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  • The All-Time Arizona Cardinals Team Lineup: Offensive Linemen
    by Blake Murphy on July 18, 2019 at 7:00 pm

    Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Arizona’s not known for their O-Line but there’s still some legendary figures contending for the all-time team... Alright folks you probably know the deal by now but just in case let’s do this one last time.... I wanted to try a new exercise where the fans could assemble the all-time team for the Arizona Cardinals in the days leading up to a much anticipated training camp. Today’s focus: the offensive line! Here’s how it works...for those who haven’t been following. You take ONE game on a neutral field, pick the best player and go position by position, with Cards fans voting to assemble the greatest game-day roster of Arizona Cardinals in franchise history, period. Again: Here’s a few of the rules and guidelines -All players must have played for the Arizona Cardinals and players must be remembered as Cardinals foremost, or for a majority of their career (aka saying “Boomer Esiason is the greatest Cardinal quarterback ever” because he was a great QB doesn’t count) -No impossible offensive alignments (ex. putting four tight ends on the field or finding 6 wide receivers) -Talent wins over longevity (the goal is to find the team you’d take to win in a game) but that doesn’t mean players who played for the Cardinals forever shouldn’t be counted... -St. Louis Cardinals do count, and if there’s an argument to be made for a Chicago Cardinal they can be included, too. With that here’s my finalists and ones to vote from for the all time team for the offensive line. With less people it’ll be tough to find candidates so let’s look at the top 5 out of the total that we have here: Offensive Lineman (5): Guard (2) Irv Goode (1962-1973) Goode started 125 of 140 games with 2 Pro Bowls at left guard. That’s a LOT of playing time, folks. He was immensely talented and played a lot of games with the next man below. Ken Gray (1958-1969) 162 career games (151 with Arizona) 7 (!) Pro Bowls and one All-Pro award, probably one of the more unsung heroes of the Cardinals on the offensive line. Conrad Dobler (1972-1977) 80 games in 6 seasons for Arizona saw Dobler make 3 straight Pro Bowls from 75-77. Lance Smith (1985-1993) While Smith had 0 Pro Bowls, Smith started over 140 games for the Cardinals and transitioned with them from St. Louis to the desert. Center (1): Tom Banks (1971-1980) Banks made 4 Pro Bowls and One All-Pro all-NFL was awarded to him and he was the team’s starting center for perhaps their best offensive stretch as a team during the 1970’s. He was a big part of that. Bob DeMarco (1961-1969) DeMarco started 107 games for the Cardinals, making the Pro Bowl 3 times and was a two-time All-Pro. The Cardinals going from Tom Banks to Bob DeMarco is truly an incredible transition for the team, one they haven’t really seen since. Lyle Sendlein (2007-2015) While Sendlein never made a Pro Bowl, he has an incredible story as an undrafted free agent out of Texas having a nearly decade long career and was the starting C for the team’s lone Super Bowl appearance with Kurt Warner at the end of the 2008 season. Tackle (2): Dan Dierdorf (1971-1983) What more can you say about Danny D? 5 time pro bowler, a 3 time all-pro Hall of Fame, Cardinals Ring of Honor and maybe the best lineman AZ’s ever had. He was part of a line that set a record only giving up 8 sacks in a season. Gotta count this guy up there as one of the all-time greats for the Cards at tackle Luis Sharpe (1982-1994) Sharpe was a stud left tackle for the Cardinals throughout the 80’s, starting 180 of 192 games and three pro-bowls from 1987-1989. It doesn’t get more consistent than Sharpe was for his play as well. Ernie McMillan 1961-1974 McMillan was a four-time (four time!) Pro-Bowler for the Cardinals from 1961 to 1974 and he made 3 Pro Bowls, making All-Pro twice as a tackle in a total of 178 games. Jared Veldheer (2014-2017) Veldheer’s probably the least notable name on this list, but he locked down the left tackle position for Arizona’s run to the NFC Championship game and brought stability as their probably best offensive lineman in over a decade for Arizona and while it was a short burst of 4 years, it was a highly productive one in the desert. So who are your picks, Arizona Cardinals fans? Vote below for your top 2 vote-earning tackles, guards and your top-vote getting center for the all-time team! Guard: Center: Tackle: Be sure to vote until the 22nd! […]

