Monday, March 19, 2012 @ 11:26am
"Regarding today's developments and our quarterback
position, acquiring Peyton Manning is no longer an option
With those words Friday, Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt
effectively put an end to the team's pursuit of Peyton
Manning, ending months of speculation and a week's worth
of effort to land the future Hall of Fame QB.
The Cards bowed out of the Manning sweepstakes largely
because of a roster bonus due to Kevin Kolb, a contract
stipulation that forced the Cardinals to make a decision -
one way or another - by Friday afternoon: either pick up
the option and keep Kolb, or cut him loose and hope for
the best with Manning.
They made their choice, and it was to stick with the QB
they acquired last summer.
This is a QB who completed 57.7 percent of his passes and
threw for just nine touchdowns in his first season in the
Valley. A QB who played in only nine games due to various
A QB who the Cardinals decided they couldn't lose on the
hope they'd be able to convince Peyton Manning to
come to Arizona.
So now Manning will be leading some other team, likely
the Broncos, and the Cardinals will lick their wounds and
head into the season with Kolb and John Skelton.
The prospect doesn't faze Whisenhunt, not in the least.
"We sit here today in the same spot we were heading into
the offseason," he said. "That's with two experienced
quarterbacks who have both demonstrated positive things in
the past and who we feel good about."
The decision to stop going after Manning, though, was not
about what the team has in Skelton. If Whisenhunt truly
believed the Fordham product was capable of being the
starter, the team would have saved some money and given
Kolb the boot.
That they didn't is a sign that, while the team may like
Skelton, they still believe in Kolb - at least to the
point where they were too afraid to lose him just for a
slim chance at landing Manning.
And now it's up to Kolb to justify that belief.
The 27-year-old will have a full offseason with the team,
with a chance to learn the playbook and work on
familiarizing himself with his receivers, as well as a
upgraded revamped offensive line.
What he won't have is any more excuses.
If Kevin Kolb fails, it won't be due to a lack of effort.
He's proven to be a tireless worker and solid leader
though, as my colleague Vince Marotta points out, he may be a
little miffed at the team's effort to replace him.
At any rate, Kolb, first and foremost, must stay healthy.
Quarterbacks who miss half a season due to injury are of
little use to a team, no matter how talented they are. And
then, if on the field, he must outperform Skelton, who
will have every chance to win the starting job outright
For Kolb's sake, he better win the job and open the season
The Cardinals could not continue in the race for Peyton
Manning because it would have cost them Kevin Kolb. They
may not have come out on top, but they wouldn't have
excused themselves from contention, either, had it not
been for Kolb's bonus. Now it's up to Kolb to not only
prove they made the right call, but also prove that he has
a future as a starting quarterback in the NFL.
This is his team. It may be his last chance.
Monday, March 12, 2012 @ 10:38am
The transformation is somewhat startling.
When I left for vacation on March 4th, the Valley was a
place where decent sports teams played in front of modest
crowds - at best.
The Coyotes' attendance struggles are well documented, the
Suns are failing to draw numbers close to what they did
just a few years ago, the Diamondbacks couldn't sell out
Chase Field and University of Phoenix Stadium miraculously
kept its sellout streak alive last season (though it's
worth noting rarely was the stadium actually full).
I returned March 9th to a different Arizona.
Sure, the Coyotes and Suns are still struggling at the
gates. And no, I don't expect Chase Field to be packed on
a nightly basis this summer.
But the fans here care, and they've proven it with the way
the Peyton Manning saga (is it a saga yet?) has gone down.
Take former local sportscaster Vic Lombardi, who
embarrassed himself on Twitter over the weekend with a
series of tweets, including this one:
No doubt Lombardi would love to see Manning in Broncos
orange, because the team would be better and his job more
interesting. But does he have to take shots at Phoenix,
the place he once called home?
Needless to say, the Valley of the Sun did not take kindly
to his message, as fans and media alike fired off numerous
responses, all aimed at putting Lombardi in his place.
Did it work? Who knows, though Lombardi's Twitter issues
continued when he later reported that Broncos sources told
him they were 95 percent sure Manning was heading to the
Mile High City, a story that was refuted by everyone.
And whether or not Lombardi ends up being right - Manning
could, after all, choose Denver - the fact that Arizona
stepped up to the plate with both passion and knowledge
was impressive. Take these responses to other Lombardi
And then, finally, this comment on the whole idea of
Phoenix being a lousy sports town.
Denver may be a better sports city than Phoenix, but that
doesn't mean the latter is worthy of being mocked, laughed
at or ridiculed.
Besides, you don't see any billboards around here asking
if we prefer Manning or John Skelton, which wouldn't be
unlike the one in Denver asking if the city prefers the
former Colt or Tim Tebow.
By the way, Tebow is leading the vote.
Phoenix will never be New York, Philadelphia or Chicago -
we just don't have that kind of attitude. And the Valley
will not soon be confused with Denver, Boston or Dallas.
But give us time, we'll get there.
In fact, we're already well on our way.
Wednesday, February 29, 2012 @ 4:44pm
"Unless something dramatic has changed, from everything
that I know, Steve is not planning to be back with Phoenix
next season" - Ric Bucher, ESPN NBA insider on Arizona
Sports 620's Doug and Wolf.
So you're saying Steve Nash is not going to re-sign
with the Suns when his contract expires? Why wouldn't a
38-year-old former league MVP want to spend his final
seasons with a team that has zero chance of winning an NBA
championship, which just so happens to be the only thing
Nash has yet to accomplish in his Hall of Fame career?
With the NBA's trade deadline just a couple weeks away,
the team has done all it can to put any talk of trading
Steve Nash somewhere to bed. Suns president of
basketball operations Lon Babby has told anyone who will
listen that the team will not move Nash unless he asks to
be dealt, and since there's been on indication of that
happening, no trade will be consummated.
Nash has talked about loyalty to his teammates and the
Suns organization, and Babby has cited the same reason as
for why the team won't actively pursue a deal, and that
sounds all well and good.
But I'm going to submit another reason for why the team
won't make a deal: fear.
The Phoenix Suns are afraid to trade Steve Nash.
It's no secret Nash is one of the most revered players in
Suns history, and one who can still play at a high level.
He's the voice and face of the Suns, and, as Babby has
dubbed him, the sun, moon and stars of the franchise.
As such you don't ship a player like that out without some
serious thought behind the move.
Wednesday, February 29, 2012 @ 10:51am
It was a scene I was familiar with.
Growing up an Arizona Cardinals season ticket holder, I
went to plenty of games where we were outnumbered by the
opposing team's fans. So what I saw Tuesday night was,
unfortunately, nothing new.
Jobing.com Arena was a sea of blue shirts, as Vancouver
Canucks fans made up a high percentage of the 16,691
people in attendance. They came hoping to see the best
team in hockey leave with a win, but instead saw the
hottest team in the league finish the month of February
with a 2-1 shootout win.
Needless to say, Canucks fans were fairly quiet on the way
out of the building.
"It was nice," Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith said of
sending non-Coyotes fans away like that. "It was obviously
a passionate group and I respect that, but it was nice to
get the two points and kind of quiet the building a little
Friday, February 24, 2012 @ 5:48pm
The Oscars will be handed out Sunday in Los Angeles, as
the film industry's best and brightest will be rewarded
for the hard work they've put forth over the last year.
It is in that spirit that we're going to hand out the
Greenies umm...Arizona Sports Oscars,
given to Arizona's teams, athletes and coaches for their
hard - and sometimes disappointing - work over the last
So, without further ado, here we go…
Best Performance in a Leading
Nominees: Steve Nash, Larry Fitzgerald, Derrick
Justin Upton, Ian Kennedy, Shane Doan
Winner: Larry Fitzgerald
No one was as great as consistently as Larry Fitzgerald
this past year, as he hauled in 80 catches for 1,411 yards
and eight touchdowns despite incredibly shaky QB play.
Whether he was making one-handed grabs or going across the
middle, Fitz put the team on his back multiple times, and
his presence alone gives Cardinals fans hope for the
Best Performance in a Supporting Role
Nominees: Grant Hill, J.J. Putz, Radim Vrbata, Miguel
Montero, John Skelton
Winner: J.J. Putz
Putz arrived in the off-season and gave the D-backs the
closer they had lacked since trading Jose Valverde away
after the 2007 season. The veteran tallied 45 saves and a
2.17 ERA, while striking out 61. If the D-backs got to the
ninth with a lead you felt really good about their chances
to win the game, and that's because of Putz.
Best Costume Design
Nominees: Diamondbacks throwbacks, ASU
Football, Arizona Basketball
Winner: D-backs throwbacks
The Diamondbacks honored their 2001 World Series team by
rocking one of the jerseys they wore that season. The
white vest with purple pinstripes and a purple shirt
underneath is a look many fans were excited to see, and
hope to see again. Of course, it doesn't hurt that the D-
backs won three of the four games they wore the jerseys
in, but no matter the reason it's a look that brings
plenty of fond memories.
Film I wish I never saw
Nominees: Hedo Turkoglu, Melvin Mora, Ilya Bryzgalov
against the Red Wings, "Beast Mode"
Winner: Hedo Turkoglu
Hedo came to the Suns in a trade with hopes of
rediscovering the form that made him one of the game's
better all-around players. He left the Suns in a trade
after averaging just 9.5 points, 4 rebounds, 2.3 assists.
On the plus side, he did lead the team in fans cursing his
name, so there's that.
Nominees: Kirk Gibson, Dave Tippett, Ken Whisenhunt,
Sean Miller, Clint Myers
Winner: Kirk Gibson
The Diamondbacks entered the season low on talent and
expectations, and finished it NL West champions with
dreams of even more. "GibbyBall" proved to be an effective
strategy, as the D-backs led the league in come-from-
behind victories and played hard for 27 outs each night.
While they may be a more talented group than originally
given credit for, there is no doubt Gibson got the most
out of the least.
Nominees: Arizona basketball, Arizona Diamondbacks,
Phoenix Coyotes, ASU Softball
Winner: ASU Softball
The only Arizona team to win a national championship,
Clint Myers' squad went 51-9 during the regular season and
won all five of its postseason games, outscoring the
competition 30-12 in a dominant effort that led to the
school's second ever Women's College World Series
Best Short Film
Nominees: Larry Fitzgerald vs. Eagles, Beanie Wells vs.
Rams, Ian Kennedy vs. Phillies, Derrick Williams vs.
