Cardinals escape Seahawks’ late rally, no thanks to officials

Kevin Kolb

No one in Arizona had much use for Kevin Kolb during the preseason, but they’re loving him now. Kolb came off the bench when John Skelton was carted off with an ankle injury in the fourth quarter. The Cardinals were trailing 16-13 at the time, but Kolb calmly led them down the field and hit Andre Roberts with a six-yard pass to make the score 20-16. It would hold up, but not without some drama.

Seattle drove the ball down inside the five thanks to two pass interference penalties on the Cardinals and a couple of nice plays by Russell Wilson. That’s when all hell threatened to break loose. The Seahawks called a timeout after a Marshawn Lynch run, which the officials granted even though it seemed to everyone else on the planet that they didn’t have any timeouts left. They had called two before Doug Baldwin was banged up while dropping what could have been the game-winning pass in the end zone.

The officials explained that the Seahawks had a timeout left because the clock stopped on the incompletion, which is an incorrect interpretation of the rules. When a player is injured in the last two minutes of the game, there is supposed to be a timeout charged to his team. That should have led to the referees ignoring their timeout requests, but it didn’t.

Luckily for the league, it became something of a moot point since the Cardinals held on the final three plays as Wilson fired incomplete three times to end the contest. The refs had a fine weekend overall, but it would have been a big story if the last game of the afternoon was decided in part by an officiating blunder. Read more…

NFC teams that will struggle the most in 2012

Kevin Kolb Injures His Chest Against the Saints

Succeeding in the NFL is difficult: It takes the right combination of talent and effort, as well as a little bit of luck. It’s relatively easy to pick the teams that are going to find success in the conference. Teams like the 49ers and Packers are a lock to win ten or more games and make the playoffs, but for other teams in the NFC the mountain is going to be a much more difficult one to climb. These are three of those teams.

Arizona Cardinals

In this year’s Hall of Fame Game against the New Orleans Saints, the Cardinals trotted out Kevin Kolb. He promptly threw an interception, completed one pass and went down with a chest injury. In their next preseason game, this time against the Chiefs, Kolb and John Skelton combined to complete four out of eleven passes with one interception.

This quarterback issue has been Arizona’s problem ever since Kurt Warner retired, and the team just has not found a way to properly address it. The trade of Kevin Kolb might have provided some relief, but Kolb has largely failed to impress. Skelton is serviceable as a backup, but he doesn’t look like a starting quarterback.

Combine this with a lack of depth – the offense has little to offer besides Larry Fitzgerald and Beanie Wells – and it’s easy to see why Arizona is going to struggle. Ken Whisenhunt is a fine coach. The proper pieces just aren’t in place to be able to execute any sort of game plan. Read more here…

2012 NFL teams with quarterback issues

Blaine Gabbert

Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

On any given NFL roster, you will find a little over fifty players, and out of those fifty players, you can typically expect three quarterbacks. Assuming an NFL roster is precisely 52 strong, quarterbacks amount to roughly 6% of a roster. During this past offseason, NFL.com polled a bevy of current players to compile a list of the elite 100 players in the league today. On that list, there were 13 quarterbacks to be found. That’s 13%, which is more than double (I hope you could have done that math without my assistance). There is no more visible position in the modern National Football League than that of quarterback. More than ever, the league is particularly pass happy. Many commentators would agree that a team’s chances to win a Super Bowl are next to nil without an elite gunslinger under center. Of course, not every team has an elite QB to start. Some teams still don’t know is indeed going to start, even though the season is only weeks away.

Here are five of those teams.