  • Kyler Murray opens as big favorite to win offensive rookie of the year, has solid MVP odds as well
    by Seth Cox on July 18, 2019 at 5:30 pm

    Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports The NFL media and gambling community believe the Arizona Cardinals have something special. The Arizona Cardinals and the fans certainly hope they have something special in Kyler Murray, something they have never seen before. What we have not seen before is a huge belief in an Arizona Cardinals draft pick from outside of the local fans and media. Yet, Kyler Murray has it. BetOnline released their most recent odds for all of the 2019 NFL Postseason awards and Kyler Murray is the heavy favorite to win the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award: 2019 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Kyler Murray 8/5 Darrell Henderson 7/1 Dwayne Haskins 7/1 Josh Jacobs 8/1 David Montgomery 14/1 Deebo Samuel 16/1 Mecole Hardman 18/1 Miles Sanders 20/1 N’Keal Harry 20/1 Parris Campbell 20/1 Murray is better than a 2/1 favorite to win offensive rookie of the year and surprisingly, comes in with better odds to win NFL MVP than a number of established stars and tied with some of the top players at their positions in the NFL: 2019 Regular Season NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes 6/1 Aaron Rodgers 9/1 Andrew Luck 9/1 Carson Wentz 9/1 Baker Mayfield 12/1 Drew Brees 14/1 Tom Brady 14/1 Philip Rivers 20/1 Ben Roethlisberger 25/1 Cam Newton 25/1 Deshaun Watson 25/1 Jimmy Garoppolo 25/1 Matt Ryan 25/1 Russell Wilson 25/1 Jared Goff 33/1 Lamar Jackson 33/1 Mitchell Trubisky 33/1 Alvin Kamara 50/1 Christian McCaffrey 50/1 Ezekiel Elliot 50/1 Jameis Winston 50/1 Kirk Cousins 50/1 Kyler Murray 50/1 Saquon Barkley 50/1 Todd Gurley 50/1 Murray finds himself in a class with All Pro’s like Alvin Kamara, Todd Gurley and Ezekiel Elliot. He is in front of his teammate David Johnson and others like Antonio Brown, Odell Beckham Jr and Marcus Mariota. There is a strong belief in not only the ability of Murray, but the opportunity he is about to receive playing for Kliff Kingsbury and the Arizona Cardinals. […]

  • State of the rivalry: Los Angeles Rams
    by John W. Buckley on July 18, 2019 at 3:00 pm

