran the ball 31% of the time.  Oh and they ran the ball 3 times in the first half.  3 times!  Which of course lead to them getting off the field quick, which gave Washington the ball who actually ran the ball a lot and at one point had the ball for 18 minutes while the Cards had it for 2.  2!  (those exclamation marks are real, I'm actually yelling). 

Just to clarify, for the 20th time, the Cards suck when they throw that much.  I mean they suck bad.  In the last 12 games in which the Cardinals threw the ball 60% or more they are 0-12.  Contrast that with that in the last 5 games in which they threw less than 60%, they are 5-0.  How freaking obvious is this?  (Sorry, my daughter just scolded me for saying freaking, aka the 'f''word)

Kevin Kolb played well again.  He threw for just under 60% completion.  This would have been higher if account for the dropped balls.  He made good reads and took a monster hit to get the ball to Fitz for the 73 yard TD.  One thing I did see that was troublesome.  He has way too much confidence in that O-line.  He held on to the ball too long some times and paid for it.  I love his guts, but he has to get rid of that ball sooner.  Even just to throw it away.  We need him around for the long haul. 

How much longer is Russ Grimm referred to as a good coach?  His line has leaks everywhere.  Levi Brown and Brandon Keith appear to be getting worse.  I know Washington blitzed a lot, but so did we and we didn't get that kind of pressure on their QB.  These are the wrong guys for this offense.  If they are going to throw so much then send these guys to the Jets, Ravens, Steelers, or even Atlanta where they can do somebody some good.  They just can't pass block.  I wish they would actually run with them, because I think they would tear it up, but that just doesn't seem to be in the plans.  Right now the Cards are in a pass oriented offense with run oriented linemen.  That makes no sense.  I don't blame Grimmy for the play calling.  I blame Grimmy for not slapping Whiz on the back of the head and telling him to wake up.

Jeff King made another huge TD play.  At this rate he'll have 16 TD's by the end of the year.  The WR looked average.  Fitz was a monster like usual with his 133 yards and a 73 yard TD.  But the others looked lost.  Roberts and Doucet missed some gimme passes with 13 targets, but only 5 receptions for exactly 10 yards per catch.  Stuckey fumbled that ball at the end.  I guy with that name should never fumble.

Beanie was the great again.  14 carries for 93 yards.  I'm pretty sure most of it came in the 3rd Quarter when the Cards actually played real football.  He ran well inside and of course ran well outside.  He had good vision and some more highlight stiff-arms.  But, and this is a big but... someone needs to teach that dude how to stay balanced because he falls down a lot.  My buddy always texts me that the grass tripped Beanie again.  He would have had way more yards if he could just keep his feet.

The D line looked good again.  I like the pressure they get on the QB without the help of their LB's. Calais and Dockett had 5 QB hits together and no sacks.  I wish they could get to the QB more, but I think the LB's haven't given them enough help to free them up. 

All last year I was yelling at the Bill Davis through the T.V. to teach his LB's some discipline.  How many times last year did the LB's run past their assigned gap because they over pursued the run only to have the RB make one cut back for a big gain?  I don't know either, but it was a lot.  I saw it again today in the 1st, 2nd, and 4th quarter.  For some unexplained reason, they actually played well in the 3rd.  Oh wait, nevermind.  I know why.  Because the offense actually ran the ball in the 3rd allowing the D to get rest. Which of course meant that when they were in the game they didn't feel like they needed to make a big play to get them off the field.  Hightower must have been drueling when he saw them on the schedule.  Cut backs galore.  I thought Porter, Haggans, Lenon, and partly Bradley cost them this game with their poor play.