Miami Dolphins
For 17 seasons, this Miami franchise was lucky enough to have one of the game’s all-time greats, Dan Marino, in the prime position. Those days are long gone, and right now the Dolphins are trying to decide between three solid, yet unspectacular quarterbacks. There are three competitors, all of whom represent a different time in the career spectrum. There’s recently acquired veteran David Garrard, who brings an above-average rushing game to the mix. Last year’s starter Matt Moore proved uneven; some games the ball constantly found its way to the end zone, other games it made its being fumbled to the ground. My bet is that rookie Ryan Tannehill, who has been spectacular in training camp and supremely dedicated, may not start week one, but he’ll end the season with the gig.  Read More…

Knocking out Kolb would have netted Ellis 1,500

2012 Pro Football Hall of Fame Game

When defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis dragged down Arizona quarterback Kevin Kolb, causing him to leave the game with what turned out to be a bruised chest muscle, Ellis accomplished a $1,500 “knockout” in the now-defunct vernacular of former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.  (If Kolb had returned, it would have simply been a $1,000 “cart-off.”)

It’s a great opportunity for the league to use its various media platforms to send a clear message to all media and fans that this is precisely the kind of play for which the Saints were punished:  A clean, legal hit that resulted in an opponent leaving the game.

The fact that the league didn’t pounce on the opportunity to let us all know that this is exactly what the league punished the Saints for makes us even more curious as to whether the league hopes to avoid the debate that would arise from punishing teams and players for giving other players a little extra cash for simply doing their jobs.

Ellis is paid to chase down quarterbacks and to apply clean, legal hits to them.  Ellis has a clear incentive to knock the starting quarterback out of the game.  (Although in this specific case the Saints may have been better off facing Kolb instead of John Skelton.)  Throwing a little extra money to Ellis — the NFL equivalent of the helmet sticker — doesn’t create any less incentive to hit the quarterback and hope he can’t continue.

The league defines such incentives as bounties, even if the incentive to apply clean, legal hits in a  way that induces injury nevertheless exists. Read more here…

Cardinals players gravitating toward Skelton, not Kolb

As John Skelton and Kevin Kolb prepare to square off in a training camp competition to become the Cardinals’ starting quarterback, one report suggests that the locker room is rooting for Skelton.

Former NFL linebacker Willie McGinest, who now works at NFL Network, said on Total Access that he has friends on the Cardinals and that they’ve told him they prefer Skelton over Kolb.
“Talking to some of my buddies down there, it seems like they’re gravitating toward Skelton a little bit more,” McGinest said.

McGinest suggested that other players in the locker room admire the way Skelton has worked his way up from being a 2010 fifth-round pick to having a chance to start, whereas Kolb had a big contract and the starting job handed to him last year.

“He’s a big quarterback, he’s tough in the pocket, he has a carefree attitude, he really doesn’t have any pressure,” McGinest said of Skelton. “He didn’t get a huge contract like Kolb did, and he’s one of those guys that can command a huddle, can come in there, and guys just like his attitude.”  Read more here…

 

Kurt Warner: Kolb will start, but needs to learn Whisenhunt’s offense

Dallas Cowboys v Arizona CardinalsFormer Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner had three good seasons playing in Ken Whisenhunt’s offense in Arizona, and he says Kevin Kolb can have plenty of good seasons playing in that offense, too. It’s just that Kolb has to learn the offense first.

Warner said on NFL Network that Kolb is expected to win the starting job in training camp despite having a disappointing season in 2011. The problem with Kolb last season, Warner says, is that Kolb never really grasped Whisenhunt’s offense.
“I think this is going to play out with Kevin Kolb becoming the starter for the Arizona Cardinals,” Warner said. “When I talk to people in the organization and what I’ve seen, everybody believes that Kevin has everything you need to be a starter in the NFL. He’s smart, he works hard, he’s got accuracy, he’s got mobility to run around and make plays, which we saw him do a number of times last year. The biggest problem was, the offense in Arizona was completely different than what he ran in Philly, and it was tough for him to pick up that offense, and the nuances of that offense, and he really struggled with that last year, never got fully comfortable.”
Kolb is now getting a full offseason in Arizona, and Warner said he should beat out John Skelton in training camp and become the starter. Read more here…

Larry Fitzgerald knows how to motivate Michael Floyd


Michael FloydAP
Arizona receiver Larry Fitzgerald said before the NFL draft that he was hoping the Cardinals would select receiver Michael Floyd, noting that the two of them are both Minnesota natives and that the two of them could work together during the offseasons.