    Larry Fitzgerald has had some of his best days as a pro against the Rams, while Jared Goff has led them to four victories in a row against us. What lies in store in 2019 in this rivalry? | Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Over the next couple weeks, we’ll be checking in on each of our divisional rivalries. We start this week with the Los Angeles (formerly St. Louis) Rams. With the league news cycle at a lull and the start of the preseason still weeks away, I thought it would be a good time to take a look back at the Cardinals’ rivalries with each of their divisional foes. Since realignment in 2002, we have played the St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams, San Francisco 49ers, and Seattle Seahawks twice per year. How has the team fared in these rivalries? Over the next couple weeks, we’ll take a closer look at each rivalry, going over the Cardinals’ record in each, notable streaks, best games, standout players, and looking ahead to the 2019 matchups. We’ll start with the reigning division (and NFC) champs, and probably the least “heated” of our division rivals: the Los Angeles Rams. Records and Streaks Cardinals’ Record Since Realignment: 17-17 (.500) This has been an up-and-down rivalry, with each franchise going through long stretches of relative futility and success. The Cardinals were down during the Rams’ Greatest Show on Turf years, while the Rams were down when Ken Whisenhunt and Kurt Warner turned the Redbirds into a contender. We also mostly had the better of the rivalry during the Bruce Arians/Carson Palmer years, only for the Rams to again gain the upper hand during the current Sean McVay/Jared Goff era. Add it all up and these teams have played to a standstill in the 17 seasons of the current division alignment. Current Streak: Lost 4 in a row The last Cardinals win over the Rams was a 44-6 drubbing in Los Angeles at the tail end of Goff’s rookie year, after Jeff Fisher had been fired midseason. McVay was hired during that offseason and the Rams haven’t looked back since, sweeping the Cardinals in each of the past two seasons. The games haven’t even been close either, with Goff, Todd Gurley, Aaron Donald, and the rest dominating the Cardinals by an aggregate score of 130-25, including two shutouts and the Rams scoring 30+ in each game. That’s about as one-sided as a rivalry gets. Longest Win Streak: Won 8 in a row from 2006-2010 That said, the Redbirds put a pretty good whuppin’ on the Rams from 2006-2010, beating them by double digits five times and scoring 30+ six times during an 8-game winning streak. These were good years for the Cardinals, with Warner, Larry Fitzgerald, and Anquan Boldin combining for a potent aerial attack during a time in which the Rams were one of the worst teams in the league after the Greatest Show on Turf left town (including winning a combined six games over three seasons between 2007-2009). The Cardinals also won two of the next three games before entering into their own post-Warner doldrums. Longest Losing Streak: Lost 5 in a row from 2002-2004 You might be surprised to know that it wasn’t Kurt Warner at the helm during this Rams 5-game winning streak but his heir apparent, Marc Bulger, as Warner’s time with the Rams was nearing an end. Of course, Greatest Show on Turf mainstays Marshall Faulk, Isaac Bruce, and Torry Holt were all still around, and all three gave the Cardinals fits. But the Cardinals never really had much of a chance with Jake Plummer, Jeff Blake, and Josh McCown at QB during this streak of futility. With the current losing streak at 4 games, the Cardinals will need to win one of the matchups in 2019 to avoid making this current losing streak the longest since realignment. Best Games and Players Best Game: Cardinals 19, Rams 13 (Week 9 of 2011) The Cardinals/Rams rivalry, such as it is, is not one replete with memorable individual games. Neither team has really been good at the same time, so there are no meaningful late-season contests with true stakes. And while there have been close games, they’ve mostly been