Arizona Cardinals 27 @ Tennessee Titans 32
Arizona entered this game with a huge question mark at quarterback and on offensive line struggling to impose itself on opposing defenses. John Skelton started the game out with a sack for a loss and promptly followed it up with an interception. Skelton made some decent throws across the middle but he had trouble overall. Kolb started the second half with a pick-six due to a “rookie” mistake – throwing late over the middle, across the body. He honestly should know better. Arizona’s issues at offensive tackle can’t be understated, either. It is going to make the whole offense that much harder to run. Fitzgerald, of course, looked like the ridiculous stud that he is. I can’t think of a team that wouldn’t love to see him in their uniforms. If there isn’t significant improvement on the offensive line and at quarterback, it’s going to be a long season for Fitzgerald and the Cardinals organization.
Coach Ken Whisenhunt has a tough decision ahead of him since neither quarterback played well enough, or even consistently enough, to have the job outright.
The loss of Levi Brown poses another large question for Arizona. He injured his triceps in last week’s game against the Raiders and required surgery. Does Arizona put him on the IR in which case he is out for the whole season? Or do they take up a roster spot with a player than won’t be able to play until the second half of the season?
All in all, Arizona’s defense is definitely the better of the two units but it still didn’t look stellar tonight. It’s a defense that can really rough up receivers and play strong on the line, but it also faces a consistency issue. I don’t think Arizona is going to get walked over by teams, but I think they are going to have a rough season until some of these injury and consistency issues iron themselves out.
Our preview of the NFL has finally reached the NFC West, and I’ve decided to start with the Arizona Cardinals. Last season, the Cardinals looked like they might have a shot at one of the draft’s top QBs when they started 1-6, but then they hot really hot and finished the year at 8-8.
On a programming note, at the conclusion of the NFC West, we’re going to be done with our team by team previews “for the most part.” We will have completed just over two thirds of the NFL teams. The problem is that getting people who cover the remaining teams to assist me is becoming troublesome. Many are on vacation resting up before the season starts.
I could put these together myself, but my knowledge of team’s outside the division isn’t strong enough for me to do them justice. I’d prefer to skip them instead of generating sub-par previews for my loyal readers. I’ll keep trying, and I’ll post them if any come in, but I’m not expecting too many.
Helping me out this time around is Scott Allen from Raising Zona.
Biggest Team Need Heading Into Offseason: OL and WR help
Key Free Agents Retained: LB Clark Haggans, DE Vonnie Holliday, WR Early Doucet, K Jay Feely, P Dave Zastudil, CB Greg Toler, RB LaRod Stephens-Howling
Key Player Additions: OL Adam Snyder, CB William Gay
Key Players Leaving: OL Deuce Lutui, CB Richard Marshall
Quick Thoughts on Draft: Cardinals scored a home run with WR Michael Floyd. All picks have a legitimate chance to make the team. Floyd has great leaping ability and will be a great number two on other side of field from Larry Fitzgerald. They also got a steal in the fourth round with OL Bobby Massie.
Quick Thoughts on 2012 schedule: Much tougher than 2011. They will not be able to start 1-6 and finish 8-8 like they did last season with the 2012 schedule. Tough road games against New England, New York Jets, and Minnesota. Not to mention divisional rivals San Francisco and Seattle.
Most Interesting Roster Battle: QB. Unsettled with Kevin Kolb and John Skelton. Although coach Ken Whisenhunt has not named a starter and won’t do so until training camp, he has made it publicly known he would like Kolb to take the reins and get the starters role. He has said though he will have no reservations starting Skelton if he ends up being the better QB.
Biggest Strength Heading Into 2012: With the drafting of Floyd and re-signing of Doucet who will get yet one more chance to prove himself, WR is strong again. On defense the LB core no doubt is the strongest, especially in the middle with Daryl Washington and Sam Acho.
Biggest Weakness Heading Into 2012: OL – still unknown what the acquisition of Snyder will do for them in addition to the re-siging of Levi Brown, who I sill hold a big question mark over. Massie could be great over time.