Winner: Derrick Williams vs. Duke
Derrick Williams destroyed Duke. Derrick Williams
eviscerated Duke. Derrick Williams owned Duke. However you
want to put it, Williams' 32 point, 13 rebound performance
in the Sweet 16 was as dominant as you'll see at any
level. Williams made 11 of 17 shots - including 5 of 6
from three - and basically carried the Wildcats to the
Most Disappointing Picture
Nominees: Kevin Kolb, Vontaze Burfict, Phoenix Suns,
Winner: Vontaze Burfict
Vontaze Burfict entered the season one of the most feared
linebackers in all of college football, and left it as one
of the most ridiculed. His issues personified all that was
wrong with ASU football, as he was undisciplined some of
the time and ineffective most of it. Save for a few
moments of "yeah, that's 'Taz," the junior had a season
everyone would like to forget.
Nominees: Kevin Towers, Don Maloney, Greg Byrne
Winner: Don Maloney
Don Maloney has built a team that will likely reach the
playoffs three consecutive seasons, with few resources
other than his own ability to discover talent and work
contract-negotiating magic. I mean come on, he was
basically forced to dump Ilya Bryzgalov, only to come up
with Mike Smith as a replacement. Well done, sir.
Nominees: Steve Nash trade rumors, Peyton Manning to
the Cardinals rumors, D-backs playoff run, Coyotes
sale/move, Kevin Kolb rumors
Winner: Peyton Manning to the Cardinals rumors
Everyone loves a good rumor, and this one may be the best.
A QB of Peyton Manning's stature and ability wanting to
join the Cardinals? Sign me up! The thought of the laser-
rocket arm throwing passes to Larry Fitzgerald is enough
to make any Birdgang fan salivate. Of course, it's all a
rumor, as the QB may not even be able to play next year --
if ever again.
Thursday, February 23, 2012 @ 10:59am
Alvin Gentry had his Denny Green moment after Wednesday's
loss to Golden State.
There was no "The Warriors are who we thought they were,"
but Gentry's anger and frustration were not unlike that of
the former Cardinals coach that fateful October eve.
"I'm disgusted," Gentry said. "I'm disgusted with the way
we played, I'm disgusted with the fact that we've got a
chance to end the break on something really upbeat and
positive, and instead we just walk through the first
(expletive) 10 minutes of the game, excuse me. The first
10 minutes of the game, I'm sorry."
Gentry apologized for his use of profanity, but he
shouldn't have to. He's not the only person who's wanted
to curse at the team donning purple and orange this
season, as a 14-20 record at the break is certainly
nothing to smile about.
But this isn't Gentry's fault, so he has nothing to be
sorry for. The ones who should be apologizing are the
decision-makers who gutted a roster the head coach guided
to the Western Conference Finals less than two calendar
years ago, and was a Ron Artest (when he was still called
that) put-back away from a likely trip to the NBA Finals.
Friday, February 17, 2012 @ 5:10pm
As sports fans, we want our teams to win now and win
later, as the very thought of losing is generally
But with the Phoenix Suns doing its fair share of losing
and a rebuilding process on the horizon, winning may
become a foreign concept at the US Airways Center, at
least for a little while.
So, it should come as no surprise that when Suns President
of Basketball Operations Lon Babby, as a guest on Arizona
Sports 620's Doug and Wolf as part of Newsmakers Week,
asked if he had something he wanted to tell the fans, he
"Be patient and give us a chance, and measure us as we go
Wise words, yes, but unfortunately for Babby and the Suns,
sports fans are not a patient bunch, and the championship-
starved group in Phoenix is no different.
Suns fans went through the Barkley years, falling short in
a variety of different ways. They went through the
Nash/Stoudemire years, with a team that seemed to have
everything but luck on their side.
The fact that the Suns are no longer a team on the cusp of
winning a title is not surprising, as contending is a
cyclical process. The Suns had their turn, and now the
window has closed. It's happened before and it's happening
That's why, instead of patience, Babby should be asking
Suns fans for the one thing they owe the team:
And you know what? I think Suns fans would be
understanding of every move the Suns have to or
No Suns fan really wants to see the team trade Steve Nash,
but most would understand if the Suns decided it was the
best thing to do for their franchise.
No Suns fan wants the Suns to tank the season and aim for
a high lottery pick, but most would understand if the Suns
felt that was the best course for a quick turnaround.
No Suns fan wants to see the Suns struggle on the court,
but most would understand that as bad as things are now,
they'll probably get worse. Much worse.
Hell, while we're at it, no Suns fan thought the signings
of Sebastian Telfair, Shannon Brown, Ronnie Price and
Michael Redd were going to make the team go from lottery
to contender, but we understood you were taking flyers on
players who were not great, hoping to maybe catch
lightning in a bottle.
And that's why, while Babby is making requests of Suns
fans, I have one for him and the team:
Be understanding of us, too.
Understand that we know you are trying your best to win,
with no one thinking your goal is to destroy a once-proud
But, keep in mind, while you want us to judge you solely
from the moves you make going forward, it's tough to trust
an organization whose owner made a habit of selling draft
picks and letting key players leave in free agency.
While that's not your fault or responsibility, it is a
cloud that will hang over the franchise until you prove
you can turn this thing around. Until then, most Suns fans
will remain at best hopeful, but most likely skeptical.
Also understand that we want the team to win just as much
as you do, and while we may feel differently about the
best way to go about it, know that our hearts are all in
the right place - the same place.
And that's really what this is all about. Whatever side of
the fence you're on when it comes to trading Nash, faith
in the front office or belief that the Suns will ever
regain their status as a contender, all we want is for the
Suns to be winners again.
Monday, February 13, 2012 @ 4:59pm
This isn't the first time the Arizona Cardinals have been
linked to a future Hall of Famer.
The last time was in 1993, when the San Francisco
49ers were looking to trade Joe Montana.
Always needing a QB and never opposed to adding someone
who would sell tickets, the Cardinals did their best to
land one of the best signal callers the game has ever
seen, only to watch Montana spurn Big Red in favor of the
Kansas City Chiefs.
At the time, many felt Montana used the Cardinals to drive
up the price, never having any real intention of heading
to the desert.
Roughly 10 years later the Cardinals pursued former
Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith, who was clearly on the
downside of his career and was just hoping to pick up a
few more yards to add to his NFL-record total.
Always needing a running back and never opposed to adding
someone who would sell tickets, the Cardinals offered a starting
job as well as a nice contract.
Smith took the deal, though many at the time knew the 33-
year-old had little left to give the NFL, and instead was
just signing with the Cardinals because they were the only
team who would give him the ball. While he wasn't bad for
the team, Smith did nothing to change the culture and, at
one point in his first season with the team, was reduced
to tears over what was transpiring on the field.
Trust me Emmitt, many a Cardinals fan has shed tears over
the team's play, too.
However, nearly 10 years after that the Cardinals are once
again being mentioned as a suitor for one of the all-time
greats, only their rumored pursuit of Peyton Manning has a
different feel to it.
The Cardinals would not be used to simply drive up the
price, nor are they the only team that would offer Manning
a starting job. They would not be after him just to sell
tickets (though he'd certainly help), and he'd be brought
in as the missing piece to a championship puzzle, not
because of name recognition.
Assuming the Cardinals are interested in Manning (and
really, why wouldn't they be?), there's really only one
other hurdle to clear. You know, Manning actually having
interest in Big Red. Never before has a player who most of
the NFL coveted actually picked the Cardinals. Never
before have the Cardinals been a great place for a great
QB to come and play.
But that's exactly what's happened.
ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter and CBS NFL analyst (and
former NFL GM) Charley Casserly have said it, and ESPN columnist Ashley Fox has
written it: Manning to the Cardinals makes sense.
Tell me, Cardinals fans, does a still-great player wanting
to come to Arizona and play for the Cardinals make sense
to you? Maybe not in the past, but that just goes to show
how much things have changed for this organization.
No longer are the Cardinals a laughingstock, an
organization known for being as cheap as it was poorly
run. Sure, there is still a national perception that the
team refuses to spend money - and at times it's probably
still accurate - but they're no more frugal than plenty of
other teams in the league.
If these Arizona Cardinals were the same as your father's
version, Larry Fitzgerald would not have signed a contract
extension last summer. If these Arizona Cardinals were the
same as my father's version, they would not have rallied
to finish 8-8 last season after a 1-6 start.
In the early 90s the Cardinals tried to trade for a great
player, one who could have changed the franchise's
fortunes but likely never really wanted to have much to do
with Arizona. In the early 2000s the Cardinals signed a
past-his-prime running back, who likely never really
wanted to have much to do with Arizona, but found no other
place to go.
These Arizona Cardinals are different, and that fact can
be seen in the moves they could make as much as it
can in the ones they've made.
Does Peyton Manning want to be an Arizona Cardinal? We
can't be sure, at least not yet. But the fact that the
idea of a great player having interest in the team because
he thinks he can win - and not just make the most money or
find a starting job no one else will give him - is a sign
of just how far the team has come over the years.
And, with any luck, the Cards will actually land a guy the
rest of the NFL covets, proving once and for all that the
"same old Cardinals" are officially dead.
Saturday, February 11, 2012 @ 4:38pm
The Diamondbacks had FanFest Saturday, just as they did
one year ago.
The event, which signifies the unofficial start to the
season, gives fans a chance to see the players for the
first time since the previous year.
Last time around, the mood was different. Last time
around, the Diamondbacks were coming off a couple of poor
seasons, filled with bad baseball and managerial changes.
Looking for little more than a fresh start, fans hoped the team
would simply be competitive and fun to watch while the
players wanted to learn how to win once again.
Last time around, the Diamondbacks weren't the defending
NL West champs. This time around, they are the team
everyone is trying to catch.
They'll take it.
"Given the choice, I think being a champion is something
you strive to be so defending is fun," D-backs Managing
Partner Ken Kendrick said.
The last time the team was in a similar position was 2008,
when they followed up a postseason appearance by trading
away half the farm system to get Oakland's Dan Haren.
Arizona followed a torrid April by tanking, essentially,
the next three seasons, and it took until last year to
finally turn things around.
But they've done it.
Though there is no official number to say how many fans
were at Chase Field Saturday, there is little doubt it was
a record turnout. Plenty of Sedona Red -- and even a little
Milwaukee Brewers Blue and Gold, apparently -- could be
found, with both young and old excited to see a team they
expect great things from in 2012.
Expectations? Sure, but once again, it's better than the
"We have all the players basically back from a year ago
when the team was a division champ and we've added some
players," Kendrick said. "That's OK, that's what sports
But then Kendrick said the words that should make even the
most ardent D-backs fan just a bit cautious heading into
"Repeating is tougher than winning the first time."