meaningless contests between bottom-feeders and/or also-rans. And there have been more than enough blowouts on either side. So instead, let’s go with this truly bizarre game from an otherwise forgettable season for both teams. Jay Feely and Josh Brown traded field goals for most of the game, with the Rams holding a 9-6 lead in the third quarter. Then things got weird, with John Skelton taking two(!) safeties in a row—one on a sack, the other on intentional grounding—to put the Rams up 13-6 entering the 4th quarter. Skelton would redeem himself, however, hitting Larry Fitzgerald for a 13-yard TD pass to tie the game with under 5:00 left. The game would go to overtime. The Cardinals would stop the Rams on their first OT possession, forcing them to punt to rookie CB Patrick Peterson. Cardinals fans know what happened next. Peterson’s game-winning punt return TD sparked a then 1-6 team to a 7-2 streak to finish the season at .500. Two safeties and a walk-off punt return TD? I think it’s safe to say that’s never happened in any other NFL game. Cardinals MVP: WR Larry Fitzgerald As if it could be anyone else. Fitz’s 185 receptions against the Rams are his most against any team and his 18 TDs are tied for most (with the 49ers), while his 2,098 yards are the second-most (behind the 49ers). And don’t forget that Fitz’s first career TD pass came last season against these very Rams. His 2007 season against the Rams was especially bountiful, as he racked up 20 receptions for 307 yards and 3 TDs in two games (both Cardinals wins). Does Larry Legend have one more big game left against the Rams in 2019? Cardinals Achilles’ Heel: DT Aaron Donald It shouldn’t be a surprise that the best player in the NFL has also been a thorn in the Cardinals’ side. Donald has been a one-man wrecking crew against the Redbirds since in 10 games since 2014, racking up 27 tackles, 13 for a loss, 9.5 sacks, and 21 QB hits. Three of those sacks and four of those hits came in the same game as Fitz’s TD pass last season. And, given the Cardinals’ lack of top-end talent in the interior of the O-line, expect Donald to continue his domination in 2019. 2019 Outlook Week 13 – Home Week 17 – Away The Cardinals will have to wait until after their Week 12 bye to get another crack at the Rams and try to end their current 4-game losing streak. They’ll then face them again on the road in the final week of the season. While these matchups add to an exceedingly difficult final stretch of games, perhaps the timing is actually a good thing. The Redbirds will have 12 weeks to acclimate to Kliff Kingsbury’s offense and get Kyler Murray going, so they’ll hopefully be firing on all cylinders and well rested off the bye when the Rams come to town in Week 13. The Rams will also be coming off three consecutive games against 2018 playoff teams (Pittsburgh, Chicago, and Baltimore), so perhaps the timing could be ripe for an upset. And then of course there’s always the chance that the Rams are resting players in Week 17. Plus, Patrick Peterson will (presumably) be in uniform for both matchups, and who knows if Gurley will be healthy. Several things will have to go right, but the potential for at least one upset is there. I smell a split coming in 2019. Final Thoughts Although it might not seem like it right now due to the Rams’ recent upswing combined with the Cardinals’ downturn, this has been an even rivalry since the 2002 realignment. But the Redbirds will have to pull off an upset to keep it that way in 2019 and beyond. Hopefully there will be more meaningful games between these two teams over the next few years, with Kingsbury/Murray helming a similar turnaround for the Cardinals as the McVay/Goff Rams. After all, it’s largely their blueprint that we’re following. Here’s hoping it works. Next week, we’ll check in on a rivalry with a little more bad blood to it: the San Francisco 49ers. Until then, give us your best Cardinals/Rams memories in the comments. Any players or games stand out to you? Any thoughts on the future of this matchup? You know what to do down below. […]