Well at least the good news is that the DB's played better.  They actually held a QB to under 300 yards passing.  And considering what's happened these first two weeks, that's an actual achievement.  Look, the two rookies played O.K.  PP21 still doesn't seem to trust that the D line is going to put pressure on the QB, because he gives up too much space.  But all in all, they played well enough to keep them in the game.  Rhodes was a man on fire... again.  This guys just keeps showing up and makes big plays.  I'm convinced though that A.W. should never drop back into pass coverage again.  Yes, I saw the INT.  But did you see him give up another big TD to Moss?  He just isn't ready to be back there for whatever reason.  Although I hesitate to be too critical, as the entire NFL DB's are getting torched.  But I'm talking in isolation here.  He just isn't playing well back there.  He needs to be close to the line and getting after the QB. 

Calais Campbell is tall.  And has long arms.  And is a freak of nature athletically.  And is a monster at blocking FG's.  The rest of the special teams was okie dokie.  The rookie DB's put together a couple of nice run backs.

In a game where the Skins had the ball 66% of the game, this score was misleading.  If Grossman didn't suck so bad, this might have been a lot worse.  The Cards stunk the place up in the first half and were only down 3 points.  They shouldn't have been in the game after that.  I like that they were anyway.  I'm glad this was close.  But this one falls on coach Whiz once again for not committing to the run and leaving his D out there way too long. 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Cards vs. Carolina 9/11/11

What a difference a year makes.  Last year at this time, the Cardinals had just barely won a game against the St. Louis Rams 17-13.  Derek Anderson threw for 297 yards and 1 TD on 22/41 (54%) and a QB rating of 85.1.  Many of his misses were 10 feet away from the nearest receiver.  They ended up running the ball on 33% of the total plays.  You left the game feeling like, "I sure hope they don't throw the ball that much every game with D.A."  Ahhhh, false hopes.  A Cardinal mainstay.

Warp ahead a year later and you get another Cardinal win against Carolina 28-21.  Kevin Kolb throws for 309 yards and 2 TDs on 18/27 (67%) and a QB rating of 130.0.  He played a very good game and made some Kurt Warner like quick reads.  One to Early Doucet went 70 yards on a big play.  However this time they ran the ball 46% of the total plays.  There was good balance throughout the game.  Play action was far more believable and they seemed to gain some rythem from it. 

There is no doubt Kolb is a gigantic upgrade from last year.  He looks like he knows how to spread the ball around.  He took 7 shots at Fitz, but could only connect on 3 of them as he was double teamed for most of the game.  The other WR and TE seemed to pick up the slack and Kolb found them often.  His 67 completion percentage is dreamy as was his no INTs.  He looked lost on a couple of plays in which he prematurely jumped out of the pocket.  However he did get rid of the ball better than he did in preseason to alleviate too many needless hits.  On one play he avoided the rush to find Jeff King wide open for a 48 yard TD.  He is making plays with his head first and then his feet.  An amazing commodity to have at QB.

(Sidenote:  If Cam Newton continues to play like he did today, I'm gonna look like an idiot for saying he's "the next Vince Young only smarter".  Vince Young, heck, he looked more like Steve Young.)

The RBs in last years game had 20 carries for 103 yards and 1TD, while this year they had 21 carries for 100 yards and 1TD.  When looking at those numbers there seems to be little to no difference.  And yet anyone that watched the game knows that wasn't the case.  As I mentioned earlier this year they ran the ball 46% of the time as opposed to last year at 33%.   (Last year they only ran the ball 46% or more on three occasions: Oakland, Denver, and Dallas.  All three were Cardinal wins)  They had a more balanced attack and actually established the run early.  Every QB wants a good run game to take off the heat on his receivers.  That's just what happened.  Beanie ran well, and too my utter surprise, ran the ball off center on numerous occasions.  Last year he bumped too many plays outside.  It was nice to see a more direct attack from the RB position to set up the play action.  I would be remiss if I didn't mention Beanie's huge fumble in the red zone.  That dude has terrible ball security and refuses to fix it.  I'm wondering if we'll see a good dose of Chester Taylor some time soon to send a message. 

The O-Line held well.  Levi Brown gave up some sacks, but for the most part they looked good.  They gave Beanie a couple of huge holes to run through, especially on the goal line.  That should build his confidence in them to trust running up the gut.  We'll see if they stick to that.  Pass protection wasn't bad. 