Biggest Question Still To Be Answered: Who will win the quarterback position and can Kolb and/or Skelton throw them the ball accurately. The other big question is will RB Ryan Williams make a full return from his preseason ACL injury last year, an injury that took him out before he even played his first ever regular season game.
2012 Prediction: 9-7, 2nd in NFC West, Wild-Card team
I have a tough time seeing the Cardinals as an improved team. Their offensive line and QB situations are dicey, and if without having 2 things set, the Cards just wont get as much as they should from their great receivers. Thats why the Michael Floyd was a head scratcher of a pick. He’s a great talent, but the Cards already had great receivers and they needed help in a lot of other areas.
The defense is similar. There’s talent there, especially at LB. But without the DL to go along with it, the LBs wont be as productive as the could be. Basically my problem is just roster construction philosophy. I believe you always start with the lines, and those are units that the Cardinal front office has neglected in favor for less essential areas.
I’m really not trying to be a Seahawk homer here, just give an honest assessment of their roster how I see it. I’m sure the Cardinal fans will roast me for this, and that’s ok. It what I expect from our rivals from Scottsdale.
Why We Should … [visit site to read more]
Tags: Arizona Cardinals, cardinals, football, forty niners, Frank Gore, Jeff Fisher, Jim Harbough, John Skelton, Josh McDaniels, Kevin Kolb, Lockout, National Football League, NFC West, nfl, quarterback, rams, Sam Bradford, San Francisco 49ers, Seahawks, St. Louis Rams
News broke today that the Mariners will send RHP Maikel Cleto to St. Louis, for middle infielder Brendan Ryan.
So, who are we getting? Ryan is 28 years old, and he brings with him a minuscule salary. He’s an excellent defensive player, posting an overall 19.9 UZR over the last two seasons, and that’s where most of his value is going to come from. His bat isn’t anything to get excited about, but you shouldn’t necessarily expect him to repeat the awful offensive season he had in 2010, where he posted a jaw-droppingly bad wOBA of .256. It certainly wasn’t a pretty year for him at the plate, but it wasn’t all his fault, as his BABIP was a measly .253, well below his career average of .292, and even further below the league average of .297. He also spent most of the season struggling with wrist problems, which likely contributed to his poor performance.
No one’s projecting him to be a slugger, but a little bit of a rebound is in order, and you can probably expect him to at least head back towards his norm – likely a wOBA in the .285-.300 range. Combine that with plus defense, and you’ve got a 1.5-2.5 win infielder. In a lot of ways, he’s kind of like Jack Wilson, but with fewer health problems. Not too shabby of a return for an OK pitching prospect.
As for how we’ll use him, I’d imagine he’ll break camp as the starting second baseman, then once the team feels that Dustin Ackley is ready and Jack Wilson is on the DL, he’ll probably move over to shortstop, where he’s spent most of his career. And hey, if by some miracle Jack manages to stay healthy, Ryan won’t have a starting role, but at least he’s a better backup infielder than Josh Wilson. Plus, he’s gotten kind of a late start on being a major league player, so he’s under team control through 2013.
This isn’t the type of move that turns heads or is likely to draw a ton of praise or attention, but it’s a nice little move in a more subtle way. It takes care of one of this team’s needs for 2011 without giving up too much, and it brings in a player that has a chance to help out in the future, as well. Remember, this is a guy that posted 2.7 WAR and a .740 OPS at shortstop as recently as 2009. Granted, as a player coming over from the NL, he probably wouldn’t repeat those numbers even if he was still the exact same player, but with some better luck, he might just be able to come close.
It’s a low risk, decent reward move, and even if Ryan tanks at the plate, we’ll still have gotten a backup infielder who’s excellent in the field out of it.
Another Guest Editorial by Joe Okabe.