  • Young Cardinals
    by Walter Mitchell on July 18, 2019 at 2:33 pm

    Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Here is a list by position of the Cardinals’ 1st and 2nd year players and how they were acquired: OFFENSE WR: 17-Butler, Hakeem 19/4 16-Sherfield, Trent CF18 83-Richardson, AJ CF19 19-Johnson, KeeSean 19/6 13-Kirk, Christian 18/2 89-Isabella, Andy 19/2 LT 79-Cunningham, Korey 18/7 LG 66-Miles, Joshua 19/7 C 52-Cole, Mason 18/3 65-Gaillard, Lamont 19/6 61-Shelton, Coleman SF18 RG 70-Gossett, Colby P/Min RT 75-Sweet, William CF19 60-Cole, Tariq CF19 TE 84-Wilson, Caleb 19/7 82-Belcher, Drew CF19 QB 1-Murray, Kyler 19/1 6-Kanoff, Chad CF18 3-Anderson, Drew CF19 RB 29-Edmonds, Chase 49-Hills, Wes CF19 34-Strickland, Dontae CF19 44-Turner, Xavier CF19 DEFENSE DT 91-Dogbe, Michael 19/7 72-Brown, Miles CF19 DE 97-Allen, Zach 19/3 71-Turner, Immanuel CF19 RUSH 94-Malveaux, Cameron P/Mia 57-Taumoepenu, Pita W/SF LB 92-Gardeck, Dennis CF18 47-Turner, Ezekiel CF18F 51-Booker, Dante CF19 45-Robertson, Pete SF18 CB 33-Murphy, Byron 19/2 25-Jones, Chris SF18 28-Nichols, Deatrick CF18 41-Brooks, Nate CF19 S 35-Thompson, Deionte 19/5 38-Thompson, Jalen 19/5* 42-Owens, Jonathan CF18 39-Sigler, Tyler CF19 Positions Given Recent Priority in the Draft: QB, WR, DE, CB, S Depth Addressed in Later Rounds and with UCFAs with the hope of finding gems: QB—-Could Chad Kanoff or Drew Anderson emerge as a QB2 in 2020? TE—-Is Caleb Wilson a keeper? LB—-Are Dennis Gardeck and/or Zeke Turner keepers? CB—-Are Chris Jones and/or Deatrich Nichols keepers or will the Cardinals search the waiver wire? Depth Most in Question: OL, DT, OLB/Rush, ILB, CB Commentary: With regard to projecting success and growth over the next three years, ESPN ranked the Cardinals as the #30 team in the NFL. Right now, it is difficult for any pundit to predict what kind of success the Cardinals can have this year, next year and beyond. After the Cardinals pulled their unprecedented reset after the abysmal 2018 season, it would be hard to imagine any pundit sticking his neck out at this point in favor of what the Cardinals are doing. But—-I can tell you this—-there are a number of pundits who have a sneaking suspicion that the Cardinals are now on a fast track (literally and figuratively) for getting back into contention. Why? Because they recognize the young talent on the roster. Practically half of the Cardinals current roster is comprised of 1st and 2nd year players. By my count, I believe very strongly that 20+ have a great chance to make the 53 Man Roster: Top Chances: QB (1): Murray WR (4): Kirk, Isabella, Butler, Johnson TE (1): Wilson OL (5): Cunningham, Cole, Gossett, Gaillard, Myles DT (1): Dogbe DE (1): Allen Rush (1): Malveaux LB (2): Gardeck, Turner CB (2): Murphy, Jones S (2): D. Thompson, J. Thompson Plus—-in terms of special teams, don’t count out WR Trent Sherfield, LB Dante Booker, CB Deatrich Nichols and S Tyler Sigler. On paper, there is potential star power here. What’s encouraging is the added focus and attention that Kliff Kingsbury and his staff are giving the young players. The staff appears to be very excited about the youth movement. As Cardinals’ fans have learned, talent on paper is one thing—-developing the talent is another. The great challenge for any coaching staff is turning potential into impressive production. Have you ever been more excited to see young Cardinals in action? Just admit it! […]

  • Air Raid Q&A with an Air Raid Coach
    by Robert Ban on July 18, 2019 at 1:30 pm