Kendrick knows the Diamondbacks won't catch anyone by
surprise this year -- be it opposing teams or the team's
own fanbase -- and is comfortable with the roster after an
offseason that most "experts" say was a very productive
Though Arizona is returning the bulk of a roster that won
94 games last season, GM Kevin Towers went into the
offseason looking to improve. The D-backs went out and
added a front-line starter in Trevor Cahill, picked up
relievers Craig Breslow and Takashi Saito to bolster an
already solid bullpen, and brought in a big bat in the
form of outfielder Jason Kubel who, while a surprise
addition, could prove to be huge for the team.
One year ago the Arizona Diamondbacks were a team looking
for nothing more than a fresh start, but as they say, what
a difference a year can make.
Monday, February 6, 2012 @ 11:56am
On October 2, 2011, the Arizona Cardinals lost a game they
should have won.
Leading 27-17 with just more than five minutes left, they
had the New York Giants on the ropes, staring a 2-2 record
- as well as legitimacy - in the face.
Of course, we all know what happened from there.
The defense caved, Victor Cruz "gave himself up" and the
Giants scored a pair of touchdowns to take the lead. The
Cardinals drove as far as the New York 30 with less than a
minute left, but a fourth-down slant to Fitzgerald fell
Game over, Giants win.
Looking back, did New York really have the look of a Super
Bowl champion? Of course not. There's a reason they won
just nine regular season games, as well as why they are
not even close to being the favorites to win the
2013 Super Bowl.
None of that will take the shine off the Lombardi Trophy
the team just won, nor mean some less-fortunate people
around the world won't be receiving a shipment of shirts
that say the New England Patriots won this year's Super
Bowl. What it does mean is that the 2012 season has
officially begun, and the Arizona Cardinals -- a team that
should have beat the Giants (and thereby kept them out of
the playoffs) -- has a chance to reach the big game for
the second time in five years.
Crazy talk? Perhaps, as I did consume large amounts of
good tasting-yet-bad-for me food Sunday, possibly leaving
me to write through some sort of sugary euphoria.
However, the Cardinals, one season after finishing 8-8,
certainly seem capable of taking another step forward.
Remember, this is a team that ended the 2011 season as hot
as any in football. They found a defense, rediscovered
Larry Fitzgerald and rode into the offseason with belief
in what they're doing. They could still use a QB…cough…
Peyton Manning…cough…but otherwise seem to have everything
a team needs to compete in the NFL.
And, as the Giants showed us this year (and the Cardinals
in 2008), you do not have to be a great team to make it to
the Super Bowl. Hell, you don't have to be a great team to
win the Super Bowl. You only have to be good enough to
make the playoffs, and anything can happen from there.
Now, this isn't meant to say you should be making hotel
reservations for New Orleans and take vacation time around
the weekend of February 3rd. While the Cardinals may be
favored to land Peyton
Manning, they are not the favorites to win the NFC
West - let alone the NFC.
What they are, though, is a decent team with room to
improve. What they are is a team that should have beaten
the eventual Super Bowl champions.
What they are, on February 6, 2012, is a team not unlike
30 other squads in the NFL, all looking to knock off the
Giants, which is something the Cardinals should have done
The good news is they'll get their shot.
Thursday, February 2, 2012 @ 3:18pm
The thought came to me about as quickly as the Suns went from Western Conference finalist to lottery team.
Two questions come from this.
One, what kind of writer uses their own tweet as the basis for a column? And two, what kind of fan actually wants their favorite team to lose games?
Well, as far as question number one is concerned, I have no comment. But when it comes to question two, though, I'll say one who really, truly cares about the team.
As of right now the Phoenix Suns are 8-13, which is good enough for 12th-best in the Western Conference, and 9th-worst in the NBA. That's the area known as "NBA purgatory," a state where a team is not good enough to contend nor bad enough to get one of the top picks in the upcoming draft.
And they seem content to not only stay there for now, but actually extend their lease a couple more years.
According to a report on HoopsWorld.com, the Suns not only have little interest in trading Steve Nash before the March 15 deadline, but would actually like to re-sign the veteran for a couple more seasons after this one.
Whether or not Nash would like to spend the twilight of his career playing for a team striving for .500 is one thing, but the idea that the Suns would like to bring him back - even as good as he still is - is rather mystifying.
It's weird, because nobody really wants Steve Nash to go. He's won plenty of games, a pair of MVP awards, and numerous fans across the Valley. Hell, he's one of the most popular players in the world! Nash has done it all while wearing purple and orange, being the best ambassador a team could ever hope to have.
And, he can still play, as evidenced by his 30-point, 10 assist performance in Wednesday's win over the Hornets, one that saw him become the franchise's leader in assists.
Ultimately, though, this isn't even about Nash. Sure, there is probably a strong contingent of "Nash fans," people who care more about the player than the team. You know, the fans who say they'll never watch another one of the team's games if he's traded. Well, attendance at US Airways Center has not exactly been great this season, so people aren't really watching games even with Nash still around.
But I digress.
The Suns may not be able to trade Nash before the end of the season simply because they may never get an offer they deem worthy of pulling the trigger on. While the merits of just trading him with an eye on tanking the season can be debated ad nausea, it would be tough to just throw in the towel on the season, especially with competitors like Grant Hill, Marcin Gortat and Jared Dudley in that locker room.
As Suns fans, we know how great Steve Nash has been. As Suns fans, we know how good Steve Nash still is. But, as Suns fans, we also know the next time the team contends will be without Nash on the roster.
As Suns fans, we know it's time for the team to move on, finally bottoming out. Whether it's this season or this summer, the move must be made, because only then will they be able to start the climb back up.
Monday, January 30, 2012 @ 11:50am
The email came Sunday afternoon.
"Kurt Warner retired two years ago today (January 29,
2010); and the Cardinals enter their third straight off-
season still looking for his replacement," wrote Craig
Grialou, a reporter here at Arizona Sports.
Thanks for the reminder, Gri.
With Peyton Manning rumors flying around like errant Derek
Anderson passes, the Cardinals are certainly not settled
at the most important position in sports. Even if Manning
does not come to the Valley, there's a chance John Skelton
will unseat Kevin Kolb in training camp, thus becoming the
team's third Week 1 starter in three seasons.
That's what could happen. Of course, it may not,
and Kolb may enter the season with a firm grasp on the
starting QB job, ready to lead the Cardinals back to the
But does anyone, right now, really believe he can? Does
anyone, right now, really believe he will? According to a
story by FoxSportsArizona.com's Craig Morgan,
there's a chance Kolb's health may ultimately prevent him
from being the QB Arizona needs.
Which, in turn, would bring the franchise back to the same
place it was that Friday afternoon, when Warner announced
he was ending an illustrious 12-year career.
Back then, though, the future at QB seemed clear. Matt
Leinart, the prized first-round pick who had lost the
starting job before the 2008 season, would take all he'd
learned the last couple seasons and become the team's QB
of the present and future.
Yeah, not quite. As we all know Leinart was unimpressive
in training camp before being released, and the
aforementioned Anderson got the job. While he took the
game seriously, he wasn't any good. Neither was undrafted
rookie Max Hall (imagine that), and while fellow rookie
John Skelton showed promise, he was anything but a sure
thing. So, the team went out and got Kolb.
Unfortunately the new QB - while better than the players
he replaced - wasn't particularly impressive, as him
signing a big contract was about the only thing he did
last season that would make someone think "starting QB."
So, two years later the Cardinals are in the same place as
they were when No. 13 called it quits, with a big-money-
yet-unproven QB the presumed starter but really no
certainty at the position.
And that's why the Cardinals are being linked to Manning,
should the future Hall of Famer be released by the Colts,
especially since the team would appear to have much to
offer the 35-year-old.
Sure, parting with Kolb so soon after acquiring him would
not be great for the wallets, and there are some who think
the Cardinals may be reluctant to dump the QB after
investing so much in him and getting so little in return.
But would the team really pass on a player who can
actually pass just that just so they could see if the guy
they traded for might be the answer? Would they let
the next Kurt Warner go somewhere else just because they
paid Kevin Kolb a lot of money last summer?
Truth is, though, this would have nothing to do with Kolb.
Sure, he wasn't great last season, and absolutely, his
injury history is a concern going forward. But the team
doesn't want to cut him, the team doesn't
want to save money and not pay him that big roster
Any decision to go in a different direction would be based
solely on the opportunity to get one of the best QBs the
NFL has ever seen, and one who would undoubtedly would be
looking to prove to the world that he's still got "it."
Does that sound familiar?
Two years ago the Cards said goodbye to a
player who brought similar goals to the team, and the team
to the Super Bowl. Will Peyton Manning be the answer?
Maybe, maybe not. The fact that the question is still
being asked, though, is an issue.
Two years ago the Cardinals found themselves looking for a
QB they could rely on.
Two years ago the Cardinals were where they are now.
Thursday, January 26, 2012 @ 3:22pm
Steve Nash is a smart guy.
At 37-years-old he is as worldly as any player in the NBA
- and maybe sports, in general.
And, having listened to the way he answers questions, it
would be safe to say he doesn't just "say things." No,
every word the Suns star gives a reporter is done with
purpose and for a reason.
Needless to say, the veteran's words after Tuesday's tough
home loss to the Raptors were a little surprising.
"We just don't have the talent to, you know, go out there
and win games," he said. "We've got to find a little bit
something extra, we've got to find a little magic and our
chemistry, our cohesion - we haven't found it yet."
A player saying the team just doesn't have enough talent
to win games is not something you generally hear - or want
to hear, really - but with the Suns struggling to a 6-11
mark it would be disingenuous of Nash or anyone else to
say everything is just fine on Planet Orange.
However, maybe those words, while troubling, could be
chalked up to the frustration of another tough loss, as
the game had only recently ended.
But then came Thursday's words.
"We're a team in transition so we don't have a complete
roster, so we can't expect to be at the top," Nash said,
noting that the team can expect to improve.
They're not improving, though, and Nash said the
organization has made it clear that it is going to wait
until the summer to make any moves. So, what they have now
is what they'll have the rest of the way, and it's not too
early to see that it just won't be enough to make this
Is Nash frustrated? Probably, and with good reason.