The WR and TE did a great job today.  Last year 6 receivers caught 2-4 completions and this year 6 receivers caught 2-4 completions.  The major, and I stress major, difference is that there were 41 balls thrown last year as opposed to 27 this year.  Also D.A. missed guys by a mile, I swear one went 10 feet above Fitz's head, leaving the whole squad with an enormous lack of confidence.  Kolb place the balls well and at least a couple were catchable balls that the receivers dropped.  Still, they made huge plays when needed.  The stats tell the tale; Doucet with a 70 yard TD, King with a 48 yard TD, and Fitz with a big 34 yard 3rd down conversion. 

Special Teams were money again.  All last year they gave the Cards a chance to win some games.  This year it was Patrick Peterson's 89 yard game winning TD.  The Hyphen gave them two good returns which is admireable this year with the new kickoff spot.

The D line looked great again.  Again the stats: Carolina ran the ball  27 times for 74 yards for 2.7 yd/carry and a TD.  The longest carry was Stewart's 13 yards scamper.  That is good solid run D.  They put pressure on Newton all day forcing him out of the pocket.  Both Carter and Dan Williams made big plays while Dockett and Campbell made themselves known.  However, this D thrives on the line getting pressure and sacks on the QB.  Zero sacks isn't satisfactory and it exposed Patrick Peterson today.  While I'm happy with some of it, I'm afraid I feel like it wasn't good enough.

The LB corps played very well.  For being the supposed weak spot of this team they sure seemed to play unaware of that opinion.  Darryl Washington was a monster with a .5 sack 7 tackles, one for a loss, a pass deflected and a big INT.  He would have had to INTs but the ref saw something no one else on the planet saw when he called Marshall for a bad hit on Newton.  A few plays later the Panthers scored a TD. After the game Whiz said he was never told what the call was.  It was one of those plays that the Cardinals used to fold under.  This year Washington just came up with a bigger play.  Porter had one dumb offsides at the end with no harm done thanks to Paris Lenon (again).  The rest of the game he was his former self putting tons of pressure on Newton (1 sack and 2 QB hits)  Schofield some plays.  Paris Lenon, once again, quietly lead the team in tackles and had a sack and a game saving tackle.  Ho - hum for the most underated LB in football.

The Defensive Backs were dreadful in this game.  And trust me, I'm not saying that because I thought Cam wouldn't be very good, and instead was a nightmare.  I give Cam all the credit in the world for looking like a real NFL QB.  In fact, after this game, he might have won a little part of me over.(but that's no different than Vince Young)  No, I mean the cornerbacks played aweful.  Correction: Peterson played aweful.  He was rarely within 3 yards of his receiver and gave up huge plays left and right.  He must learn to stay closer or we're looking at another Antrel Rolle.  That is, eventually he'll move to safety.  This team needs good corners to stick with receivers.  They don't have to stay long, but longer than PP21 did today.  Jefferson played well enough against a scrub WR.  A.W. made a good appearance, but once again Rhodes outshone him.  Yes, I know Rhodes gave up a huge TD by letting Steve Smith get by him.  Although it looked like A.W. was supposed to give help over the top.  Even with that he was a stud out there.  7 tackles, a sack, a QB hit and a tackle for a loss.  He continues to play tough and lead this backfield.    

All in all, not a bad game considering the offseason.  Also we should consider that this is a better Carolina team than the one that beat the Cards last year.  They are showing they are not the 5-11 team last year.  The Cards do need improvement in most areas, but its a far cry better than this time last year.  (Also, I am elated that they looked up the word 'balance' in the dictionary.)