    Arizona Republic-USA TODAY NETWO Getting to know the system with Coach Ron McKie We’ve all got questions about what the new offense will look like in Arizona. And I thought I’d try to get some answers by going straight to the source - a coach running the air raid. I’m a self proclaimed fanboy of the system, and one of my favorite resources on the internet is Coach Ron Mckie Jr. Mr. Mckie is the Offensive Coordinator and QB Coach at Crestwood High School. He also runs ronmckiefootball.com, the Talking Football Podcast (a must listen) and has a very informative youtube channel. He was very gracious with his time and answered some questions regarding the air raid. So let’s get into it. Robert: Given the many staple concepts that feature the slot receiver, (Y-Cross, Y-Stick, Y-Corner, etc.) How pivotal would you say the slot wideout is in the air raid?* Coach Mckie: The Slots make the offense go. They’re the guys you want the ball going to all the time. So if you don’t have those guys then it can be hard for the Air Raid to work. BUT, the great thing about the system is how it makes sure all the play makers touch the ball. That’s why the offense always has success. The ball always seems to find it’s way into the play makers hands - no matter where that play maker lines up. (On the outside, in the backfield, in the slots.) *Writer’s Note: Confused? I’ll be breaking down some staple air raid concepts in the following weeks. In what ways do you consider Kingsbury’s offense unique relative to other air raid coaches? Coach Kingsbury tries different things more so than other air raid coaches. Coach Leach never changes up his plays and will stick with the tried and true concepts (95, 94, 92, 618, 6, etc.)* but Coach Kingsbury will tweak those concepts to fit his offense. I mean, say what you want about the his defense while at Texas Tech, but their offense put up HUGE numbers every single year. *Writer’s Note: See above note. NFL offenses have been using air raid concepts more and more these days. But this is the first time the pure air raid experience makes the jump. What adjustments do you see being made in that transition? Honestly, I don’t know. I imagine the offense will allow the players a little more freedom in adjusting their routes during the play - the find grass, take grass mentality that a lot of Air Raid Coaches preach. But I think the biggest thing might be the practice structure. I don’t know how NFL practices are ran, but the Air Raid Philosophy of coaching focuses you on practicing a certain way EVERY DAY. You have to ‘embrace the boredom’ to be a successful Air Raid team. Meaning, you have to be willing to work on the little things every single day - Pat n Go, Settle Up and Noose, Routes on Air, Team Pass, Screens, same individual drills during Indy - and not get bored. Will Coach Kingsbury change that practice structure - installing the entire offense in 3 days and then repping it over and over again - because he is in the NFL? I don’t know. But it’s the thing I’m most curious about. They’re different systems of course, but some doubters will point to Chip Kelly’s failures in the pros as a bad omen for Kingsbury. Where did Kelly fail and what lessons (if any) can we learn from his time in Philly? I think Coach Kelly gets a horrible rap when it comes to his time in the NFL. If you look at how the Eagles won the Super Bowl - it was with his roster he put together and his offense. The only difference was the Eagles weren’t playing as fast as Coach Kelly. I think ultimately, Coach Kelly failed because he butted heads with the wrong people. The front office and him weren’t on the same page and you need to be in order to be successful. Same thing happens at the high school level. If the administrators and the head coach aren’t on the same page then the program fails. The Cardinals placed a huge value on taking in Kyler Murray despite having drafted Josh Rosen with a first round pick a year prior. As a playcaller and a QB coach yourself, just how high a value do you place on a QB being able to pick up yards when a play breaks down on top of opening more of the playbook on the ground? Having a mobile quarterback is every defensive coordinators worst nightmare. Especially one who can throw AND run. Because now defenses don’t have a man advantage because defense MUST account for the quarterback. Also, having a mobile quarterback just opens the playbook up more. You can now go empty and still have a running game because your QB is a threat to run the ball. That opens up the other play makers in the offense because defenses now have to pick their poison. We’ve seen what Kliff can do with Jace Amaro. How do you see tight ends being utilized in this offense? Or do you think they take a backseat unless talent at the position demands the attention? Everyone forgets that the original Air Raid offense started as a 21 personnel offense - two running backs and one tight end. And the offense was originally designed to run through the tight end - the Y in the Air Raid. So when you have a tight end in the offense who can catch and block while also having a quarterback who can run...well you’ve got a recipe for an explosive offense. Speaking of tight ends, the 53 man roster limits are a big difference from life in college. Do you see more receivers being carried on this roster relative to other teams even at the expense of tight ends/running backs that play a role in special teams? I have no idea. Haha. That’s way above my pay grade. Many are optimistic that the quick passing nature of the air raid can help cover the flaws of an offensive line that leaves much to be desired. Just how far can the air raid go with offensive line limitations? The sky’s the limit. The Air Raid was originally designed for lesser talented teams to compete with the big boys. That’s why you see the Air Raid teams with the massive line splits and deep alignments off the ball. This is by design so that the defense has more ground to cover - giving the QB and the OL more time to make their decisions. Huge thank you to Coach Mckie for lending us his time and expertise. I hope this article has answered some of your most burning questions, and if I missed any - check out the links I provided above to learn more. Or do yourself a favor and follow/subscribe anyway, you won’t regret it. […]

 

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