Twenty months ago the Suns swept the San Antonio Spurs
right out of the playoffs. Twenty months ago Nash was
battling with Kobe Bryant for a chance to play in his
first NBA Finals. Twenty months ago the Suns were one of
the best teams in the Western Conference - just as they
had been for most of Nash's tenure in Phoenix - and played
to a sold-out US Airways Center on a nightly basis.
Nash has seen plenty of talented players leave the Valley
since he returned to the Suns in 2004, though each time he
was able to elevate the play of those around him enough to
make everything alright.
He was able to turn water into wine, so to speak, as role
players would find new life as starters and castoffs would
become integral pieces on a championship roster. "Steve
makes everyone better" became a motto of sorts, and true
as it may have been, it was also unfair.
And, now, it's an unrealistic idea.
It's not that Nash isn't any good, as his numbers would
indicate he's playing a level similar to the one that
landed him a couple of MVP awards back in the day. The
points are there, the assists are there and the shooting
percentage is there. The only thing that's missing is the
wins, and those, unfortunately, are not on the way.
"We can't go out and look around and talk about our talent
or whatever," Suns coach Alvin Gentry said, noting that he
just wants maximum effort from his team. "I'm not going to
sit here and whine about what we don't have because that
does us zero good."
Seventeen games into the season the Suns understand what
they are: a team seriously lacking in too many areas to
compete. That's not going to change, though, as there will
be no reinforcements, no late-season signing, no playoff
All there will be is Steve Nash and his band of role
players, a flawed group that, for all the effort and
cohesion they may be able to muster, will ultimately fall
short of even the most modest of goals.
Tuesday, January 24, 2012 @ 11:59am
I couldn't resist.
Browsing the internet Monday I came across a photo of Kyle
Williams that was snapped shortly after his fumble in
overtime that led to the 49ers losing to the Giants and
missing out on a chance at the Super Bowl.
Standing on the field, Williams' hands were on the back of
his helmet, with the player looking down. I knew I had
seen that pose before and, as a Wildcats fan with a
dislike for the 49ers, couldn't resist putting this
As a friend later told me, "You sir are off of Kenny
Williams Sr.'s Christmas card list."
But you know what? While I was admittedly poking fun at a
rival's misfortune, I came to realize something that is
just a little more important than what transpired on the
Kyle Williams is a standup guy.
Though he is not the 49ers' starting punt returner,
Williams was the guy Sunday. And while his team's offense
was horrific and didn't exactly help themselves in the
game, the team's defense was great, forcing the Giants to
punt a ridiculous 12 times.
Twelve times Williams was back to receive a punt, and 10
times he did so without incident. But it's the other two
he'll be remembered for because he messed up. In fact, if
there was ever a time when you could reasonably say a
single player lost his team the game, this is it.
And yet there Williams was answering questions, owning up to what
happened on the field just hours before.
Just hours before that, even, the Ravens' Billy Cundiff
was doing the same after
badly missing a short field goal that would have sent the
AFC Championship into overtime.
"Throughout my career, I've had challenging situations and
I'm still standing here today,"Cundiff said. "It's
something that is going to be tough for a while, but I've
got two kids and there are some lessons I need to teach
"First and foremost is to stand up and face the music and
Cundiff and Williams will do just that - they almost have
to. There is no doubt that each player is his harshest
critic right now, because even while their teammates have
supported them there is zero chance they don't feel like
they let everyone down.
Which they did.
But as Christopher Nolan's Batman franchise has so
eloquently explained, these things happen.
"Why do we fall sir," Alfred asked Bruce Wayne in
Batman Begins. "So we might learn to pick ourselves
Then, in The Dark Knight, Harvey Dent proclaimed
"The night is darkest just before the dawn. And I promise
you, the dawn is coming."
Where the respective careers of both Williams and Cundiff
will go from here is anyone's guess. A kicker, Cundiff is
unfamiliar with the term "job security" and could be out
of a job soon.
Williams, though, should be fine. At just 23, chances are
good this won't be the last we hear from the former Sun
Devil - even if things don't go so well.
Thursday, January 19, 2012 @ 1:16pm
Sometimes you do have to go through a cycle in this
league, and that's the reality of it.
January 18, 2012 could one day be looked at as the date
when the Phoenix Suns, as a franchise, saw its fortunes
finally turned around.
It has nothing to do with the team's 91-88 win in New York
over the Knicks, a victory that snapped a five-game losing
streak and gave the team a victory over the player whose
departure set in motion the events that led to this
No, what happened Wednesday didn't even happen in New York
- sort of. A guest on Arizona Sports 620's Doug and Wolf,
Suns President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby said 18
words that could mean the team is finally, earnestly,
ready to look towards the future.
"Sometimes you do have to go through a cycle in this
league, and that's the reality of it," he said.
Maybe Babby was talking about the losing streak, which
even the best teams are known to suffer through from time
to time. Or, perhaps, he was talking about the nature of
being a good team in the NBA, as the cycle usually looks
something like this:
Be bad --> Get young talent --> Groom young
talent --> Compete for a title --> Watch young talent
leave, veterans age --> Blow it up --> Go back to step
The Suns went through this - sort of - to get where they
are today. Their down period wasn't long, as they went
from being a 29-win team in 2003 to winning 62 games in
2004, and haven't had consecutive losing seasons since the
Granted, losing big is no guarantee of future success,
though it's generally the way to go in the NBA. The top
five teams in each conference boast at least one player
who was a top three selection in his respective draft
class, with some of the best squads featuring multiple
players of that ilk.
Pretty much, without at least one of these players the
chances of winning a title are about as high as Alvin
Gentry's faith in Josh Childress is strong.
The problem is, the Suns are not going to get that guy
through free agency, and they don't exactly have the right
mix of players with which to put together a respectable
No, if the Suns are going to get that top three pick it's
going to be because they "earn" a top three selection,
which means the team will need to be rather bad at some
point in the future. There was a time when it seemed like
the team was unwilling to sink that far, though now it may
really be out of their hands.
Sometimes you do have to go through a cycle in this
league, and that's the reality of it.
While no Suns fan in their right mind wants to see the
Suns become the new-age Clippers, it's a smart enough
group to understand how the NBA works. If the ultimate
goal is to win a title, chances are the Suns will have to
hit rock bottom. And sorry, folks, but they're not at that
Gambadoro pointed out, the Suns aren't
likely to receive an appealing offer for Steve Nash. No
team with loads of young talent will part with any of it
for a veteran who will likely bolt at the end of the
season, and the best teams in the league don't exactly
have quality assets to send the Suns' way.
But moving Nash won't be about getting better, and,
unfortunately, it probably shouldn't be about "freeing" the
point guard, as Paul Calvisi wrote. Any trade will be
designed in part to help the Suns bottom out as soon as
possible. Sure, an extra draft pick would be nice, but a
high selection in one of the most loaded drafts in years
would do wonders for the team's rebuilding process.
In other words, the sooner the Suns bottom out, the sooner
they can begin building back up. The Suns have never
really done that - even under Jerry Colangelo - always
instead choosing to swing a trade or sign free agents,
hoping that would get them to the top. That hasn't really
worked before, and the strategy isn't really an option
Sometimes you do have to go through a cycle in this
league, and that's the reality of it.
It's a reality the
Celtics' Danny Ainge has seemed to embrace, yet one
the Suns have been slow to acknowledge. It appears that
may no longer be the case anymore.
Good for them.
Tuesday, January 17, 2012 @ 6:56pm
Ian Kennedy, Daniel Hudson and Trevor Cahill.
Josh Collmenter and Joe Saunders.
Trevor Bauer, Tyler Skaggs and Archie Bradley.
Eight pitchers for what will be five spots in a rotation.
An embarrassment of riches, anyone?
The news broke
Tuesday that the D-backs are bringing Saunders back
for one more season, a move that is as surprising as it is
Saunders, a lefty with a 3.69 ERA in 212 innings of work
last season, will be back, as either the team's fourth or
fifth starter. That's just plain disgusting, and the key
reason why the Diamondbacks are likely to repeat as NL
West champs in 2012.
If ever there was a time to give a team's GM a standing
ovation, this is it.
So, I'll do it: bravo, Kevin Towers.
The return of Saunders could be the final piece to a
puzzle that ends with another NL West title and, maybe,
even more, because all Towers has done since the
Diamondbacks were eliminated on October 7 is trade for
Cahill and reliever Craig Breslow, sign Jason Kubel and
Takashi Saito and bring back Lyle Overbay, Willie
Bloomquist, Henry Blanco, John McDonald and Aaron Hill.
Sure the NL West should be better, with the Giants getting
Buster Posey back and the Dodgers actually having an
owner, but that's exactly why Towers didn't sit on his
hands all winter. In his second full season with the club,
Towers was aggressively patient as he boosted the
rotation, fortified the bullpen and improved the lineup.
His moves have rightfully drawn acclaim from baseball
experts, and if the D-backs are to grow into a
championship contender, this offseason has seen Towers
water the seeds that were planted last summer.
The Arizona Diamondbacks are currently better than the
team that won 94 games last season, and Towers was able to
make that happen without sacrificing the team's future.
This is not a repeat of what happened in 2007, after a
surprise run to the postseason convinced Josh Byrnes and
co. to part with half the farm system to bring Dan Haren
to the desert. No, Towers has played things incredibly
smart, finding a way to improve the present without
mortgaging the future.
Oh, and what a future it promises to be, but let's not
forget about the present.
With one of the top five
pitching staffs in all of baseball, the game's best
outfield and enough youth that should improve with
another year under its belt, the pressure is on for the D-
backs to take the proverbial "next step" this season.
Towers knows exactly how to do that, since the blueprint
was put together in the 90s when the Atlanta Braves had
the likes of Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, Greg Maddux, Steve
Avery, Denny Neagle and the like. A strong rotation will
lead to many victories, and a deep rotation affords a team
the opportunity to make trades. After all, everyone could
always use more pitching.
Except for the Diamondbacks, that is.
Thursday, January 12, 2012 @ 12:31pm
Defined as "the state or quality of being
loyal; faithfulness to commitments or obligations," the
topic has come up over the last few days on
ArizonaSports.com on a variety of stories.
The most recent case involves the Phoenix Suns and their
point guard, leader and face of the franchise Steve Nash.
In an interview with ESPN.com's
Marc Stein, Nash talked about how he is not planning
on asking for a trade.
"I just feel that I owe it to my teammates to stay
committed to them. I feel that I owe it to the fans and
the organization to fight," he said.
A few days later, on Arizona Sports 620's Doug and
Wolf, Suns President of Basketball Operations Lon
Babby reiterated the organization's position on Nash,
which can be summed up like this:
Steve Nash will be a Phoenix Sun for as long as he wants
to be a Phoenix Sun.