Friday, September 2, 2011

Final roster

My quick thoughts on the final roster cuts:

Is it just me, or does the RB group seem rediculously thin?  After Beanie, you have Hyphen, who is not an every down back, and Alfonso Smith.  Sherman is a great keeper for special teams and, "wink-wink", fullback.  But if... err.. when Beanie goes down is Hyphen going to be the full time back?  I guess when you only run the ball 15 times a game they can easily split that.  I guess this actually makes sense since Whiz doesn't like to run the ball any more.  I mean why stack a position that you don't use?

I've heard of overcompensation but the TE position is over the top.  I mean how many TE do you need?  King, Housler, and Heap make sense to keep.  I'm not sure why they are so hung up on keeping Dray?  His fate was decided the day they signed Heap. 

I'm stunned Stuckey made the team.  Yes, he played well against Denver.  But c'mon, that was a preseason game against the 2nd worst team last year.  And oh yeah, it was against their 2nd and 3rd and 4th string.  Wait, what am I thinking.  I keep forgetting that this team refuses to run the ball, so it makes perfect sense to have 6 WR when you're going to throw all the time.  When Max Komar gets healthy I think Stuckey gets cut.  I love the 5 others they're keeping though.  Good group with a future ahead of them. 

As for the rest: I'm not sad to see anyone go.  Well, I would say I'm sad to see Ben Graham go, but being sad about losing a punter is like being sad that Trapper left M.A.S.H. early in the series.  He just wasn't that important to the show and was easily replaceable.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The death of an all time great

I remember when I heard Wallace and Ladmo was going off the air.  It was like hearing the president died.  All those mornings watching cartoons and skits with Pat McMahon and laughing till it hurt came rolling back.  I would watch as I ate my Froot Loops and get every second of viewing time in before I had to bolt out the door and race off to school.  I remember thinking that if I could just get one Ladmo Bag, I would be the coolest kid in school. I would have probably carried it like a lunch sack and when the pretty girl asked me what was I carrying, I'd nonchalantly say "Its just my lunch...huh... wait, how'd that get there?  I must have switched this LADMO BAG for my lunch."  I think that one usually ended with me being carried off the playground by all the kids while that kid I hated stood by himself on the black top suffering miserably at my exhaltation.  Needless to say, Wallace and Ladmo was a major part of my childhood. 

Warp ahead 30 years; now I'm a big kid in my truck driving home from work and laughing along as my new favorite show is entertaining me to the hilt.  Except this time its on the radio.  People drive by me and wonder what I'm laughing at, and sometimes I'm sure they're wondering what I'm yelling at.  I park my truck on the side of my house and stay just a bit longer and eek out every second before I race off into the house to go be a dad.  Gone are the cartoons, replaced by sports talk radio.  Gone is Wallace and Ladmo, replaced by Gambo and Ash. 

I've been following them since I don't know how long.  They were on some other channels before 910, but that's where they hooked me.  My friends and I would listen every day after work and then go grab a beer and go off on how stupid Gambo is, or get into a heated debate about the worst QB in Cardinals history.  (that one is a sure fire fist fight starter).  Everything we would talk about in the bar would have something to do with what they brought up in the show.  Listening to that show was like listening to a couple of old friends talk about sports.  The only difference was Gambo was the king of inside information, while Ash was the perfect calm to Gambo's storm.  They were amazing at stretching a topic for hours and squeezing every bit off life out of it that they could.  I sat right along with them and enjoyed every minute.  They also were the best interviewers I've ever heard in sports.  I'm not exaggerating.  They make all the "professionals" on T.V. look like children.  I remember Bob Costas praising them to the highest on their professionalism.  My all time favorite interview was when the talked to Pete Rose about baseball for like an hour and not once bringing up betting on baseball.  It was so refreshing.  Yep, Gambo and Ash was my favorite show, not just on radio, but it beat out almost all T.V. as well.

And then they killed it.

I'm still not sure what happened.  KTAR was silent on it, except for a condescending statement that "We just needed to shake things up".  I'm not sure why the number one sports radio show needs shaking up, but there it was.  No more show.  Now I'm left with nothing else to listen to.  I'm left with feeling like a kid that just lost Wallace and Ladmo.