Despite the loss to the New Orleans Saints, Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll has to be pleased. The Seahawks have a one game lead in the division with six games left to play. When the 2010 schedule first came out, the first thing I noticed was that Seattle would play four of their final six games at Qwest Field. It’s time to take advantage of that situation.
Everyone is aware that the Seahawks are not a good road team. Yet their two wins on the road this season are more than the rest of the NFC West teams COMBINED! Arizona has only one road victory, while San Francisco and St. Louis have yet to win away from home. (I’m not counting the 49ers’ victory over the Broncos in London, even if San Francisco weren’t the “home team” in that game.)
Seattle owns the tiebreaker over Arizona due to their season sweep. The Cardinals aren’t mathematically eliminated, but they realistically have to win out to have a chance to make the playoffs, since they now must total more wins than the Seahawks to be eligible. (I don’t think I’m going out on a limb by saying that neither Wild Card team will come from the NFC West.)
In addition to being winless on the road, both the 49ers and Rams have four of their remaining six games away from home. Should the Seahawks win at San Francisco on Dec. 12, the 49ers would be in the same situation as Arizona, and almost certainly eliminated from the playoffs. They face an uphill climb regardless.
In the next three weeks, the Rams play at Denver, Arizona and New Orleans. If they don’t win at least two out of those three, their playoff chances would be bleak. Should they win two or three of those games, then the regular season finale on Jan. 2 at Qwest Field against the Seahawks could very well be for the division title. Who would have thought that this would be possible at the beginning of the season?
The Seahawks could render any division rival’s chances moot by taking care of their own business, particularly at home. If they win three out of their four remaining home games, a division title would be highly likely. That, plus a win at either San Francisco or Tampa Bay, would make the playoffs a near certainty.
It’s time for the Seahawks to step up. Everything is in their favor. The NFC West is theirs to win or lose. The season begins in earnest next week against Kansas City, which is 1-4 on the road, followed by another home game against Carolina. The Panthers may very well be the worst team in the NFL, but Seahawks fans should know very well not to take anything for granted. GO HAWKS!
- According to ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick, the Mariners are among at least five teams that have shown interest in LHP Jeff Francis. Throughout his career, Francis has been a consistently average starting pitcher. At 29 years old, injuries have been a significant problem for Francis, as he missed all of 2009 and part of 2010 after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his left arm. He was, however, solid over limited innings last year. He doesn’t strike out or walk a whole lot of hitters, and his fly ball tendencies would benefit him as a left handed pitcher at Safeco.
Moves around baseball
- In an impressive move, the Braves acquired Dan Uggla from the Marlins for the small sum of utility man (and 2010 All-Star!) Omar Infante, and young lefty reliever Mike Dunn. Michael Jong at Marlin Maniac has his thoughts up, and he isn’t thrilled. I can’t blame him. Despite the terrible defense, Dan Uggla has been a consistently above average player, who, even with a raise coming in arbitration, is likely to earn a reasonable amount in 2011. Omar Infante, even coming off a luck-fueled 2.7 win season in 2010, is still nothing more than a solid utility player, and while Mike Dunn is talented and fairly young, relievers can only hold so much value. The Braves are the clear winners in this one.
- The Marlins are also on the verge of signing catcher John Buck, today, to a three year, $18 million deal. Buck is coming off by far his best season in 2010, in which he posted a .345 wOBA and 2.9 WAR. There’s no denying that it was an excellent offensive season for a catcher, but his .335 BABIP indicates that some regression is due, and $18 million is a lot of money to throw at someone based off of one good year.
- The Cardinals re-signed Jake Westbrook to a two year, $16.5 million deal, with an $8.5 million option for 2013. At 33 years old, it’s unlikely he’ll ever return to 2006-Westbrook form, but he was alright in 2010, and has a decent shot of at least earning his money throughout this deal.
- The Rockies released Manny Corpas after a mediocre 2010 season that ended in Tommy John surgery. In doing so, they forfeit the $3.5 million owed to him for next season, as well as club options for the two following years. So yeah, that contract worked out pretty well.