The idea is as novel as it may be foolish, given that the
team could be wasting Nash's final years as a
quality player on a team that, quite frankly, will not win
an NBA championship. The 37-year-old has shaken off a slow
start to push is current averages to 12.1 points and 9.6
assists per game, while shooting 50 percent from the
In other words, Steve Nash can still ball, meaning he
would have to have some value to some other
team that actually has championship aspirations. The Suns
have no doubt taken calls about the guy - and likely Grant
Hill, too - but have rebuffed the overtures each time.
While that could change if the Suns fall out of the
playoff race in the near future or a team sends a crazy
offer Phoenix's way (hello, Oklahoma City, interested in
parting with Russell Westbrook?), the team has shown no
inclination to trade away its veteran leaders, choosing to
hang onto them for at least one more season, even at the
risk of losing each as free agents this coming summer.
Babby's reasoning, he said, has as much to do with where
the players help off the court as they do on it.
"I look and see what Steve and to the same extent Grant do
for Markieff Morris every day, teaching him how to be a
professional and how to be a pro," he said.
Babby continued to say you can't have a team full of only
young players with no veteran leaders, and he's right. Do
that and you are as likely to be the Sacramento Kings as
you are the Oklahoma City Thunder. In fact, a team is
probably more likely to wallow away in the lottery for a
bit unless it lands a superstar like Kevin Durant or
Derrick Rose in the draft.
But that's not the point, at least, not really. The truth
is the Suns are showing an uncanny sense of loyalty to a
player who has won a pair of MVP awards, guided the team
to three Western Conference Finals appearances and really
been a great ambassador for the team. They feel Nash has
earned the right to play wherever he wants, and if Phoenix
is that place then, by golly, they are happy to have him.
Is it the right course of action? Well, it didn't exactly
work for the early-90s Celtics, who held onto Larry Bird
and Kevin McHale for too long, only to suffer through
years of pretty awful basketball after they left, and we
won't know how the front office's loyalty is viewed around
the league until the Summer of 2012, when free agents will
have a chance to take Robert Sarver's money and play for
But for now, all we know is what we already knew: Steve
Nash is not your average NBA player, so he's not going to
abandon the team, and the Suns have no interest in
forsaking their star, even if it could potentially help
them with the rebuilding process.
Loyalty is not a word used often in in the context of
sports or, sadly, everyday life. However, we're seeing it
play out right in front of us as the Suns continue their
decline from contender to also-ran. So the question
becomes: Is the wrong move palatable so long as it's being
made for the right reasons?
Monday, January 9, 2012 @ 10:36am
A guest on Arizona Sports 620's Doug and Wolf Tuesday,
Arizona Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said he will use
the next few weeks to make some key decisions.
"I'm sure there will be some things around here that I
need to clean up," Whiz said.
Whisenhunt could have been discussing a variety of things,
as he now has to go about putting the 2011 season to bed
while preparing for 2012, with minicamps, OTAs, a draft
and training camp in between.
However, he could also be talking about his coaching
staff, and while rumors of Todd
Haley's potential return to the desert swirl, there's
at least one more coaching staff change that could be
Parting with Russ Grimm.
Brought to Arizona by Coach Whiz in 2007, Grimm spent time
as the offensive line coach before being given an
associate head coach title, too. Known for being an
offensive line guru, Grimm's Arizona units have
consistently ranked among the worst in the NFL.
According to ProFootballFocus.com, just one member of
the starting offensive line graded out with a positive
number in 2011, giving affirmation to what those of us who
watched the games already knew.
The line was bad, is bad, and will likely continue to be
Of the five, the site ranks Levi Brown as the worst,
followed by Brandon Keith, Rex Hadnot and Daryn Colledge.
Congratulations go out to Lyle Sendlein, as the center was
the least-awful of the bunch.
It's possible, though, that Grimm is a great coach who is
being undone by a lack of talent. Brown and Keith easily
made the worst set of tackles in the league, Hadnot and
Colledge weren't/aren't good enough to carry a line, and
Sendlein is decent, but nothing special.
Or, perhaps, maybe Grimm is just overrated as a line
coach. After all, Levi Brown was the fifth pick in the
draft and Colledge a member of the Super Bowl Champion
Green Bay Packers, so you have to think they have some
measure of talent. And, Grimm must have seen something in
Hadnot, Sendlein and Keith, otherwise they wouldn't be
starting in the first place.
Assuming there is talent to mold, Grimm's job is to shape
it into something good - if not simply competent. As ProFootballFocus has mentioned, Brown has
stepped up his play over the last couple months. Has
coaching finally clicked, or was it impending free agency?
Either way, the Cardinals have ranked no better than 24th
in the league for rushing yards per game under Grimm's
watch, and twice have finished last in the NFL. And,
unfortunately for all involved, the line isn't sacrificing
rushing for the ability to throw, not with pass block
rankings of 29, 23, 31 and 27 the last four years,
according to ProFootballFocus.
Then again, you don't need in-depth stats to know Cards
QBs have taken a beating the last few years, and were
sacked 54 times this season, while being hit another 19
times due to poor line play. They were also responsible
for 20 penalties this season.
In other words, if it walks like a duck, swims like a duck
and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck. If
a line can't run block, pass block or avoid penalties then
it's probably a bad line, and while the players involved
have changed since 2007, one constant has remained.
Not long ago Grimm was one of the league's hot head
coaching candidates. A Hall of Famer who is one of the
best linemen to ever play the game, he often interviewed
for jobs across the NFL. Not anymore, as Grimm's name is
rarely mentioned when new jobs open up. There may be a
reason for that.
Coach Whisenhunt is a loyal guy, one who believes in his
system to a fault. Does the same apply to his staff? Whiz
brought Grimm with him from Pittsburgh after both were
spurned by the Steelers, and together the two have
experience success in the desert. The head coach has
proven himself, though, and now holds the franchise record
Grimm, on the other hand, doesn't have a pro bowler or a
unit that paved the way for a great offense. No, he has an
offensive line that is no better than when he took over,
and is possibly even worse.
Coach Whisenhunt says there are some things to clean up?
He should start with the mess up front.
Thursday, January 5, 2012 @ 2:00pm
You may not remember me, but a few months back you were a
guest on one of our shows here at Arizona Sports 620. I
pictures, and the fact that I am Arizona alum
was brought up during the interview. You proceeded to
apologize for beating my alma mater in the most recent
Territorial Cup, though I kind of doubted your sincerity
at the time.
Enough time has passed, though, and I've forgiven you.
Sure, Arizona's 31-27 win last November has played a role,
but really, I'm over it. I'm not angry, bitter or
resentful towards you in any way, and to prove it I'm
going to offer you some advice:
Don't leave ASU, not yet.
Multiple reports have surfaced about the possibility of
you bolting Tempe lately, whether it be for UCLA or,
maybe, the NFL.
While both offer something you undoubtedly covet (Noel
Mazzone, a career), the truth is the best place for you,
at this very moment, is the one you are at. Because, as it
stands, you still have plenty left to accomplish at the
collegiate level. Plenty you need to accomplish at the
Though you passed for 4,036 yards and 26 touchdowns in
your first season as a starter, you also tossed 13
interceptions. You may have set school records, but your
team's record was just 6-7. Are you cool with your
Sun Devil career ending on a five-game losing streak?
Maybe if you were going to be one of the first QBs
selected in April, but there is no way a team picks you
ahead of Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III,and you're not
likely to go ahead of Nick Foles, either.
You have potential, but much of it is unrealized. One more
year of seasoning in Tempe could vault you into the first
round of the draft, but right now you're probably looking
at the third round - at best - which should not be enough
for you to leave.
Then again, maybe it's not about feeling like you are
ready for the next level. Could it be that the reason you
are thinking of ending your career at ASU is because
Mazzone already did. I have no doubt the guy played a huge
role in getting you to where you are right now, but you
know what? Him leaving is no reason for you to do the
Football - hell, life - will be full of change. Teammates,
coaches, teams; this will not be the last time something
like this happens in your career. You will have
different coaches and you will learn different
offenses. That's how it is, that's how it will be, and if
you can't handle it maybe you should find a different
Does that come off a bit harsh? That's not what I'm going
Because, truth be told, I actually think you could go on
to have a long, productive career in the NFL. At 6-foot-8
(did you know you were that tall?), with your wheels and
cannon for an arm, by the time you're done with college
there will be a line of teams hoping to land you in the
But please, Brock, trust me when I say making them wait
just one more season would be the best thing for you.
Thank you and Bear Down,
Monday, January 2, 2012 @ 1:32pm
And just like that, the 2011 Arizona Cardinals season has
come to a close.
There is nothing left after a 17-week season, as the team
did not win the NFC West nor earn one of the NFC's two
No, there is only finality, the end of a campaign that
was, in a word, fun. And hell, even the ending seemed
right for this team.
Sunday's 23-20 win over the Seahawks was the team's fourth
OT victory of the season, a number that established a new
"Boy, we sure get our money's worth at home," head coach
Ken Whisenhunt said. All four OT wins were at University
of Phoenix Stadium, and the only game the Cardinals never
trailed in was Sunday's finale.
So if it was entertainment value you were after, you got
it. Of course, though, the NFL is about wins, and there
weren't nearly enough of those - this season.
That little six game losing streak early on was pretty
bad, as it proved to be too much to overcome, and the fact
that the team still hasn't found a reliable quarterback is
concerning. But, like the Diamondbacks who the Valley fell
in love with, these Cardinals - flaws and everything -
found ways to consistently rally late in games, never
giving up and often-times coming away with a victory.
While an 8-8 record wasn't enough to make the playoffs and
mediocrity should hardly be considered a good thing, it's
hard not to feel optimistic with this team going forward.
The defense found an identity, the offense found a running
back, and we were all reminded of just how great Larry
Fitzgerald is. Oh, and there is belief in the coach again,
Coach Whisenhunt joked that he is giving the team an extra
long "Victory Monday," a reward for winning Sunday's game.
Indeed the team heads into the offseason on a high note,
carrying momentum into the offseason. That fact should not
"Coach Whisenhunt talked about it last week," Larry
Fitzgerald said, "In 2007, when they first got here, we
were 6-8 playing the last two games of the season.
"We were able to win both of those, and I really feel like
that positive momentum led into the offseason. Guys worked
extremely hard, and we were able to parlay that into a
playoff appearance and Super Bowl run."