Now Floyd is finding out that Fitzgerald is serious about his offseason work.

On Monday, Fitzgerald took to Twitter to call Floyd out, saying that Floyd had missed three workouts in a row and that Fitzgerald was going to have to question whether Floyd really wanted to be a great receiver. Read more here…

NFC West Preview: Division belongs to the 49ers

After being mired in years of mediocrity and being laughed at for being one of the worst divisions in football, the NFC West finally snapped out of its funk in 2011. Well, one team did, anyway. The San Francisco 49ers shattered the mold and rose above the 8-8 expectations of NFC West teams, going 13-3 and making it to the NFC Championship before falling short to the NY Giants. The 2012 season will see the division’s four teams – the 49ers, Arizona Cardinals, Seattle Seahawks and St Louis Rams – face off against each other, as well as teams from the NFC North and AFC East.

With that said, there’s no mystery as to what the 2012 season will bring. The division belongs to San Francisco for the foreseeable future, and there’s really no need to explain beyond that. First-year head coach Jim Harbaugh immediately made his mark on San Francisco. Not only did he and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio turn the defense into one of the top-performing units in the NFL, but he also might have saved Alex Smith’s career. Smith was on the verge of being completely written off by fans and critics as a total bust, but put together a very solid campaign in 2011.

Not only is every core piece returning to the team, but the addition of Randy Moss is expected to bolster the offense even further. Whether Moss can play or not is irrelevant; he’s formed a close relationship with Michael Crabtree and should be able to help him improve his game. Crabtree has been an average receiver so far in his career. If he turns it around in 2012, the 49ers could be contending for a Super Bowl by the time the playoffs come around.

No one is going to be challenging the 49ers for the division crown, but one team in the NFC West that might make some noise is the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals went 8-8 last year, although the team has become a shell of the squad that made the Super Bowl just three years ago. There are a few issues from last season that are going to have to be resolved in 2012. Read more here…

Kevin Kolb and John Skelton alternating reps for Arizona

Kevin+Kolb+Seattle+Seahawks+v+Arizona+Cardinals+m9fOWse_-Exl

Arizona Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt stated the quarterback competition would “start out as even as it possibly can.”

Whisenhunt proved to be a man of his word as Kevin Kolb and John Skelton are both getting equal chances at OTA’s.

Skelton took the snaps with the first team at Tuesday’s OTA and Kolb led the offense on Wednesday. You can’t read much into performance from OTAs, but you can see a lot about a team’s intentions and the Cardinals clearly intend to have that open competition for the starting quarterback job.

That’s certainly not what anyone expected when the Cardinals traded for Kolb and gave him a big new contract, including a $7 million roster bonus this year.  Read more here…

NFL Draft 1st round recap: 4.0

In our fourth of six 2012 NFL 1st round draft recaps, we take a quick analyses of the picks made by the Seattle Seahawks, St. Louis Rams, Arizona Cardinals, Philadelphia Eagles, and Kansas City Chiefs. One of these draft choices was an extremely smart pick, a couple of these draft choices were extremely safe picks, one draft choice was a reach, and one draft choice left our heads scratching (to say the least). Here is our fourth 1st round recap, recapping draft choices 15 through 11, enjoy!

15. Seattle Seahawks-OLB Bruce Irvin, West Virginia

Acquired the rights from PHI

With the 15th pick in the NFL Draft, the Seattle Seahawks won the award for the “Most Shocking/Dumbest/Most Overvalued Pick” of the 2012 NFL Draft. The Seahawks are a team with many pressing needs, and the ‘hawks could have easily snatched Irvin in the second round.

Read more here…

Cardinals lock Calais Campbell down with 5-year deal


Calais Campbell PicGetty Images

The Arizona Cardinals announced Thursday that they have signed defensive end and 2012 franchise player Calais Campbell to a new five-year contract. The deal should clear up some cap space. Via his one-year franchise tender, Campbell was counting $10.605 million against the Cardinals’ salary cap. Read more here…