Granted, 2007 saw the re-emergence of Kurt Warner as a
top-flight QB, and nothing of the sort happened in 2011.
But the point is there was a good vibe surrounding the
Cardinals that offseason, a feeling that they were heading
in the right direction.
The same can be said once again, even though it seemed
like that wouldn't be the case just a couple months ago.
The team moved on from its losing ways, and as Fitzgerald
said, you can't shortchange winning games.
"They say losing is contagious, but so is winning," he
said. "When you get the taste of it, you want to continue
to have it."
The Arizona Cardinals are undefeated in 2012, and only the
Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints and New England
Patriots finished the year with a better mark over the
last nine games.
"To go 8-8, to go 7-2 over our last nine games is a pretty
strong statement," Whisenhunt said.
It is, as it says while this may be the end, in a
way it's just the beginning.
Sunday, January 1, 2012 @ 2:12pm
Have a question about the game you want answered? How
about a thought of your own? Email Adam at
firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet him at @theAdamGreen.
5:59 left in OT
And Jay Feely boots a 28-yard field goal through the
uprights as the Cardinals win 23-20. Arizona finishes the
season with an 8-8 record and plenty of momentum heading
into next season.
7:54 left in OT
Ruling is confirmed, so first down Cardinals. Stephens-
Howling with the run up the middle, clutching the ball
ever so tightly. He picks up eight and the Cards are in
field goal range.
8:12 left in OT
Skelton throws to Fitzgerald who, umm, makes what can only
be described as a fantastic catch. One hand, one bicep,
whatever. Remember that one against Green Bay in the
preseason? Yeah, that kind of grab.
It's being reviewed, but this should stay, maybe even be
9:31 left in OT
Sneak it is, and the Cards get the first. Keep on keeping
10:06 left in OT
A 3rd-and-1 run with Hyphen is short, but at the SEA 39
the Cards will go for it. Sneak is the smart play, ut
maybe take a shot to Fitz?
11:40 left in OT
Skelton hits Fitz on a 3rd down pass, one that was not a
good pass to make except for the fact that it was to
Fitzgerald. Cards are at mid-field.
13:55 left in OT
Seattle's offense stinks and they are forced to punt.
Peterson returns it just four yards to the Arizona 18.
Skelton gets another crack at this thing.
14:54 left in OT
Washington returns the kickoff 47 yards to the Seattle 40.
Not where the Cards want them to be.
Start of OT
Seahawks win the coin toss (of course) and elect to
receive. Here we go. Again.
:28 left in fourth quarter
Incomplete pass forces a punt, as well as questions of
"what was Seattle thinking?"
Fair caught at the nine, Cards sit on the ball and we're
heading for OT.
:39 left in fourth quarter
Seahawks get the ball to mid-field and then run twice.
They now face a 3rd and 8 and are nowhere near field goal
1:46 left in fourth quarter
Punt is returned to the 28, and it's up to the defense
2:00 left in fourth quarter
A couple of incomplete passes are followed by a 7-yard
completion to Doucet. Unfortunately a first down still
requires 10 yards, and the Cardinals will punt.
2:17 left in fourth quarter
Defense does the job, force a punt. Peterson's return goes
to the 17, where Skelton will go to work. He has plenty of
time to get into field goal range and the team has all
three timeouts. Have to be smart.
5:06 left in fourth quarter
Skelton just misses Fitzgerald on third down and the
Cardinals punt. Ball is returned 11 yards to the 21, and
that's where the Seahawks will go to work.
5:25 left in fourth quarter
Well, this is interesting. The Cardinals face a 3rd-and-9
from their own 44 in a tie game with plenty of time left.
A first down here would be huge, if only to give a reeling
defense a bit more of a breather.
7:47 left in fourth quarter
Uhhh...Jackson throws a 61-yard bomb to Lockette, who
beats Marshay Green for the score. We're all tied up here
in Glendale. Of course, this couldn't be easy.
7:56 left in fourth quarter
Cardinals go three-and-out and punt away. Seattle begins
the drive at its own 39, and a defense that was just on
the field is asked to come up with another stop.
8:57 left in fourth quarter
Cardinals will begin drive on their 21...no, wait. False
start on Jeremy Bridges pushes the ball back to the 16.
Need some points on this one.
9:05 left in fourth quarter
Turnover leads to a Seattle FG, and the sore is now 20-13.
Bad Skelton, very bad.
10:04 left in fourth quarter
Just as Vince Marotta and I were talking about Skelton's
rising QB rating, the guy goes and throws an interception.
Telegraphed pass thrown behind the receiver, this one's
not over just yet.
10:49 left in fourth quarter
Cardinals defense gets the stop and Peterson calls for a
fair catch on the punt. No history on that one, but one
more good drive here would make the Seahawks just that.
Does Skelton have it in him? It is the fourth
12:18 left in fourth quarter
After a drive that saw the ball go back and forth in a
ref's hands, the Cardinals get a 43-yard field goal from
Feely and go up 20-10.
This game is, umm, interesting, and you get the feeling
the extracarriculars are not done yet.
14:19 left in fourth quarter
Roberts takes an end-around for eight before being hit
well out of bounds, and the 15-yard penalty puts the
Cardinals at the Seattle 30.
14:48 left in fourth quarter
Cardinals begin the fourth with a Skelton pass to
Fitzgerald, good for 42-yard completion. Penalty flags fly
after the play as Doucet apparently hit a Seahawk well
after the play. Not good for the Cardinals, but still a
big gain and play.
:12 left in third quarter
Seahawks drive down the field and are forced to kick after
being stopped at the six. They end the drive with 0 points
after Patrick Peterson blocks the attempt, a huge play for
Offense back on the field and starting at the 20, one more
good drive here could be enough.
6:18 left in third quarter
Skelton introduces himself to Larry Fitzgerald on a drive
that ultimately ends with a touchdown pass to Todd Heap.
Great throw, nice job by Skelton on the drive.
Cards up 17-10.
10:56 left in third quarter
Things are getting chippy here, with personal fouls and
punches and stuff.
As for the game, the Cardinals just missed a ton of
tackles as Leon Washington gallops 48 yards for a score.
Game is tied at 10.
12:18 left in the third quarter
Cards open the second half on offense, get a first down
then fall apart. Skelton had a shot at a big play with
Fitz, but didn't pull the trigger and ended up throwing
incomplete short. Next play was a false start on Levi
Brown (a novel concept, sure), and ultimately the Cardinls
Seattle starts drive at its own 26.
Sam Acho sacks Jackson to end the first half, and the
Cardinals go into the intermission with a 10-3 lead.
Arizona gets the ball to start the second half, and while
they've done a solid job thus far, you'd like to see some
:44 left in second quarter
A sack and two short passes lead to a Cardinals pun, and
Seattle has the ball at its own 34 with one timeout in the
1:14 left in second quarter
Peterson with the fair catch at the Arizona 20. Weak.
Let's see how much freedom Skelton has to look downfield.
1:21 left in second quarter
Well, they sort of went for it, but are stopped on third
down. Cardinals burn their last timeout, and now Patrick
Peterson will get another chance.
2:00 left in second quarter
Seahwaks have the ball at their own 25 facing a 2nd and
16. The Cardinals only have one timeout left, so the
Seahawks may decide to sit on this and go into half down a
TD Or, they could try to get some late points. A couple
incomplete passes, though,and you give the Cards a chance
at the end of the half.
3:28 left in second quarter
Jay Feely kicks a 43-yard field goal to extend Arizona's
lead to 10-3. On the plus side, Levi Brown FINALLY hit a
Seattle defender. Unfortunately it came after a play and
was good for a personal foul penalty. Baby steps.
6:42 left in second quarter
Patrick Peterson almost sets the record, returning a punt
to the Seattle 31 before being tripped up by the punter.
Ugh. Entire press box was holding its collective breath on
Either way, Peterson has set the record for most punt
return yardage in a season for a rookie, so not bad, kid.
8:33 left in second quarter
Skelton gets sacked when Levi Brown forgets to block, and
a third down pass sails incomplete. The Cardinals punt,
missing out on a great opportunity.
Seahawks take over at their own 12.
10:00 left in second quarter
Jackson throws a pick on 3rd and 26, as defensive MVP
Richard Marshall makes the play and returns the ball to
the Seattle 38. He could have taken it the distance, but
stepped out of bounds.
Offense back on the field.
11:53 left in second quarter
Skelton rockets a pass to Rob Housler, who makes a catch
in between coverage. He then fumbles, and Seattle has the
ball at the Arizona 20.
On the bright side, the Cardinals finall connected
with Housler on that seam pass.
12:10 left in second quarter
Cards got the stop as Darnell Dockett tore through the
line to sack Jackson. Loss of 10 on the play, but Seattle
gets a 43-yard field goal from a kicker whose name I can't
12:48 left in second quarter
Seahawks are driving, and they have the ball at the
Arizona 15 on a 3rd and 5. Early chance at a big stop for
End of first quarter
Cardinals lead 7-0 after one quarter, a sight not seen
much around these parts. In fact, I'd say the Cardinals
are not playing according to script.
3:02 left in first quarter
Skelton makes a hell of a throw to Heap, which gets the
Cardinals inside the five, and two plays later Chester
Taylor leaps into the end zone for the score. The ball
popped loose, but ruled a TD on the field. PAT is good,
and the Cardinals have their first first quarter TD since
They also have a 7-0 lead.
5:43 left in first quarter
Skelton picks up a first down with a nice run,a and then
Stephens-Howling runs for 39 yards to the Seattle 29.
7:39 left in first quarter
Cardinals D comes up with a stop, punt pins them at the
19. This game, so far, is probably what one could have
expected: not big for offense.
Can Skelton get it going?
11:43 left in first quarter
Each team has had a series on offense, and neither went
anywhere. On the plus side for the Cardinals, John Skelton
completed his first pass, which was not a high ball. ON
the downside, Andre Roberts couldn't catch a 3rd and 3.
Punt takes a favorable bounce, Seahawks begin drive on
their own 4.
15:00 left in first quarter
Well, here we are. The final game of the 2011 Arizona
Cardinals season. The game was announced as a sellout, but
lot of the fans are dressed as empty seats.
Regardless, the Cardinals are in their all reds while the
Seahawks are in their all whites.
Seattle will get the ball first. Let's get this thing
Wednesday, December 28, 2011 @ 12:48pm
Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt was asked about receiver
Larry Fitzgerald and his ability to play at a Pro Bowl
level regardless of who is throwing him the ball.
"He's a special player and I think that when you see the
competition at that position this year, the production
that some of these other offenses have had and the players
at those positions," Whiz said, "that Larry would be
recognized as a starter, I think, is pretty significant."
It is, and it's also a shame.
Fitzgerald has topped the 1,000 yard receiving mark six
times in his career - and the 1,400 yard mark thrice. He's
never scored fewer than six touchdowns, and his hands have
been featured in commercials for IHOP and ESPN.
Suffice to say, the guy can catch the ball - he will catch
the ball - so long as it actually gets to him. And that,
unfortunately, is still a problem.
Most of the country took notice of Fitzgerald during the
team's run to the Super Bowl a few years back, as he and
Kurt Warner torched every defense put in front of him. He
set records along the way, and entered the conversation as
the top receiver in the game.
I guess that's what 293 catches, 3,932 yards and 35
touchdowns over a three season span will do for you. The
problem is - and this isn't new - since Warner retired,
Fitz's numbers have dropped. Sure, he caught 90 passes
last year, and yes, he's going to finish with more than
1,300 yards this season, but he's reached the end zone a
grand total of 14 times over the last two years.
It's not like Fitzgerald is getting worse - quite the
contrary - he's actually getting better, as a career-best
mark of 17.8 yards per catch shows.
What is worse or, at least, not better, is
the play at quarterback. With last season's train wreck in
the rearview mirror, it was thought that Kevin Kolb could
be the guy. Fitzgerald wanted him under center, and the
Cardinals made it happen.
Then the season arrived, and that idea that Kolb is the
future was shot to hell. Injuries and general
ineffectiveness have led to a flurry of questions about
the quarterback; with no one being sure of how good he is
because, simply, he hasn't played enough. ESPN's Mike Sando is giving Kolb an
"incomplete" for 2011, and that's fair. He may be better
next year with a full offseason under his belt, but one
has to wonder if fragility may ultimately be his undoing.
Of course, when one player can't play someone else takes
his place, and that's where the QB situation gets even
When all is said and done, John Skelton will have played
in as many games as Kolb, winning more but posting
inferior statistics. He's made some mind-boggling
decisions that have led to turnovers, but also made some
throws that make you say "wow." The second-year pro has
the size and arm to play the position, but is clearly a
project that may never actually pan out. Can he be counted
on to be the team's next franchise QB? Nope.
And thus, the Cardinals will finish 2011 with the same
problem they had at the close of the 2010 campaign:
Uncertainty at the game's most important position.
The good news, though, is that the rest of the team seems
to be coming together. Rarely does a squad finish .500
with shoddy QB play, but a stout defense combined with
great special teams play has led the Cardinals to that
mark. Assuming those units don't regress, the team could
be a QB away from being something special.
Unfortunately, the Cardinals are having as much trouble
finding a quarterback as their quarterbacks are at finding
Sunday, December 25, 2011 @ 10:58pm
Tipoff 2011 is upon us, and as of now there isn't much
optimism surrounding the Phoenix Suns.
Just 40-42 last season, the team, with an eye towards 2012's free agent class,
did not make any significant changes in the offseason.
Instead they are hoping for improved health of Steve Nash
and Robin Lopez to combine with Marcin Gortat, Jared
Dudley and Channing Frye all stepping up their games. Add
in Grant Hill's savvy and solid role players like Josh
Childress and Hakim Warrick, and the Suns could have
Or, of course, Nash could have trouble making it through
the 66-game schedule, Lopez may not be very good to begin
with and Gortat, Dudley and Frye may have all peaked at
Most outsiders aren't too high on the Suns, with ESPN's John Hollinger pegging them
for 24 wins and SI.com's Zach
Lowe putting the Suns in the "Lottery-Bound,
Frustrating Division" of his NBA season preview. It's
pretty much a game where you can pick the writer and read
a depressing prediction.
Well, sorry, but here comes another one.
It's not that the Suns are completely devoid of talent.
is still Nash (when healthy), Hill can still D up with the
best of ‘em and Dudley, Frye and Gortat would all play
significant roles on any other team in the league.
Markieff Morris has flashed some potential, and if Lopez
can round back into his 2009-10 form, Phoenix could be the
home of one of the game's best duos at center. As far as
talent goes, there are teams in the NBA with less.
However, it's what the Suns don't have that will
ultimately cost them games.
The Suns don't have enough rebounding; Gortat, Lopez and
Frye just won't get the job done on the glass.
The Suns don't have elite defenders; other than Hill, is
there anyone the Suns can rely on to "shut down" an
The Suns don't have a backup point guard; I'm sorry, but
Ronnie Price and Sebastian Telfair are no better than
Goran Dragic and Leandro Barbosa, and the Suns (and fans)
couldn't wait to run those guys out of town.
And, finally, the Suns don't have a go-to scorer, an issue
that cost them down the stretch in games last season and
is likely to do so once again.
The Suns can no longer count on being able to simply
outscore their opponents. Phoenix is no longer the model
of offensive efficiency and team all others aspired to be.
No Joe Johnson, no Amare Stoudemire, no Jason Richardson
and no Vince Carter - OK, maybe not Carter - but not
having a top-flight scorer like that means the Suns have
exactly zero players outside of Nash who an opposing
defense must fear.
Now could Frye, Dudley or someone else get hot from three?
Sure, but those nights will be rare, and if the Suns
aren't scoring their defense sure as hell won't be good
enough to pick up the slack, even if new assistant Elston
Turner can coax some improvement out of the group.
Simply put, as a franchise, the Suns are a lot closer to
"really bad" than they are to "elite"
With what should be a loaded 2012 draft class, being bad
could prove to be good, as the Suns may be just months
away from acquiring the player they can begin to build
around. Until then, though, the Suns will be just a shell
of what they used to be, an old version of "run-and-gun"
that has been surpassed by the very teams they used to
abuse on a nightly basis.
Turnabout is fair play, and at this point it's pretty much
expected. While the Suns won't embarrass themselves,
chances are good the truncated 2011-12 campaign will be
one to forget.
Monday, December 19, 2011 @ 11:25am
Can you see it?
Over in Glendale (and, most of the time Tempe), the
Arizona Cardinals are growing.
The seeds were planted in the offseason, when the team
hired Ray Horton to run the defense and decided to enter
the season with promising youth rather than established
veterans at many key positions.
A 1-6 start gave the impression that it was not the way to
go, as the team struggled to compete and made it tough to
believe that the young players could improve to the point
where the Cardinals started winning games.
Then the rest of the season happened.
"We have really grown a lot in all facets of the game:
offense, defense, special teams," receiver Larry
Fitzgerald said after the team's 20-17 overtime win over
the Browns Sunday. "Our defense, I think, is the one
single reason we are able to play at that level we have
been playing recently.
"They have done a hell of a job this last part of the
Indeed, and Fitz's words may have inspired the true theme
from the 2011 season:
To Hell and back again.
Maybe the Cardinals had to bottom out before they could
head back to the top. As an organization they had
experienced rather sudden success, going from also-ran to
the Super Bowl in one season and winning the NFC West the
following year. Led by Kurt Warner, maybe the team never
truly learned how to win. It just kind of happened, and
perhaps that's why things were able to fall so far, so
That's why the way the team rebounded from its dreadful
start means more than just the Cardinals winning some
games late in the season; it means they know what it's
like to lose, and want nothing to do with the feeling.
"What I told them is their will to win is pretty strong,"
head coach Ken Whisenhunt said Sunday. "Going through
those games earlier in the season was tough. Maybe that
hardened us, but our guys believe."
The players may have believed all along, but the fans were
(rightfully) slow to proceed with caution. At this point
everyone may as well dive in head first, because this is
Whether it's a defense that keeps teams out of the end
zone and gets big stops when needed, a timely offense that
has re-discovered its top weapon and produced a
respectable running game or a coach that had some unwise
columnists questioning his abilities cough…my
bad…cough…, the point is this is beginning to look
like a team that will be around for the long haul.
Sure, they need to settle the QB position, but at least
they have a couple of prospects there who could pan
out. While no one can definitively say Kevin Kolb or John
Skelton will be a good starting quarterback in the NFL,
there is reason to think one of them could be "the guy."
And hey, they're not the first team
to win games with mediocrity at that position.
But that's not the point - at least - not really.
That this team somehow fought back from one of the worst
stretches in franchise history says a lot about where the
organization is at, because the players could have easily
stopped fighting and mailed the season in. They didn't,
and it's to be commended.
"Sometimes the good teams fall down and sometimes the good
teams get back up and keep fighting," defensive lineman
Darnell Dockett said.
And whether or not it happens this year, the Cardinals
will be back fighting for a playoff spot soon enough,
possibly as early as next season. With an emerging defense
and an offense that could be in need of just a little
seasoning, the future is certainly bright in Arizona.
"If we play the full game, we will be scary," Fitzgerald
said. "We would be a force to be reckoned with."
Soon, Larry. Soon.
Sunday, December 18, 2011 @ 2:12pm
Have a question about the game you want answered? How
about a thought of your own? Email Adam at
email@example.com or tweet him at @theAdamGreen.
10:56 left in Skelton time
Feely boots a field goal from 22-yards out, Cardinals win.
Playoff hopes live to see another day, and the Cards reach
the .500 mark on the season.
11:19 left in what is again Skelton time
3rd down sees Skelton hit Fitzgerald on a beautiful pass,
good for 32 yards. The Cards are, as they say, in
12:45 left in Peterson time
Browns pick up a first down but nothing more, as Wallace
throws incomplete on third down. Browns forced to punt,
and Maynard has been huge today kicking away from
Not this time, as PP21 returns the kick to the Cleveland
15:00 left in Peterson time
Kickoff goes for a touchback, Browns have ball at their
15:00 left in Peterson time
Browns win the toss and will receive, meaning the
Cardinals defense gets right back on the field. They've
played pretty well since the first drive of the game, save
one long pass when they got burned on a blitz. Need
another stop here.
Oh yeah, remember that time the Cardinals recovered a
fumble, had first and goal from the five and had to settle
for a field goal? Thought so.
End of regulation
That was about it, the Cardinals punt and the clock
reaches 0. We're tied at 17, and some fans are heading for
the exits. Do they realize overtime is about to happen?
Oh, it's no longer Skelton time.
:43 left in Skelton time
Cards start their drive at their own 30 with one timeout
in the bag. Skelton hits Roberts for 9.
:52 left in Skelton time
Wallace throws out of bounds, Cardinals should get the
ball back with great field position. Big return chance for
:57 left in Skelton time
Four more yards, another timeout. Big third down.
1:03 left in Skelton time
Browns give to Hillis on first down, he picks up two and
the Cards call timeout. They have two left, should they
keep getting stops.
1:10 left in Skelton time
Punt pins the Browns at their 9...how conservative are
they here? They're 2-10, no reason not to air it out.
Defense needs to come up big again.
1:17 left in Skelton time
3rd and2 pass bounces off a Brown, not sure where Skelton
was going with that one. Zastudil on to punt.
1:28 left in Skelton time
Direct snap goes to Hyphen, who picks up two and keeps the
drive alive. Skelton hits Roberts for 8 on the next play,
and the Cards are in Browns territory.
2:00 left in Skelton time
Cardinals are moving the ball, with Skelton being bailed
out BIG TIME by Andre Roberts on a ball that very easily
could have been picked off.
It's 3rd and 1 from the Arizona 48. I'd be tempted to run
it right up the middle here.
3:15 left in Skelton time
Cardinals give up some yards but ultimately hold, and
Maynard's punt goes out of bounds at the 11. That guy has
had a GREAT game.
Anyway, Cards have the ball with a chance to go and win
5:31 left in fourth quarter
Penalty on the return means Browns begin drive from their
own 17. Can the D come up with another stop?
5:40 left in fourth quarter
Mike Miller calls one of the worst series of plays you'll
ever see, as the Cardinals go from 1st and goal at the 5
to losing 10 yards before kicking a 33-yard field goal.
Game is tied, but the team should have a lead.
7:00 left in fourth quarter
It's a fumble! The Cardinals get the ball at the Cleveland
five, with a great opportunity to take the lead here late.
Defense FINALLY gets a turnover, and it could not have
come at a better time.
7:00 left in fourth quarter
O'Brien Schofield with back-to-back sacks and the
Cardinals will get the ball back in great field position.
Wait, it may have been a fumble. At least, that's what
Coach Whiz is thinking as he throws the red challenge
8:27 left in fourth quarter
Browns return kick to the 19, where the Arizona defense
has a chance to give the Cards the ball with plenty of
time. Get a three and out and they'll be in great shape,
still plenty of time.
Of course, a turnover would be alright, too.
8:33 left in fourth quarter
It is the fourth quarter, which means it's Skelton time.
Arizona drives 87 yards for the touchdown, with Skelton
looking pretty sharp on the drive. It's capped by 1-yard
Wells run, and the Cards are once again down by three.
13:22 left in fourth quarter
Cards force an incomplete pass, and the ensuing punt is
fair caught at the Arizona 13. How about a touchdown drive
here. Does that sound alright? Maybe even get the ball to
13:34 left in fourth quarter
Browns call timeout facing a crucial 3rd and 5. Ball is at
their own 49, and have a variety of plays they can run
here with a mobile QB like Wallace. Cards D really needs a
turnover, but at this point they'll take a stop.
End of third quarter
Well that could have been better.
The Cardinals lost the quarter 7-0 and trail in the game
17-7. The Browns have the ball and momentum, and a score
here would almost seem like enough. The Cardinals picked a
great day to lay an egg, both offensively and defensively.
They're not out of it yet, but something has to happen
1:04 left in third quarter
Yeah, about that...Skelton's pass to Doucet in tight
coverage bounces off the receiver and into the hands of a
Browns defensive back, with the interception giving
Cleveland the ball and the look of a team that might pull
off the upset.
2:53 left in third quarter
Cards get a break when the Browns are penalized for a
facemask on the kick return, and will begin their drive
from the 50. Down 17-7, I think it's safe to say points
are a must on this drive.
3:01 left in third quarter
A 3rd and 8 turns into a 76-yard touchdown pass from
Wallace to Little, who beats Daryl Washington down the
field. Umm, why was a middle linebacker covering receiver?
Browns extend their lead to 17-7.
4:21 left in third quarter
Hillis gets the carry on 3rd and 1, and the Madden cover
boy gets just enough for the first down. Moving along.
6:22 left in third quarter
Skelton misses Fitzgerald on 3rd and 7 on a throw that was
bad by some accounts, good by others. Regardless, it's
incomplete and the Cards punt. Cribbs fair catches the
ball a the Cleveland 12, and the battle of field position
7:23 left in third quarter
Offense is moving.
Skelton hits King down the seem for 24, and the running
game has been solid, too. Cards are at midfield.
10:07 left in third quarter
Cardinals get the stop, but a hold on the punt return
pushes the ball back to the Arizona 13, where the drive
12:15 left in third quarter
Cardinals drive stalls after an incomplete pass. Skelton
was under heavy pressure and missed Todd Heap. Would have
been a great play/throw. Defense gets back on the field,
Browns begin drive from their own 28.
15:00 left in third quarter
Cardinals will start from their 19, where you have to hope
the momentum gained at the end of the first half carries
Some interesting stats:
Skelton: 9/11 for 81 yards and 1 TD in the second quarter,
13/19 for 114 and 1 TD overall.
Wells: 22 yards on six carries.
Browns: 50 net yards in the second quarter. Welcome back,
The second quarter > the first quarter. Defense seemed to
settle in and the offense got into a rhythm, so things are
:19 left in second quarter
You can call me NostraGreenus. Skelton hits Roberts in the
back of the end zone with a really nice pass, and the
Cardinals cut the lead to 10-7. Great drive by the Cards
QB, who looks like he found his way there. Assuming the
Cardinals don't allow anything in the final 20 seconds,
you gotta feel good about them right now.
:25 left in second quarter
Cardinals burn their final timeout, with it being second
and seven from the Browns' 9. Time for a couple shots in
the end zone, sure, but really can't afford to be stopped
My gut feeling is the Cards punch it in.
:46 left in second quarter
Pass is ruled incomplete. That one's on Doucet. Big drop.
:37 left in second quarter
Skelton hits Doucet on a really nice pass, great play
call. Problem is Doucet lost the ball as he was hit.
Ruling on the field is a catch, but the guys upstairs are
taking a look. I'm thinking no catch, but Cards may get
the benefit of the doubt here because of the ruling on the
:51 left in second quarter
It's a hurry-up offense so naturally Skelton looks good.
He's made some excellent throws on this drive, even
completing a pass while being dragged to the ground. The
Cards are at the Cleveland 23 and, with one timeout left,
have plenty of time to try and get a touchdown.
By the way, think Coach Whiz regrets wasting a timeout on
a bad challenge earlier?
1:49 left in second quarter
Cardinals get the stop as a shovel-pass gone awry goes,
well, awry. Punt goes out of bounds, much to the dismay of
the booing crowd. I guess they like watching Patrick
Peterson return kicks.
Cardinals will start the drive at their own 35 with plenty
of time on the clock and two timeouts. They get the ball
to start the second half, would be huge to get some points
2:00 left in second quarter
Cardinals defense has a chance here to make a play. The
Browns are facing a 3rd and 11 from their 28, meaning a
stop here would give the Cardinals the ball back with OK
field position and some time to put a drive together.
6:13 left in second quarter
Cardinals were moving the ball but saw their drive stall
when Brandon Keith forgot to block a Brown on 3rd and
short. Cards punt and, with the help of a Cleveland
penalty, will pin their opponents at their own 8. If the
defense was ever going to get one of those elusive
turnovers, now would be as good a time as any.
11:25 left in second quarter
Stephens-Howling returns kick to the 22, giving the Cards
their best starting field position of the day. Wohoo!
Can Skelton get going here? Cards don't want to fall too
far behind, need to start moving the ball.
11:33 left in second quarter
Whatever he saw, it wasn't there. Replay "confirmed" the
ruling on the field, meaning there was zero doubt it was a
catch. Timeout gone, field goal good. Browns lead 10-0.
11:38 left in second quarter
The Browns pick up eight yards on a 3rd and 10, but Coach
Whiz doesn't even think they got that. He tosses the
challenge flag out, hoping to force the Browns into
kicking a 51-yard field goal instead of a 43 yarder. The
play happened right in front of him so you have to think
he saw something.
13:03 left in second quarter
The Browns got the first down and their drive continues.
They now face a 3rd and 1 from the Arizona 36, with the
defense really needing a stop here. More than that, even,
when they get the ball back the offense MUST do something
with the ball.
End of first quarter
The first quarter ends and what do you know, the Browns
are driving. They face a 3rd and 4 from their own 48, and
even if the Cards get a stop they are still very much
losing the field position battle.
Down 7-0 after one, pretty sure no one in this building
saw this coming -- including the Cardinals. Maybe this is
the wakeup call they needed.
3:52 left in first quarter
Drive stalls after Skelton throws to Heap for a gain of 10
on 3rd and 11. A little better, but not good enough. Punt
bounces into the end zone and the Browns will start from
the 20. Defense got it together on the last drive, can
they keep it up?
8:07 left in first quarter
Cards D holds, forcing a big three-and-out. Cards will
start their next drive from the 10, so I guess that's some
9:11 left in first quarter
Cards pick up a first down but then the drive stalls after
a short run was sandwiched in between a pair of errant
passes. Not the start Arizona wanted, as they'll be giving
the Browns solid field position to go along with their
And the punt is returned to the Arizona 45. Awesome.
11:25 left in first quarter
Block in the back pushes the Cards back to the three,
where Skelton will begin the drive. He's started slow
pretty much every game he's ever started, and the Cards
will need that to change today.
11:33 left in first quarter
Too easy. Peyton Hillis scores on a one-yard TD run and
the Browns take an early 7-0 lead. Can't let a bad team
like that gain confidence, but allowing them to score on
their first drive of the game will do that.
Cardinals will need to slow Hillis, who had 35 yards on
13:39 left in first quarter
Yeah, about setting the tone...Browns moving the ball at
will on their first drive, with Hillis picking up huge
chunks of yardage. Did the D read their own press
clippings this week?
15:00 left in first quarter
Cardinals will be kicking off first, giving the defense a
chance to set the tone early. Seneca Wallace gets the nod
for the Browns, and he's, well, umm...not very good.
7:45 until kickoff
The Cardinals are introduced to the home crowd which,
announced as a sellout, is certainly a little light today.
I wouldn't be too optimistic about it filling in late,
either, as there didn't seem to be a lot of tailgaters on
the way in. Something about really cold weather and
wins makes people want to go inside.
On another weather-related note, the fact that I had no
jacket or long-sleeve shirt today was noticed by a few
people, who all asked if I was cold. I was, but the reason
have no long sleeve shirt is the majority of mine are
related and I can't wear those here. Ahh well, such is